Shades of Blue: One Last Lie – Miguel Makes an Exit (Review)

The season finale of Shades of Blue (One Last Lie) was a fitting end to the ongoing events, and an end to two characters.; Miguel and Donny Pomp.

 Shades of Blue - Season 1

The season finale of Shades of Blue (One Last Lie)  was a fitting end to the ongoing events, and an end to two characters.; Miguel and Donny Pomp.  Santos finally proved just how far she would go to protect Cristina, Woz showed how far he would go to take care of his honorary daughter Harlee and Loman has become part of the team at last.

While this episode could be said to be all about resolutions. it also showed just how far the boundaries of law can be stretched by those who enforce it.  James Nava (Gino Anthony Pesi) standing by as Harlee points a gun in Miguel’s face, Loman’s killing of Donny and then getting Woz to help cover it up, and Harlee taking out the abusive animal Miguel as he starts to orally rape her. 

Of course the ultimate rule-bender (and total arsehole) Stahl continued his misogynistic behavior by turning in Agent Chen after sleeping with her. Not for the sex act, but for exhibiting grief over the death of the kidnap victim.  (Hopefully Baker will see through the douchebag’s actions.)

Sidenote: It is a little difficult to feel too much sympathy for Chen (Annie Chang). She was, after all, the one who got Zepeda (Antonio Jaramillo) out of prison and back into Harlee’s life.  

Jennifer Lopez’s character was busier than a one-armed piccolo player as she struggled to bring everything together for one last attempt at protecting her crew.  Using the money as bait, along with offering up  Donny and Linklater in place of Woz, Harlee moved at a frantic pace.  Sadly, Donny dies at the hand of Loman (Dayo Okeniyi) and the DEA agent (whose name is not Linklater at all) has left the  country. 

Woz meets with Stahl and cuts his own deal. Unsurprisingly it turns out that Stahl (Warren Kole) rats on his mole to Wozniak.  Cristina (Sarah Jeffery) hears the truth from her mom finally and is distraught at being sent away for her own safety. 

It was surprising to see Loman be the one who took out Pomp. Woz clearly wanted to, but just as the newest member to the team was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the season open, Loman’s catching Donny at Woz’s house was like deja vu.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
The beginning of the end for Miguel

Standout Moments:

Santos breaking Miguel’s neck was a moment of supreme satisfaction.

Woz’s decision to take the fall for his “daughter” was one of those “tissue box moments” that was ultimately saved by Harlee’s realization of the CCTV footage of Stahl.

The fight between Loman and Donny.

Ray Liotta.

Final Thoughts:

That footage of Stahl had been shoved to the back burner after Miguel found the tablet in Harlee’s closet.  Now that she has finally remembered the evidence (we think) there is a firm memory of Zepeda’s gloating face as he watched Stahl misbehave.  When the next season starts, it is a sure thing that the CCTV footage will be nigh-on impossible to find.

It is interesting that the one person who managed to lie to everyone, Harlee Santos,  has managed to have apparently gotten off.  Woz has offered himself up as sacrificial lamb to save Harlee, and provides for Cristina’s college education. Cristina tells Miguel how scary good her mother is at lying, and the teenager is right.

Not only is Santos good at manipulating people;  Stahl, Woz, Neva and Loman, for example, but the woman can think on her feet. Witness the story she told Loman about the heist.  This gift, however, could be a result of cause and effect.

Harlee, as an abused partner, would have learned to lie quickly and convincingly for a number of reasons. Whether to keep Miguel from “speed-bagging” her or to keep friends and family from learning of the abuse, it would have become a survival mechanism.  It would also be a difficult habit to break.

So Shades of Blue ends on a cliff-hanger times two. Miguel lies dead at Harlee’s feet and Woz is about to be arrested by Stahl.  However…

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Desperate fight between Donny and Loman.

This is a show that runs on lies and subterfuge.  Loman, whose entire new career is built on a colossal lie, made an appointment with Captain McManus.  Later he apparently becomes a full-fledged member of Woz’s bent cops.

Or has he.

Great performances all around here. Liotta, a veritable powerhouse has ruled this show, but Lopez has delivered above and beyond, considering that glam appearance and catwalk wardrobe she sported. It is a cinch the come Emmy time, somebody should be getting a gong or two.

NBC have a winner on its hands and Shades of Blue will be back.


Shades of Blue: For I Have Sinned – Harlee Does the Twist (Review)

Shades of Blue: For I Have Sinned picks up where last week’s episode ended. Loman stumbling onto the rest of “his team” robbing an armored truck and sparking off a shoot-out. Before the episode ends, Harlee is revealed to have done a twist that would make Chubby Checker proud and Woz explains his backstory.

Shades of Blue - Season 1

Shades of Blue: For I Have Sinned picks up where last week’s episode ended. Loman stumbling onto the rest of “his team” robbing an armored truck and sparking off a shoot-out. Before this episode ends, Harlee is revealed to have done a twist that would make Chubby Checker proud and Woz explains his backstory.

