“Like all rare and valuable things, EVAs are trafficked. They’re stolen, smuggled, traded. Enslaved for the elicit use of their incredible power.”
A brief glimpse into Myfanwy’s EVA ‘awakening’ commences episode two of The Rook as she works towards piecing together her blank memory and the show resumes building up this world of mystery and those gifted with ‘Extreme Variant Abilities’.
Unlike most shows of its ilk thus far, The Rook has done yeoman’s work patiently serving viewers snippets of Myfanwy Thomas’s world of espionage and fantastic abilities. In fact, “Chapter 2” ups the ante as another layer of this covert world is laid bare as the agents of the Checquy—with a bit of help from Monica Reed, the American BVA agent—search for answers as it pertains to the eight deaths at the Bridge and the pair of bodies discovered at Mansel Bank.
Though Myfanwy remains the focal point, “Chapter 2” maintains the journey started by the premiere in fleshing out the other pieces on the board. Particularly effective is Myfanwy’s uncertainty on whom to trust. Any spy thriller worth its salt takes this approach and The Rook makes the viewer question every interaction Myfanwy has with those around her. For Myfanwy herself, the character has settled down somewhat from the adrenaline-fueled events of “Chapter 1”—waking up surrounded by dead bodies, finding a note written by her, and nearly dying at the hands of two people at the bank—and is trying her best to keep the façade that ‘everything’s fine’ firmly in place.
Despite the ambiguity surrounding her, Myfanwy does have Linda Farrier’s support…or so it seems. Though everything Farrier has done to this point seems to have Myfanwy’s interests at heart, there’s just something about the Checquy’s “King” that suggests she’s not being wholly truthful. Maybe it’s just a viewer’s shared paranoia with Myfanwy that drives this uncertainty, but Farrier’s natural instinct to keep things close to the vest is usually a warning sign that a character is steering things to their liking.
Farrier’s ‘vetting’ of past images from Myfanwy’s life that Rao tries using to spark the rook’s memory suggests an intimate familiarity Farrier has with Myfanwy’s life. While removing the image of what appears to be Myfanwy’s father, who is seen early on as a victim to an unconscious Myfanwy’s powers, is an understandable considering the trauma the resurgence of that memory could inflict, were all the pictures Farrier put in the “no” bin victims of Myfanwy’s once uncontrollable power?
To add to that, Farrier mentions the drug regimen Myfanwy is on, one that Myfanwy herself had enacted, suggesting that there is a side to the Rook’s power that goes beyond what everyone thinks. It’s akin to the Phoenix Force found in the X-Men’s Jean Grey, a wild, chaotic, and wholly powerful energy that the owner can’t handle. It stands to reason then that Myfanwy’s powers have a mind of their own, as if when she is not in control of her emotions (or consciousness) that power within her runs free and becomes exponential more powerful. If that is true, then maybe Farrier does indeed have Myfanwny’s best interests in mind. Still, there’s something about the woman that suggests a more enigmatic agenda.
In all, “Chapter 2” maintains the pace of last week’s premiere while expanding the information of this clandestine world of Myfanwy Thomas. Some questions are answered but those are sprinkled with the crumbs of information that create more questions. It’s not an easy task, building a world of espionage and seamlessly weaving in the super-powered aspect. Two episodes in and The Rook has done that quite well. The show’s deliberate pacing coupled with the measured dispensation of information thus far has been exactly what the series needs as more of the players are moved around on the board. There have been several movies to tackle this type of subject (2009’s Push is one such example) but the series format is the perfect delivery method for The Rook and offers a slow burn that is the essence of a spy-thriller. Though two episodes is a small sample size, The Rook is trending towards being one of the most intriguing genre television series of 2019.
Up/Down the Exchange
- I posed the question last week on whether Conrad’s affair with Home Secretary Birch would affect things in any meaningful way. That was answered with certainty as he divulged what would be privileged to her after discovering Myfanwy’s role at the center of the ten murders. Also, keeping what he discovered from the meeting with the Lugat representative from Farrier (and her own secrecy from him) emphasizes the shell game these characters are playing. In addition to that, watching Conrad work his abilities and the helplessness of those he targets shows us the formidable nature of the Checquy’s “Queen”.
- Speaking of abilities, Farrier’s brief conversation explaining EVA thing was so well done. It gives us just enough information as not to be overloaded, all the while framing this world as an almost parallel of our own. The idea that those gifted with these abilities would be exploited by those in power goes without saying. Monica Reed is slammed with the truth that her former lover was a part of this human trafficking, one of (if not the most) disgusting practices in the world today. It is a reminder that to a horrible few, other people are nothing more than commodities for them to abuse at their leisure, so long as it makes them money. In this The Rook hits disturbingly close to home on that particular dark aspect of the human condition.
- One of the things I’m most excited about going forward is discovering the varying degrees of abilities present in this world. Thus far only a few have been shown, the last of which being a man returning from the dead. While I’m a fan of the fantastical abilities seen in comic book movies or even shows like The Gifted, there’s something to be said for the measured subtlety of reveals The Rook has taken. For instance, we know nothing about what Farrier brings to the table but they have to be exceptional considering someone like Conrad is her second and she’s the Checquy ‘King’. Over the coming weeks, we’ll see more of these EVA powers at work which should also coincide with Myfanwy discovering that her own abilities are far greater than what she, or even those around her, could have ever imagined.