Wednesday, October 24, 2012

'Vegas' Season 1, Episode 4 Recap

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Kiss Me, Kate!
  • CBS
  • Kiss Me, Kate!

In case you hadn't heard, "Vegas" has been picked up for a full season by CBS, so for now everyone can rest easy about cancellation. It wasn't likely, anyway — the show has been winning its Thursday-night timeslot with a hefty viewer load, which I (obviously) think it deserves. There's something almost quaintly lovable about the series — it's not loud or a whirlwind or chock-full of violence and gore and shock, but it's good. Not great, not yet, but it's solidly good.

"Vegas" came out of the box establishing some great characters, but hasn't done much with them yet outside of Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis). "(Il)Legitimate" (a complicated title to pull off, text-wise) illustrated more clearly than ever before that Savino is a business man who's motivated by money, but his mob connections, which should be helping him, continuously bring him back into the muck. I feel for Savino for two reasons - one, because Chiklis is fantastic in portraying him, and two because his arc so far reminds me a great deal of my (second) favorite character from "The Wire," Stringer Bell, the street gangster who wanted to become a legitimate business man but kept being brought back down to the violence and dealings of the street because of his best friend and his past. Both characters long to go legit, but shaking their gang affiliations seem to prove insurmountable.

As for the other characters, ask and ye shall receive regarding Jack Lamb, at least.

Two weeks ago I called for Jack to have some kind of romance, and only partly because I would like to see him shirtless. Ralph and Dixon have had distinct personalities to distinguish them as their own men, but Jack has mostly been a third wheel in the posse, quietly backing up his brother or calming leading him away from the more explosive emotional path. Jack is a good man and a level-headed one, so seeing him go outside of that comfort zone would be a nice way to see more of his personality. His interest in Mia seems promising, especially since it seems he may be in a rivalry with the secretly nefarious District Attorney.

The major character who has gotten the least to do so far though truly is Katherine, and I desperately hate to see Carrie Anne Moss wasted (though I do like it when she slinks into the frame in her impeccable wardrobe). But broadcast dramas have exceptionally long seasons, and the show is well within its rights to take its time establishing its character drama. We know that Katherine and Ralph have a close friendship, and we know that they are probably the romantic end-game, but curse the commercial break that cut up our seeing Ralph land on top of Katherine to protect her from the molotov blast, because in the next scene they were calmly standing outside with nary scratch and no more said about the "encounter." Alas.

Like "The Good Wife" this week, "Vegas'" Case of the Week operated in its own orbit, and though none of the major characters are People of Color (which is unfortunate — what happened to Ralph's Native American friend?), at least the show has portrayed something other than just a bunch of white people in its COTW. The COTW devolved into the weird pattern of the last few weeks of an wide-open investigation narrowing to get close to Savino, away from Savino, and then with a few twists completely out of the blue, including a final one that is always delivered via easily-prompted full confessional, case close. It's a shame that Estelle had to be the one killed off, because that actress was intensely likable even in her few scenes, and having a subplot about unions and the Vegas workers would have been great.

But the main focus remains on Savino and the mob, both Chicago and, this week, Milwaukee. A shootout and molotov cocktail here and there is always fun, sure, but the real meat of the story was Savino getting sucked back in to his dark world. His connections robbed him of gaining a business legitimately, but it did help him "disappear" the bodies. You win some, you lose some.

Also interesting was Mia backing up Savino and apologizing for her father. I like Savino as Mia Father Figure at the casino, and I think that she also sees that while she loves her father, he is up to his neck in the shadowy dealings of the mob, something she has no interest in, whereas Savino represents a way out (or at least a way to more legitimately manage one's mob connections). There was a nice moment, too, when Savino called upon Ralph to arrest a man stealing from him, in accordance with the law. Later, their posturing over "this is my town" was a reminder that the two haven't gotten too cozy — the are, after all, the core conflict.

So once again, a decently entertaining hour of TV from "Vegas," even though ideally I would like to see more character development and less procedural focus (but that's the same complaint I have against "The Good Wife," too. But a tiger can't change its stripes).

Next Week: A COTW that looks to be the main event with some emotional stuff around it, and even more importantly, Savino's wife shows up! (Is that you, Ali Larter?)

Musings and Miscellanea:

— "I said, 'if by "my kind" you mean a size 16, then we may be related.'" - Alice

— Lovely moment at the end when Ralph reminisced about his late wife, giving the reason why he wanted to save the tree.

— Jack and Mia really did have cute chemistry.

— Dixon: "Spoil sport!" Jack: "Gigolo!"

— I want more scenes with all of the Lamb family, their interactions are the best. The show has good dialogue when it gets away from the boilerplate stuff.

— Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) from "Breaking Bad" (another "Breaking Bad" alum!) made his appearance as Estelle's dad. He always looks like he's up to something, doesn't he?

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