Blood & Treasure (“The Brotherhood of Serapis”)

Season 1, Episode 5
Date of airing: June 11, 2019 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 3.748 million viewers, 2.5/5 in Households, 0.4/2 with Adults 18-49, 0.3/2 with Adults 18-34, 0.6/3 with Adults 25-54

Is it just me or is the show extremely inconsistent? The pilot movie was great, the following episode not so much. The previous episode was great, but this episode bored and confused me, and made the show look like the writers needed certain events to happen for the characters to have them learn a secret tat would define their back story, even if said back story doesn’t seem like it’s important for the narrative at all. The previous episode made it look like Lexi was kidnapped by Farouk’s people, but it turns out the Brotherhood was behind it. It didn’t take more than an act for Lexi and Danny to be reunited again, because the writers apparently did not realize that there is some suspense behind the idea of Lexi and Danny working separately while trying to find each other (that alone could have been the premise of this episode, but it wasn’t even the premise of an entire act — broadcast network television at your speedy service). It looks like there was no time for Lexi and Danny to goon a hunt for each other while Farouk and the Brotherhood are also involved, but the writers had different plans.

Obligatory shirtless screenshot.

At first, they brought back Jacob Reece, because working with John Larroquette is not cheap, so why not including him in more than just the opening of the how in which he plays the financial backer of Danny and Lexi’s adventures. Secondly, they introduced a new character with Sharif Gazal, who is now name-dropped as the mole inside the Egyptian government, as well as being played up to be the next big villain to beat before Danny and Lexi get to Farouk. Thirdly, the writers dropped a letter into the plot establishing a connection between said mole and Lexi’s father, because there can never be enough dramatic back story. I know that the hunt for Cleopatra can’t be a story expanded to thirteen episodes, and it has to be interrupted by B, C, D, E and F plots (and more) just to fill out the episode order, but the introduction of Gazal and the establishing of his connection to Lexi’s father seems like it’s a story dropped into the narrative to waste time. A story separated from the hunt for Cleopatra, so the writers don’t have to deal with the adventure part all 13 episodes and instead can focus on a wholly different conspiracy every once in a while. A story only here to give depth to Lexi’s arc. A story maybe here to prepare the twist that Lexi’s father may not have died in that New York explosion at all, and he turned out to be the boss villain. Why do dead parents in adventure action shows always have to be alive and evil?

The bad guy has some great shades.

The only good thing coming out of this episode was the notion of Lexi working with Danny to work against him. While I never believe that she would have kept her connection with the Brotherhood a secret to Danny (making the whole lying game an out-of-character experience for her), the idea behind it is still solid, and if it holds for longer than just this episode, maybe some tension can be delivered on Lexi having to work for the Brotherhood while having to keep that a secret to Danny for no reason at all. Seriously, why doesn’t she just tell him? There is nothing to lose, since the two already intend to work on the case without the input of Interpol, believing there is a mole, so Fabi wouldn’t even know anything anyway. Still, this spy game has a but of tension left for the narrative, although I wholly believe that tension is only gonna be used to tone down the sexual tension between Danny and Lexi and have them wait until they get together like peanut butter and jelly — after all, there can’t be a couple on any television show without having to go through an obstacle course, before they confess their love to each other.

This episode was essentially just good for two things: Put tension between Danny and Lexi by having her work for one of the parties on the hunt for Cleopatra, which needs her to lie to him, and put a plot device into Lexi’s back story (the letter she fond in Gazal’s safe) that awakens the potential of a yet-to-be-revealed boss villain. It’s essentially a transition episode, preparing the characters for future storylines, placing them on the chess board to make the next moves. Basically nothing happened story-wise in this episode, as no one got closer to finding out where Cleopatra is. Five episodes in and the show is already hurting because of the 13 episodes it had to fill. On a streaming network, the show would have looked more streamlined and this episode wouldn’t exist.

There’s a clue hiding in this screenshot.

