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: Good Cop, Bad Cop – Bad Continuity…Again (Review)

Shades of Blue: Good Cop, Bad Cop had me going. Tears were stinging the old eyes as Saperstein lay in his plain wooden coffin, decked out in his “police dress uniform” with a chest full of medals and then?

Shades of Blue - Season 1

Shades of Blue: Good Cop, Bad Cop had me going. Tears were stinging the old eyes as Saperstein lay in his plain wooden coffin, decked out in his “police dress uniform” with a chest full of medals and then? That pesky old bugger, bad continuity stepped in again and threw this viewer right out of the moment.

If not bad continuity it was at least someone asleep at the camera, as it were, where from one angle the dead body, “in-state” is so high in the open coffin that the actor’s shoulders are above the top of the oblong box. The camera angle changes to looking down upon the dead man and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Saperstein’s shoulders are against the bottom of his coffin and the head which was above the box is now inside it.

In a few seconds, we are taken out of that teary moment where we consider the fate of poor Saperstein and instead marvel at his incredible floating body trick.

This is no “optical illusion” at work here, but flat-out sloppy work by someone. It could be the director, camera operator or the editor, or a combination of all three. Regardless of who may ultimately be to blame this had the same affect as the shotgun mess in episode two; “Original Sin.”

Both these continuity glare-ers take the viewer right out of the moment.  It serves to slap us up-side the head and scream:

“You’re watching a TV show stupid! Now grab a tissue and wipe your face!”

It seems that the producers hope that no-one will notice these moments that do not match, or fail to follow-through with what is happening on-screen.  Similar to those times when, for the sake of safety apparently, a character points a cocked gun at someone and in the close-up, the hammer is suddenly “un-cocked.” Then the camera  goes back for a medium or long-shot and it is cocked again. This creates an  instant splash of ice-cold reality that takes even the most imaginative of us right out of the moment.

Thanks chaps.

Leaving this moment behind, or to be more accurate moments as this grievous sin of the “floating body”  is committed twice,  Good Cop, Bad Cop tries to tie a few things up.  The “bad cops” who  beat seven kinds of hell out of Cristina’s boyfriend are given their comeuppance and (as a perfect lead-in to the emotional funeral) Santos makes things right with her daughter and the new “man” in her life.

Another tear inducing moment has Tess getting those posthumous Mets tickets from David Saperstein. The same man who she has continually piled disdain upon for being the rat. A tissue grabbing scene where only the hardest of hearts could not be moved by the dead Sap’s voice reading his note to Tess and her reaction to the message he wrote.

Warren Kole‘s handler is working oh so carefully to get under his dream girl’s skin.  His FBI Douche-bag should have dangerous stalker tattooed on his forehead, although to be fair, Jennifer Lopez‘ Harlee was aware of this side of Stahl from the get go.

By the end of the episode, Santos has opted to “roll” on Ray Liotta‘s Wozniak and the two “park cops” who beat up Cristina’s boyfriend and his pal have had some rough justice dispensed by Woz and the rest of the “fam.”  Nava also manages to insult Harlee and she says in response to his Stahl induced allegations:

“Thanks for coming all the way down here to call me a whore.”

At least mother and daughter have gotten their trust issues sorted and, for better or worse, Loman is officially a member of Woz’ team.

Kudos to Ray Liotta for dancing  like a madman as his character vacillates between “good cop and bad cop” as he attempts to lead his crew on both sides of the law.  One moment dropping motivational platitudes about being “good” and then doing the same on the “less than good front.”

Shades of Blue ends with Harlee obligating to the FBI side. She has gone over to Stalker Boy’s corner but it remains to be seen just how long she will stay there. The series airs Thursdays on NBC T.un in and see if Harlee makes good on her promise to “dob” Woz in and to see how many other scenes the show’s makers can mess up with bad continuity.

Shades of Blue: Sap Hits Rock Bottom, Woz Helps (Recap/Review)

To paraphrase from Bad Boys II, in Shades of Blue: Fall of Man, “Sh*t just got real…” Woz, who decided last week that Sap was the rat, goes after his suspected mole to question him.

Shades of Blue - Season 1

To paraphrase from Bad Boys II, in Shades of Blue: Fall of Man, “Sh*t just got real…”  Woz, who decided last week that Sap was the rat, goes after his suspected mole to question him. Harlee calls Stahl to intercede, the FBI agent opts to arrest Saperstein to protect him from Wozniak.

Stahl: “Lieutenant Wozniak thinks you’re working with us. He was on his way to question you. And by question you, we mean shoot you in the head.”

