‘Human Target’ Review: Episode 2.01, ‘Ilsa Pucci’

Episode Title: “Ilsa Pucci”

Written By: Matt Miller

Story: Following the capture of former police officer Laverne Winston (Chi McBride) at the conclusion of last year’s season finale, Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) and his shady partner Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley) take it upon themselves to rescue their old friend. But Chance takes Winston’s kidnapping very personally, so much so that he ultimately decides to retire from his high risk industry for good.

Permanence is a fleeting thing, however, as billionaire philanthropist Ilsa Pucci (Indira Varma) comes to Chance requesting his specific skill set as a security contractor. Although he’s initially uninterested in the job, all it takes is the promise of some cash and a helicopter ride to lure Chance out of hiding and back onto the playing field.

The Boys are Back in Town: It’s taken a long time, but after several months of waiting — plus two additional months than initially planned — “Human Target” is finally back. And how! Tonight’s premiere episode, “Ilsa Pucci,” didn’t stop running from the very moment it hit the ground: Winston’s capture was resolved before the first commercial break, and before much longer than that, the freshly retired Chance found himself back on the field with his gun at the ready and his instincts as sharp as ever.

Clearly, there are some big changes since last season, the two most easily identifiable of which are the arrivals of Indira Varma as Ilsa Pucci and Janet Montgomery as Ames. Both actresses have a certain swagger that they’re bringing to “Human Target,” a different set of skills that we haven’t seen on the series before, certainly not on a regular basis. It’ll be interesting to see how their presence effects the core trio of Chance, Winston and Guerrero, but given some further episodes of character development, they could prove quite compelling in their own right.

The most exciting thing to consider is how Pucci’s investment in Chance’s firm is going to influence the way he does business in the future. With a billion dollars at her disposal, Ilsa can do a lot of good — or damage — for these security contractors, welcoming them into a high class world filled with expensive clients and exotic locales the likes of which we haven’t seen on the series before. Here’s hoping that “Human Target” manages to live up to that possibility during the course of season two.

Of course, there’s a lot to be said for the old if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it adage. To that end, the core trio of Chance, Winston and Guerrero is as solid as it ever was, even if their trust in each other is shakier now due to Chance’s decision to leave for a time. But his absence from the spy game hasn’t left him with any rust, as Chance was fully on the ball throughout the hourlong premiere. Winston, too, was able to get over his anger towards Chance, even if his athletic abilities, when put to the test, didn’t quite pass muster. Guerrero was the standout of the episode, however, what with his shotgun-wielding opening scene, his sniper shot at the end of the hour and his interrogation of Ames at the midpoint of the episode. It’s great to see Haley getting more action scenes to play — Guerrero is a dangerous animal when allowed out of his cage, and viewers and criminals alike should never forget that.

All in all, an explosive way to kick off a new season of “Human Target.” If the rest of the season can measure up to this entertaining first episode, we’ll all be in good hands.

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