Startup Season 2 Review – Same Interest, Different Company

This one isn’t going to be as long because in the review of the first season, I spent a lot of paragraphs explaining the mystery that is the concept of Gencoin and the sheer genius that was the casting of Martin Freeman but now all of that is out of the way, I’ll concentrate on what happens to each character throughout this season beginning as always with the characters I like the least.

Nick Talman didn’t really have much to do last season except make a bit of money and have a few arguments with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. This season however, it feels like the writers are giving him stuff to do. You see, Nick wasn’t as invested in Gencoin as Izzy or Ronald and so his plot line involves him being arrested and charged with something or other, awaiting trial of course and also him going off in search of Daddy in the hopes that he can exchange Daddy for a bit of freedom. However, when he finds Daddy murdered, he’s in trouble. At the funeral, he meets an old family friend, Wes Chandler (Ron Perlman) and his sexy daughter, Mara (Addison Timlin) who of course becomes his girlfriend.

Because he’s been forced out of Gencoin, Nick has been forced to work as a waiter in a restaurant and in his spare time, tries to help ‘Izzy-like’ aspirational people with good ideas get pitched to investors but because he’s got a criminal record and is awaiting trial, no one will listen to him. What he needs is a good idea which in this season came from Ronald and his son, Touie. However, what Nick really needs is a good idea in practise which leads me onto Izzy.

I’ll touch upon Izzy’s storyline briefly as hers crosses over with Phil’s in the latter half of the season but when we see her at the beginning of Season 2, she’s attending her sister’s funeral (her sister, Delphia was killed by Russian gangsters presumably at Vera’s request). She’s understandably upset, characteristically angry and planning her revenge, something that Nick and Ronald don’t want her to do.

At the beginning of the season, Izzy’s relationship with her parents has taken a turn for the worst. Izzy has moved out and is now living in her car on the beach. She’s bought a gun and is practising shooting presumably for her own defence. When she visits her parents, her mother accepts her into her home but there is an aura of coldness. Not even her father who I’ll remind you was always supportive of Izzy in the first season barely looks at her and doesn’t engage her in conversation. Izzy makes the disastrous decision of reminding her parents that the bullet that killed her sister was meant for her which doesn’t go down well. Just as she realises that she isn’t wanted, Izzy grabs an old family picture of a farm in Cuba where her Grandmother lived and leaves.

The death of her sister before her own eyes has definitely had a dramatic effect on Izzy mentally. She’s desperate for revenge and so heads straight for Alex Bell. Since she’s resentful towards Bell for stealing her company but not directly responsible for the death of her sister, Izzy corners him and puts her gun to his head which I’m sure we’re in no doubt, scares the shit out of him.

At this point, I’m thinking that she did this for one of two reasons. We already know that despite being a genius, Izzy doesn’t really think through her plans before she acts them out and has little regard for the consequences of her actions. Of course, she doesn’t pull the trigger and so this kind of irrational behaviour could have been a rapid manifestation of her grief or it equally could have been the first stage of her master plan. That second option is unlikely for two reasons. One, there is an unfolding of a master plan just not yet, that happens later on and two, after she threatens Alex Bell, Izzy immediately goes to Nick’s house and suffers a panic attack. Nick becomes aware of the destitute living conditions that Izzy has endured and so insists that she stay with him until she gets back on her feet. After some resistance, Izzy accepts.

Now, what with this being ‘Startup’ and Izzy’s company having already started, the show’s title seems a little bit redundant at this point. To rectify this, We’ll move on to Ronald’s storyline.

Ronald is now the leader of LH7 and his crew are having some issues. There are some cops in town who are targetting Ronald’s dealers and so what he needs is a way of transporting his drugs and his sales away from the prying eyes of the police. That is when his son, Touie has a genius idea and in true ‘Startup’ fashion, it’s basically a twisted version of something that already exists.

Do you know about the ‘dark-web’? It’s kind of like an underground internet where criminals can buy drugs, various weapons and even whole new identities but of course it’s very secret and you need to ‘know a guy who knows a guy’ in order to access it. Because the authorities monitor the regular internet for any illegal activity, most of the naughty transactions are committed through the ‘dark-web’ or ‘dark-net’ if you’re from America. That’s the basis of Touie’s idea. If someone could create an algorithm that could hide people’s identities as they go about their internet usage, not necessarily for illegal purposes but they could if they wanted to, then that would be big business.

The best way that I could interpret it that it’s like a VPN (Virtual Private Network) subscription. You pay for the use of this product and it hides you on the internet. Basically. There’s probably a lot more into it than that but I can’t be arsed finding out. I’ve got two days to do a lot of reviews and get them in before Christmas.

