TV Recaps: The Brave – Desperate Measures

The Brave
“Desperate Measures”
January 8, 2018

(Photo by: NBCUniversal)

The Brave returned tonight with an adrenaline filled episode that encapsulates all that is wonderful about this show. The acting, the action, the heart stopping moments, and the respect shown to our real world operators by depicting realistic missions with realistic complications.

BUT! Before we recap tonight’s episode of The Brave, lets review where we left off after episode 9 back in November.  Tasked to Tehran, Iran, Special Operation Group 7, led by Captain Adam Dalton (Mike Vogel) , was tasked with the sanctioned termination of Fahim Jarif, the man responsible for the beach-side truck attack in Turkey which we saw at the end of the Pilot episode.

After Jarif was spooked inside a tea shop where the hit was scheduled to take place, intrepid team sniper Sgt Jasmine “Jaz” Khan (Natacha Karam) missed an improvised shot at the target outside the  storefront.  The person Jarif was scheduled to meet, Aida Hareb (whose brother is Nasser Hareb, known big shot terrorist mastermind), ends up killing herself via poison pill just as Dalton corners her in a garage.  Always willing to call an audible to achieve his goal, Dalton decides to greenlight Jaz’s impersonation of the now dead Aida at a rescheduled meet with Jarif (who, though well acquainted with her brother, has never actually met Aida in person).  At the rescheduled meet with Jarif inside his suite at the Palace Hotel, Jaz improvises her plan and successfully kills her target.  Unfortunately, she was supposed to be well away from Jarif when he died under the original “let’s poison him” plan and so now, with the team’s help, she has to scramble to exfil without being apprehended by any of the numerous Quds forces keeping guard in the hotel.

In a “best of horrible options” type of deal, Jaz calmly walks towards a second story plate glass window which she plans to fling herself out of; the plan being that Dalton and Preach (Demetrius Grosse) would pick her up outside on the ground. Just as she begins to pick up speed, seconds from the window, she is flying tackled by one of Jarif’s guards. Cut to Jaz being hauled away, the team looking distraught, Dalton looking like he might vomit and Assistant Director Patricia Campbell (Anne Heche) angrily sweeping everything off of the nearest desk to her. Cut to black.

And now, episode 110 – “Desperate Measures,” or “How We Try To Save Jaz From an Iranian Execution.”  Read on for our detailed recap of Monday night’s episode, Desperate Measures, but beware of spoilers. Proceed at your unspoiled peril.

The second half of The Brave‘s season picks up seconds after we left off in November; the ensuing hour an emotional roller coaster as Dalton & Co. dealt with the aftermath of Jaz’s capture and attempt to free her. Seriously, this is your last chance to avoid spoilers on the episode.

McG (Noah Mills), Amir (Hadi Tabbal) and Hossein Larijani (guest star, John Farmanesh-Bocca) relay the situation inside the Palace Hotel to the team as Qassem Javad (the now dead Jarif’s lead bodyguard) frog marches the bound Jaz out of the lobby and into the parking garage.  Dalton, calling the first of a few audibles tonight that are probably not logical but definitely Jaz loyal, heads to the parking garage to head them off.  Unfortunately, he isn’t able to hot wire an old Volkswagen style bus in time before Jaz and her captors roll by and out the garage door.  Jaz and Dalton make brief eye contact as the Mercedes SUV passes Dalton’s hunk a junk and Dalton’s frustrations boil over in a rage which we feel at home.  His team member is officially captured.  Title Card.

When we return, Jaz is muttering directionals to herself, until Qassem has had enough and smacks her good and plenty.  Of course, she was not talking to herself but rather, relating the turns the captors were taking back to her team … somehow, Qassem and his Quds Force buddies didn’t check her well enough to find her comms hidden on her body. Its that kind of shoddy work that allowed his boss, Jarif, to be killed.  In his own hotel room. With Qassem right outside.  Qassem is the worst.   But I digress.  Unfortunately, the smack is hard enough to break the comms transmission. Having regrouped at Larijani’s makeshift HQ , Dalton & Co together with Campbell and the DIA team are working on deciphering her location from the info provided as well as put together an extraction plan for Dalton’s team.  But, lets put a pin in everything else because Campbell needs to go meet with the French foreign liaison who has stopped by Campbell’s office to chat.  Helpful to note that Dalton guesses Jaz is going to revert to French (in which she’s fluent) to keep her official cover going).  The nice French lady lets Campbell know that France will play it however Campbell wants but Campbell plays dumb, “whoever Iran has, it isn’t ours or the CIA’s.”  Disavow is the name of the game because if it came out that Jaz was an American, she’d be executed toute de suite.  Back in the war room, Noah(Tate Ellington)  has determined that Jaz crossed train tracks which means they’ve moved Jaz back into Tehran, away from the prisons, and hence, to a black site.  

