Vegas “Exposure” Review


 Synopsis

When the lead medic at an air force base is found dead on the West Side of Vegas, Lt. Norman Kemp (Tim Griffin) joins Sheriff Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid) in the investigation into his murder. Meanwhile, new mob boss Johnny Rizzo (Michael Wiseman) decides to hire Diane Desmond (Ivana Milicevic) to sing at The Savoy. This becomes a major problem for Casino head Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) who tries to keep his wife Laura (Vinessa Shaw) from finding out that he and Diane once had an affair.

Concise Verdict

I must admit, having seen the promo, I wasn’t really looking forward to this episode. Yes, sex can sell, I’m just not a fan of shows I feel are awesome in their own right resorting to such methods. But writers Seth Hoffman and Steven Levenson gave me a pleasant surprise with Exposure. With plenty of great one liners, continuity, sly direction, and a troublesome new character, this episode with a double meaning in its title is another highly entertaining addition to this magnificent show. 8.5/10

Detailed Analysis (spoilers be here)

Johnny Rizzo takes charge of the Savoy

As anticipated in the Bad Seeds review, Savino has his hands full dealing with Johnny Rizzo. First, the loan shark unknowingly hires Savino’s one-time lover, Diane Desmond (who quickly demonstrates that she wants to rekindle the romance). Then, when Mia Rizzo (Sarah Jones) tells Savino that one of her employees reported a missing fill slip, and might therefore figure out how she has been laundering money for the casino, her father demands to know the man’s name, presumably to make sure he doesn’t talk by killing him.

-I found it interesting that Mia glanced at Vincent, who shook his head slightly at her to signal that she shouldn’t reveal the man’s name to her father. She does, however, thinking that the fact that she tells Johnny “I trust him” will keep her father from wanting to deal with the matter his own way.

At first it seems that she might be right. Her doting dad tells her “If you trust him, then I trust him”. But Savino’s fears become a reality when Rizzo later tells him that they’ll get rid of the guy because it’s not worth the risk.

Luckily, Savino is able to distract Rizzo long enough to get the poor targeted employee out of town. He does this by asking Diane, whom Rizzo is enamored with, to go home with the man and slip him something that will make him sleep. But Diane demands something in return for helping Savino: his wife Laura’s diamond necklace that he gave her on their anniversary.

-I suppose it could be true that Diane is still in love with Vincent eight years after their affair, but she seems to get off on subverting powerful men. Her requesting Laura’s necklace hints at a jealous and possessive woman, one used to getting her way. It’s easy to imagine why Savino never contacted her when he came to Vegas and why he now wants her gone.  Ending up in the doghouse with his wife might be the least of Vincent’s concerns where Desmond is involved…

Diane later tells Vincent that she didn’t need to use the drug since she kept Rizzo busy by sleeping with him.

-It would be fine if Diane cared about Rizzo, but making him think she does when she’s actually trying to get close to Vincent, as she tells him, is dangerous. Rizzo isn’t an idiot. If she continues playing him, and he figures out it’s Vincent she wants he’s likely to want to kill both her and Savino. I’m sure Savino knows this as he earlier told Diane that she should return the fur coat Rizzo gave her as a gift; that she shouldn’t jerk him around. If the singer knows what’s good for her, she’ll take Vincent’s advice.

 Vincent Savino’s Marriage

Perhaps what I loved most about this episode is what it reveled about Vinnie Savino’s character. Despite Diane Desmond throwing herself at him, he remains faithful to his wife Laura. Even when he needs Diane’s help to keep Rizzo busy, Vincent doesn’t repay her favor with his wife’s diamond necklace. Instead, he gives her a folder of cash and tells her that some things don’t belong to her.

The statement was clearly talking about more than just the necklace in question: Vincent was telling her that he doesn’t belong to her.

-This answers a question I had in mind ever since Laura was first introduced in episode Solid Citizens: Does Savino really love his wife?

We know he only asked her to join him in Vegas after banker Leo Farwood (Micael J. Harney) invited them to dinner at a country club (episode Solid Citizens). The Morman had told Savino that family was very important and the underlying sentiment was that if Savino wanted Farwood’s bank to finance his expansion of The Tumbleweed, then he had to prove himself as a family man. Savino did this when he had Laura accompany him to the dinner, where we are later told that she made a great impression on Farwood. So is that why Savino asked his wife to stay?

I think not. Rather, I believe Farwood’s invitation just served as an extra nudge for something Vincent had wanted all along. We’ve gotten many hints: his obliging her request to be more honest about his work troubles (The Real Thing), his concern for her when hitman Jones came into town (Bad Seeds), and his remaining faithful to her in this episode. all point to him loving her. When Diane brazenly offers herself to Vincent, we are shown a bare woman’s leg on a bed and Vincent buttoning his shirt. The clever direction misleads viewers into assuming he’d submitted to the vixen’s wiles before Laura’s blond head appears from behind him: he went to his wife instead. Vincent explains the mid-day rendezvous by telling her “I couldn’t stop thinking about you.” The statement didn’t seem like he was just using her to substitute for Diane. Rather, it seemed like an affirmation of his love; like he turned down Diane because he was thinking about his wife. Perhaps his close call in the last episode is what made the decision come easily to him.