Best part of the episode: It’s the fact that it was so short. If you cut out the opening introductory narration, this show would be about 37 minutes long per episode. At least I’m not wasting too many minutes with this weirdly inconsistent show.
Worst part of the episode: It has too many characters and doesn’t know what to do with them. Fabi has been brought a bit into the narrative, now that he is actively involved in the hunt by working with Lexi, but Interpol is pretty much a waste, James Callus’s character isn’t even in the show at the moment, Shaw disappeared. It’s the Danny and Lexi adventure action hour, and the show doesn’t even deliver in that regard.
Weirdest part of the episode: I do not understand what happened to Farouk’s explosive heist on the street, not stealing the relics and apparently not having the jewels from Cleopatra’s clown, since Shaw has already replaced them. So, Farouk didn’t take anything? Why would Danny say that the guards have been placed near the armored truck to paint a picture of what didn’t happen, just so Farouk has time to sell relics on the black market? If Farouk didn’t take anything, there is nothing for him to sell. Or did he take something and the writers just forgot to tell us? Was something transported with the relics that was not on the manifest, which is what Farouk really stole? What the hell happened here?!?
Player of the episode: Lexi had a good look at a penis. Then had a good look at the six-pack Danny was carrying above that penis. She definitely will have some sexy dreams tonight and I envy her.

Blood & Treasure (“The Secret of Macho Grande”)

Season 1, Episode 4
Date of airing: June 4, 2019 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 4.301 million viewers, 2.8/6 in Households, 0.5/3 with Adults 18-49, 0.2/2 with Adults 18-34, 0.8/3 with Adults 25-54

There is a chance that the previous episode was just a slip and the writers didn’t really know what to make of the premise after the action adventure that twas the two-hour pilot. Because this episode was enjoyable and fun, and it was helped along by the fact that it didn’t have a multitude of characters to deal with. Now, if only Simon Hardwick could be a character that never exists on the show, and BLOOD & TREASURE might be even more streamlined and entertaining. Shed all the dead weight from the pilot and just have Danny and Lexi go in a multi-episode hunt of a terrorist and Cleopatra in a sarcophagus, and maybe then I could consider this show one of my summer favorites. The way this hour focused on Danny and Lexi’s trip to Bavaria, their sexual energy, as well as their back story which Chuck apparently loves the hell out of and would like to see adapted in a 50 Shades of Grey kinda novel, intrigued me, and if it hadn’t been for Simon’s story in this episode, there would not have been a single second of boredom in these 40 minutes. This episode already got rid of Shaw (good!), and Gwen and her investigative staff in Rome was given a minimum of screentime (also good!), because according to the pilot this show is supposed to be about Lexi and Danny’s Europe vacation while on the lookout for a 2000-year-old dead woman.

You only need fingers to unlock this door.

And I didn’t even mind that the trip to Bavaria came up short at the end, let lone didn’t have a lot of German or Bavarian cliches in it. No beers, no tents, no words about German football, let alone characters who speak German badly, because for some reason the producers couldn’t find any actors with German as their native tongue. Well, at least the English accents sounded German, so that was a slight improvement, but this episode made me realize that the show doesn’t really employ local and international cliches of the countries it visits within the plot. Maybe that’s a good thing (so to not anger potential international audiences by making fun of them), but maybe it’s also a missed chance at great comedy. Chuck really tries hard to put up the level of comedy, but the whole show can’t just be carried by his jokes and love for Nicolas Cage movies. Also, the show can’t be carried by Lexi and Danny’s sexual tension — as evident in this episode, the writers weren’t interested going for it anyway, as the two had double the chances to hook up, and twice they decided not to go for it and instead remove the cop-out (the first time around it was the map, the second time around it was Lexi’s gun). Four hours in and the writers were already a big fan of the will-they-won’t-they. Ugh.

Flashbacks seem important for the life of a former Cylon supporter.

The hunt for Cleopatra was solid. A trip to Bavaria, a tour through the underground of a castle, another secret brotherhood with secret agents among the Nazis, a clue to the next place Cleopatra might have been, and a solid cliffhanger that sort of reminded me of that time Sydney Bristow fell into the dark hole of an Argentinean underground place where the journal of a Nostradamus-like figure was hidden. At least we saw that Danny actually survived the fall before the episode ended, but it was still a neat cliffhanger, and with Danny and Lexi separated — one who’s trapped in a tomb with apparently no way out, and the other one who’s kidnapped by the main antagonist of the show — there even is a chance for an entertaining follow-up episode, as I can’t imagine that the two lovebirds will find each other ten minutes into the next episode. It’s time to find out what Danny can do without Lexi’s input, and Farouk could get some character development himself, now that he has Lexi with him. Maybe then it will become obvious that Farouk isn’t really the big villain of the game and that there is an even sinister person above him who wants to end the world, and Farouk is only evil so he can stop the world from ending. The show is thirteen hours long, that twist has to come at some point.

Never turn your back against the villain.