Anyway, Ronald approaches Izzy with idea and she’s up for it and so creates ‘Araknet’ with the help of her friend, Rance who is played by Josh Leonard and I know what you’re thinking. ‘Josh Leonard? I’ve heard that name before’ and that’s what I thought.

After doing a quick google search, readers may remember that name from a certain ‘Missing Persons’ poster that circulated in the mid 90’s. Two other people were on this missing poster. Those people were ‘Heather Donahue’ and ‘Mike Williams’. Do you hear those bells ringing? These three amateur documentary film makers went missing in October, 1994 whilst filming a documentary in Burkittsille, Maryland about the local legend of .. It’s ‘The Blair Witch Project’.

In a very clever piece of marketing, the film’s three stars were advertised as missing and so when their ‘footage’ was ‘found’ and edited and released, the audiences thought they were seeing the final days of three real missing film makers which resulted in their gruesome demise at the hands of the fabled ‘Blair Witch’. Of course, it wasn’t real, it was all a publicity stunt but it worked so well that the ‘The Blair Witch Project’ became a financial and critical success. More to the point, Josh Leonard is now in ‘Startup’ as ‘tech-savvy, drug-enthusiast’, Rance.

With some Araknet thumb-drives being distributed among the members of LH7, the idea becomes more and more fleshed out with the plan of it becoming a proper business being put into action. But then, tragedy strikes.

Ronald’s son Touie is tragically shot to death by another teenage with whom he got into a fight with. This leaves Ronald and his whole family in tatters but more to the point, puts his marriage at stake. Tamara want retribution for the murder of her son but Ronald isn’t convinced that a revenge killing is the best option. Instead, he captures the teenager who killed his son, straps him to a chair in his back garden, hands his wife a gun and tells her that if she wants him dead, then she can do it and live with the consequences. She doesn’t pull the trigger.

Instead of enacting revenge, Ronald puts his focus and his energy into getting Araknet off the ground in memory of his son. Back to Nick.

Araknet is a really good idea. The commercialisation of the ‘dark-net’, available to the public is something that could really catch on but there is one thing that they will need… funding. Nick thinks that Wes Chandler is a good place to start and he’s right. Wes agrees to fund the company and gets ‘hands on’ with the marketing of ‘Araknet’ at various tech-conventions. However, there’s a snag. When Izzy reaches out to a couple who have developed something similar in he hopes of combining forces, they find out that the couple have just sold their company to Alex Bell. Now there is a rival that is better funded and already has the familiar face of the company that will bring in loyal customers so Izzy hatches a plan.

The specifics of this plan are only known to the writers and are about as penetrable to the audience a a brick wall behind several other brick walls. It has something to do with hacking into Alex Bell’s Gencoin account and so Rance has to lay a trap at a coffee shop that they both know Alex Bell frequents. Rance has planted a virus so when Alex Bell pays ‘contactless’ with his Gencoin account, his details are recorded or the virus goes into his account or something or another but all you need to know is that the virus ends up on Alex Bell’s doorstep and their system is compromised.

Naturally, the Russians aren’t happy or more to the point, Vera’s not happy. She knows that Izzy is behind the attack and so Izzy is picked up so she can remove the virus but it is here that we learn the true agenda. While Izzy is removing the virus, she sends Rance something that’s very important. Can you tell that it’s been a while since I’ve watched the series? Whatever it is that she sends him, it’s something that Vera doesn’t want her to send him. I’m going on a gamble and saying that it’s some kind of code that runs their system or something or another. Nevertheless, once Izzy has removed the virus, she’s taken into the middle of the woods and has a gun pointed at her head.

That’s where I’m going to stop and move onto Phil Rask.

Since did or did not rat out Izzy as the person behind the hacking of Alex Bell’s accounts in the first season, Phil now works for Vera and the Russians. The first scene of the second season shows Phil explaining how he killed Maddie in graphic detail to the Russians and then it shows a member of the Russian gang confessing to the murder of Maddie to the police. The Russian gang member is sent to prison and Phil is in the clear but in exchange, Phil is now working for the Russians and has to do any task they give to him or the man in prison will retract his confession and Phil will return to his original position in the first season I.E, right in the shit.

Once again, the interesting character development only seems to be happening to Phil. There’s one moment when he returns home from a hard of being the Russian’s worker monkey, he cooks himself up a really nice looking plate of spaghetti and meatballs, even decorating it with parsley and cheese before dumping it in the bin and fetching a bottle of bleach at which point I thought, ‘He’s not going to try and kill himself again, is he?’. No, in fact it’s revealed that Phil spends his evenings scrubbing his bathroom or more specifically, the single space of floor where Maddie’s body once laid. He scrubs that floor with such determination that he’s worn away the skin on his fingertips and has to keep re-applying plasters. Such good character development, I can’t even cope.