I’m glad of it. Laura Savino acted superbly by Vinessa Shaw comes across as a woman well worth both Vinnie’s love and respect. Not only is she the beautiful mother of his children, she’s smart and completely devoted to her husband, as this episode illustrates further.

Laura Savino and Kathernine O’Connell come to Terms

ADA Katherine O Connell (Carrie-Anne Moss) congratulates her new friend Laura on helping get George Grady (Gil Bellows) elected as the city’s new mayor. Laura downplays her role to which Katherine calls her modest. Laura points out that it’s a trait they share: that Katherine never told her she was an ADA for the city, which Laura found out from a girl at the hair salon she frequents. Katherine states that she should have been honest about her job, but adds that it doesn’t have to get in the way of their friendship. Laura tells Katherine that she almost lost her husband twice in the last week (to Jones, continuity, how I love thee), and that she won’t lose him to the law or anyone else. She also accuses the ADA of only befriending her as means for her to get closer to catching her husband and his associates.

-I must say, I agree with Laura’s assumption here and don’t blame her for calling out Katherine on her manipulation, nor for her umbrage.

But Laura changes her stance after she realized the past relationship her husband had with Diane Desmond. Laura tells Vincent she wants the woman gone. He tells her he does too but the decision is out of his hands; Johnny Rizzo is his boss. Presumably, this is when Laura decides that things would be much better off if her husband is the boss, and that, with Katherine’s help, she has the means to achieve this. She meets the ADA again and apologizes for her harsh words. Katherine, sharp cookie that she is quickly realizes what Laura is up to. The two agree that their interests might be shared.

-It was great to see the women lay their respective cards on the table; and agree to play on the same team. I think the potential of a real friendship is much more likely now that each knows where the other stands. Can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Dixon “Gigolo” Lamb

The young deputy and Sheriff’s son arrives late to work after a night of loving spent with a flight attendant. At the receptionist Yvonne’s (Aimee Garcia) raised eyebrow, he tells her “It’s nine o’clock somewhere.”

Later when Lieutenant Kemp comes to the station to ask about the deceased, he accuses Ralph’s of being nepotistic, hiring his brother as his deputy, and adds : “And I’m guessing that was your son playing grab-ass with the receptionist.”

This was one of my favorite moments of the episode. The reactions to this statement were just awesome. O’Mara has a fantastic “Oh $h*t” expression on his face. You can just see Jack imaging Yvonne beating his nephew to a pulp for subjecting her (however unintentionally) to such a comment. It’s an amusing image, especially since she’s the only young female who seems to not be reduced to putty by the charming Dixon’s attentions.

Yvonne herself just stares wide-eyed at Kemp, as if she can’t believe what she just heard him say. I don’t blame her. The lady has done nothing but behave professionally with Dixon. In episode Money Plays, when Yvonne asks Dixon if he knows what a paper she has for him says, he replies, “I’m guessing it’s not your phone number”. She completely ignores his not subtle pass at her and reams him for getting a car wrecked.

One can’t help but wonder if Yvonne’s strict manner is to deter from such lewdness being directed her way, since Dixon’s womanizing isn’t exactly a secret.

Although, he may not be as openly available as he used to be. I’m interested in finding out more about Dixon’s relationship with the flight attendant chick. Does her “We’ll do it all over again”, after she comes back to Vegas, mean (to use the old fashioned term) that they’re going steady? Or is she just one of Dixon’s (presumably many) friends with benefits? If the latter is true then it begs the question why Dixon can’t seem to limit himself to the affections of one woman. I wonder if his playboy status is due to his losing his mother at an early age; he likes female attention so much now cause he had to do without it for so long.

Or I could be reading way much into this, which, by the way, I completely blame the writers and actors for. It’s not my fault the show is so much fun.

Note: Dixon must have been very young when his mom died because A) Jack says he raised him while Ralph was off being an MP (episode Solid Citizens), and B) In this episode, we get to  see the police report of the accident that killed Dixon’s mom. The date on the report is April 16, 1946. Since this show starts at 1960, that means Ralph’s wife died fourteen years ago. We know she died while Ralph was away, his son had already been born. If Dixon’s supposed to be in his twenties now, then he couldn’t have been more than six years old when she died. But now that we know when Marilyn (that’s her name, based on the police report died), I now want to know when Ralph came back home. I’m greedy like that.

Widowed Sheriff Ralph

Jack’s statement that he raised Ralph’s son coupled with what Savino said the previous episode about why Ralph didn’t get a discharge seems to point to the fact that Ralph stayed away as long as he could to avoid dealing with his wife’s death. His rattled reaction as he read the police report of her accident at the end of this episode supports this as well. Then there is the fact that Ralph still wears his wedding ring. This is a man who is still grieving, despite the (flirtatious?) smiles he throws the pretty ADA Katherine. Hopefully, after this episode he’ll start recovering from his loss. Or, he might again avoid that by throwing himself into his work.

