Manhattan 2×01 ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ recap & review

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Recap

The opening begins with a flashforward to 21 days before the bombing of Hiroshima, and Charlie is conducting a test in the rain storm. A reporter is hassling him until he calls a soldier to take the reporter away. Fritz is warning Charlie that the weather conditions are not the best for testing the bomb but is quickly brushed off. Charlie walks to the bomb and watches it as it is being hoisted up.

Back to the past, just a few days after season finale, we see Charlie reading Hitler’s book Mein Kampf in bed next to Helen; Abby getting checked by the doctor (because she’s pregnant); and Liza reading a note from Frank that says “I’m sorry. – F”. The scene then cuts to a meeting between the science leaders on the base lead by Oppenheimer, who talks about the budget for the project. He announces to the scientists that he is having Charlie in charge of the implosion project and walks out of the room LIKE A BOSS.

Later, Oppenheimer tells Charlie to not worry about the lead scientists. He assigns Charlie to make the announcement to the entire science team. Curious about Frank’s location, Charlie does not want to take credit for Frank’s work. Oppenheimer takes a jab at Charlie’s past plagiarism and tells him to just do his job.

Army officers come to Liza’s door to let her know she is being moved to a different apartment unit. The officers show Liza that Frank put in the request and she begins to berate them because she doesn’t believe her husband abandoned them.

Fritz enter their old office to find Crosley looking at Frank’s old equations. Crosley notices Frank’s equation spells out Callie’s name and they talk about what may have happened to Frank, then Helen and Charlie come in. Charlie tells them he’s taking over the implosion group. They want to find Frank and bring him back in, but don’t know where he is.

Meeks comes back from his mother’s ‘funeral’ to an army officer cleaning out his room. Meeks freaks out but is relieved to see his copy of Julius Ceasar remained untouched. As Meeks and Fritz move into their new places, Fritz updates Meeks on the entire situation while he was gone.

Abby pays a visit to Helen. She wants to know about Helen’s past abortion and how to go about it. Helen finds out it’s Charlie’s, but Abby asks her not to tell him.

While in bed with Charlie, Helen begins to talk about his marriage to Abby, but he changes the subject to the project. Helen tells him to hold off on the announcement of the implosion project until they can find Frank. Charlie makes a joke about Helen running the project, which leaves her angry.

In a mission to find Frank, Charlie looks through all the photos of the people on the base and finds a photo of agent X-4, who has no name. Charlie thinks he’s the key to finding Frank and decides to make X-4 come to him by attempting to make a call to the Soviets. The plan worked and he pays a visit to Charlie. Charlie demands to know where Frank is. Instead, X-4 infers that Frank is dead and congratulates Charlie for Abby’s pregnancy.

Abby returns home to find Charlie waiting for her. He thinks her pregnancy is a sign for them to start over. He promises her he’ll be a better husband and they both agreed to make it work.

Crosley enters the Colonel’s office to find a new colonel – Colonel Darrow – who quotes some words from the bible and rejects Crosley’s request to transfer. Darrow means business and basically tells Crosley to suck it up for his reasons for leaving.

Meanwhile, Liza can’t find her daughter and recruits her boyfriend Dunlavey to help find her, so they could leave the base. He had planned to take Callie to a hotel, but with Liza forcing him to help her, he quickly changes it to a diner outside the base. As they wait for Callie, they talk about his relationship with Callie. Soon, army soldiers arrive to bring Liza back to the base by force. Dunlavey had reported her because he doesn’t want Callie to leave.

Liza is sent to Colonel Darrow’s office where they have a chat on why Liza cannot leave – she knows too much. He plays the recording of Frank telling her about the project. She then hears the second part that Frank recorded when she left the room. She tells him she will stay, but to let her daughter go. Callie boards a bus as Dunlavey sadly watches her leave.

Liza secretly attends the scientists meeting where Charlie will be announcing himself as the lead to the Implosion Project. She confronts him on Frank’s whereabouts. Feeling guilty, Charlie makes his announcement and credits Frank Winter for implosion, then lies that he spoke to Frank and that he is at another site and is doing fine. He then pledges to the crowd that they will have a working model that will be able to test that year.

As Charlie is talking, Meeks nervously is writing a secret message and delivers it to Sante Fe. X-4 finds him and interrogates him until Meek’s contact strangles and shoots X-4. A terrified Meeks and his contact bury the body.

Flash forward to the beginning scene, Meeks volunteers to climb a 100 ft steel rod and closes the door behind him with the bomb. As Charlie begins to set the timer, Colonel Darrow comes to inform them they will be moving the tents further and if the soldiers see Frank, to arrest him.

Review

SO MUCH HAPPENED IN THIS SEASON PREMIERE! Couples formed and unformed. Job replacements were made. The team is getting closer to building the atomic bomb. Loyalties are tested. All of that, in ONE episode.

CHARLIE’S QUEST FOR JUSTICE

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Charlie has some sort of righteousness complex throughout this episode where he feels like he needs to be the hero.

After accepting Frank’s old job as head of the implosion project, Charlie is having a hard time accepting it. I don’t blame him for it at all because the project has been Frank’s baby. Now, Charlie is taking all the credit and glory for another’s man’s life work. At the same time, he knows the reality of it all. He knows he can’t do anything to save Frank. If he tries to, he will end up where Frank is, which we all have no idea where.

After learning about Abby’s pregnancy, he has this quest to make it right for the sake of the baby – even though he has a son with Abby already. He abandons his scientist bed buddy Helen to make things right and return to his family. This, I was really happy about. I’ve always been a fan of Abby – the poor, misunderstood housewife driven to the arms of another woman, but still dedicated to her family.

MEEKS IS A TRAITOR

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This comes as a shock, but after reading about the person Meeks is loosely based on, I can understand the character a lot better. After having been traumatized by his close friend’s death last season, Meeks has been very secretive and possibly ‘turned’. I don’t blame him for being suspicious of the government, but it makes you worried about what he is planning to do.

RUNAWAY TRAIN NEVER COMING BACK

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Liza is really sick of this place and the secrets and lies. It’s no wonder she wants to take Callie and leave this forsaken base, but of course. She knows too much. Williams performance in this episode is just amazing. We can see the desperation in her face and voice, and her drive to do anything to escape. We see a woman who is just done with it. I cannot wait to see the development of her character this season. She seems to be getting a lot stronger than her paranoid character last season. Maybe this will drive her to find Frank.

Who is Colonel Darrow?

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He looks like trouble. The new colonel is definitely the new antagonist this season. He is unapologetic and quotes from the bible… you KNOW he means business. The fact that he made Crosley pray on his knees for ‘sinning’ just gives us a small glimpse of what we should be expecting from him for the rest of the season. He is going to be a force to be reckoned with, and we already know from the last few scenes, he does not like Frank or Charlie. Watch out for this one!

It looks like we will be finding out where Frank has been all this time next week. No doubt we will be seeing a brilliant performance from John Benjamin Hickey as he struggles to escape from the prison that holds him. Until then, what do you think of the premiere episode?

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