Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Recovery of Robert Goren in Season 8

Season 8 of Criminal Intent has come and gone (sniff!) for Goren and Eames and has left some of us scratching our heads....
(if you are receiving this as an email update, please click on the title to view the 8 mini-vids included)

For some reason (well beyond my comprehension) USA network showed the Criminal Intent episodes so out of order it annoyed even me. I'm almost always happily along for the ride wherever they want to take me, but this was so bizarre....


The order in which Season 8 was shown (G&E episodes only):
Playing Dead
Identity Crisis
Faithfully
Folie A Deux
Family Values
Lady’s Man
All In
Alpha Dog

the order they were filmed in (not even close to the viewing order):
Faithfully
Folie a Deux
Identity Crisis
Alpha Dog
Playing Dead
Lady’s Man
All In
Family Values


(info gleaned mostly from The Reel which had some references to shooting dates)

Only by seeing these episodes in the order they were filmed can you really see what a fabulous job Vincent D'Onofrio did in bringing Robert Goren back from the edge of the insanity of Frame at the end of Season 7. USA did him no favours here.

My friend Susan, who is much more eloquent than I, made this observation:
It upsets me to think that many think Vincent's performance is "flat" or that he is acting like he is bored with Goren. In my opinion, he is putting as much into Goren as he ever did, keeping the storyline real. No one gets over half of what he went through in only a few months. ...............it takes time to get over real losses, and Vincent knows that. I think he is portraying Goren as real as possible, and will continue to do so. Vincent isn't flat, he is showing us that Goren is flat, which is what happens to people when they suffer loss. Many people continue to function at work well, but lose their spark for a long while. I wish more people would "get" what he is doing and appreciate his incredible talent!

Here are 8 mini-vids from Season 8 shown as they were filmed in order to showcase Goren's recovery (from my point of view!).


Faithfully
video


Goren returns from his leave a week early surprising Eames. They greet each other like a pair of awkward teenagers.... Interesting.
As so often, he can't help but show amusement at Eames little comment about "entertaining". And Alex cannot help but be amused by Goren's correction of Ross about Batman. I guess at that point Ross realizes Goren is fit for duty. Goren further shows he has all watts burning with his cheeky "respectful" comment to the pastor's wife. And then shows he is still the smartest guy in the room when he enlightens Ross about the boys stuttering. I was stunned that he actually touches Ross' elbow in this clip. The interaction between Goren and Eames shows two people who are comfortable and happy to be back working together. The last clip shows that dare-I-hope thoughtful gaze.



Folie a Deux
video

Alex is tense and disgusted right off the bat - a child is missing. Goren is suspicious from the time he finds the glass in the carpet in the hotel room. Funny how brusquely in charge he is in the first clip - not his usual style.... Is he trying to show Ross he is on his game? Goren is still sporting the beard and longer hair. It's easy to hide behind the beard. Did you notice him pocket the money? He messes with the villains in three clips. He wears a suit. He talks over Eames, interrupting what she is saying. And he shows us a tired/disgusted/disillusioned/sad look at the end. Is he really recovering or covering up?



Identity Crisis

video


In this episode we see a much less take-charge, less animated Goren. Some of the beard is gone, but hair is still long (I assure you I'm not complaining!). He is quietly observant throughout. There are no glaring cheeky moments, very little "educating Ross" moments and no smiles in this episode. It all comes down to the aria with one of the most subdued and beautifully poignant endings. The parallel tragedies of dysfunctional mother and son relationships bounces back and forth between Burris and Goren. The heaviness and sadness is back in Goren's demeanor. There is no triumph with the confession.



Alpha Dog

video
Goren is still sporting the longer hair but a shorter scruffy beard.
In this episode he is once again more active. We see him being right a number of times; we see him amused, we see him having a tug-o-war with a bottle of scotch (this would have made it into the Hung Up vid!). We also see him uncertain when dealing with Ross, but the two of them do some wonderful team work to get their way. Goren simply looks at Eames and she takes over (more details of that can be seen in the previous blog entry here). There is one scene that I cannot quite figure out. Goren almost seems to forget what he is doing and Eames gives him a look which prompts him on to his next words.Goren is very satisfied at Deguerin’s discomfort when he enters the interrogation room and he chooses just the right words to get under Deguerin’s skin. We start to see the return of the predator's predator.
This episode was shown as the last Goren/Eames episode of the season and as much as I love Eames, it should have ended with a shot of the two of them, doing one of their classic exchanged glances.



