When two bodies are found in a cornfield in Vegas, Assistant District Attorney Katherine O’Connell (Carrie-Anne Moss) identifies them to be of Davey Cornaro (Jamie McShane), a union thug out of Milwaukee, and his bodyguard who have been missing for weeks. Cornaro had been competing with Savoy Casino head Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) over who would buy into the Tumbleweed, an old casino with a potential to make a lot of money. The Milwaukee mob immediately figures out that Savino had Cornaro whacked, and sends “Jones” (Damon Herriman) for revenge. And he’ll stop at nothing to get it. When an innocent woman, Marjorie Dobbs witnesses him kill Borelli (Joe Sabatino), one of Savino’s men, Jones guns her down too. In the midst of the town’s new mayoral election, Sheriff Ralph Lamb’s (Dennis Quaid) top priority is preventing the loss of more innocent lives, even if it means protecting Savino, the man who started the war in the first place.
This episode packed quite a punch. A killer on the loose who’ll stop at nothing to wreak havoc on Savino and his men has the stakes pretty much as high as they can currently go. Then there’s the election campaign, visitors coming in from Chicago, an innocent woman’s death and Bad Seeds has you on the edge from the start. Add to that continuity, several plot threads coming to fruition, character development and interaction, and a new plot twist, and you’ve got a winner 9.5/10.
Detailed Analysis (spoilers)
Before I get into this episode’s analysis, I’d like to recap why things had escalated between Chicago and Milwaukee, specifically Johnny Rizzo’s (Michael Wiseman) clandestine role in the events.
Recap on Cornaro/Tumbleweed Disaster
Regular viewers will remember Johnny Rizzo was first introduced in episode “All That Glitters”. He is Mia (Sarah Jones), the Savoy’s accountant’s, father and a powerful lieutenant in the Chicago mob.
His second appearance was in episode “(Il)Legitimate. Rizzo had heard that Savino was buying into The Tumbleweed without getting the okay from Chicago mob head Angelo (Breaking Bad’s epic alumni Jonathan Banks). He pays Savino a visit during which the latter offers him ten percent of the profits if he lets Savino continue with his plans for the Tumbleweed. Rizzo tells Savino not to worry about Angelo in exchange for fifty percent of the profits.
-As viewers were told that Rizzo has Angelo’s ear, I assumed this meant he’d convince him of the enterprises success.
When Savino asked Rizzo, “What about Cornaro?”, Rizzo replied, “You’re the businessman, you figure it out.”
-It was only after this conversation that Savino had his man Borelli kill Cornaro.
Mob Politics (part 1)
Flash forward to this episode, and mob head Angelo (Jonathan Banks) is angry that Savino acted on his own, killing Cornaro and buying the Tumbleweed and starting the war with Milwaukee. To add insult to injury, The Savoy shuts down due to Sheriff Ralph Lamb’s stationing his officers there as a precaution against Jones. At Angelo’s displeasure, Johnny Rizzo tells him that Savino is no good and that they should put Red (James Russo) back in charge of the Savoy.
-As I was watching the scene, I thought that perhaps this is what Rizzo had planned all along, that despite telling Savino he’d back him up he was actually setting him up. After all, it had been exposited that there is “bad blood” between the two (All That Glitters). That theory might still be true. But another presents itself by the time the episode ends (more on this later).
Angelo and and Johnny come to Vegas to visit Savino. Angelo tells Savino that unless they square things with Milwaukee, Jones will destroy their interests in Vegas. To prevent that, he adds that they have to give up The Tumbleweed. At Savino’s protests, Angelo adds that he’s not just trying to save the Savoy, he’s trying to save Savino, since Milwaukee knows that Savino was the one who ordered Cornaro and his bodyguard’s death.
-I found it interesting that Savino doesn’t try to assign part of the blame on Rizzo. My guess is that he knew it wouldn’t have mattered; he had already been moving on the Tumbleweed. But more interesting is the fact that, at Angelo’s declaration that he’s letting go of the tumbleweed, you see Rizzo freeze for a tiny second. This will make sense later.
