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Author Topic: Human Cargo
'lance
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posted 06 January 2004 02:21 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Has anyone been watching this series?

The hype has maybe been a bit excessive -- perhaps the old Mother Corp can't quite believe it's able to showcase an actual Canadian drama, for once. And I've had a few quibbles with the series itself. But those have been minor. I've found it both gripping and harrowing, to mix metaphors.

Any impressions from other viewers?

Edited to add:

THIS THREAD CONTAINS SPOILERS!

[ 07 January 2004: Message edited by: 'lance ]


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 06 January 2004 02:25 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I had to wander in and out as I was busy with other things. I hope they play it again. But what I saw was truly intense, particularly the Africa stuff with the woman and her children. No holds barred, it seems.

My only quibble is that the frumpy (well, depending on your notion of frumpy) bigot lady seems too much of a caricature to me, but maybe I've just never bothered to expose myself to such people.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 06 January 2004 02:32 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
She doesn't seem a caricature to me, or at least not a particularly exaggerated one. As for being exposed to such people (I'd never want to "expose myself" to them...), consider yourself lucky.

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT:















I get the impression she's working her way toward some kind of redemption, and the equally strong impression she won't, in the end, get there. Which is far more dramatically interesting than the usual alternatives -- either a Bad character who sees the error of her ways and becomes Good, or simply a Bad character drawn with little or no shading at all.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 07 January 2004 01:11 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well. As far as I'm concerned it was brilliant, some of the best television I've seen. If you missed it, I'm sure it will be replayed.

Not to spoil anything -- I'll just say the writers didn't flinch from the implications of what they'd been depicting throughout, and resisted the temptation to have all the interweaving narratives end happily. At least one did, but there was a distinct note of ambiguity even there. Other stories ended badly, or were simply left as loose ends, with multiple possibilities. Dramatically quite bold, for network television.


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bittersweet
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posted 07 January 2004 01:35 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, 'lance. Much better than the expensive movie of the week they recently aired, called "Shattered City"--or, The Big Bang In Halifax. In terms of ratings, despite lots of hype, it blowed up real good! Leave that stuff to the Yanks, I say--they do it best. I mean, the special effects company that blowed up Halifax went out of business during post production, for God's sake. You don't have that nonsense happening in beautiful downtown Burbank!
From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 07 January 2004 01:47 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Much better than the expensive movie of the week they recently aired, called "Shattered City"--or, The Big Bang In Halifax.

I saw trailers for that, didn't get a good feeling, and decided to vote with my (remote-control) thumb.

Anyway, the best depiction of the explosion I know of is in Hugh Maclennan's Barometer Rising -- though it's not otherwise my favourite novel by a long shot.

But back to Human Cargo, dammit! Didn't anybody else watch it?

Ah, the life of a Canadian TV producer...


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HeywoodFloyd
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posted 07 January 2004 02:06 PM      Profile for HeywoodFloyd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Nope. I avoid mother corp altogether.
From: Edmonton: This place sucks | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Scott Piatkowski
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posted 07 January 2004 02:12 PM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I thought it was brilliant... although I missed the portions that coincided with my kids' bedtimes.

One question: Who shot Nicholas Campbell's character?


From: Kitchener-Waterloo | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 07 January 2004 02:52 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
One question: Who shot Nicholas Campbell's character?

That's not made clear. It's one of the loose ends I referred to.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

We see him from the back, and the way it's depicted, the injury is consistent (as the coroners say) with being shot from the front. When I first saw it, I wondered if it was suicide -- if he'd pulled a gun out of his pocket and put the barrel in his mouth, we'd be unable to see it. And it would explain his refusal to walk back to the car with the smuggler, Ramirez. If the guy saw him pull out a gun he'd likely pull out his own.

Would, could he commit suicide? He's shown few if any signs of depression throughout the series. But by the end he's lost his family, his career's in serious trouble, and he's even reached the point of doing a deal with a people-smuggler -- the very smuggler who's responsible for his son's getting shot. Is it consistent with what we know of him? In truth, we don't know very much about him. Perhaps the filmmakers had in mind that Camus line about suicide being an act prepared in the silence of the human heart.

But then I thought -- why does Nina Wade hear the news of the "suicide" from Peter Fowler, of all people? He's left government and gone back to Trillium. And he retails some misinformation (or what seems to us misinformation) in that phone call -- about Fischer's supposed involvement with Colombian drug-runners, etc.

Did the Trillium guys find out Fischer was Moses Buntu's lawyer, and have him killed to silence him about the Tangoma Mine atrocities? But by that point it's clear -- after that "walkout" scene in the Hotel Vancouver or wherever -- both that Nina Wade knows about them, and that there's a chance she'll go public. Would they take the risk of getting involved in a murder in Canada?

Other possibilities:

  • he's shot by Ramirez's contact on the other side of the border, who thinks he's a cop or border guard. Seems unlikely, though;
  • he's shot by some associate of Ahmed who's followed Fischer and Naila down there. But why?
  • he's shot by a US border guard. But even in the paranoid situation of the series (and of reality), would they fire across the border, and without warning?

So, like I say, multiple possibilities, none of which quite seem to fit.

[ 07 January 2004: Message edited by: 'lance ]


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Dr. Mr. Ben
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posted 07 January 2004 02:54 PM      Profile for Dr. Mr. Ben   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was only able to see the first part, due to night classes on Monday and Tuesday, but I was very impressed by what I did see. Here's hoping it's replayed or released somewhere so I can catch the rest.
From: Mechaslovakia | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 07 January 2004 02:57 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I avoid mother corp altogether.

