Despite carrying a decent portion of the ratings share (and renewing it for a full season), CBS is reportedly cool towards "Vegas," although when that has ever been indicative of quality, I know not. They try to kill the "The Good Wife" every year yet persist in foisting "Two and a Half Men" on the country. I don't trust you, CBS.
Even for those who have been complaining "Vegas" is slow (and yes, more happened in the first 30 minutes of "Nashville" than in "Vegas" so far in total), "Solid Citizens" got everything right, and for the first time I found myself truly able to say, more than the generic "it's a good show" that "this was a great episode."
The Case of the Week, the Achilles heel of ambitious dramas trapped in procedural's bodies, in "Solid Citizens" was perfectly connected to the rest of the story. The Dentist not only did his work on showgirls, keeping the establishing murder scene tied to the casinos, but the crime for which he was killed (and its connection to Savino) was also inextricably linked to the Savoy.
"Vegas" has also backed off of the bitter antagonism between Ralph and Savino after all, the series is just one big chess game between them and it was such a great moment to see the two actually link up and work together. Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis own their space when they're on screen, but when they're interacting (in ways other than just shooting barbs, although I liked that last speech and will get back to it in a minute) it's really compelling TV.
Still, the very best interactions remain among the Lambs, like the opening scene with Dixon and Ralph, or those two bustin' Jack's chops over his crush on Mia. In those moments the show reminded me of another great crime procedural of its day, "The Rockford Files," particularly the interactions between Rockford and his dad, Rocky.
But though the "Rockford Files" had plenty of crime and punishment, one of its defining features was Rockford's hesitation to use a gun (and in many cases, even bring a gun). Ralph has this same hesitation, and while he's not afraid to use his firearm as a prop (like with the unarmed looters to kick off the episode), he generally likes to handle things in other ways.
At the end of "Solid Citizens" though, Ralph did see fit to hold a gun aimed at Savino's head, though only so that the law could prosecute the murderer instead of Savino's vigilante justice. But as Savino reminds Ralph of the first time they met, Ralph has always been about taking matters into your own hands when the law isn't around. His repetition of Ralph's quote from earlier that "sometimes there's a difference between law and justice" wasn't just a Western cliche, it was illustrating how Ralph and Savino are two sides of the same coin, or the opposing pieces on a chess board white hat, black hat.
It also seems that the Savino versus Ralph issue is getting much bigger than either of them. The city is splitting, and what was once a quiet frontier town with a population of 25,000 has now become a gambling hub of almost 100K. As such, the tide is turning towards Savino and his kind, with his candidate George Grady, and away from the current Mayor and friend of Ralph's, Bennett. By adding in the political plot, it gives some of the other characters something to do (particularly Katherine, who cultivates a friendship with Laura, Savino's wife, to get information about how they are working the Grady campaign).
There were lots of great moments in the political dealings, from the transformation of Grady and the help of the League of Women Voters, to Rizzo using some initiative in buying off the election. Though Laura seems concerned about the gauche nature of Rizzo delivering free TVs to everyone (that he stole) so that they could watch the debates, it had been she who said, quoting her father, "there's always a way. Find it, or buy it."
Savino, who through much of this season has tried to walk the straight and narrow, seems to have had a hand in the final gangster trick of the night: cutting power to the TV station's antenna just after Grady delivered a rousing (though empty) speech about the future of Las Vegas, before Bennett could respond and tear him down on facts. How convenient.
It shows that Savino isn't exactly the Solid Citizen he claims to want to be, and Next Week it looks to be a great episode exploring the complex relationship between Savino and Ralph, with the return of the creepster assassin who works for the Milwaukee gang.
Musings and Miscellanea:
I die a little every week over Carrie-Annie Moss' wardrobe on the show. She looks so fantastic! I love Mia's looks as well but Katherine's are just stunning.
I'll admit I knew nothing about poker chips having actual values, and the distinction about fakes. Nice addition to the COTW to add some education in there as well!
"You must be interested in hydroelectric power, because I don't see any other reason to go to the Hoover Dam with that guy." - Jack to Mia.
Though the COTW wasn't over completely thanks to the (getting to be ridiculous) repetition of Ralph's special brand of "let me sit down here and talk to you quietly and you'll tear up and confess all," but will there ever be a week without it? I think at some point it'll become ironic, but we're not there yet.
"Pollak as in ... an actual Polish person? He never could spell." - the Dentist's estranged wife.
I'm interested to see how involved Laura gets into Savino's world.
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