Regular viewers will remember “Jones” from episode Solid Citizens when he came to look for Cornaro. He left two dead bodies in his wake before Savino managed to convince him that the man had skipped town. But his ruthlessness is highlighted further by the death of Marjorie, and the threat he poses to the rest of the cast and their loved ones. Lara, Mia, even Ralph’s deceased wife serve as an indirect motivation for the men to get this man behind bars.
Jack And Mia
When Sheriff Ralph Lamb instructs officers to station themselves at the Savoy, his brother Deputy Jack Lamb (Jason O’Mara) goes to carry out the orders. There, the Savoy’s head accountant, Mia Rizzo expresses her indignation: “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me.” Jack is flummoxed: “I’m not doing anything to you.” Mia explains that he’s shutting down the casino she helps run, and that she never expected something like that of him.
-Mia, to me, seems too reasonable a woman to be outraged by the man simply doing his job. I’d rather believe she was giving him a hard time as a means of pushing him away. Despite their initial apparent attraction (Il-legitimate), she’s been quietly resisting Jack’s moves and ignoring his gentle come-ons (The Real Thing). I imagine she’s taking the same stance to the possibility of a relationship between them as Ralph previously expressed to his smitten brother: It’s a bad idea.
But she might not be so adverse after this episode.
Jones manages to enter the casino despite all the police there and tries to kill Savino. An officer spots him, however, and a shoot out results in the officer having a double gun-shoot wound and Savino, who came running at the shots, injuring Jones.
The incident causes quite a stir for all three Lamb Officers. Ralph’s son, Deputy Dixon Lamb (played zealously by Taylor Handley) is so enraged at his friend the officer’s injury that he threatens to beat Savino up before Jack orders him to calm down. Ralph decides to arrest Savino and keep him by his side; Jones can’t kill him if he can’t find him. Meanwhile, Jack is so worried that he goes to see Mia. When she opens the door to her (room?) he immediately demands, distressed, what she’s “still” doing here.
-I wonder if the “still” is supposed to serve as subtext; if we’re supposed to think that Jack’s already told Mia earlier, off-screen, to leave, and is the reason why he’s surprised here. I could be imagining things though. I love subtext…
Mia tells Jack that she’s not going anywhere and moves to shut the door behind her, after she joins Jack in the hall.
-This clues viewers in to the fact that there’s someone in the room with her she’d rather not hear their conversation.
We find out who after Jack emphatically urges Mia that she has to leave the Savoy, that Jone’s tried to kill her boss and that it is not safe. Unfortunately for him, Johnny Rizzo, Mia’s father, overhears him and calls Jack out on two things: not being able to keep peace in his own town, let alone being able to protect his daughter, and on not having any legitimate reason to want to do so anyway. Johnny also insults Jack as he makes his point, calling him the “candy store cop”. The conversation heats up when Jack tells him: “If you cared about her, you’d want her out of here too.” But Mia calms her father down before things turn ugly. He leaves, but not before giving Jack the most derisive, mocking look ever. And all Jack gets for his concern and trouble from Mia? She tells him, not unkindly, “I’ll be fine.”
Poor guy struck out in every way possible.
But he must have made some sort of impression. At the end of the episode, after Jones is caught and the police vacate the Savoy, the two joke about the occupation being over. Jack bids Mia goodbye but she calls him back, telling him that he never answered her father’s question: “Why are you interested in protecting me.” Jack responds “I guess I just feel it’s something I might be good at.”
-The moment would be trite and cliche if not for how Jones and O’Mara played the scene: with serious tones and solemn expressions. These aren’t two kids playing around. They’re mature adults sizing each other up. I only wonder why Jack doesn’t ask Mia out again as he did in “(Il) Legitimate. My guess is, while in that episode his annoyance with Ralph propelled him act impulsively on his attraction, Mia’s subsequent less than encouraging response (The Real Thing) has him taking a more subtle approach. I must say I’m glad of it. The potential with this pairing is too good to be realized prematurely. Mia’s smile after Jack leaves, however, seems to have inched him a bit closer to her affections.
