Almost Paradise Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Finding Manuhay

Almost Paradise, Reviews, Television

Ahh. Christian Kane, looking exasperated and kicking ass.

There’s really nothing new on Almost Paradise Season 1 Episode 1.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

This new WGN American original series marked the third time that the charismatic Kane has collaborated with producer Dean Devlin, following The Librarians and Leverage.

It’s shot on location in The Philippines, so the scenery is so much more breathtaking than the stuffy Library where Kane last toiled.

That’s a bonus for us viewers stuck in states where winter just won’t let go.

For some reason, this reminded me of the old “Crimetime After Primetime” series Tropical Heat/Sweating Bullets (depending on where you watched it), another crime-solving show set in sunny climes.

Kane plays retired DEA Agent Alex Walker, another antihero seeking redemption, much like Eliot Spencer on Leverage.

Fortunately, Devlin has chosen to slowly reveal Alex’s back story, rather than just drop it all in an exposition-heavy pilot.

Something went wrong in Barcelona nine months previously, involving Alex’s disillusioned partner crossing over to the dark side. Alex had some kind of breakdown as a result and was forced into retirement.

Besides his recent trauma, Alex has another good medical reason to stay retired. He’s a noncompliant hypertension sufferer, who refuses to follow his doctor’s orders and take his prescribed medications.

His sharp-tongued doctor prescribed a blood-pressure monitor and a journal in which he’s to write which incidents cause a spike in his pressure.

The big question now is whether his hypertension will continue as a running joke or will become a teachable moment. 

It would be medically beneficial to show that even an action hero such as Alex needs to take his condition seriously.

And, based on his soliloquy to Kai about being an unappreciated soldier in the war on drugs, Alex is suffering from a severe case of burnout that he should talk about with a professional.

If this superagent has been given these burdens, let’s see him deal with them.

The best part of the episode was watching Alex experience culture shock.

Didn’t Cory, the resort manager, see him coming, as she fleeced the American who bought the gift shop sight unseen? 

“You fix, no problem,” indeed.

It will be interesting to see if other colorful characters from the resort will pop up.

How did Alex ever last as an undercover agent? While sitting and drinking a beer, he stumbled on a drug sting gone wrong and took out three thugs with a pool cue.

It didn’t take Ike, the local chief, long to get Alex’s entire colorful history, which you figure would have been somewhat redacted anyway.

Ike at least recognized what a resource they had in Alex, even though Kai resented him for busting up their sting operation until he explained she and Ernesto had been made.

Still, Alex knew enough to walk away, back to his newly tranquil life of fixing the gift shop and his apartment.

Until he got garroted while painting the door. There was obviously a leak in the local police department.

Once Alex became reluctantly attached to the Cebu police, it became apparent why he was so good at his job, as he used his imitation monitor to explain why the new synthetic drug was being cooked on the island.

He even quickly narrowed down the nationality of the ringleader who had descended upon Cebu.

Sure, Alex was a bit of a know-it-all after getting paired up with Kai and Ernesto. But truthfully, he had a world of experience which they just didn’t.

That gave him the ability to sneak onto Tayo’s yacht and spin a believable line of bullshit which the druglord bought.

Kai certainly took Alex’s lesson about blending in to heart in that gratuitous bikini scene.

Then, after Alex did all the heavy lifting to set up Tayo, Mendoza, with whom Alex clearly had history, and his international task force swooped in and took over.

That reminded Alex of everything from which he was trying to get away and sent him on a drunken spiral.

Kai did an admirable job of trying to get him to rally, showing him the local impact drugs had on one five-block neighborhood.

The beach scene with the three of them bonding, when we discover that Ernesto was a philosopher, was touching.

We all knew that Alex would rise to the occasion. He just had to come up with a scheme that would help the locals while screwing over Mendoza and company.

It was an intricate plan that he concocted. It was almost Leverage-like.

Alex managed to make Tayo believe that he was still on his side. He got rid of all the drugs. And he still managed to set up the local police to arrest Tayo for murder.

And Ike protected him from any fallout. He had been accepted by the locals. That point was driven home when Kai brought him outside for a native celebration in his honor.

The supporting characters of Kai, Ernesto, and Ike added to the story, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them, as well as Cory.

All told, this is the lighthearted getaway that we’ve all been needing.

Are you glad Christian Kane is back?

Who’s your favorite character?

Does this feel like a Dean Devlin production?

Comment below.

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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