'The Brink' Recap: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

HBO's Jack Black vehicle feels like the setup to an elaborate joke. Will it be funny?

The second episode of The Brink’s 10 episode first season felt a bit like the third episode of a network mainstay’s second season. Instead of helping the audience better understand the characters’ motivations, the writers have decided to simply detail the characters’ situations. Here’s what we’ve got:

Zeke Tilson (Pablo Schreiber): Having accidentally taken morphine instead of nootropics and shot down an Indian drone in Pakistani airspace (after vomiting on a video feed to the White House), Wing Commander has safely landed back on his aircraft carrier and is awaiting some sort of punishment.

Walter Larson (Tim Robbins): The Secretary of State is jockeying for influence with the Secretary of Defense, convincing the President to give him 24 hours in which to avert an Israel airstrike on Pakistan, an Indian airstrike on Pakistan, and a Pakistani attack on, well, anyone. He also wants to sleep with his beautiful Urdu translator.

Alex Talbot (Jack Black): The State Department flunky has been arrested by the Pakistani army on espionage “charges” after faxing the Americans a copy of the coupe leader’s psychological profile. He has saved his own life by convincing commanders that — in his capacity as a procurer of women for Secretary Larson — he has either influence or access.

Mrs. Walter Larson (Carla Gugino): The District Judge married to Secretary Larson is positioning herself for a run at the Supreme Court. She is also spending quality time with her personal trainer’s massive appendage. Unclear if either a woman or a penis will make the recurring character cut.

Rafiq Massed (Aasif Mandvi): In an attempt to save Talbot, the Pakistani driver has escaped house arrest to inform the U.S. Ambassador (John Larroquette) of his least favorite employee’s whereabouts. The ambassador, who’s got an end times mentality, gives zero shits, but prays on it anyway.

And that’s really about it for the episode. We know very little so far about our protagonists (such as they are) so it’s hard to speculate how their personal agendas will affect international events. It seems not unlikely that they really won’t. There are bigger, crazier forces at play here so the plot is unlikely to be an outgrowth of characterization. That said, just a bit more writing wouldn’t kill the show.

Really, the only thing to look forward to at this point is the inevitable Tim Robbins v. John Larroquette loquacious-older-white-guy-off. That will be a site to behold. In the meantime, it’s hard to care what happens to Alex Talbot. He went to Dartmouth. Waterboard him if you want.

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