Brett Hopper -
Rita Shelten -
Andrea Battle -
Chad Shelten -
Jennifer Mathis -
OTHER TIME TRAVEL SHOWS
Detective Brett Hopper wakes up one morning a contented man. He has a woman he loves, a family he cares about and a job that drives him. True, his partner is up before Internal Affairs, but that's the only cloud on his horizon - until he is framed for the murder of a District Attorney. Escaping from his arrest, he sees film of his girlfriend being killed and meets the man behind the whole plot, even though he doesn't know what the plot is or why he has been targeted for it. Then he wakes up and finds that it's the same day all over again, but he can make different choices, choices that might save lives, cost lives and might answer a few questions.
Calling Day Break GROUNDHOG DAY without the laughs is essentially correct, but certainly does a disservice to the opening episode of this show. It follows the same premise of the day running over and over again sure, but it is tightly plotted, well acted and possessed of such kinetic energy that it races past at high speed. That might be because in this first episode we have to see two days run to different conclusions to get the idea where future episodes will be able to stick to only the one. The plot might feel a bit confused, but then we don't have all the pieces because Hopper doesn't have all the pieces either.
Taye Diggs makes for an effective lead, immediately trustworthy enough to know that he really was set up, but enough of a badass to be able to carry out the rough stuff believably. There is good support from decent cast with nobody shining out as yet.
The problem with the format is immediately obvious. Running the same day over and over again limits what you can and can't do with it and risks audiences getting bored. It will be interesting to see how long the show can continue with it.
This first episode, though is plenty of reason to look forward to what is to come.Top
What If They Run?
Brett takes his girl and goes on the run, quitting the city, but the forces of whoever is setting him up are waiting for that and ambush him. Hiding out in a motel whilst he gets a bullet out of his shoulder, he learns a few things about the partner that ratted him out previously. He also learns that the wounds he receives in the day are carried straight through into the next replay.
Well, this particular day is nothing like the first day, or the second as it is now clear that DAYBREAK will not be running at one day an episode. This means that the pace is kept high and the kinetic energy is carried over from the pilot and into the series proper. The action is made all the more immediate by the shaky hand camerawork and rapid cutting, very much in the style of 24. That action show, which played out in a poor approximation of real time, is the closest in style to this.
Taye Diggs is still carrying the show with style, but the standout performance this time is from Victoria Pratt as his troubled partner. She gets much more to do this time around and impresses.Top
What If He Lets Her Go?
The package left in Hopper's mailbox is the focus of this episode. Through that and the call made to warn him about it, he is able to track down the source of some of his troubles. The source of some of the others come looking for him.
More of the background is starting to emerge with the various forces ranged against Hopper at least starting to separate out from the mass of people with guns. There are those that are trying to solve the crime, those that appear to be law enforcement but don't want to solve the crime and those who are definitely on the wrong side of the law and just want to kill those that betrayed them.
It's a complex pattern that the show is weaving, allowing us only to learn what Hopper learns and only when he learns it. That means quick flashbacks to previous clues just in case we've forgotten and that's a bit annoying, but at least can be accepted because the rest of what's going on may be action, but also has characters that are deepening by the episode and a plot that can't be explained away in two minutes.Top
What If He Can Change The Day?
Andrea, Hopper’s partner is in trouble because she has been paying off local drug dealers not to kill her boyfriend. Whilst trying to unravel more about his own case, he has to help her find ways not to kill him herself and not to get killed by him. This action changes the details of the day for the first time.
Mostly, the episodes to date have covered a couple of recurring days, using the clues revealed on one day to move a little closer to the solutions on the second. Here there are four or more (I lost count), all of them centred around the dodgy love affair of a cop and her ex-cop junkie lover. This is another welcome change of focus, although for the first time the repetitive nature of the day and the show's format is beginning to show through. Seeing Hopper get out of bed and have variants of the same conversation four (or more) times in one episode is a bit much to take.
That said, the show is continually revealing a few clues per episode, adding more pieces to the puzzle and moving the overall plot forward in a satisfying manner.Top
What If They’re Stuck
Hopper needs information regarding one of his father's old cases and Rita's ex-husband is in possession of the file. In trying to get hold of it, Hopper ends up taking Chad hostage.
Another tense, exciting episode that takes the story off in a whole new direction. The stand-off between Hopper and the SWAT team is pretty standard stuff as seen in a hundred movies and shows, but the the interplay between Hopper and Chad is both entertaining and interesting. It gives both Taye Diggs and Adam Baldwin a chance for some serious thesping and they both make the most of a good script.
This is another good episode in what is fast becoming a quality show.Top
What If They Find Him?
Hopper begins to narrow down the identity of the Jane Doe in the case that his father was working on. Chad is killed after getting money from a cashpoint. A major player in the conspiracy is revealed.
The plot continues to thicken with more clues leading to more questions. Hopper's various encounters with his enemy are frustratingly fruitless, but the manner in which he turns the tables is satisfying despite leading to dangerous consequences. The fate of Hopper's nemesis is also satisfying.Top
What If He’s Not Alone?