(NBC/Universal)

Or a white site, that may be more applicable.    Enter Arthur (Shaun Toub, oddly enough of Jewish descent and born in Tehran), the (not so) friendly and stylish (seriously, he could be an extra from one of Diddy’s famous Labor Day White Parties) Iranian interrogator sent to engage in some light “White Room” torture and extract from Jaz everything he wants to know.   For her part, Jaz looks as if she’s been drugged but not physically hurt. Not yet.   To set the scene, everything inside this room is white, including Arthur’s clothes, the guards’ clothes, Jaz’s clothes, the bowls, the food inside the bowls, the restraints, and the tables. Everything, except for the skin tone on the players in the room.  A note on the filming of the white room scenes, the closeups on Jaz are extreme. While Arthur is shot from a distance, every time we see Jaz in these scenes, you’ll notice how close up they are and if you’re like me, you’re going to marvel at how big and expressive and beautiful Ms. Karam’s eyes are.  They should win an Emmy by themselves.

Anyway,  this first White Room scene is a dance, an introduction.  Light jabs from Arthur and French-twinged confusion and obfuscation from Jaz. It ends with the first strike on Jaz; there is now some red flowing in the White Room.

Larijani’s Storefront HQ.  We’re nowhere and Dalton’s frustrations are growing, he’s fraying at the edges and his team is visibly worried what with all the furtive glances they’re giving each other.  We learn Hannah (Sofia Pernas) and her DIA analysts have narrowed the possible black sites down to 2 dozen and are still working.  Campbell lies to Dalton and says they haven’t gotten back the NSA’s analysis of the audio and so there is still some work to be done, some hope to be had.  After disconnecting, Noah questions Campbell on why she is giving Dalton false hope (it seems the NSA report was delivered a half hour ago and was no help) and Campbell denies that there is any such thing as false hope.  We’ll see about that.  Dalton orders his team to sleep or to make busy work and continues his silent stew.

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White Room.  Arthur dabs at Jaz’s fresh bloody lip as he questions her about the various wounds on her body (creepy that he examined her while she slept). He lays out his theory on how she got to Jarif and accuses her of being an American or Israeli spy. When she French’s it up so more, he places a black bag over her head, cocks a gun behind her skull and then shoots it right next to her ear.  Which has all sorts of psychological ramifications and physical ones as well, including some serious ringing and disorientation, which we get to experience right along with Jaz.  “I’m a patient man but my patience is not infinite.” Yes you seem very patient, Arthur.

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Larijani’s Storefront HQ. Dalton is still at it but finally has a lead.  His country boy Summers allow him to decipher one of the background sounds as a sheep. Which, in Tehran, means a slaughterhouse.  Which can only be 3 possibilities.   Dalton forces Hossein to take him to one of his Quds’ buddies and coerce out of him which slaughterhouse the Quds uses for a black site.  A bullet to a leg from a maybe unhinged Dalton loosens the former Quds’ tongue and we (finally) know Jaz’s location.   Before DIA HQ can make a plan, Campbell gets called away to another meeting with the French foreign liaison.  Seems like the whole team’s presence in Tehran has been exposed.

The White Room.  More color is entered into the White Room when Arthur shows Jaz color pictures from when her and the team entered Tehran through the airport, including a picture of her with Dalton (who you’ll recall posed as a married couple).  Jaz continues to hold firm and silent until Arthur raises the stakes. His final picture is of a very bloody and very dead Dalton. Arthur tells a story of Jaz’s team being caught and Dalton killed, because of her and her stupidity and selfishness. He asks her, how many more need to die because of her.  She turns to him and offers a “You’re lying.” In English.  Which, of course, is what Arthur wanted.  Well, the first thing he wanted.  She calls Arthur’s bluff by saying that if he really had her team, she wouldn’t be looking at pictures but rather, Arthur would have brought severed heads in for exhibits. Arthur responds by bringing in a terrifying man with terrifying carving weapons.  Wrapped in white linen but certainly not white themselves. Lots of steel there.

