So episode two of The Player keeps the action and the Ginny conspiracy running while star Philip Winchester continues to spar with Wesley Snipes and intrigue Charity Wakefield. Aussie actress Daisy Betts, whose character Ginny was “killed” in the show’s pilot, maintains a background presence via photographs and Alex’s remembrance that the body in the morgue was missing a vital bit of tattoo ink.
The series moves into the game proper this week and things have gotten deadlier. A team of bloodthirsty and coldblooded killers are robbing security vans and killing innocents on a wide scale. Kane is pitted against the “Carnage Crew.”
While the whole Alex grousing about the game may be annoying, the show’s action sequences are impressive and the mix of Wakefield, Winchester and Snipes is a good one. Damon Gupton, the best friend and cop who seemed hell-bent on putting Alex in jail last week, has warmed up a bit. He still has that cold delivery however and this still irritates.
Ante Up proves that high octane is the theme for this action thriller. After Mr. Johnson shows Kane that he will make things personal for The Player, Alex’s target is an old comrade from his Afghanistan days, surprisingly it appears that the pit boss is also ready to help his reluctant asset.
The show has Alex being tortured, participating in a gun fight at a casino storeroom, another firefight on a main street, and a pretty impressive bit of action on an airplane and then in the air. There cannot be many programs that can boast a bit of “mile high” arial altercation where a parachute is swapped, unwillingly, between the fighters.
Wakefield continues to be the more interesting of the trio but Winchester is starting to become more watchable. The dialogue still feels a little forced, but, it is getting tighter and that bit more clever. Snipes, as Johnson, has a brilliant chemistry with both Cassandra/April and with Alex.
The one person who really does not fit in this scenario very well is Detective Cal Brown (Gupton). This may not be the actor’s fault, as it seems the writers spent too much time trying to make Snipes, Winchester and Wakefield more interesting and witty. This has left Damon a little underwritten and oddly disjointed. Seemingly way too eager to arrest his best buddy in the pilot and too understanding in this episode.
In terms of villains, Joseph Sikora, as Dominic McCall, was perhaps a bit of a “one-note” baddy but his criminality was done with a sort of twisted panache and not a little psychosis. The “double-down” second bet orchestrated by a clever Cassandra was a nice shift and gives us the idea that boyfriend Nick may be on the way out.
The underlying plot thread of Alex believing that Ginny is still alive, by submitting hair samples for a DNA match become more interesting after being show that the body on the table was, supposedly, her. However…Johnson showing up at the end of the episode stating support and agreeing the Ginny is still alive gives Alex the idea that there is some hope she is not dead.
Just as this second episode of The Player gives us some hope that this action thriller is going to keep entertaining with a heavy dose of adrenaline and a improving plot line. The series airs Thursdays on NBC, tune in and see if they can beat that mid-air fisticuff scene in this episode.