Like most of you, when I heard they were making Taken into a television series, I was extremely hesitant. I also believe in giving new things a chance. Lock your doors, look over your shoulders and get hooked on the series premiere!
By and large, Taken on NBC serves up gritty drama and suspense for prime time. First and foremost, it serves as a prequel to the film series that preceded it. However, the show feels like a mix between Homeland & The Blacklist mixed in with a gritty crime procedural.
Above all, the story of the show centers on Bryan Mills. He is a former soldier and Green Beret living a civilian life. The premise of the show revolves around the loss of his sister. Bryan and his sister Callie are traveling on a train to visit their parents when Bryan notices unusual and suspicious passengers on the train. Be that as it may, it leads Bryan to confronting one of the gentleman, and in turn cause his sister to lose her life. He finds his sister lifeless on the floor of the train in sheer shock. There is a stranger who passes him a filled out card for their parents before the scene ends. This scene is expanded upon towards the end of the episode.
Bryan unfortunately has to return to his parents home without his sister and full of grief. He’s flanked by press trying to get a word with him about the incident on the train. It’s in this moment that his temperment is subdued, both out of respect for his sister, as well as to not draw further attention to himself.
In a turn of events however, a government type task force gathered and is monitoring the situation from the train. Through the conversations the unnamed characters engage in, the audience learns that Bryan Mills last active mission was in January of 2015 in Columbia. Along with the Colmbian military, he raided the largest drug cartel, killing the song of the leader. The consensus among the group, and later Bryan is that Carlos Mejia is avenging the death of his son. It is an eye for an eye situation, taking the life of Bryan’s sister.
During the course of the conversation among the group of government agents, the leader declares “starting right now we control the narrative”. How often do normal citizens truly ever receive the truth about events that take place. Even in an age of social media and cell phone cameras recording, there has to be some truth to governmental overwatch.
The train attack shooter is questioned by two mysterious individuals. Their objective is not known at first, and the rhetoric used does not clarify what organization they are working for. The situation clears itself up when the gentleman shoves the shooters head to the table and attempts to kill the shooter with a cyanide pill. In that moment, the shooter opens up about the motive for the shooting. He acknowledges the shooting took place as planned. Only Brian Mills sister needed to die.
One of the many action thriller tropes used in Taken is the protagonist is followed by a mysterious vehicle outside their home. Brian, a former soldier and kill machine senses that there is something wrong and gives chase to a black van outside his parents home. Unfortunately for him, the van shakes him and he’s flung into another car. There is also a gentleman earlier in the day seen bugging Bryan’s belongings. Luckily for the audience, stranger danger works for the mystery lady in charge.
Before Bryan takes off on his revenge mission, he informs his father that his sister died because of him. In typical father/son fashion, Bryan’s father warns him of the danger out in the world. Little does Bryan know that their entire exchange is monitored by the lady and her shadow organization.
Throughout the show, Bryan engages in tactical combat with mercenaries sent to kill him. At his home he shoots two mercenaries in their shins/knees through his door. Two other mercenaries are shot in cold blood, one shot while running away. The most fascinating part about Bryan’s actions is he is truly on his own. The shadow organization serves as his shadow, waiting to see his next move, never interfering or offering assistance. Their job is assessing his skills and what he is capable of.
Furthermore, the first of many twists is revealed halfway through the first episode. The D.E.A. agent Bryan rescued in Colombia is a rat that is in on the assassination attempts on Bryan’s life. Through the use of a good old burner phone, Bryan busts his friend, Mike Hall and knows he can’t trust him any longer.
Continuously, Hall is accosted in his parking garage by Bryan. Bryan shoves the burner phone in Halls’ face with the text from the burner phone. The use of the letter “K” is extremely relevant in today’s society. It is by far the worst thing one can text another individual.
Moreover, Bryan proceeds to spot another undercover car watching them and engages in a high speed car chase. This time it is through a residential parking garage that ends with Bryan shooting the mercenary in the back of the head.
Eventually, the cat and mouse game between Bryan, Hall & the shadow organization and the men that work for Mejia come to a head. Bryan has the opportunity to kill Hall for his betrayal, but instead spares his life. He knows that he has bigger fish to fry. While Hall’s betrayal was awful, it did not supersede his mission for revenge. After a brief shootout with more mercenaries, he offers himself up. The move is smart on his part, largely due to his understanding of needing to meet with Mejia. He would never find Mejia on his own, so he risks his life and capture, hoping it will lead him to his enemy.
We find Bryan chained and hanging from the ceiling awaiting Mejia’s arrival to the cabin in the woods. In true cinematic fashion, the bad guy arrives via small aircraft to torture his victim. Mejia addresses Bryan directly and painfully conveys Bryan is the reason his son is dead.
Incidentally, the scene transports us back to the train the day of the shooting. We learn that the shooting was only a distraction, as Mejia was also on the train that day. He not only personally shot Bryan’s sister in cold blood, but was the one handing the card to Bryan. The cruel twist of fate, with Bryan’s fate literally hanging in the balance is both clever as well as predictable.
Mills asks Mejia what kind of man does killing an innocent young girl make him. He follows up that Mejia has the eyes of a coward when he looks into them. Before Mejia can inflict any more damage on Bryan, a strike force rains down on the barnyard. One by one low level henchmen with guns are easily shot to death. Bryan is lowered from the ceiling and used as a hostage prop before overpowering Mejia.
Regrettably, Bryan did not have the opportunity to kill Mejia himself, as the task force shot Bryan to prevent him from doing so. It was a taste of cruel irony.
When the screen comes to from the bright white light, Bryan is laying in the bed. He is joined by the mysterious woman running the shadow organization. She introduces herself as Christina Hart. Christina explains she reports to the highest individuals in the country and she runs an emergency covert action team. It is during the conversation that Bryan accuses her of using him and she does not hesitate one minute proudly accepting the claim. Director Hart explains to Bryan that they needed him to go after Mejia in order to extract information from him.
Of course the conversation between the two proceeds to head down the path most predicted. Christina explains that Bryan can either join her and her team, or they can ensure none of this happened and Callie’s death was for nothing.
Presumably, Bryan accepts the offer of employment as the screen fades out while Christina walks out of the room and the episode ends.
Join us next week as Taken airs every Monday at 10pm EST on NBC!