When I found out that Martin Freeman was only in the first two seasons and not in the third and taking all the unfortunate events that happened in the first season and now he’s the Russian’s bitch, I thought that there was only one ending for Phil’s character and it wasn’t a good one. I was pleasantly surprised and this is where is his storyline coincides with Izzy’s storyline.

When Izzy shoves the deadly end of a gun into Alex Bell’s head, Phil is sent to give her a talking to and basically tells her that kind of behaviour is going to get her in more trouble. When Izzy pulls her ‘hacking plan’, Phil is sent to pick her up and take her to ‘Russian HQ’ but Phil is one step ahead and know exactly what they’re going to do.

When Izzy is on her knees in the woods with a gun to her head, Phil shows up, gun raised and tells them to stand down and let her go having finally remembered his origins. An FBI agent who’s primary objective is to save people and do some good. He knows the consequences and the level of shit that he’ll be plunged into when this is all over but he doesn’t care. No one else is going to die under his watch.

A shoot out takes place and both the Russian gangsters are killed by Phil. There’s some duel character development for both Phil and Izzy. Whilst Phil goes back to his roots as an FBI agent, before he can be proud of himself for doing the right thing, he realises that he’s been shot in the chest. At this point, Izzy is running in the opposite direction but when she sees Phil pissing blood through his new chest hole, she has a choice to make. She can run away and let him die where he his or she can run back and help him. Hmm? Choices, choices.

It was then that I realised how well the show had been written. You see, Izzy had been written as a selfish, insufferable bitch with such success that when she’s faced with a difficult moral choice, the audience will think that she’ll choose the option that serves herself and no one else. To my own surprise, she runs back, loads Phil into the back of his car and drives straight towards the hospital.

The next scene is a bit confusing. As Phil writhes in pain in the back seat, he demands that Izzy pulls the car over. The theory is that if Izzy shows up at the hospital with a wounded FBI agent then the police show up and Vera will know that Izzy is still alive. She’s going to realise anyway when she finds out two of her foot-soldiers are dead and Phil is responsible. Izzy is understandably concerned given that she had to lift him into the car herself but he reassures her that he’ll be alright. There’s quite a nice bit where he places a reassuring hand and on her arm and it seems to be less of a reassurance that he’ll be OK but that she’ll be OK. I don’t understand why she couldn’t just pull up at the hospital, flag down a doctor and a stretcher and then just run away if her own safety is the big issue.

Naturally, Izzy gets out and we are treated to the sounds of Phil grunting and groaning as he pulls himself into the front seat and he drives away. Izzy gets hold of Nick and both he and Ronald give her a bollocking for not thinking through her plans but this experience gives Izzy the confidence to get together with the ‘cryptologist’ or ‘cryptographer’ or person who is really good at writing code that makes something secret on the internet, Stella (Reina Hardesty) who naturally becomes her girlfriend before the end of the season.

This confrontation with the Russians proves problematic because now everyone is paranoid that the Russians are coming after them. The Russian’s do end up coming after them due to a rogue faction in Vera’s Russian gang. In this tense scene, Ronald is severely injured and in the aftermath, Vera meets with the members of Araknet to call some kind of truce. Izzy is as co-operative as usual and demands all the information of the rival company that was bought by Alex Bell. Of course, she gets nowhere and opts to buy out of the company. But to everyone’s surprise, Alex Bell hands it over in a darkened car park. It’s then when the big revenge plan comes into action.

Eventually, Izzy goes to Phil’s house initially to check in on him after being shamed into going by her girlfriend but when Alex Bell becomes a big traitor, she heads straight over to Phil’s place with the information in order to bring down EVERYTHING so Araknet will have a chance to thrive. It works out for everyone. Phil has the chance to bring down corrupt companies and make the case of his career whilst Izzy can bring down the people who fucked her over and as part of the deal, all charges will be dropped against Nick. Win win.

It all goes well and Phil ends up on the TV being hailed as a hero and Izzy goes into hiding because naturally, a lot of people are going to be upset that she’s tossed them into the shit with the FBI. More to the point, Araknet has the chance to thrive.

So that’s Season 2. I quite liked it and I’ll admit that I only watched because Martin Freeman was in it but the story is really good and well written and well worth anyone’s time. So it’s Season 3 next, have I missed anything? Oh yeh, it was Wes Chandler who ordered the hit of Nick’s dad. See ya!

Bought a Christmas present yet? How about my book, Patient 187. It’s really good and cheap and written by me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s