Playing Dead
video


Sex, politics and weirdness. No wonder they started the season with this one. But, excuse me? To us hard core Goren fans, this was too odd. We left Bobby shell-shocked from Declan confessing to orchestrating the death of Bobby's brother. We all wondered how he was ever going to recover. So first episode back he looks and sounds as perky as this???

In this episode Goren is clean-shaven(!) with short hair and looking dapper. He is comfortably correcting Ross, he’s teaching Eames about wine and employing French accents to irritate. Robert Goren is enjoying himself.
The case turns very serious and both detectives share numerous looks showing their unhappiness with the circumstances. Goren has to feel comforted that Eames shares the same feelings and they need not be verbalized.
Goren minces no words with the villains, is dying to pick up Di Rogga’s finger, empathizes with a young woman with no overt hint of his own tragedy. In the aria he comes really close to doing a classic Goren yell at Hayes-Fitzgerald.
Yeah. Now we’re talkin’.


Lady’s Man
video

Now here is an episode I really must devote a blog entry to. Was this really a shippy episode? It certainly was loaded with classic Gorenisms!
He plays a drunk and a wannabe lover to get information about Eames and her relationship with Kevin Mulrooney. He even plays a bit of the hurt partner for “everything you haven’t told me”.

I think in this episode Eames was a bit sorry Goren was bouncing back! She was so sensitive about so much that had happened in the past and kept fighting Goren, her biggest ally. At one point he must have thought he was lining up for another Purgatory-type blasting from her. Goren was sharp, highly attuned to Eames (much to her annoyance) and downright nosy! He enjoyed needling everyone he interviewed, especially Mulrooney. And he even openly observed Alex like he was seeing her as someone else might. The aria was disturbing but at the end Goren put his partner first, and with a shove to Mulrooney to display his contempt, he symbolically passes the handcuffs to Alex.
But most importantly in this episode, he no longer seemed to be haunted by his own problems. He was concerned for a very important someone-else who was worth protecting.
What a beautiful progression.


All In
video
It's such a shame they couldn't get Lou Taylor Pucci to reprise his role as Joey Frost (Cruise to Nowhere) for this episode. It would have provided a wonderful (but ultimately sad) story arc. Most of us want to believe that Joey turned out okay.
Goren seems to be doing well; entertaining/teaching Alex by burning flash paper and sharing stories about the rifle; actively involved in analysing the scene; no conflicts or tension with Ross. Goren’s quiet pervasive sadness seems to be leaving.
You know things are much more at ease if Alex will snark at him about taking up accounting. And there he is at the white board, crunching numbers and enjoying showing off to Alex. Long gone are the days when she would roll her eyes - she gets it and runs with it. Ahhh, love the authoritative tapping of the badge, seen in episodes like The Third Horseman and Vanishing Act. Interesting that Josh can read Goren so well. In Cruise to Nowhere Joey Frost could read Eames easily and that really annoyed her.
The clip where Eames talks about losing a spouse is added for three reasons: 1) it is interesting she seems comfortable enough to talk to him about it at all 2) that she is confident he is resilient enough now to hear about it without dredging up wounds and 3) it is important in that it gives Goren his ammunition for provoking Josh at the end. There is no satisfaction in Goren’s face when Josh confesses. In light of recent Goren history, it was a jolt seeing him put the gun to his head and pulling the trigger. (If I had been Eames and he hadn’t warned me that he was going to do that, I would have shot him myself!) And how many villains has Goren quietly told to call their lawyer and what to tell that lawyer? It appears he is now able to be compassionate without becoming emotionally submerged.



Family Values
video

Family Values has all the elements of a great episode of Criminal Intent. Best of all a beautiful aria showing Goren mentally as light on his feet as at any other time. There are no smiles, no quirks in this episode, no friction with Ross..
At the country house Eames is Ross’ interpreter into the mind of Robert Goren. Eames verbalizes what Goren has surmised. Goren is already mentally miles ahead. And he can’t resist giving Ross a pop quiz. “You tell us”. Ross passes the quiz.
The urgency created by the dropping temperature spurs Goren into motion and the aria commences. Goren accuses Devildes of serving the devil (ha, Devil-des – kinda like Cruella DeVille in 101 Dalmatians....) and has no problem in reading him throughout the aria, but when he sees his tactic isn’t working he does a lovely pirouette and changes his aim.