Best part of the episode: Again, Chuck is trying to bring the funny to the show. It kind fo works for me, even though the even bestest thing about the episode would be if the writers found a more appropriate way for Chuck to be awesome in the show.
Worst part of the episode: Farouk’s guys couldn’t even figure out where the castle was and had to ask one of the people in the photograph, but Danny only had to look up castles on the internet and find it immediately. Maybe Farouk should spend some of his money on a researcher and archeologist. Maybe Farouk should have kidnapped Danny instead. Dumb terrorist leader is dumb.
Weirdest part of the episode: Whoa, what a way to just glance over the fact that the Nazis made gold bars out of the jewellery of those who went to the camps. A huge back story killed with a line of dialogue, because it was also a dramatic and dark back story.
Player of the episode: Once more, Chuck is really trying. And he loves the NATIONAL TREASURE films, so that’s a plus.

Blood & Treasure (“Code of the Hawaladar”)

Season 1, Episode 3
Date of airing: May 28, 2019 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 4.232 million viewers, 2.8/6 in Households, 0.5/2 with Adults 18-49, 0.3 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.8 rating with Adults 25-54

I had some hopes for the show after the adventurous and exciting pilot two-parter, but those hopes have been extinguished with this episode, as BLOOD & TREASURE became just another television show with too much excitement going on instead of focusing on what could make the show more interesting. I don’t know if it was good or bad to expect a RELIC HUNTER copy with an ongoing story arc about the hunting of a terrorist trying to create an attack with an artifact and a dead woman inside it, but for some reason the serialized nature added absolutely nothing to the episode, and the hunt for Farouk turned into the recovery of a picture, which only established where the characters are going next. If you need 39 minutes (and that’s how long this episode was) to tell the viewers where the show is heading next, then maybe you weren’t as successful in establishing a narrative, let alone telling an exciting story for an hour. There wasn’t even a greater theme in this episode, something that would happen to the characters and they learn from whatever mistake they were doing, or from whichever lesson they were being taught, but at the end of the day all Danny and Lexi learned is to go to Germany.

The team gets together to investigate.

Okay, maybe they realized that there is a mole in the Egyptian government, and that Asim wasn’t a spy for Farouk, but it’s not like that revelation changed anything. In fact, it was a revelation that there is a mole inside the Egyptian government and maybe Interpol, but neither Danny nor Lexi were impressed about it, and they decide it too keep it for themselves. Because there is nothing more unimportant than a mole inside your investigation, which means you decide to investigate on your own, without giving Gwen any information, and that means Interpol is essentially written out of the story, so why include them in the first place? Except of course it’s your goal to split Danny and Lexi away from Interpol, so they can do their own thing, while Interpol is doing a different thing, and suddenly there are three different parties on the hunt for Cleopatra and it’s all just a global race for a sarcophagus. Maybe that premise is more exciting than what the writers dished us with this episode.

The team gets a criminal to spy on another criminal.

The only interesting plot of the episode involved Asim, and whether he was the mole or not. It seemed like a logical thought from both Danny and Lexi, judging from the flashbacks in the previous episode and Farouk’s escape to Libya, and I do like that the writers literally dropped a hand grenade into that premise and blew it up during the same episode the threat was established, but that doesn’t mean it made the episode more interesting in general. Besides that, Asim isn’t suddenly just an interesting character because he was not the mole, and because he pulled a Steve Trevor pre-serum and dropped his body on a grenade to save the woman in the room, but what it does is extinguish the potential use of the genre trope of a mole in the story. Then again, we now know there is a mole, and that means the threat will always hang above the heads of the characters, until they find out who the mole is — and that is not really an interesting story. This isn’t 24, in which we were looking for moles in every episode, this is supposed to be a fun, sexy and globetrotting adventure action show, and all I want to see is Danny and Lexi banter, flirt, verbally fight, all while physically fight against bad dudes.

The team knows how to get out of fiery situations with weapons.

Meanwhile, BLOOD & TREASURE serves us with all the other tropes of the genre, including television as a whole. You got an Arabic villain? You better make them as evil and ruthless as possible, because it’s how Oded Fehr gets typecast (and apparently he doesn’t have a problem with that). Have his men kill people, and give him the least amount of character depth as you can, because Farouk is supposed to be a villain and there can’t be a moment in which he comes over as a character with a greater agenda, and there is someone more sinister and more evil above him. There is nothing more cliche than that, and that makes the show just a little more boring.

