Thursday, 21 December 2017

TV70: The Code Revisited

In the second season of Australia’s The Code, Jesse and Ned Banks (Ashley Zuckerman and Dan Spielman) are fighting to prevent their extradition to the U.S. for the computer crimes they committed in season one. The Australian Federal Police are willing to prevent that extradition if Jesse will help them save a boy who has been kidnapped by an online sex-trafficking site. The hunt for the boy leads Jesse to Jan Roth (Anthony LaPaglia), the founder of a dark website, and to the shooting of two of Roth’s colleagues on a back road in West Papua.

What makes season two special is the focus on non-violent indigenous anti-mining protests in West Papua, protests which are being violently suppressed by the local military, with the aid of powerful people in Australia. When the lead protestor, Remsey, who is a close friend of Roth’s, is imprisoned and brutally treated, Jesse and Ned get involved in that case as well, with the help of Meg Flynn (Ella Scott Lynch), a photographer, and Jesse’s girlfriend, Hani (Adele Perovic).

The potential for another four-star season was there, but it didn’t happen. First, the writing was not as sharp, creating a season that was less credible and less compelling than the first. Second, the opportunity to focus on the protest and to educate viewers about the repression in West Papua was largely wasted in favour of focusing on the violent responses to the protest and how these were being covered up. 

Nevertheless, the characters are fascinating, the acting remains strong (LaPaglia and Lynch are excellent additions), the locations are beautiful, and the show’s heart is in the right place, with a restrained level of violence. So I’ll award ***+ to season two. My mug remains up.

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