The continual recycling of the day is starting to get to Hopper. He tracks down the car licence plate that is his best clue and learns that people in an exclusive club might be behind both the old murder case that his father was working on and his frame up. At the same time, he finds someone else who is reliving the same day, a man called Jared who is targeting the same club in order to find his missing brother. Jared's instability might be caused by the same frustrations that are affecting Hopper or he might just be mad.
More players in the game continue to be revealed, but there is a sense that things aren't going anywhere fast as nothing of major use is revealed in this episode other than the link between the old case and his frame up and the members of the club. Hopper is even told at one point, by mysterious 'friends' that the club is a blind alley.
More interesting is Jared's part in all this. His presence widens out the conspiracy and whatever force is recycling the day beyond Hopper on his own, which takes the mystery to a whole new level.Top
What If She’s Lying?
The search for the truth about the conspiracy comes close to home as Hopper discovers that his father's old case files have gone missing from the family rented storage place. He learns that his father buried the case of the murdered girl and that the proof is still in his sister's hands, but that her family is being terrorised by the man it can implicate, the man behind the whole conspiracy. Finally, Hopper knows who he is up against.
Answers finally start tumbling into place as the overall shape of the conspiracy, its connection to Hopper's father, to his sister and to himself become clear. It also leads to the overall man in charge. There's a very real sense that things just took a great leap forward and the story arc is now moving as fast as the episode plot, this time centred around Hopper's sister. It's dramatic, fast-paced and has some nice twists along the way.
In retrospect, though, this makes the last episode, What If He's Not Alone?, and the character of Jared, the other man potentially locked in the time loop, somewhat redundant. What was the point of introducing him if it wasn't going to go anywhere. Was it just filler? It's not worth getting too worked up about because the main plot is now racing along at such a pace that it isn't going to be stopped and we're being carried along with it.Top
What If They’re Connected?
Pieces are falling into place all over. Hopper has the identity of the man in charge, but he needs the identity of the man who did the actual killing, a man who is hooked up with a very serious gang. In order to get that information, Hopper's going to have to break in on a gang deal, a deal that's going sour and leaving two gangs with guns pointed right at him.
This is a full on action piece as the conspiracy is all but revealed by this point, but it is also something of a silly piece as it requires HOpper to take on a whole bunch of gangs on his own and outsmart them at every turn, managing to stay alive in the process. Still, if you can take the concept of a day repeating over and over then this ought not to be too much to swallow.Top
What If He’s Free
Now that the clues have led to the identity of the real killer of Garza, Hopper has to find out how it is possible for a man locked up in a maximum security prison to escape and carry out contract killings without the alarm being raised. As he gets closer to the answer, Rita comes under threat once again.
If it wasn't for this being halfway through the season, it would be easy to believe that this was going to mark the end of Hopper's day. The clues have all brought him to the identity of the killer and it's a resolution that is somewhat far-fetched, but we've already accepted so much so far that we can go the extra mile. Then comes the body blow - even with the killer caught, the day has not ended. What more has Hopper got to do? We can't wait to find out.Top
What If He Walks Away?
The capture of the real killer of Garza hasn't meant the end of the day, so Hopper heads off to Las Vegas with Rita. And Mexico. After enjoying the day as a holiday for two weeks, things go very different very quickly, different in a way that leaves Rita and Chad dead.
How did Hopper get to Las Vegas, or anywhere else, when the last time he ran he ended up shot and with a dead partner?
And what is going on with Rita, Chad and the body? Are they connected with the plot against Hopper? How did they end up dead in a motel together?
There are two different stories in this episode, the first with Hopper taking Rita on holiday and the second with Hopper finding the day spiralling downhill in ways he couldn't imagine. The mix of the two makes it hard to follow what's going on or, more accurately, why.
This is one of the few times when the show has failed to be clear.Top
What If She’s The Key?
Knowing what he does about Rita's death in a motel shooting with Chad, Hoppper sets out to prevent her from going there in the first place whilst trying to find out what the big secret is that she is hiding from him. That takes him closer to the people at the very top of the conspiracy.
The show continues to surprise with its ability to come up with new variations on the day and more clues and information shedding new light on characters, motivations to take the plot off in whole new directions. A lot of it wouldn't make the slightest sense if examined carefully, but the pace remains so high that you don't have time to question or criticise. It also helps that the script retains a certain sardonic wit that means it's not just a lot of running around and waving guns.
There are certain coincidences here that are seriously hard to believe and the final reconciliation is just downright nonsense, but there is far more to enjoy than to complain about.Top
What If It’s Him?
Hopper believes that he has all the information that he needs to take on the people that have framed him. His first task is to convince Chad. His second is to surrender. The wife of the murdered man is the key and Hopper is determined to break her. This makes him a dead man walking.
The final episode of the season and Hopper takes the offensive at last. He is still learning things about the plot, about the death of his father. Then the day is over. He's learned enough and has to prevent the catastrophe, but is he too late?
The final questions are answered, but is everyone caught? Are all the guilty punished?Actually all but two. Therein lies the hope for a second season, but it isn't enough.
There is no explanation for why the day was repeated beyond the need for him to break the plot, leaving a disatisfaction that undermines the pleasure of seeing the plot finally resolved.Top
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