Episode 2.01 Writer: James Griffin Director: Simon Bennett
THE ONE WHERE Axl renews his quest to find The Frigg but his brothers don’t seem interested. Anders disappears on a mysterious mission and Agnetha has a revelation for the boys.
VERDICTThe Almighty Johnsons, New Zealand’s answer to Misfits, appears back on our screens much the same way it left: the madcap situations, the potty mouths, the family dysfunction and the slightly off-kilter mythic tropes are all still there. The show hits the ground running, and with barely a moment to catch up we’re thrust into the Johnson boys’ new situations and the aftermath of last season’s finale. As ever the show tries to balance its various cast and plotlines, and this first offering mostly succeeds. It’s a little more soap opera than sci-fi and is maybe a bit too Home And Away at times but fans of the show will be used to that. The framing device of Axl and Zeb drinking beer on an idyllic cliff overlooking the sea is a nice touch, being both a neat way to clue people in and slower-paced scenes to open and close the episode with.
The real meat of the episode is the revelation of Agnetha – last year’s main big bad – as the Johnson boys’ missing mother. It’s a gutsy move too; it could come over as a trite thing to do to shake up the dynamic, but luckily Alison Bruce plays the character so well that it’s an easy move to forgive and it’ll be interesting to see what this revelation will bring and how it’ll affect the already shaky relationship between the various Johnson brothers.
One thing TV shows should never do is have a party and the one in this episode is a real car crash; between the bad singing, bad dancing and the background players eating each other’s faces with a bit too much relish it just couldn’t end quickly enough.
The change to Mike’s situation is the biggest; since the revelation of his wife’s infidelity in the last season he’s moved in with Axl and Zeb and is embracing his godliness with endless one night stands and regularly challenging dodgy blokes to games in bars. It’s nice to see Tim Blame’s character looking a little looser and less the leader. He still feels his responsibility for the family so he’s not exactly descending to Olaf levels of debauchery but it’s refreshing to see him less uptight and angry. It’s also a nice switch to see Axl being the one telling Mike to sort himself out after so many conversations that went the other way in the first season.
The main problem with the episode is Ty. We know he’s under some sort of spell with the Eva relationship but Jared Turner’s portrayal of a man addicted to the love of this woman felt more like he was channelling Dexter the serial killer, even down to his clothing choices. It became distracting and a little grating very quickly. The sooner this stops the better. Ty should be with Dawn (you ’shipper, you – ed).
On the whole it’s a good episode and it is great to see this show back on our screens. Between the Agnetha revelation and what that’ll do to the family dynamic, the Ty/Eva relationship and whatever Anders secret mission is we can see some pretty interesting things occurring in the coming episodes. And who knows, they might even find The Frigg…
BAD CGI Loki sets a pyramid of alcoholic drinks alight. The CGI flames are terrible. Probably cheaper to phone the fire brigade and do it for real.
BEST GOD Elizabeth/Agnetha turns into a tree for 16 years, possesses a dead body and smacks a bloke in the face with a shovel. Kvasir gets a special mention, too, for escaping from Axl by turning himself in to a stream of pee and disappearing down a drain.
WHAT’S IN A NAME Zeb is now calling himself “Freaky”. As he now considers himself Axl/Odin’s right hand man he’s named himself after Freki, one of the God’s mythical pet wolves. Turning Freki into “Freaky” is a great move and a perfect God name for the character.
BEST LINES Mike: “Where are you going?” Elizabeth: “To be a tree.” Mike: “What?” Elizabeth: “I need some peace and quiet.” Anders: “Hey, no need to be rude about it, okay. No need to shoot the messenger.” Olaf: “I think the point is you failed to be the messenger Anders!”
The Almighty Johnsons airs Mondays at 10pm on SyFy