Best part of the episode: At least Lexi is as kickass as she can get. She jumps on an assassin on the roof from behind, she falls through a window with a bad dude and knocks him out that way, and she knows how to dish out G-rated insults covered in normal talk. I guess it was impossible for her to be the lone hero of the show, and she needed to have her white savior ex-boyfriend at her side.
Worst part of the episode: The worst part is that it didn’t take much for the show to become interesting and exciting and then turn into a bore after the two-hour pilot. That’s not an unusual thing in television, but once more I realize I can never really trust television. Yet I’m still watching it…
Weirdest part of the episode: Umm, Chuck and Danny play baseball in the middle of Rome, hitting balls everywhere, and no one bats an eye? Those balls could have flown straight through an apartment window, judging by the force Danny hit them with.
Player of the episode: Asim is a hero, protecting someone by dropping on a grenade. For this sacrifice, he shall deserve a Wikipedia entry.

Blood & Treasure (“The Curse of Cleopatra”, Parts 1 and 2)

Season 1 Episodes 1 and 2
Date of airing: May 21, 2019 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 5.620 million viewers, 3.6/7 in Households, 0.6/3 with Adults 18-49, 0.2/2 with Adults 18-34, 1.0/4 with Adults 25-54

This show popped up in one of my feeds, and for some reason I was immediately interested in it. It couldn’t have been because of the cast, since I don’t care about Matt Barr and I don’t know Sofia Pernas. It can’t be because of the premise, since it has already disappointed me with the syndicated RELIC HUNTER, going more for a bore than excitement, besides also going for rewritten history when it could have been for artifacts what SUPERNATURAL was for urban legends during its first couple of seasons. Maybe my attention was rock-hard for BLOOD & TREASURE, because what my heart and soul secretly wants is a sexy and exciting summer series, in case it’s actually raining. And this is no joke: The day I watched this episode, it was in fact raining in my town, so these 84 minutes definitely made things warmer for me. Throughout this two-hour pilot exhibition though I came to realize why I was drawn to the show immediately: While it (thankfully) isn’t just a more hotter and streamlined and action-packed version of RELIC HUNTER, it’s a great mixture of the Indiana Jones franchise and Stephen Sommer’s first THE MUMMY film, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite summer blockbusters. The hunt for artifacts make Danny and Lexi look like the twenty-first century version of Sydney and Nigel; the globe-trotting premise of the show gives it a feeling of being an Indiana Jones TV series in the making; and the look, feel, music and action sort of copy the 1999 THE MUMMY film (and maybe its sequel two years later). And it was always one of my dreams to watch a TV version of Sommers’ THE MUMMY. By the way, why has that never been adapted into a show? Now that Universal pretty much burned their Dark Universe franchise to the ground with the Tom Cruise-led flop, they could try to adapt it for (streaming) television — could be a thought worth developing.

Red-eyed ghosts upgraded their weapons arsenal.

That BLOOD & TREASURE would have some elements of THE MUMMY in it was unexpected though, which means my curiosity for the show was somewhat exceeded while I was watching this episode, and it generally doesn’t happen that my expectations are being exceeded. While it’s allowed to say that BLOOD & TREASURE is nothing really special after the first 84 minutes, the show definitely has some sexy fun and attractive excitement to it, and it ended even better, when the writers made clear that BLOOD & TREASURE is not a RELIC HUNTER clone when it comes to stand-alone stories about artifact hunts, but in fact a serialized terrorist hunt thriller, making things a little more interesting in hindsight. Which I’m thankful for, because you don’t use Oded Fehr for an episode-long storyline only. You either have him turn out to be the secret hero, or he is the villain all the way, for more than just two hours.

Of course, the premise for the series premiere wasn’t anything too exciting or groundbreaking, as it was only a plot device to get the characters to Egypt and Rome and the Vatican (with pitstops in Switzerland and a few flashback scenes to Paris and New York City), and to get Danny and Lexi as close as possible, so they can get the sexual tension rolling again, and most of the show will be about them bickering at each other for certain things done wrongly or perfectly, instead of hunting down a terrorist who moonlights as a treasure hunter, because apparently this is how terrorism pays itself these days. Judging by the unimaginable worth of Cleopatra’s sarcophagus, you could do more than just finance a terror plot, you could pretty much buy your own country, which I guess is not at all better than trying to blow up stuff and kill innocent people. With BLOOD & TREASURE being a serialized adventure trip though, there is a chance that Farouk, being a main player in the story, will get character depth as well, and he isn’t just a mean terrorist on the run from all agencies in the world. He shouldn’t just be the bad guy with a connection to both of the central characters’ past (that being said, how is it that Farouk doesn’t know Lexi, when it was him who killed her father? Except of course it wasn’t Farouk who killed her father…), he should have a driving character arc as well. Slick adventure fun doesn’t necessarily need to have the conflicted villain with a dark past needing attention through flashback scenes, but it would make the show better in hindsight, and it would take minutes from the show away for character scenes, when it would have been used for meaningless and repetitive banter or action, let alone plot lines that don’t make sense or seem filler in hindsight. Sort of like Danny and Lexi’s trip to the Vatican in this episode — it didn’t seem necessary and it only put additional minutes to the running time, probably because the second half of the episode came in below the average page count during writing.

