Cinemax’s Femme Fatales: 212 – Libra

A sexy superhero, an undercover cop, a mafia boss fighting for control, and good ol’ Cuesta Verde – it looks like Femme Fatales is going out with a bang (I apologize for using the same joke from a previous review but I can’t resist). The final episode of season 2 has aired and it’s called Libra. It is one of the more ambitious episodes of the series so they decided to make it a special hour long episode to close on a high note. They brought in some old and new friends to cap off the season and have succeeded in making it a successful send off which makes us want more of Libra.

The episode opens with Detective McAllister (the always awesome Jeff Fahey) talking to a tied up Max (Adam Huss) trying to get to the bottom of the story. You see, Max is surrounded by a bunch of dead crime bosses, and McAllister is trying to figure out what the hell happened. Max tells him it’s the work of a masked vigilante. Obviously McAllister is a bit skeptical so it looks like it’s educational time, starting with the cause of the mess on the floor.

Say hello to Anya, aka ‘Libra’ (Betsy Rue) – she’s the superhero we’re referring to. She’s sexy, wants revenge, and has a giant stick that loves to electrocute you in case you get snippy. She’s also got a bit of baggage, but what hero doesn’t? Everyone needs a purpose and she’s got one helluva reason to be pissed off in her fight for justice. But we’ll get back to her in a second. Let’s get to the story. Max is a cop in deep cover with one of the local crime bosses, Olesky, and he finally has been exposed. He wants to bring them down but now needs a bit of help. Good thing that someone has been watching him closely. She’s not only got beef with Olesky, but a storied past with him as well.

The first half of the episode concentrates on the exploits of Olesky (Surprise! As a crime boss, he’s a bit of a dick), Max’s quest against him, and the introduction of ‘Libra’ into the universe. The second half of the episode concentrates on Libra’s rise from her lowest point until she dons the spandex to rid the city of evil and corruption, and also to have the right to a superhero catchphrase – “The Streets are Mine!” – which is usually followed by someone getting their ass electrocuted.

We get to see some familiar faces such as Angel from 16 Minutes of Fame (Scheana Marie, which I love her cameo because she comes off as the best bit of crazy) and even Nurse Violet of Bad Medicine (Christine Donlon), popping in to make sure we get how truly dangerous this city is when it comes to pretty women. Again, as I’ve gushed about before in previous reviews, I love the mythology of the city. Any sort of call back makes the audience invested into the episodes a bit more, and keeps us  looking for easter eggs such as these.

Anyways, we find out Libra was born out of a comic book (design by Bob Layton, who’s previous works include Iron Man) and provides the inspiration for young Anya in her quest of revenge against Olesky. She has help from a comic book given to her by Andy (Colin Tary) and it provides her the template and the roadmap to get back at those that hurt her.

As usual, I can’t say too much about the plot without ruining any spoilers, but note that she’s in a mental hospital. The only thing that felt weird about Libra, which is a character that needs to be brought back, was that she really came off as crazy when she claimed she wasn’t. I’m not sure if that was the intention from the get go, but it felt distracting to the story and almost akin to the Crazy Mary episode. Of course, it could just be it reminded me of Crazy Mary because they basically turned Mary’s hospital into their own ‘Arkham Asylum’, complete with their very own Dr. Arkham – Dr. Daniel Duryea (Steve Railsback).

Oh hey, Angel is back and…OH MY GOD, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE

Now, Jeff Fahey is awesome. The dude owns the screen every time he shows up and I’ll gladly watch him read the nutrition facts of cereal boxes. Also, the character Libra is a great addition to the universe of Cuesta Verde because I think it shows off a creative side that seems out of the box for what past episodes have brought us. In following the Grindhouse episode of Hell Hath No Furies and going with the superhero route, this series has definitely stepped in the right direction towards The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt that we haven’t seen in the last decade or so, just more cohesive. Director Robert Meyer Burnett had the right idea in shooting the episode just like a comic book with the blocking and the set ups. I look at the first fight scene with the colorful graffiti backdrop and the overhead shot, and I feel like I’m flipping the pages of the comic going from frame to frame. Seeing the motion comic too had me smiling in geek glee because it set the mood for the rest of the extended episode.

The actors did a good job too, and while a few of the action sequences felt hokey and unnatural (the Asian chick that pops out of nowhere with nunchucks made me laugh because it looks like she just heard a street fight from the bus stop and decided she needed to get electrocuted after showing off her three moves…slowly…) it never really distracted me from the coolness of the story.

It was a good episode to check out and end the season with. If anything, it should create excitement to see what comes out next from these guys because they are hitting their stride. This season felt more consistent than the first and I think had better stories to back it up, and more creativity in how it was shot, the locations, and I think the characters definitely brought the heat. With that, we say goodbye to Cuesta Verde for now, and hope to hear from you ladies soon.

Of course, I want to send you guys off in the most proper way possible. And by proper, I mean gratuitous.

Some of the Femme Fatale girls, off set obviously…

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