As The Player heads to its abrupt season finale, episode 9 for those able to count, A House Is Not a Home, continues the tale of Ginny and where she might be now. It has to be said that the sudden drop of the series by NBC adds an element of frustration while watching the show play out its shortened hand. The creator’s (John Fox and John Rogers) have mixed in some interesting clues as to just how powerful the organization is that Johnson works for.
A bit more tantalizing information about Cassandra King (Charity Wakefield) and her mysterious past is eked out and the death of Samuel Letts (Richard Roundtree) rattles Johnson (Wesley Snipes) and we are left with the question of who or what is the council?
More importantly, why does Ginny’s mother Barbara Lee (Catherine Dent) insist that Alex’s missing wife and her daughter is a liar? Added to this odd bit of information is another question; why does Lee have a key (that looks like a vending machine key) with Ginny’s name stuck to it?
Alex Kane (Philip Winchester) has to catch a lone bomber before the authorities nab the man. There is a side bet on how many people Kane can save from further explosions. Along the way, Alex learns that the bomber Javier Cruz (Michael Irby) was cheated by a bank and, feeling he has lost everything, the man is out to punish those responsible.
This episode reveals that Alex Kane is a “White Knight,” in slightly damaged armor, or as Johnson puts it, a man with a savior complex. This Player will always try to go for the save, and he punishes the guilty. This trait appears to be shared by his enigmatic Pit Boss, who detonates the bomb left by Kane and Cruz in the crooked bank manager’s house.
Layers in this series are being steadily peeled back and all the “players” in The Player are being exposed. King’s dichotomous relationship with Johnson for instance. Lett’s (Roundtree) asks Johnson about Cassandra and her loyalty. He also inquires about whether the Dealer knows the “truth” about her family. The implication is that the Council, or Johnson may not be able to trust King if she found out.
Clearly King does not trust Johnson, but like the Pit Boss himself, she is obligated to play the “game.” There is a clear “paying the piper” theme to this show that will now never be revealed or explored further. Allegories of sinners being “punished’ or at least paying their dues with the Pit Boss as Satan, or his right hand man, and King as subservient…What? Demon?
If Cassandra is a demon it is an unenthusiastic one. She has that mysterious connection with Ginny (Daisy Betts), whom she is trying to save from Johnson, and she also has a special sort of chemistry with Kane. At the end of the episode, she ends up reassuring Johnson that she has his back, even though Cassandra, moments before, was warning a missing Ginny not to trust the man.
So many layers and levels of mystery and subterfuge with everyone, bar Alex, lying to one another and playing some hidden end game. Kane feels a little like a “Travis McGee” type hero although he has a job, since he roots for the underdog like John D. MacDonald’s flawed “beach-bum” hero. Alex does have a savior complex and it is this that makes his character so compelling.
Herein lies the underlying theme that plays throughout the action packed sequences and the plot twists and excellent fight scenes, this trio of protagonists all care. Johnson, for all his calm and unaffected behavior and Cassandra, with her glib, attractive and, let us call a spade a spade here, cool sophisticated sexiness, also cares.
Be not deceived, however, these players are not three “Care Bears” running a charity, but a trio of shady individuals who are playing the game for their own personal reasons. Sadly, now that NBC have axed the show, we will never find out what these are.
Kane’s reason is obvious, he plays to find Ginny and while Johnson is giving signs to his Player that he is helping Alex in his search, there is a lot more going on here. Glimpses of a past, that Johnson is reminded to not forget, and now a view of Ginny never before seen, courtesy of her drunken mother, have been uncovered only to be lost.
Inexplicably, The Player‘s viewing numbers continue to decline, although this may be a case of self-fulfilling prophesy. After all, why watch a show that its network has doomed to fail, relegated to the tip before the first season ends. So it could well be that the falling numbers are very explainable.
The Player airs Thursdays on NBC, for at least two more episodes. It should be pointed out that in terms of viewers, both The Player and Heroes Reborn on NBC are “underperforming” both airing on Thursday. In the old days, if a network had any faith in a series, they would shuffle it to find a suitable slot.
Not any more, apparently. So tune in while you can.