In this series universe, stuff likes to blow up and kill people.

This episode did manage to build an exciting universe though, and I am interested to know whether it will be expanded over time. The flashback to the heist in 1942 can’t be the only instance in this show’s archeological history during which an artifact has been stolen, and the time Danny and Lexi spent between her arrest in Paris and her father’s death in New York can’t be the only points of interest in their relationship. Besides that, more exotic landscapes need to be visited throughout the story, and some of them can only be introduced with another back story accompanied by a flashback scene, whether it fits into a story or is just another side plot adding up to fill an hour of television. In this case I don’t even mind if some of the show is filler, as it’s already the better version of RELIC HUNTER I really wanted to see back when the Tia Carrere-led show premiered. Hell, BLOOD & TREASURE doesn’t even have a phone receptionist sitting at home, who is considered a regular character of the show, only having screentime during the beginning and closing seconds of an episode, and that is already a vast improvement.

A trip to a sarcophagus makes friends out of enemies.

The episode also managed to be as convenient as possible, when it comes to certain moments of storytelling. Not only did Dr. Ana Castillo have perfect reception in the pyramid, after she entered Cleopatra and Anthony’s tomb, but I would love to know if it is in fact possible to live inside a sarcophagus and use its oxygen bubble, in case the surroundings turn into a vacuum for a minute or two. I get that neatly and tightly placed rock can create a vacuum, especially inside places that haven’t seen sunlight in many decades or centuries, but I never believed that a plate of rock covering a sarcophagus was enough to not let oxygen escape out of that sarcophagus and have Dwight, Danny and Dr. Castillo survive the short amount of oxygen-less environment. Besides that, Interpol blows up a pretty secretive black market bazaar with a huge shootout, and apparently only the bad guys get killed. And Danny and Lexi had all the time in the world to get out of their handcuffs, strap on one parachute and jump out of a plane that was supposed to land anyway. And let’s not forget that someone stole Cleopatra’s tomb 77 years ago, and we only noticed it “today.” Yeah, those 84 minutes certainly had a bunch of conveniences, but those didn’t hinder me having fun watching Danny and Lexi get together and hunt down a terrorist while also dealing with their sexual chemistry. There might not be much of that in the show, thanks to Matt Barr’s generic looks and acting abilities (which is why I never saw him as a leading man before), but who knows, maybe the guy can surprise me after a short while. Andy Whitfield wasn’t spectacular as Spartacus in the first two episodes of SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND either, but then that show turned around nicely and became a spectacle, and with it Whitfield’s portrayal of the character. Not that I’m about to compare the late Andy Whitfield with Matt Barr, but hey, miracles can still happen.

The darker the secret room is, the more mysterious its only light sources are.

Best part of the episode: The two hours had some nice imagery, but the beginning took the cake already: Four creepy pairs of red eyes popped up on screen, and then the green target lasers added to the tension. Opening a new show with an impressive shot I will remember for a few days is always a good thing.
Worst part of the episode: As I already mentioned, the detour to the Vatican felt like filler all the way. Those scenes could have been cut in favor of giving one of the characters more time to develop depth, like Farouk.
Weirdest part of the episode: The “Scorpion’s” poison literally just poisoned its victims and didn’t kill them? What was so hard about putting actual murderous poison inside Dwight’s drink and kill him that way? By the way, what am I supposed to call Dwight now? Dwight, which is his real name, or Shaw, which is his assumed name, which everyone called him by?
Player of the episode: If this weren’t a summer show on a broadcast network, which might not be recognized or seen by a potential audience as something interesting to follow, then maybe Sofia Permas could be the breakout star of BLOOD & TREASURE. She was excellent in the opening two hours (of course the directors had to focus on her cleavage a few times), but because the show will most likely not be a success on CBS, it means Permas won’t be a breakout star to replace any aging action heroine currently in business.