This week it all breaks loose, Harlee goes to question the suspect for her ex’s murder, Frank Kovach, who slaps her with a pistol, Loman is identified as the shooter officially, Saperstein is arrested by the FBI and when he escapes custody has a federal warrant put out on him and Woz crosses the line and kills the murder suspect and tries to kill Sap.

On top of all the other excitement, Tess confronts her husband about the barmaid and Cristina learns about Miguel Zepeda as well as his domestic abuse of her mother.

Everything begins to spiral out of control when Harlee goes to question Kovach after speaking with Miguel in prison.

Her ex convinces her that the recently released convict murdered the teenage girl he was convicted of killing. Woz tells Santos to leave it alone since he and Harlee set Zepeda up for the fall to keep him away from her and Cristina.

Her boss also tells her that he is going to question Saperstein, whom he believes is the mole. Disturbingly, as Woz packs a bag before setting out to collect Stuart, he includes zip-ties…

Harlee bumps into Sap on her way out of the squad room and asks him to accompany her to Kovach’s house.  As Santos goes to question Frank, Woz calls Sap and asks where he is. Getting the address, he tells the suspected mole to stay put.

After Santos gets struck across the temple with Kovach’s gun, an act that allows the ex-con  to escape, she learns that Woz is on his way. Harlee calls Stahl to intervene.

Tess confronts Joe and he admits, eventually, the affair with the bartender. He explains that it was a “mid-life crisis” and the two reconcile. Back at the precinct, Loman discovers a row of bullets on his desk, thinking he is being “hazed” he speaks to Tufo and Espada about it.

The two detectives explain that the news has linked him to the drug dealer shooting and the bullets are a sign of solidarity from his colleagues at the precinct. The three learn of Kovach’s assault against Harlee and give her the file with the con’s ex-wife’s address and they go to question the man’s new girlfriend.

The FBI handler tries to call his bosses to get permission to step in to save Sap and cannot connect. Agent Chen urges him to act immediately.

“Easier to ask forgiveness. We’ll get him out the back.”

After telling Harlee to leave the location, Stahl and Chen then move in to  arrest Sap on a number of charges just as Woz shows up, gun in hand to grab his mole. Stuart talks the two federal agents into stopping by his home so he can tell his mother about going to a safe house before testifying.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Espada placating Loman after “bending the rules” with Tiffany.

Espada and Loman talk to Tiffany and set things in motion to catch Frank. The con’s fiancee looks as charming as he is, and Espada gets told off by Loman for bending the rules.  Woz catches up with Harlee at Kovach’s ex-wife’s address and as he is telling her off for getting involved they find the Frank’s ex tied up. The beaten and captive woman then explains that Kovach is kidnapping their son.

Loman tries to explain to the family before they learn from the newspapers but misses his chance. Tufo, Espada and Loman head to the school to stop Kovach and the escaping kidnapper  hits Carlos with his truck as he is leaving with his son Brian.

At the Saperstein house,  Stuart tells his mother that he has to go away while Harlee stops Cristina from visiting Miguel and tells the prison officer at visits that the girl is barred from visiting Zepeda.

Sap tells the two feds that his mother is having palpitations and uses this as a chance to escape. Tufo offers Kovach a chance to bring the boy back, with an offer of money and a car. Loman learns that the news of his shooting has already reached the family he befriended.

Stahl tells Chen to “light up” Saperstein with a federal warrant and Santos tells Cristina the truth about Zepeda. Tess talks to Sap and after he warns her not to use her personal phone, she learns about the federal warrant.

Kovach turns up at his fiancee’s site with his son Brian to make the trade. Tess tells Harlee about Sap and the two head out. Santos tries to keep Sap away from Woz by leaving a message on his phone as Wozniak arrives at the construction site to facilitate the trade.

Woz meets with Frank and the two make the trade, although Kovach reneges at the last minute and pulls a gun from his son’s backpack. He points the gun on Woz and Sap comes up from behind the man but puts his weapon down. Harlee and Tess arrive, siren blazing and Kovach gets distracted. Sap attacks the man and Brian escapes.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Harlee looks up to the floor where Woz and Kovach are negotiating.

Sap head-butts the kidnapper  while Woz watches without helping to subdue Kovach. After Saperstein overpowers  the con, he attempts to explain to his boss what is happening.

Sap: “I had no choice, Woz.”

Woz: (rushing forward and pushing Sap over the rail) “Neither do I.”

Woz then pick’s up Sap’s gun and shoots Kovach in the head and the dead man topples over the same railing that Woz pushed Sap over. The man’s body lands next to Sap as Tufo rushes up and Harlee arrives on the floor where Woz is. Tufo yells out that Stuart Saperstein is still breathing.

Wozniak lies to Harlee and says that Sap shot Kovach and they both fell over the edge of the railing.

Previews of the next episode make things look even more out-of-control with more lies and more murder set to take place.

