Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Chicago Code "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" Review

Awhile ago, I argued that Teresa Colvin and Ronin Gibbons were two sides of the same coin. I asked writer Jon Worley during one of the Twitter Q&As whether or not that was intentional. Worley only offered two words "interesting theory." The comparison makes sense to me but maybe TCC writers would laugh me out of the room if I presented it to them. The last few episodes dropped the Colvin vs. The Force arc as the series decided to focus on deepening the central characters of the series. Colvin vs. The Force re-surfaces in the best episode since the Pilot.

The Pilot and subsequent episode established the issues between the new superintendent and the rest of the cops of Chicago. Colvin's immediate goal was to rid the force of the cops who didn't perform their job as they should. The cops felt like they had a target on their back. They reacted with vitriol. "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" shows that the vitriol towards Colvin hasn't disappeared. The vitriol has grown, so much so that the union rep arrived in town for a vote that would decide the longevity of Colvin's job. Without the mayor's clear and unwavering support, Colvin's essentially a dead duck. A radio appearance went horribly wrong when an actual cop called into complain about Colvin and how Chicago's in worse shape with Colvin as the superintendent. Colvin's forced to respond to a crime before she can publicly respond--a decision that's costly because it hurts her image and reputation even more. Luckily for her, the crime allows the superintendent the chance to instill confidence in the mayor, the police and the city of Chicago. TV is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

As the episode opens, Teresa narrates over a collection of photographs from the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. The superintendent lost his job because of the massacre. Al Capone took effectively took control of the city when he dressed his mobsters up as cops and murdered a table. A similar gangland style crime happens, and Teresa's walking in the same shoes as that superintendent. One of Chicago's gangs is responsible for the murder. With the majority of the cases on TCC, the actual whodunit isn't as important as the story of why it happened. The story behind the murder involves a notorious crime family and a power play (sort of). The big boss suffered an aneurysm in prison, which opened a spot for his son Deion to take control of the gang. The leadership transition wasn't so seamless. Deion's sister took control behind the scenes without informing Deion about any decision.

Teresa watches the case develop and identifies an ally in Deion. She and Deion, besides the crime, aren't much different in this specific episode. Deion's leadership has been undermined by the people he's supposed to be leading. Ditto for Colvin. Jarek and Caleb brainstorm ways to indict Bernadette, the sister, as part of the murder. Teresa holds the key--Deion wants respect so she'll get him respect. Teresa wants the same thing. She wants honesty and loyalty from her cops just like Deion wants honest and loyalty from his sister and his gang members. Teresa arms Deion with confidence, and he gets the evidence from his pal that will indict Bernadette. Deion gets his gang. Teresa gets the accolades of the press, the support of the mayor and relative job security.

Throughout the episode, Teresa behaves with a coolness that Jarek lacks. At the union hall, she gives a speech before her fellow cops vote on her job. In the speech, she traces her plans as superintendent to her days as a rookie cop. Teresa reminds everyone about the oath they took as cops to uphold justice and enforce the law. She says that nothing's changed for her since those days as a rookie cop. Indeed, Teresa resists calling the press before they have solid evidence against Bernadette--"Justice first, then my job." If she's going to lose her job, she'll lose it the right way. I respect that in a character. The episode reminded me what I liked about Teresa Colvin in the Pilot. She treated Deion the way she treated her former bodyguard Antonio. She believes in the best, even when she sees the worst of people every day. Bernadette insults her brother while being questioned, insisting that he's nothing and will never amount to anything. Colvin plainly responds, "but he doesn't know that." Teresa Colvin, everyone.

Meanwhile, Isaac's deposed and Vonda provides testimony. A man charged with domestic abuse filed a suit against Isaac for police brutality. The B story presents three separate perspectives. Vonda and Isaac's sexual relationship hurts Isaac the most in the end. Vonda has a relationship with the defendant beyond the confines of the police force. Isaac's forced to settle. The abuser earns $75,000. Afterwards, Isaac yells at the lawyer who defended the domestic abuser in a scene that reminded me why TCC annoys me.

The Chicago Code wants to stand apart from the multitude of procedural cop dramas on network television. Shawn Ryan, Tim Minear, the other writers as well as the cast have said as much. They want TCC to have a realism that other cop dramas lack. Sometimes, the show succeeds. More often that not, the show fails in its realism because of scenes like Isaac and the lawyer or the opening with the disgruntled cop, or that disgruntled cop in the Pilot who eventually murdered someone in the second episode OR the entire existence of Liam the undercover cop.

I hope TCC's renewed for a second season because Shawn Ryan and Tim Minear are nice people. The rest of the writers seem like good people as well,. The cast seems to like one another. If it's renewed, I'm not sure I'd continue to write weekly reviews though. I feel like the show's missing something, and it's hard to connect with the story and its characters.


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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.