But as entertaining it is to watch Jason O’ Mara play the lovelorn cowboy cop, it’s even better seeing him act the protective concerned younger brother…
Bro love: Jack and Ralph
Dixon suggests to his dad that an abandoned car might be the Milwaukee killer’s so Ralph tells him to check out the car. After he leaves, his uncle Jack tells Ralph: “You know I don’t want to speak too soon, but that kid’s got a head for this line of work.” Ralph replies: “I’m glad one of you does.”
I wonder if Ralph’s jab here was an annoyed reaction to Jack’s repeatedly expressed opinion of how good Dixon is at his job. The last time Jack said it had been by way of telling Ralph to ease up on his protectiveness of his son (Solid Citizens).
Either way, I loved the expressions on both the men’s faces after this line. Ralph smiles to let his younger brother know he’s joking but Jack’s tight grin makes me think he may not have appreciated the tease. Though it doesn’t stop him from later coming to Ralph’s rescue.
A man enters the station. He tells Ralph that his neighbors told him what happened and that “they won’t let me see her”. Ralph is confused until the gentleman clarifies “I’m Clarence Dobbs, my wife Marjorie was in that alley.”
This statement gains the attention of Jack and Katherine, who seem to be more worried about Ralph than the bereaved husband. We find out why when the Sheriff has a hard time stringing two sentences together. He tells Dobb’s that he’s sorry for his loss, that it was a terrible “accident”. At Dobb’s confusion (Marjorie was murdered), Jack intervenes and gently takes him aside, relieving Ralph of having to deal with the man.
The look of combined concern and pity Jack gives Ralph clues us into the fact that he knew his older brother was perhaps reliving his own nightmare of having lost his wife, too vividly to be able to deal with Dobbs.
It was a great scene both because it reinforces the brothers’ bond, and because it clues us in on how Ralph’s wife died. And just in case we haven’t figured it out, Ralph’s later scene with Savino makes it canon.
Vincent Savino Gets Under Ralph’s Skin
After Ralph arrests Savino, he takes him to his ranch for safekeeping. There, we (and Ralph) become privy to Vincent Savino being a concerned husband. He tells Ralph he wants to call his wife to tell her to get out of town. Ralph obliges Savino, but doesn’t give the man privacy as he tells his wife that he can’t protect her.
Later Savino muses that it must get lonely for Ralph “what with your brother out doing his own thing and your son chasing skirts”.
-I love how Dixon’s “gigolo”status is apparent even to Savino; a newcomer to the city XD. I am curious however what Jack’s “own thing” is. He seems to be as devoted to the ranch as Ralph.
Ralph tells Savino he gets by, to which the younger man offers to go on a double date; him and his wife Lara, and Ralph with ADA Katherine O Connell. Ralph is unaffected at Savino’s allusion to his and Katherine’s not so hidden chemistry and tells him he’ll check his calender. Savino presses on, from offering to provide Ralph company if he’s the shy kind, to finally asking what happened to his wife. Ralph keeps ignoring him, but falls into Savino’s trap when he confirms the deceptively benign question that he was the oldest in his unit (during the war). Savino then jokingly asks if Ralph stayed because his wife had left him while he was fighting. This finally gets an honest response from Ralph. He reveals that he lost her in a car accident while he was away. Savino (honestly?) says that it’s a shame. The two are silent for a moment before the Chicago man asks Ralph if he ever wonders, if he’d taken a discharge from the army and returned home, if his wife would still be alive. Ralph’s response is to punch Savino in the face.
This was a very interesting scene acted superbly by Quaid and Chiklis. I felt it revealing that Savino, despite his momentary sympathy for Ralph, would nevertheless poke at an obviously sore wound. I guess after finally figuring out Ralph’s weak spot, he couldn’t help but exploit it. Or maybe it was in retaliation to Ralph seeing him so vulnerable when he was talking to his wife, Lara. Now they’re even.