This episode of Shades of Blue was top notch. Everything rushed to a dramatic and tragic climax, that sets up the next episode brilliantly.

Kudos to the stunt coordinators of this installment for Saperstein’s fall off the building;  truly a genuine heart-stopping moment that stole the show.

Jennifer Lopez is selling it as the plate spinning cop caught in the middle and Ray Liotta is killing it as the man desperately trying to keep control of his little band of crooked cops.  Apart from the “rat” storyline, it will be interesting to see just how long Tess and her husband stay “made up.” Just as it remains to be seen how Loman will handle this latest setback.

Shades of Blue airs Thursdays on NBC.  This procedural crime drama has gotten past its earlier issues of continuity and plausibility and is well worth a look.

Shades of Blue: Equal & Opposite – Woz, Sex and Huge Appetites (Review)

Shades of Blue: Equal & Opposite begins with the Woz’s crew participating in warrant day and one of the outstanding fugitives chased down has a car trunk full of heroin.

Shades of Blue - Season 1

Shades of Blue: Equal & Opposite begins with  Woz’s crew participating in warrant day and one of the outstanding fugitives chased down has a car trunk full of heroin. Before the end of the episode, sex becomes a factor for more than one character and Matt reveals to Raul Mendez that he has huge appetites and no hangups concerning his bisexuality.

At the end of the episode Woz is still looking for his rat, but Raul Mendez is sorted.  Matt uses the drug dealer’s homophobia against him removing any power that the funeral director felt he had over Woz.  Mendez is also removed from the city and placed in Philly by the new dealer in the neighborhood.

Tufo  spots a tail while waiting for his partner Saperstein; who is getting language lessons from a Brazilian hooker.  Donny Pomp has members of Internal Affairs watching Woz’s crew in an attempt to find the rat. Harlee informs Stahl who steps in and tells Pomp to back off.

Harlee keeps stringing Stahl along with partial information and complains to her handler’s boss about what she sees (rightly) as stalker type behavior.   In the meantime, Santos discovers her daughter’s secret boyfriend and loses the plot a little.  The detective also calls in a favor from her old trainer, Caddie who she springs from jail a week early.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Harlee aggressively questions the “boyfriend.”

The former cop/trainer sets up surveillance at Stahl’s place before shooting up again and Harlee just misses learning just how inappropriate her handler’s interest is in her.

Woz, on top of his issues with Raul pushing boundaries,  catches Trish in bed with Espada.  Matt is understandably upset, but at least he realizes that this is why Nazario has been acting “sketchy” and not because she is the rat.  Woz tells Trish that:

“Men are dogs.”

After his little talk to Nazario, he tells her to stop the affair with her partner. Harlee gives her daughter a chance to come clean about the boyfriend and Cristina opts to continue the lie.  Trish and Espada talk after Woz caught them together and she tells her partner that Woz was right, men are dogs.

Santos believes that Stahl has placed a bug in her house and after checking does not find any evidence to support her suspicions.  She misses the FBI agent telling a $500 an hour escort that he will be calling her “Harlee,” during their “date.”

This episode opens things up with many of the characters. Ray Liotta as Woz reveals layers and his   crooked bisexual cop shows that he is not afraid to use sex to destroy the opposition. When Raul Mendez attempts to use Matt’s sexual preferences against him, Woz turns the tables and destroys the drug dealer.

Jennifer Lopez, as Harlee Santos, continues to work through that “glamour” issue and Warren Kole is spot on as the stalker-y douche who really does have an  inappropriate interest in his mole.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Warren Kole as FBI Agent Stahl…

Shades of Blue has gotten darker with the reveal that Stahl rehearses in front of a mirror before his hooker arrives in order to sound “natural” and Woz has his drug dealer forcibly”sodomized” by his replacement (and video-taped)  as punishment for his homophobic attack on the crooked cop.

This series has tightened up a good deal since starting and while Lopez may still be too gorgeous to convince visually as a cop, she plays her part with a truth that takes away from the glamour factor. The question of just how much the crew instigate for the “greater good” is too far outside the law.

Mad props to the other crew members of Woz’s little gang. Drea de Matteo, as Trish, has managed to bring her character back from the edge of “crazy” that threatened to destroy the woman desperate to save her marriage and Hampton Fluker is spot on as Marcus Tofu, the jokey cop who never knows when to leave it alone. 

Shades of Blue steps into dark sexual territory in this episode. Stahl is seen preparing to feed his appetite (for Harlee via proxy). Woz is seen to be a voracious bisexual and apparently Cristina is active with the secret boyfriend.  Sex is also used as a weapon against Raul.

This drama airs Thursdays on NBC. Tune in and see where this series heads next and just how dark things will turn.