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Enlightened may not be the "Agent of Change" it hopes

Enlightened poster

Written by : published Wednesday 6th March 2013

HBO's Enlightened brings its second season (and possibly series) to an end this week with "Agent of Change." The proverbial crap hits the fan as Jeff's (Dermot Mulroney) article about Abaddon becomes public knowledge. Amy's (Laura Dern) part in it is fully exposed, costing her her job. Before she goes quietly or triumphantly off into the night though, she burns a few more bridges.

Amy is a polarizing character you tend to either love or hate. Despite enjoying the show, I don't like the lead very much. I don't know if this is a testament to Dern for creating such a specific persona, one who is realistic and recognizable, even if not very likeable, or if they series' writers misjudge just how far Amy can be taken. I feel like this is why the show struggles to build a following.

That being said, I do still want Amy to have a happy ending. She is the protagonist, and we've spent enough time watching her. She is a pain and her self-righteousness causes more harm than good. But, at the end of the day, she should still find her niche. "Agent of Change" doesn't get her there, but it does leave her in a place of success, at least on certain fronts.

It's funny when Amy gets a meeting with the head of Abaddon, Charles Szidon (James Rebhorn, White Collar, Homeland). It takes no time at all for Szidon to convince Amy that he's a good guy who's trying his best. His earnestness and apparent sincerity could sway fans of the show, too. Yet, Amy should not be moved, given the evidence she's seen. She should be able to look past his words and remember his crimes, figuring he only offers her the dream job because it makes him look good. The fact that she doesn't, changing her mind at the drop of a hat, exposes the flimsiness and weakness of her personality, a lack of utter conviction about anything.

This wishy-washiness extends to Amy's romantic life, too. She is plenty willing to blow off Levi (Luke Wilson), a man who has gone to great lengths to get his life together for her, and whom she has strung along for awhile, when she is sleeping with Jeff. Yet, when Jeff asks for a break, whose house does she go to for comfort? Yep, Levi's. Her actions are not fair to either man.

I don't believe that Jeff doesn't care for Amy. I'm not convinced he's in love with her, but it does seem like he's asking for the time apart for professional reasons, not because he is using her for information. The glowing way in which he writes about her in his article, as well as his query as to whether she is OK after everything blows up, shows us this. If Enlightened does get a third season, it could be interesting to watch Jeff and Levi fight over Amy, especially when the "winner" who gets her could, in actuality, end up the loser.

The most uncomfortable thing Amy does in "Agent of Change" doesn't come from her guy troubles, or her final showdown with Szidon, where she grows a backbone at last. No, the worst scene is when Amy ruins her fragile relationship with Krista (Sarah Burns). Just when they rebuild a friendship, Amy storms into Krista's hospital room, not long after Krista gives birth, and lobbies angry accusations and profanity against an innocent woman. It's totally in character, but it's exactly why Krista has distanced herself from Amy in the first place. There is most likely no coming back from this for Amy.

The best moment of the episode, in my opinion, is when Dougie (Timm Sharp) tries to help Amy get out of the building with her evidence against Abaddon. He tells her that she's been a terrible employee, but he still wants to hang out with her, and he supports her mission. Friends can be found in the most unlikely of places, and to see them come together is heartwarming.

It's also nice that Amy salvages Tyler's (Mike White) budding arrangement with Eileen (Molly Shannon, Saturday Night Live), and, after kicking her daughter out of her home, Helen (Diane Ladd) finds something to be proud of Amy for. These are the touches that makes Enlightened worth watching, even at its most uncomfortable moments.

What would a third season of Enlightened look like? Obviously, Amy would not be at her job any longer, and that would make it hard to keep all of her co-workers in the cast. Tyler and Dougie, at least, lost their jobs, too, so maybe they would latch on to whatever Amy does next. But Krista would likely be gone, which, while I liked her, would not be a big loss, since her arc comes to a close so neatly this week. And obviously Amy would have another cause to go after in some half-thought out way.

"Agent of Change" is nice because it really brings things to a close in a way that makes sense. There may be some things that end uncomfortably, and plenty of balls left up in the air, but if Enlightened should be done, there is enough finished to not be too disappointing.

Watch Episode 8 - Agent of Change online

About the author JeromeWetzelTV


Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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