Stahl is not pleased to arrive after the NYPD and find the crime scene empty except for Loman (Dayo Okeniyi), a dead body and the empty truck. The FBI agent arrests Loman to make him talk but the detective will not budge from his story.

Tess and Joaquin are taken to be treated by Saperstein’s old friend Dr. Isaiah (Peter Jay Fernandezby Tufo and Carlos while Woz and Harlee take the money in the car.  Stahl can feel his sting getting away from him and Chen is upset at the death of the kidnapped husband.

Woz is concerned that Loman will give them up and Santos tells him that Michael will not break.  In mid argument the car is hit and the vehicle rolls landing on its roof. The money is taken  and Woz misses the tracker busily beeping next to the car.

As Isaiah prepares to work on the two wounded in the church, Woz and Harlee head to a local pharmacy to get patched up and rent the pharmacist’s vehicle.  Wozniak believes Donnie took the money and Linklater phones to pass on some threats.

The DEA agent arranges a meet at a local Chinese restaurant.  Dr. Isaiah works on Joaquin while Carlos digs for the bullet in Tess’s shoulder.

Tess: “Just stop poking around at everything except the bullet!”

At the meeting Linklater and Wozniak exchange threats and the agent shows he has pictures of Harlee and Woz with the kidnap victim.  Stahl tries to push Loman to tell the truth that the FBI agent needs to hear.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Harlee and Woz at the pharmacy.

Baker is not pleased with Stahl but Chen (Annie Chang) relates that Linklater went back to work.  Linda and Cristina flee to a hotel and Stahl stops by the murdered club owners business and verifies Loman’s story. Harlee turns up as Baker is talking to Stahl and says she needs to see her handler.

Stahl is angry with Harlee about the wire not recording anything. Woz questions Joaquin, with a knife, and the wounded man gives answers.  He reveals that Royce was not supposed to kill the old man and Donnie set up the former marine. Pomp then ordered Joaquin to kill Royce.

Santos learns that Donnie slit the kidnapped man’s throat.  She also learns that Stahl lied about immunity for her crew as “Linklater” is brought into the bureau. She tells Baker and Stahl that the man they have is not Linklater.

Joaquin has to be taken to the hospital. Harlee explains that the real Linklater gave them 24 hours to get the missing money. Saving her crew from immediate arrest.  Woz asks Santos to check in on Linda and Crista.  Woz comforts Joaquin on the way to the hospital. The wounded man dies as they arrive.

Cristina asks her mother for the truth and catches her in another lie about Miguel and reveals to Harlee that she knows her father was exonerated.  Harlee explains that she cannot tell Crista anything and that she loves her “more than my life.”

Loman replays what Harlee told him at the crime scene, that Donnie Pomp ordered them to rob the truck and they did it to protect  Michael. Donnie, she says, knows that Loman shot the drug dealer in cold blood. The detective then calls the precinct and asks to talk to the captain.

A tearful Harlee leaves a message to Crista on her laptop and Woz talks about his daughter’s suicide after they had an  argument.  As he reveals what triggered her death and why he began his drug operations, Tufo and Carlos bury Joaquin.

Harlee’s message to Cristina ends with her saying that everything she did was for her and Cristina calls Miguel.  Woz stops his confession early because, ” I have a couple more people I need to hurt.”

Santos meets with Caddie, who has the money, and she tells her accomplice that now they can call the shots.

Shades of Blue has delivered one heck of a twist in its penultimate episode.  Harlee’s taking of the money follows on from her idea of skimming earlier but that was to pay off Miguel.  Now she has the full amount Santos can stop being the victim of Stahl.  It is uncertain where this will go now that she is in charge and with only one episode left in the season, it may next season  before her plans are revealed.

Ray Liotta killed it in this episode as Woz moved between tough as nails cop to broken hearted father.  In between his character emoted enough compassion to guarantee a nod at the next Emmys.  Lopez was no slouch either although her range of emotions was not quite so impressive.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Stahl and Harlee

Performances aside, the plot has  moved in a completely unexpected direction and it looks like Harlee may make Stahl sweat for a change.  It is interesting to note that the feds seem to be far more upset about the money than the murder of the kidnap victim.

Sidenote: The scene in the Chinese restaurant where both Liotta and Stephen Lang beat their chests and roar at one another was brilliant.  There was enough machismo and testosterone in the air to make a bullfight seem tame in comparison. Although one would have assumed that the extras in the background might have reacted a little to the ire-filled atmosphere and loud posturing….

Shades of Blue finishes its  first season next Thursday on NBC. It will be interesting to see where Harlee goes next with her Chubby Checker impression.


Shades of Blue: Shades of Irony (Review)

For a new series “written on spec” by Adi Hasak, Shades of Blue is not bad. The pilot could be referred to as “Shades of Irony,” as Hasak’s opening salvo ladles the irony on pretty heavily.

