Enjoy the Wild Ride of The Endgame While It Lasts

The Endgame. NBC. Monday, February 21st at 10:05 p.m. 

It’s a great bet that NBC will continue to air its new crime drama. The Endgame is going to prove infuriatingly terrible. For now it is electrifying. The crackle of TV, but you don’t need a cable, only a remote. Start watching, and you won’t be able to stop, until probably a few months down the road, when you rise from your couch in a dizzy stupor, your lips cracked, your kidneys corroded and your mind reeling with a strange desire to stuff that remote into a maximally painful bodily orifice of an NBC executive.

The Endgame has a frightening resemblance to LostYou can also call it: FringeYou can also call it: Manifest. However, science fiction is not liable for drifting into alternate realities, time travel or other tricks of lazi screenwriters. It has nothing to do with mysteriously vanished aircraftliners. This thread runs throughout all of these programs. Don’t forget to remind me not to see the summer series that Amelia Earhart and her space-weasels starred in.

However, the frenetic speed at which The Endgame moves and the mystery at its center that excuses a lot of illogical and fallacious plot points is very reminiscent of the weird stuff that popped up in those other shows: “Omigod, did Sawyer just kill a polar bear? What exactly is a polar bear doing in the middle of a tropical Pacific island? It’s exciting to discover the truth! Except you never did. All those Barnum & Bailey gimmicks were just throw-ins by screenwriters who wanted to get their show on the road but hadn’t mapped out their final destination before they started shooting—and pretty much never did.

That’s not for today, however, like every junkie once said. Now, The Endgame is a crackerjack of a caper show, a tautly edited blend of action and wit that blows along like a runaway train. Later, we will have to worry about whether the show will reach Mars or Chicago.

The Endgame This is in essence a fight between two female foes. Elena Federova (Morena Baccarin), a Ukrainian arms dealer of mythically ruthless reputation, is locked up—without, it seems, a warrant or any of that bothersome technical stuff—in an underground Homeland Security detention center on Long Island. They plan to ask her questions about an extended and more dangerous list than that Santa Claus uses on Christmas Eve. An FBI boss proudly tells her “No one knows that you’re there” but she doesn’t know it. “And we’ve got plenty time.”

Federova receives a legal pad from the police and is instructed to list all of her criminal contacts. While she begins to write, her wiseguy smile indicates that she is up to more. Within minutes, reports of violent New York City bank takeovers—seven, in all—start rolling in, with all signs pointing to Federova as the intellectual author.

The feds reluctantly counter by bringing in FBI agent Val Turner (Ryan Michelle Bathe), a hard-ass agent who’s had some success against Federova but is currently in disfavor—to put it mildly—after her husband, another FBI agent, was caught taking money from a Colombian drug cartel.

The clash of the women between them is a great spectacle. Federova’s self-satisfaction is evident as she smiles at the camera with a smug and mocking smile, while revealing a criminal alternative of uncertain goal but exceptional planning. Turner displays a visceral hatred for anyone she sees as a bad person. It is an obsession that has ravaged her beyond recognition. In the case against drug cartels, she busted her husband.

Turner, unlike her bosses, instinctively grasps that what’s going is about much more than emptying bank vaults—but can’t figure out what that is. When she disobeys orders to anticipate some of Federova’s moves, she’s always just moments too late—and her fury is only fueled by the little Post-It notes left by Federova’s minions with the barbed message “YOU WERE WELL.” When Federova reveals that she is being assisted by corruption officials, a sense of moral uncertainty creeps in to the story. But who is really Federova? Are the good guys in this struggle?

Baccarin played the space-alien lizard Baccarin in 2009’s version. Al Queda mole and his wife, the conflicted woman Homeland SecurityAs the criminal mastermind,, he is entertainingly outrageous. Her flashback scene in which she is naked and entwined in love in a meadow was my favorite. All of a sudden, bells begin to sound. She murmurs, “We are going to miss your wedding.”

It’s important to remember that there is nothing in the universe. The Endgame is meaningless or played simply for laughs. There’s always another layer. Federova is asked by Turner in an awkward moment when a sense of disapproval for her opponent creeps through. Responds the arms trader: “Always.” It’s a good thing it’s not an alternate universe.