We see Goren reading, manipulating, bullying, empathizing and continually re-assessing his next move. I’d say he was back in the game. And the bonus – he gets to save a life.

So if I watch these Season 8 episodes in the order in which they were intended, I do get my exchanged glance at the end. And it was a beauty – perfectly timed between them and excluded Ross completely. These two are back in synch and I can hardly wait till Season 9. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait as long this time....

9 comments:

  1. Well, Suzanne I'm speechless! You're the best!
    Thank you so much for this! Great analysis... just awesome! I really enjoyed reading them all:D

    Me too (well don't we all), I hope we won't have to wait this long again! O the agony *sigh*
    And lets hope that USA doesn't screw up the airing like this again *grrr*

    As for Susan, I totally agree with you... yes totally!

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  2. This was brilliant,thanks for sorting out right order!Roll on next season,hopefully!!

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  3. Thanks so much for all these clips and your reflection of the last season. I hope so much that my country will show season 8 this fall. I cross my fingers.

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  4. I love your "squawk" QFC, it's simply beautiful. You picked just the right clips and it all seems to fall into place...

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  5. Oh Suzanne! What a superb examination of S8 and Goren's resurrection! Incredibly well written, insightful, and GENIUS, your blogpost has righted the wrongs of USA's discontinuity and displayed what I believe was Vincent's "intent" for his character. I will carry your water anyday! Thank you!

    S.

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  6. Very well done. Criminal Intent is my favorite out of all the law and order's, and I attribute that mostly to Vincent's amazing performance as Goren. When I first started watching it and svu, I couldn't get into either, it just wasn't law and order with out Jerry, otherwise know as detective Brisco. But after watching how Goren's character reminded me much of a crude columbo, I started to enjoy it quite a bit. It's a shame this season didn't go into Goren's personal life as much, because I was enjoying seeing a crazier side of him, and how everyone essentially hates him. Hopefully they'll go back to that format a little more in season nine. By the way, does anyone know why season eight was at least six episodes short? I did not even know that I had seen the season finale, until I looked online, because I was still expecting more. I'd also like to point out that having Jeff Goldblum on the show just made me shake my head at first, until I saw the first episode with him and was very impressed. Perfect parallel to Goren, even though I will miss Chris, after watching him for many years on the original series, and then on criminal intent.

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  7. Well, for the 16 episodes, I personally think it's USA's doing. I've read that Dick Wolf wants 22 eps but USA wants 16...
    Almost all USA's shows (to not say all) have 16 or less episodes. Since CI belongs to USA now, they reduced it to 16... makes sense? (jmo)

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  8. I only discovered CI about 6 weeks ago, after tuning into 'Rispetto' and then the rest of the season 10 episodes on Australian TV. The season 10 premiere was plugged a bit on the ads and happened to start just as I arrived home one night from work and it was like, 'Where have you been all my life?'

    I had perhaps seen one or two episodes of this show many years before, but had forgotten about it (apart from the fact that I remembered D'Onofrio was outstanding and erm... fairly attractive). Because I have always worked eveningt, I have no time to follow long-running TV series.

    Anyway, for the last few weeks, I have been on a Criminal Intent binge hunting down every (Goren and Eames) episode and 'Family Values' was the last original Bobby episode I had left to see.

    After finding your blog, I was fortunate enough to watch all of S8 in order and it was perfect that way.

    I know what D'Onofrio was trying to do with Bobby and his 'recovery'. Although S8 had some clunkers (the scripts, some guest actors), it still made me cry on two occasions. The aria in 'Identity Crisis', and the one in 'Family Values'.

    You're right, the exchanged glances between Goren and Eames to the exclusion of Ross spoke volumes about their bond. Excellent work by all three actors. I can't believe they got rid of them in the very next episode! Anyway, I'm so thankful your blog, written a few years ago, made my virgin S8 experience an authentic one.

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  9. About to begin with Boxed DVDs after reading your wondrous reviews & synopses --- gave up my TV some years ago, & my ONLY regret was Bobby Goren...your amazing music video of 'Sharp-dressed Man' one of the best...'The Predator's Predator', too right! Thank you ��

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