Spring 2015 Review: American Odyssey

22 Apr

American Odyssey

American Odyssey is a conspiracy thriller set in the present post-9/11 world of Middle Eastern Islamic extremist terrorism. It’s kind of a cross between Homeland and Rubicon, and since most people understandably are unfamiliar with Rubicon, AMC’s first scripted show which lasted a mere single season before Breaking Bad and Mad Men made everyone care about AMC, I’ll explain further. This is a complicated military industrial conspiracy show, so get ready for a bit of exposition. There are three primary protagonists at the heart of American Odyssey. These are their stories.

Odelle is a member of an army team which makes a surprise discovery of one of the world’s most wanted terrorists while in Mali. He’s dead and they’re assigned to turn over everything they found to a shady paramilitary unit. Odette against orders holds onto a thumb drive which shows a bizarre transaction between an American company and Middle Eastern terrorists. The army group makes their way back to safety through the desert on horses, and while Odette is over in the brush urinating, her team is surgically hit with a drone strike. From a few yards away, she then sees the paramilitary group from earlier come in and kill anyone not already dead. She’s then captured by some terrorists and held hostage by a boy, who, after his terrorist dad is killed by the paramilitary agents, agrees to help her escape. The boy also texts a photo of her out to the world; while the military tells her family at home that she’s dead and the photo is mere propaganda, we know it’s very real.

Second, there’s a young, charming Occupy leader who kindly listens to what seems to be a nutty conspiracy theorist. When the theorist claims that the Odelle is still alive, before the picture comes out, and the picture than validates his claim, the charming Occupier decides he best start listening to conspiracy nut, but conspiracy nut is nowhere to be found. The Occupier also learns that an attractive young female journalist to whom he gave an interview doesn’t work for the publication she claimed to have.

Third and final is a lawyer, who used to work for the government but now works for an investment bank helping ensure the merger of two possibly evil sounding giant corporations. Doing his due diligence he finds out some information that his higher-ups don’t want him to know, and though they encourage him not to look too closely, he digs deeper and finds a former drone pilot who was ordered to fire on Americans, and who one of these corporations attempted to bribe in exchange for his silence. When the drone pilot is about to meet up with the lawyer to go talk to some government people about his story, he gets hit by a bus. Dun dun dun.

Wow, that was involved, and that’s about the kind of show it is. It’s high on plot, but it’s also high on material that sounds about as generically conspiratorial as it gets. Evil corporations, military, government, goes all the way to the top. Sure, any of these allegations would be a huge, massive deal in real life, but on TV and in movies, anyone has seen them again and again and again. American Odyssey was fine. It was competent enough, and these conspiracy-based shows and movies continue to propagate because there’s something inherently fascinating about corruption, power, secrets, and lies and that can be somewhat compelling even when the allegations are not particularly interesting or original.

But, there’s nothing here that makes this feel like anything more exciting that whatever minimum excitement is generated in you by a conspiracy. It’s fine, but it doesn’t feel like anything special. There’s really nothing notable about it, and while phoned in is too harsh, generic is not. That’s really all.

Will I watch it again? No. It wasn’t that bad, but when you already watch more than 40 TV shows a year, wasn’t that bad doesn’t cut it enough to make it worth viewing.

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