Despite that, the two (for the second time) work well together to bring down Jones when he comes to Ralph’s ranch. With the Milwaukee man in custody, all seems right again.
My reaction was, really? That’s it?
But writers Greg Walker and Nick Santora had only been luring viewers into a false sense of security. After Mia and Jack’s final cute scene, the episode shifts to Vincent telling his wife Lara that it seems Angelo managed to calm Milwaukee. No sooner do the words leave his mouth than Angelo, Red and Johnny Rizzo join them, telling Vincent that they need to straighten out the Tumbleweed business once and for all.
And there it is, the other shoe drops. Red, Lara, and Vincent all know what’s coming. Vincent is about to be taken out. Vincent kisses his wife goodbye before leaving.
Mob Politics (part 2)
Savino is taken to the desert where Angelo tells Savino that he loves him like a son, but that Milwaukee buried two of their own and that he’s paying them back with the Tumbleweed….and with Savino.
Angelo turns away, not wanting to see Rizzo kill Savino. Instead, Rizzo shoots Angelo.
-For a moment there I honestly thought Chiklis was leaving the show. What a shocker…and relief.
Rizzo tells Savino: “He was getting soft, the old Angelo would have seen that coming” and continues to say that he needs Savino back at work; that Angelo’s death was sanctioned from Chicago because they didn’t want to lose the Tumbleweed: “You work for me now.”
The question for me is: had Rizzo always intended on taking out Angelo? Is that what he meant when he told Savino in an earlier episode not to worry about him? Or was Savino Rizzo’s intended target, but Rizzo decided to change his plan when Angelo announced he was going to give up the Tumbleweed? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that Johnny Rizzo love for money trumps any bad blood between himself and Savino. Just like it trumped his loyalty for his boss.
But the one thing that Rizzo cares about more than anything is his daughter, Mia. This is another reason why a romance between her and Jack would be so exciting. It raises the possibility of all sorts of conflict.
Not that the show will lack any, now that Rizzo is in charge. His quick temper and fits of violent rage match ones I’ve only ever seen on characters played by Joe Pesci. We now also know that he is cunning, ruthless and manipulative. Then there’s the fact that Sheriff Ralph once beat him up when he resisted arrest, and that Rizzo had wanted to kill him for it. He was stopped only by Savino who made the case to Angelo that having (another) Sheriff killed would be bad for their business. But now that Angelo is gone?All bets are off. Perhaps Savino will soon be able to repay Ralph for saving his life. I can’t wait to see how Vince copes with his new boss. I also wonder if he realizes just how far Johnny planned for all this, if he’ll suspect that he had been Rizzo’s initial intended target (if that’s true, anyway).
Finally, George Grady (Gil Bellows) has been voted as the town’s new Mayor. And since his campaign was paid for by Savino, Sheriff Ralph will probably have many more problems on his plate.
Man, what a pivotal episode.
“Go hug a cactus. I’m not patting down those zombies.”-Dixon, to Jack.
“Wholesale butchery.” –Jone’s (honest) reply to the cop who asked him what his business in town is.
“Borelli came here from Chicago, what, three years ago? Not much of a shelf life on these guys is there.”- Jack, to Ralph. I’ll say. I was just starting to love the character. Thanks for the head’s up, writers.
“You wanna tell me how the hell this happens?”-Sheriff, to Ralph, on the double murder.
“I assume with a gun.” Ralph, in response to the above.
“Don’t get smart with me.”- Sheriff, to Ralph.
“Don’t get loud with me.”-Ralph, in response to above.
“Mrs. Dobbs here, she wasn’t a mobster. So I would appreciate if we don’t fret about your job security over her dead body.” Ralph, to Sheriff.
“Doctor said no salt.” Rizzo, to Angelo. Talk about irony. The man worried about Angelo’s health ends up killing him.
“I live to eat.”-Savino, to Ralph. A man after my own heart XD.
“It is okay to have some company up here, once in a while. I can help you with the arrangement if you’re the shy kind.” Savino, trying to ‘help’ Ralph.
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