Thursday, May 7, 2009

Phantom 04-05: Another Life, On The Job

This show just keeps getting better and better. I think it also helps that I'm watching it in 1280 x 720 screen resolution.
EPISODE 04: Assassination
More Screencaps from Phantom ~ Requiem for the Phantom 04

Inferno wants to take out a mafia big boss, but because of the high level of security around him, there is only a very small window of opportunity, so they send out their two best assets to perform the job. Their intel reveals that the boss will be in a shopping mall on a particular day to buy a birthday gift for his granddaughter. Ein and Zwei spend an entire day studying the area and pretending to be young lovers on vacation. While Ein has no trouble acting out her role, Zwei seems to be confused between what's only acting and what is real. Ein picks up on this and gives him a warning. On the day of the assassination, Ein finds herself tailed by the boss' men so she calls Zwei for help. He comes running to her, only to get slapped, Ein acting as the angry girlfriend who has been made to wait too long. Zwei shifts into his role immediately and acts apologetic. Seeing this scenario, the boss' men withdraw. Later, after the boss has bought the present and is making his way out of the building, Ein and Zwei also make a quick exit through a back door. There, they change into their "Phantom" costumes and head out. Just as the mafia let their guards down, Inferno's phantoms descend on them. Ein goes straight for the boss while Zwei provides her with cover. But after Ein takes out the boss, she almost gets shot herself if not for Zwei who grabs her in the nick of time. At that moment, Ein realizes that Scythe Master was right about Zwei treading the same path,which took her two years, in only three months. Scythe Master arrives just then as their get-away driver. Back in their hideout, Ein acknowledges that Zwei reminds her of her old self and that she is afraid.

EPISODE 05: Moment
More Screencaps from Phantom ~ Requiem for the Phantom 05

Inferno wants to take over Melanie Square, a lucrative casino in California. Problem is, the Stone Family, and especially its boss "Hard-headed" Tony, does not want to give it up and instead they try to find out as much about Inferno as they can. Information, however, is hard to come by and Tony just assumes that Inferno must be run by families from the West Coast. He arranges a meet with Inferno's leader, knowing very well that the group would only send a representative, and comes up with a plan to force the group to back off from the Stone Family's turf. Inferno accepts the invite and sends one of their senior members, Claudia McCunnen to California. Claudia contacts Ein and Zwei, sending each of them on separate missions. Once again, Ein and Zwei pretend to be a couple as they observe Tony, his wife and his son at an amusement park. Later, Tony and his henchmen meet up with Claudia to negotiate the matter over Melanie Square. The negotiation, however, ends at a stand-still as Tony puts his plan into motion, taking out the big guns and starting to shoot. Claudia and Lizzie, as her bodyguard, manage to take cover while Ein, from her position on the rooftop of a building across the street, snipes Tony's men one by one. Meanwhile, Zwei is in position outside Tony's house and despite all the guards patrolling the area, he makes it inside easy and enters the room belonging to Tony's son. Zwei takes out the son and mother and makes it out of there before the guards are even alerted to his presence. Their mission accomplished, Zwei returns to Claudia, who takes him into her arms, while Ein waits for him in the hideout.


For a minute there, while I was watching the opening scene of Phantom ~ Requiem for the Phantom episode 4, I thought was watching the wrong show. It's that weird seeing Ein act like that. So I can understand why Zwei seemed so confused the whole time. It must have been disconcerting suddenly being subjected to a cute and affectionate version of Ein when all this time he's been used to the stoic, emotionless version of the same girl. But then he adapts very quickly and in the end even Ein admits to herself that Zwei is catching up to her. While she acknowledges that he is what she used to be, I wonder if she does not feel a little threatened and maybe that's what she means by being afraid.

This eventual showdown between Ein and Zwei is strongly hinted at in episode 5 when Claudia makes it very obvious that she's taking Zwei under her wing while Ein continues to be Scythe Master's puppet. From episode 1, we know that there's a standing rivalry between Claudia and Scythe Master and with both of them grooming each assassin to be loyal only to them, how will this affect Ein and Zwei's relationship?

Speaking of relationships, by now, I'm pretty sure that I'm not just imagining the sexual tension between Ein and Zwei. It certainly makes for a great scene between these two even when they exchange barely two lines with each other at any one time.

I'm really starting to get into this whole thing. I like that the story is taking an unusual angle in telling a more or less derivative concept. The series does not mince around the fact that its protagonists are the bad guys -- assassins who kill in cold blood and for no conceivable reason other than that they're just following orders. And while their victims are not all together good (they are mafia bosses who kill without hesitation and run illegal businesses), the series portray them as ordinary people with their own families and loyalties and Inferno, the faceless entity that seeks to destroy all that with its two hands: Ein and Zwei.

Phantom doesn't seem to have a clear plot at the moment and nothing in the aired episodes so far reveal even a hint of a build-up towards an actual plot arc. I think the story is at a point where the protagonists have to take out one big boss per episode in order to allow them to develop and reveal their characters more fully. It's definitely taking its sweet time but I'm enjoying the show so far.