Your loss, Dr. Floyd. DaVinci's Inquest is among the best series being produced either side of the border, these days. Certainly it's my favourite.


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HeywoodFloyd
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posted 07 January 2004 02:58 PM      Profile for HeywoodFloyd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It seems like a knock off of so many other programs.
From: Edmonton: This place sucks | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Scott Piatkowski
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posted 07 January 2004 02:59 PM      Profile for Scott Piatkowski   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Did the Trillium guys find out Fischer was Moses Buntu's lawyer, and have him killed to silence him about the Tangoma Mine atrocities?

That'd be my best guess.


From: Kitchener-Waterloo | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 07 January 2004 03:09 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
It seems like a knock off of so many other programs.

Such as? (And -- aha! So you do watch the Mother Corp(se) occasionally! )

Recall that it's in its sixth season. I think by this point, other programs have been influenced by it. Certainly the CSI franchise -- although the shows are very different in style from DaVinci -- didn't start up until two or three years ago.

quote:
That'd be my best guess.

It seems the likeliest scenario, or perhaps the least unlikely. I just can't see what they could hope to accomplish -- unless perhaps they also had in mind a plan to bribe or coerce Nina Wade into keeping quiet about what she knows.

Also, I think from their point of view it would make more sense to have Moses Buntu killed. He's a witness to and survivor of the actual events. And, frankly, the death of one Hutu refugee would likely attract less media attention, and investigative effort, than that of a white immigration lawyer. It could always be spun using some variation on "oh, you know those people -- always taking revenge on one another for what happened in the old country. We'll Probably Never Know The Truth..."

I was struck, incidentally, by how often the dismissive phrase "these people" or "those people" struck the ear throughout the series. One of many notes that rang true.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 07 January 2004 03:20 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE SPOILER SPACE

I saw most of the last episode. If the Trilium guys shot him, what was the CSIS guy doing there? Unless CSIS was in cahoots with Trilium. In any case, it's totally ambiguous who killed him. I'm actually inclined to think that Ramirez was in cahoots with CSIS guy who is in cahoots with something else, and that they knew he would attempt to help Naila escape.

Actually, my favorite part of the series was following the Burundian mother and the saga with her kids. Her efforts to keep her son out of the militia/thugs were gut-wrenching, and the end of that thread was horrifyingly final and not ambiguous at all. He barely hesitated.

Did Nina Wade's daughter (name forgotten) bring the child to term? And how much has she traded places with her mother in terms of her worldview?


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 07 January 2004 03:35 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
If the Trilium guys shot him, what was the CSIS guy doing there? Unless CSIS was in cahoots with Trilium. In any case, it's totally ambiguous who killed him. I'm actually inclined to think that Ramirez was in cahoots with CSIS guy who is in cahoots with something else, and that they knew he would attempt to help Naila escape.

Was that a CSIS guy? I thought he was RCMP. Either way, they know Ramirez is a people-smuggler, and likely have him under surveillance, so that could explain why he turns up.

He likely is in cahoots with something/someone else, of course. In defiance of US and Canadian law, an FBI guy (or supposed FBI guy) questions Naila in his presence.

I can't say the Burundian family story was my favourite part, but you're right -- utterly wrenching and painful to watch, and unambiguous.

Helen Wade does have her baby, yes. In the brief epilogue, "one year later," Moses Buntu is sitting alone in a parking attendant's booth, reading. Helen Wade drives up, with the baby in a carrier in the front seat. (Reckless as ever!) Of course they don't know each other. She pays, he says "Have a nice day," she smiles and drives off. He settles back to his reading.

I thought there was maybe a touch of ambiguity in this scene. Of course his life is better than it might have been had he stayed in Burundi (although maybe not, because Helen learns on the news that a ceasefire has been brokered there). He's on his way to becoming a citizen, he's as safe as he could be anywhere, he's employed, but he's alone. He's paid a price. I couldn't help contrast this with the delightful scene when we first see him walk into his classroom back in Burundi.

Helen's world view at the end. Hard to say. Certainly as the series winds on she more and more exhibits a sense of entitlement. But that she chooses, after all, to keep her baby suggests she hasn't quite become what her mother is, or used to be.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
shatnerian
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posted 07 January 2004 04:10 PM      Profile for shatnerian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I watched all but the last hour of the series and found it amazing. I don't think I've ever seen a film or television series depict a refugee story from the point of view of the refugees themselves.

But as I say, I missed the last bit of it (my VCR is having "issues.") What happened? I know from reading the thread that Moses managed to stay in Canada and Fisher was shot (by whom nobody seems sure). What about the woman from Afganistan? What information from her "husband" was she meant to pass on?


From: Montreal | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 07 January 2004 04:20 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
She returns to the building near the border she'd briefly escaped to when she first arrived. She retrieves a diskette she'd stashed there, and passes it along to Ahmed's friend, who advises her to leave before "all Satan's fury is unleashed on this place."

She abandons her refugee claim and prepares to return to Afghanistan, but then Fischer, her lawyer, is advised by the RCMP/CSIS guy that they won't let her leave, they're too suspicious of her. Fischer gets Ramirez, the Honduran, to smuggle her across the border into the US.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 07 January 2004 04:21 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We don't know. What the information was precisely for (except that it was something about an Evil Terrorist Plot) is never made clear as the plot doesn't reach fruition in the story. We don't know what happens to her after Fisher was shot (or committed suicide?). I think it likely that she would have been recaptured.

As for other details, well, Nina Wade quits her job at the refugee board and instead takes up the cause against Trillium mines and other Canadian companies that exploit African war zones, being at least partially reformed from her bigoted self.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged

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