Shades of Blue - Season 1

For a new series “written on spec” by Adi Hasak, Shades of Blue is not bad. The pilot could be referred to as “Shades of Irony,” as Hasak’s opening salvo ladles the irony on pretty heavily. Starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta, “Blue” is about “crooked” cops who do so for the “greater good.”

And the extra money for things like putting your only child through an expensive school.

From the very start we learn that not only does Harlee Santos (Lopez) think fast on her feet, the cop never hesitates to falsify a crime scene. Granted she does this  to protect her rookie partner Michael Loman (Dayo Okeniyi) but Santos never misses a beat in setting up a scenario that will clear her partner of murder.

First Ironic Moment:

As Santos urges a young girl away from the apartment that she and her partner are about to enter, two shots are heard behind the closed door. Loman is heard to kick in the door and fire twice. Harlee comes in and finds a dead man on the sofa, with an Xbox controller slipping from his lifeless hand.

Immediately the senior cop starts explaining “what happened.” As she finds a gun, that was in a bag with heroin on a coffee table, Santos sets up the “scene” and shoots Loman with no warning.

The irony is pretty heavy in this first set up. A lesson to would-be heroin dealers, do not play a First Person Shooter on your Xbox with the volume cranked to top decibels.  As the two cops survey the room, and the newly dead guy on the sofa, the game states:

“You’re dead. You’re dead. You’re dead.”

The script tries to be topical and modern.  Santos is seen at the start doing a video diary entry where she begins the pilot explaining how things went wrong.  Very modern day and this does beat the old fashioned “voice over” narrative of most shows.

As one reviewer mentioned, this is not new territory. Michael Chiklis and his gang of cops broached  similar legal issues  in The Shield (2002 – 2008). More recently, on TNT, Public Morals, a personal project that  Edward Burns created and starred in, was a period cop piece where a lot of 1960s police officers walked that fine line for “the greater good,” aka controlled chaos on the streets.

Granted, neither of the aforementioned cop shows had Jennifer Lopez or Ray Liotta. Both these stars are returning to their television roots for this NBC police drama.  Both Ray and Jennifer started on TV and each have returned occasionally.

Back to the pilot of Shades of Blue,  an enormous amount of irony is evident in the first hour of this new series. Santos gets a guilt-ridden Loman through his first accidental shooting only to be caught out by an FBI sting operation. (Technically this could count as “ironic moment number two, but hey ho.) To further complicate the implications of being “owned” by the FBI,  Santos’ boss, Matt “Woz”  Wozniack (Liotta) takes out the dead man’s partner to save his “family” member Harlee.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Harlee Santos (Lopez) going for the “save” and failing

Second Ironic Moment:

Once Harlee agrees to set up her boss Woz, he then turns over the “loose end” of Earl, who knows that Michael Loman killed his drug partner, to the drug pusher that he, Wozniack controls. Woz tells Earl, before letting him out to meet his death:

“For the greater good Earl. I protect and serve it.”

Sidenote: It has to be noted that after repeated viewing of the second of the Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg cornetto trilogy; “Hot Fuzz,” the phrase “the greater good” always manages to evoke a chuckle or two.

Once again, irony rears its omnipresent head as we see Woz protecting the woman who is now working as a “rat” for the feds. (A scene later has Harlee’s boss excitedly revealing that he knows there is a rat in his group and he is not happy.)

Third Ironic Moment:

After yelling that he needs to kill the rat, Woz tells Santos that he wants her to help as:

“You’re the only one I trust.”

To be fair to show creator Hasak, and to NBC, this is a storyline that has been around for years. From Joseph Wambaugh’s many tales of cops and their various peccadilloes  to ensemble pieces like Hill Street Blues, television is full of cops who walk that line, some more than others.

In this new series we have a familial type of cop group where all “work” the street to keep drugs away from the schools and to keep juvenile and violent crime stats down.  On top of this “doing good for the community” there are the requisite paybacks and under-the-table bribes that enable the police under Woz’s leadership to improve their lot in life.

Lopez is good in this small screen exercise in irony. Shades of Blue may have the star looking a little too glam, but hey, this is Jenny From the Block.  Even without makeup and a more “realistic” hairdo, Lopez is going to look “high end.”

Shades of Blue - Season 1

Liotta kills it.

The rest of the cast are capable and manage to impress in varying degrees, despite some not having a lot of screen time. Sarah Jeffery (who just recently impressed in ABCs Wayward Pines) plays Harlee’s daughter Cristina and she impresses in this series as well. Warren Kole is the FBI agent who pulls Harlee’s strings and Dayo Okeniyi is Michael Loman, who Harlee helps out and Drea de Matteo is Tess Nazario, a fellow cop who believes her husband is cheating on her. 

This new crime drama looks to be pretty interesting, at least on par with other shows on offer at the moment. Shades of Blue is more focussed on what it wants to be than, say, Quantico and while the storyline may not be overly original, it does have at least one powerhouse actor (Liotta) in the cast.

The series airs Thursdays on NBC and if the pilot is anything to go by, it will be entertaining and chock full of irony.

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