Amir is doing his best impersonation of the Iranian equivalent to a USDA Inspector, taking a tour of the slaughterhouse where Jaz is being kept. As the tour proceeds, the team is analyzing the live footage so they can assess  access points and try to formulate a rescue plan.  Even after figuring out the actual door behind which Jaz is being held, its still a no go; no way the team can make it in and out alive.

Remember that second meeting with the French liaison? Yeah, she tells Campbell that her team is exposed, the entirety of the Revolutionary Guards is looking for them, and there is no on way they can escape Iran. So, ask for some help, mmm kay? Campbell holds the line, disavowing not just Jaz but now, her whole team.  Back in the HQ, Hannah tells Campbell that, even taking into account how good Dalton is, there is zero chance Dalton & Co make it out of the slaughterhouse alive.   Buuuzzzzz killll.

Larijani’s Storefront HQ.   Dalton and Campbell are having some real talk about how its an impossible situation and a defeated Dalton says he’s no longer asking to stay.  Campbell lets him know that an exfil plans will take longer than normal as they’ve all been outed so be patient. Adam seizes on the word “outed” and devises the most batshit crazy plan ever conceived by anyone on TV.

Here goes.  Campbell will break all sorts of federal intelligence laws by revealing to the French (who will relay it to Iran) that Jaz is in fact an American spy. This will cause her captors to move her from the black site to a place (probably a prison) where she’ll be publicly executed because killing an admitted infidel is a ratings bonanza in Iran and they can’t waste that opportunity doing it in secret in some insane white room.  Dalton & Co will hit the transport and rescue Jaz during the move.  Through force of will and loyalty to Jaz, and the basic fact that Jaz is dead anyway, Dalton gets his team on board, even the very reluctant Larijani. “Audacity and surprise,” indeed.  Back in the states, Campbell tells Noah and Hannah they should both take the rest of the day off so they are not seen as conspirators of hers.  Noah and Hannah tell her there is no way they leave her side.    We see Campbell telling her French bestie about Jaz and the plan is officially in motion.

The White Room.  We see blood pooling on the floor beneath Jaz’s right arm which hangs limply while Arthur admits to her the irony that in the end, it was Jaz’s government that gave him his answers and not Jaz herself.  She calls him a liar, but she can’t really argue with the fact they are moving her.  So far, the plan is in tact.

Arthur oversees a blood spotted Jaz (the blood on the stark white prisoner garb is striking and disturbing) being loaded into a transport van; seems like Arthur isn’t done trying to extract information from her. He lets her know that she’s going to Evin prison and that her itinerary will be filled with 24 hours of solitary in which she will give him every piece of information he wants. She politely disagrees.  Arthur is passionate about his work, he’s probably won all sorts of Interrogator of the Month awards and such. Very motivated, if not a little creepy.  The transport takes off with a lead vehicle followed by the van. In pursuit is Amir and Larijani, who states that this plan is madness but its cool, because he loves Madness.  Definitely want this guy on your team, he’s all in.

DIA HQ.  Peter Thomas, deputy counsel from the State Department,  drops in just as the mission is starting because his boss needs to have a word with Campbell about her possible treasonous actions.  She verbally bitch slaps Thomas, daring him to either call security to forcibly remove her or allow her to see her team’s mission through.   He opts for the latter and who wouldn’t, Campbell can be very scary for such a tiny woman.

(Photo by: John Britt/NBC)
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Tehran. At a pre-designated point, Preach launches a RPG at the transport causing the vehicles to stop while Dalton and McG open fire on the lead SUV taking out the Quds soldiers.  In the transport van, Jaz takes advantage of Arthur’s momentary disorientation at the sudden stop to grab a hold of him and choke him out (or maybe choke him to death). Jaz = Always on Mission!  It reminded me of Princess Leia choking Jabba, in the very best way possible.  Dalton and McG breach the transport van door and rescue Jaz. McG gives her a shot of epinephrine to keep her moving while Dalton puts two definite bullets to Arthur’s head, which is just good policy.  Hossein and Amir roll up and the whole team makes a getaway as sirens are heard creeping closer in the distance. As the team escapes, we see Dalton cradling Jaz in his arms and telling her, he’s got her (and 1000 shippers swoon).

When we return, Larijani is securing the team in the back of a fruit truck and explaining that they are going to cross the Turkish border at a point where a particularly cooperative Quds solider, Reza, is waiting and has agreed to let them through.  Amir is riding up front with Hossein.  On the drive, night has fallen and Hossein tells Amir that Iran is over for him and he’s ready to leave. He has been ever since his daughter was killed. In the back, Dalton and Jaz talk about how, no matter what happened, she achieved her mission and they are all getting out of country.  Everything else is details.

