Tarzan: Wages of Sin (2003) – Review

In the previous episode Detective Jane Porter’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) insanely jealous boyfriend, Detective Michael Foster (Johnny Messner), tried to kill Tarzan (Travis Fimmel), but instead he ended up taking a high dive off a ten store building. Jane took Tarzan to his Aunt Kathleen (Lucy Lawless) to keep him safe from his Uncle Richard (Mitch Pileggi) who wants Tarzan for his controlling shares of Greystoke Industries.

vlcsnap-2016-01-06-11h54m26s387Episode 3 “Wages of Sin”

This episode opens with Tarzan trashing his room at his aunt’s place, until eventually breaking a window and escaping out into the night. Why is acting like a complete ass to a person who is only trying to help him, you ask? Well maybe living in the jungle has given him claustrophobia, but as Katherine mentions later, “Do me a favor, if you do want to leave just…um…open the window.” So we have Tarzan acting like a petulant child, one who doesn’t seem to like the world he is now trapped in, and though this is not very heroic it could lead to something interesting. This is not the adult Tarzan as written by Burroughs, but more of a realistic take on a person with stunted maturity caused from living alone for most of his life. The one problem with this is that it makes it incredibly hard for us to understand Jane’s infatuation with Tarzan. Sure he is a hunky guy with great abs, but is that enough to win over a modern woman?

vlcsnap-2016-01-06-11h57m02s046“I wonder if Tarzan would like to join my book club.”

Tarzan stalks Jane to the funeral of Detective Foster – where he beats up a bunch of Richard’s goons – and then he pops buy Jane’s apartment, where he finds her less than thrilled to see him, because she blames Tarzan for her fiancé’s death, and she tells the jungle boy to beat it. Later at work Jane and her partner, Detective Sam Sullivan (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.), are given the job of assisting the FBI in a kidnapping case, concerning the snatching of a small boy, but when the ransom drop goes south Jane turns to Tarzan for help. But how can Jane now locate a wild man in New York City, one who she had just told to get lost? Well she simply wanders down the first alley she finds and calls his name, and this works because he is still bloody stalking her. I’m sorry this is not romantic, and Tarzan’s attitude throughout this episode is borderline sociopathic.

vlcsnap-2016-01-06-12h06m10s826“I need you to track a kidnapped little boy, and also STOP STALKING ME!”

When Tarzan tracks the boy’s scent all the across the city, to where the boy was held, they only find the kid’s dead dad. As it turns out the father was in on it – he had some major gambling debts – and all the family money belongs to the wife. The police procedural element of this episode is pretty thin and generic – and been used at least a half a dozen times on Law & Order – but the Tarzan tracking stuff is beyond stupid. That he could track Jane across Manhattan I chocked up to them having some kind of psychic bond, but now we see him sniff the child’s teddy bear and somehow this allows him to track the scent through a concrete jungle. Tarzan in the book was an excellent tracker – he could totally track a hawk on a cloudy day – but the idea of him being able to follow a scent through New York City is ridiculous. Even if the smog and millions of other wonderful smells of the city didn’t drown out this one particular scent it would still rely on the kidnappers dragging the child from abduction scene to their hideout by foot. Or is Tarzan also capable of tracking a panel van through the city?

vlcsnap-2016-01-06-13h20m02s362At most this would lead him to the nearest Toys R Us.

When Jane’s partner asks how she was able to find this location she responds with, “I followed some leads” – which doesn’t really fly, mainly because she has no “leads” to back up such a stupid statement, and also Sullivan isn’t a complete idiot. The only person who could possibly have tracked that kid down would be Tarzan, and when he interviewed the prep school thrill junkies, from the last episode, they described being beaten up by a guy with long hair and bare feet. So Sullivan knows that Tarzan is alive, and that Jane has been lying to him, and also that this Tarzan bloke is somehow responsible for Foster’s death. She asks Sullivan to trust her but he tells her, “I will not lie for you.

vlcsnap-2016-01-06-13h27m12s825“I won’t lie for you, but also won’t immediately take this to the Captain.”

Jane does eventually use actual investigative skills to track down where the father’s partner has the kid – a junkyard owned by the mother’s family – but it’s up to Tarzan to sniff out which abandon car the kid is stuck in. This is apparently enough to seal Sullivan’s lips, and he joins in on the Tarzan cover-up conspiracy, because that’s how police officers think. You help solve a crime it obviously absolves you of one of your own. Makes perfect sense to me. Tarzan eventually returns to his aunt’s place, and while wandering around the roof he discovers a skylight that leads to the room he had as a child, where apparently this is the wing of the house that Katherine closed off when her brother and his family went missing, and she has touched nothing of it since. This is also supposed to explain an overgrown greenhouse he finds, but I’m betting an uncared for penthouse conservatory would just be full of dead plants after twenty years, not a what looks to be a Triffid farm.

vlcsnap-2016-01-06-13h35m36s243“Can I turn this place into my Tarzan Secret Lair?”

Only three episodes in and the wheels of this show are seriously wobbling. Jane is a wishy-washy woman who doesn’t know what to do about these feelings she has for this strange jungle man, while Tarzan himself is an immature stalker who seems to have just fixated on the first woman he ever saw. When Jane first encountered Tarzan, in the original books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, she was a 19th Century woman from the upper crust of society, so when she got all hung up on a “Forest God” – one with the body of a Michelangelo sculpture and the strength to defeat wild beasts with his bare hands – you can understand her attraction. Yet this modern retelling gives us a Jane who supposed to be a streetwise cop of the 20th Century, a person who would probably give this Tarzan about as much attention as she would a Chippendale Dancer.

vlcsnap-2016-01-06-13h49m17s184Winner of this years Most Unlikely Couple Award is…Tarzan and Jane!

You can read all my reviews for this show here: Tarzan: The Complete Series.

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