On another subject, while Ralph’s closed-mouthed nature might cause unnecessary problems between himself and his family (Jack, in episode Illegitimate, Dixon in Solid Citizens), it’s nice to see it in action against other people. Particularly, him not telling Kemp in this episode that he was an MP. His not bothering to correct the man’s contention that he wasn’t qualified for his job conveys a general carelessness over what other people might think about him. It’s a very cool aspect of his character. Another, is him completely giving the air force pilot grief about not being a “real” soldier after Kemp found out that Ralph was in the military. His sense of humor can be mean, though not understandably in this case. Kemp was a complete jerk when the two met.

Best Scenes

A Morning with the Lambs

-Once again, the (long!) teaser wins this one. Besides the (surprisingly) more amusing than titillating scene with Dixon, we have the hilarious scene where Jack and Ralph debate on who’ll chase down the perp. Then there’s the continuity provided on the previous episode when Savino and Mia visit the Sherriff’s office to see Ralph and Jack Lamb, respectively. Savino’s visit is under the pretense of congratulating Lamb on winning the election for Sherriff, while Mia’s official reason is that she’s accompanying her boss because she has reports he needs to see. Ralph figures that Savino’s actually there to thank him for saving his life (Bad Seeds) and tells him he’s welcome while Jack calls Mia out on her bad excuse for wanting to see him.

I love how insufferable Ralph was being to Savino, telling him not to worry, “I won’t make you say it, but you’re welcome.” I also liked Jack’s double take when he saw Mia and how his confidence was obviously boosted from seeing her visit him for a change. Looks his efforts to protect her in the previous episode, while unnecessary, endeared him a lot to her.

Ending

Another great scene was the ending. Jack visits Mia at the Savoy giving her his own lame excuse for doing so; he heard they had a new singer. His demeanor here was not as confident at the beginning of the episode. It was almost like he feared he’d pushed his luck teasing Mia when she came to his office. But it doesn’t seem like he needs to worry about that. She’s obviously happy to see him, stating that his excuse is “serviceable”. Then, smiling, Mia tells Jack to come see her when she’s not working. The deputy tells her he can do that with a helplessly dopey grin on his face.

Aww!

Then, to counterbalance the cute scene, we have Ralph in his office, looking over his wife’s accident report. It’s a sad moment poignantly conveyed by Dennis Quaid.

Best Lines

“Is it Rita Hayworth?”-Jack, to Yvonne, asking who’s visiting him.

“If you’re here about that missing kitten, we’re plumb out of leads.”-Jack, to Mia.

“If you wanted to see me all you had to do was call.”-Jack, to Mia.

“Don’t look at me.”-Savino, to Ralph, after Yvonne announces a dead body has been found on West Side.

“It’s nine o’clock somewhere.”-Dixon, to Yvonne.

“You’re the Sherriff.”-Jack, to Ralph when he tells him to chase a perp.

“You’re my deputy, go after him.”-Ralph in response to the above.

“New boots. I don’t want to get a blister.” -Jack, continues arguing as the perp continues to run😄.

“You saw that, right? Tell me you saw that!” Dixon, who puts the matter is put to rest when he parks a cruiser in front of the runner, making him slam into the car and effectively stopping him.

“Twelve Seconds Gentleman” -Mia, to two Savoy employees. Savino’s new money laundering method is to grab as much money out of the cash boxes during the elevator ride up to the countroom. It was a great fun moment.

 “Lieutenant, you can insult me all you want but you insult my staff and we’re going to have a little problem.” –Ralph’s protectiveness for the people he works for is one of his character’s best traits.

“Nothing like a little nepotism to make an organization feel like home”.  – I’m glad someone finally mentioned this. It’s would have been unrealistic not to have someone comment on Ralph hiring his son and brother as his deputies. By the way, Tim Griffin, who played Kemp was perfect in his military role.

Pet Peeves

There was a little too much ‘tell’ and not enough ‘show’ regarding the case in this episode. Like when Ralph tells Jack that the victim told Kemp about his findings, it doesn’t seem like something he’d find in a doctor’s report. There were a few other instances as well but I’m too brain fried to remember them.

I only realized on the second viewing of the episode that Kemp’s last conversation with Ralph (where he asks if he ever gets obsessive moments and can’t rest till he figures out a mystery) was supposed to set the stage for Ralph later reading the file of his wife’s accident. On first viewing both the conversation and Ralph’s subsequent sudden curiosity into his wife’s death seemed like they came out of nowhere. I was probably just slow that day.

Conclusion

So much to look forward to after this one: Diane Desmond and the dangerous game she’s playing with Savino while pretending to care about Rizzo. Mia’s silent respect for Savino and the possibility that it will clash with her love for her father. Johnny Rizzo’s lack of respect for Jack and how he’ll react when he realizes his daughter is returning the deputy’s affections. Really looking forward to seeing how these various plots will play out, along with whatever else the writers have in store for us. Hopefully, we’ll get an episode soon which will give some back story into Katherine’s character. She hasn’t been around much these last two episodes and I’ve missed her. Bonus points if we get a scene with wind blowing through her hair (a la the Pilot).

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