At the border, there are a lot more guards patrolling than they expected and Reza, the cooperative friend, is not among them.  In fact, he was sent home. They were definitely betrayed by the guy that Dalton shot in the leg.  They’re going to need to search the truck.  Yikes.  In a scene where I didn’t breath for a minute or two, the search of the truck goes fine until one of the border guards notices there is a false bottom on the truck.

Knowing there is no other way out, Hossein tells Amir to hit the gas when he says so. Understanding that he means to sacrifice himself, Amir tries to think of a better way but Larijani makes it clear that the Iranians killed his daughter, they don’t get to kill his friends too.  In the end, Hossein ends up taking down about 5 Quds officers before he’s killed but more importantly, provides the necessary distraction for Amir to get the truck and his whole team safely through the border crossing and into freedom.

I really liked Hossein Larijani and I’m sad that him and Dalton won’t get that fishing trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once Amir gives DIA HQ the all clear, Campbell gives her team some final instructions to let the Turkish government now they have a friendly on the road and to make sure the American base they’re headed to is ready to treat Jaz. Then, and only then, she gives herself over to the lawyer from State.

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In the final scene, wordless except for a stripped down version of the song “OOh Child” playing over top, we see the current state of the team as the sun rises on a road in Turkey.  Amir and Preach are up front looking at each other with a mixture of relief and exhaustion and consternation. In the back, McG is awake and Dalton is watching Jaz, and so are we.  Your eye is drawn to her as we get a slow fade in, another extreme close up on her face like we had all episode.  Sitting up, a blanket around her shoulders, we see Jaz’s beaten and bloody face look forward into the sunrise.  And the episode fades out from there.

The events of “Desperate Measures will have consequences.  Consequences that I imagine we’ll see play out in the remaining 3 episodes of Season 1 (renew The Brave already NBC!). For Jaz, there will be a difficult path of recovery which will not be easy but she’s strong and she will recover. As Adam told Hossein in “Desperate Times” right after Hossein met Jaz, “they need to be a little more worried about what she can do to them.” Jaz is a badass warrior and she will overcome.  To be clear, her recovery will be emotional, much more so than physical. Her emotional trauma, of not only being tortured by Arthur but of her guilt … she sees everything that went wrong these last two hours of TV as her fault, starting with her impermissible improvise in “Desperate Times.” I think seeing that doctored photo of a bloody and dead Dalton had a much deeper affect on her than even Arthur realized and that’s going to take some time to get over.  Dalton will have ramifications as he has to not only put his team back together but he himself needs work. He crossed lines in this episode; he went far outside the lines and he needs to come to terms with that and also, if he would have done the same things if it was another member of his team and not Jaz.  And obviously, Campbell is going to have consequences for her actions.  On paper, she committed treason or at least some other high end federal felony and she is going to need to really sell “the ends justifying the means” to get out of it.

The Brave is one of the best things on TV right now and as we stated in our Best of List a few weeks ago, the best new show of the Fall season. From stellar acting to realistic portrayal of military missions to plot lines and character beats that are compelling and resonate emotionally, this is a show you can get lost in for an hour every week and walk away thinking about after its over.   What more can you ask from a great television program?

In a military show, especially one like The Brave that uses realistic plots and terms and jargon, there may phrases and words used that you don’t understand, I’m here to help.

Below are Terms You May Have Wondered About:

Quds Forces:  Quds Force is an elite special operations force within the Iranian (or Islamic, depending on who you ask) Revolutionary Guards Corps, which itself is a specialized unit within the larger Iranian Armed Forces.  The Revolutionary Guards are specifically charged with protecting the Islamic arm of the country’s political system.

Black Site: Generally speaking, a black site is an unacknowledged location where an unacknowledged or unofficially sanctioned project or action is taking place. We most commonly hear about black sites in the news in the connection of interrogation of terrorist suspects.  In these cases, as also used in this episode, a black site is a secret prison, not officially accounted for by a government but used, typically by a country’s covert intelligence agencies, to extract information from said country’s enemies.

White Torture: What I refer to above as “White Room Torture” is a real thing and its a real thing perpetrated by the Iranians.  As we saw in this episode, it focuses on sensory deprivation by draining all color from a room that a prisoner is held in.  Its accompanied by sound dampening, to the point where victims have said the guards even where slippers to avoid making sounds when they walk.   Its a total isolation which eventually causes the victim to break down emotionally and psychologically.  This is an article from CNN about one man’s experience with the

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