Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rogue: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Undercover detective Grace Travis (Thandie Newton) crossed the line between right and wrong and her involvement with the city's most powerful and dangerous crime family caused her to pay a personal price. This season, she's left undercover life behind to be a better mother to her daughter. She also has a new job as a handler for an FBI task force investigating corporate espionage in San Francisco.  Recently separated, with the arrival of her estranged mother, she has plenty of drama on the job - and at home.  But when her undercover operative goes missing, Grace is forced back into a world of lies and deceit, following a trail of dirty money and investigating  four soldiers at the center of the drama.

Show (3 out of 5 stars)
After the events of last season, Grace Travis is back and trying to balance her separation from her husband and her 16-year-old daughter, Evie. As a detective with the SFPD, she’s on special assignment with the FBO working as a handler to an undercover cop (UC) as part of a task force investigation a prostitution ring. As the case grows, Grace, the UC Sarah, and Grace’s boss, Leni, realize that there is more to the task force then what they’ve been told. When Sarah is assigned to bug the apartment of Cheat, one of the guys being investigated, things go horribly wrong and Cheat ends up dead. Sarah calls Grace, but by the time Grace arrives at the apartment, Sarah is missing.

After Sarah’s blood is found on the banks of the bay, Grace goes undercover to find out what happened to her and to take Sarah’s place. She gains the trust of Ethan, the leader of a security company called Excelsior, and the subject of the investigation. Grace poses as a woman who can pretty much do anything and is tested by Ethan. He assigns her to steal and clone a computer which turns out to belong to another one of his partners, Ray. He also assigns her to get the police files on Excelsior and the death of Cheat, which means Grace has to involve an enemy from the past.

As the case progresses, Grace and Leni find that the investigation is much more involved and sensitive than they initially thought. The partners of Excelsior have a big secret and $10 million dollars to protect. When some of the money turns up on Canada, Grace and Leni head across the border to find it. With the case coming to a close, people end up dead, money ends up missing and partners find themselves not trusting each other and it all comes to an end.

Of course, in the midst of the investigation, Grace’s life is falling apart. Her mother has come to stay with her, Evie, her 16-year-old daughter, is at the age where she needs her mother more than ever, and her soon-to-be ex-husband’s new girlfriend is pregnant. Grace being under cover compounds the family issues and when Evie needs her, Grace is unavailable. Once the case ends, Grace and Evie reconcile and as they settle in for the evening, a knock at the door ends up meaning something bad for Grace.

I reviewed the first season (you can read the review here) and thought it was okay except for everyone’s over acting was a little skeptical because of season one, but as I watched, I found myself really enjoying what I was watching. I don’t know if it was the story line of the first season, or if the acting got better, but I really enjoyed season two and was really intrigued with the story. I tried guessing what was going on, but was wrong a lot.

Thandie Newton really turned her character around. Season one was Grace dealing with and trying to solve the murder of her son. In season two, Grace is no longer an undercover cop, but due to circumstance, she returns to undercover work. I thought she did a much better job this season and she was more believable as a cop. I really liked the way the story went and I found myself wanting to binge watch this season. In season one, I didn’t recommend binge watching, but season two is much better.  The characters were much more interesting and all the actors did a good job. With the way the season ended, I’m actually looking forward to season three.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The 16x9 widescreen presentation of “Rogue” was good. It was nothing spectacular, but everything was clear and the transition between scenes was smooth. Colors were accurate and the background shots of San Francisco were good. Watching the show on DVD didn’t add anything to the picture, I felt like I was watching on my DVR. But it was satisfactory.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The audio for “Rogue” was good. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio was even and I could hear everything, even the lower volume dialogue. Background sounds were consistent and not overwhelming. They didn’t take away from the scene or from the dialogue. Subtitles in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing) are included on the disc, if needed.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The special features were interesting and had a lot of cast and crew interviews. However, I thought there were too many. That said, I really liked the play all option for the features, even though I didn’t use it. The features were short, so having that option would make it not so tedious watching such short features.
  • Premise – Cast and crew talk about what the season is about in this two minute feature.
  • Casting – Cast and crew talk about their parts and how they won them. It was interesting hearing them speak in their own accents, some American, some British, and some Irish.
  • Meet Ethan [Cole Hauser] – This is a quick background on the character of Ethan.
  • Meet Sarah [Aleksa Palladino] – Another quick character background, this time on the character of Sarah, the undercover officer, who hides a big secret.
  • Meet Excelsior Team [Clayne, Brendan, Alec] – Just over three minutes on the other three members of Ethan’s team. This feature talks with the actors who play Ray, Cheat and Spud.
  • Set Tour #1 with Nick Hamm – A quick two and one-half minute tour with Executive Producer Nick Hamm. In it, Hamm talks about the location and how the Century Club was built.
  • Set Tour # 2 with Grace’s Apartment and the Excelsior – Another three minutes of a tour, this time talking about the layout of Grace’s apartment and the Excelsior offices.
  • Meet Leni [Andrea Roth] – A character background on Leni, Grace’s boss at the FBI.
  • Meet Elliot [Rupert Evans] – A background on Elliot, the head of the FBI task force Grace is working on.
  • Inside the FBI Taskforce – This is a background on the FBI taskforce and the dynamics between all the parts within the taskforce.
  • Meet Vivian [Clare Higgins] – The background and history of Grace and her mother, Vivian’s, relationship.
  • Behind-the-Scenes First Look – A 30-second commercial for the show
  • Grace Then and Now – A comparison of Grace’s life between season one and season two.
  • Grace and Evie’s New Relationship – A look at the mother/daughter relationship between Grace and Evie.
  • Grace goes Ninja – Grace’s undercover assignment in season two.
  • Who’s Spying on Who? – The switch from Grace and her team surveilling the Ethan and his Excelsior team to Excelsior spying in Grace.
  • Developing Characters/Story – Just under three minutes of the characters and how versatile they are from the Excelsior team’s family scenes to the crime and violence in their lives.

Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Even though season two is scored the same as season one, I found myself enjoying season two much more. I am looking forward to season three and I can’t say I thought the same after watching season one. Thandie Newton didn’t bug me as much this season and I actually found myself liking her character. If the seasons had been switched, I feel like I would have enjoyed the series as a whole more. I eagerly await season three and will recommend the show to others.

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