Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Chicago Code "Black Sox" Review

"Black Sox" dealt with the existence of double lives--Vonda found out about the other side of her father's life; Jarek's engaged while actively sleeping with his ex-wife; the prominent gay politician was murdered by another gay man who tried to keep his life as straight as possible; Teresa played Gibbons, and Gibbons tried to play Teresa. The title of the episode refers to the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The White Sox threw the World Series. The team led to two lives. The episode hit the audience over the head with its theme but it's an important theme in the show. After all, the main conceit of the series deals with the corruption in Chicago, with characters who are comfortable with their double-ness. Equally important, though, is the double-ness in the morally decent characters--the Colvins and the Wysockis. TCC wants its characters and world to be complicated and complex. It succeeds in areas. In other areas, it needs some work.

For instance, Jarek Wysocki's been the most difficult character in the series. Shawn Ryan created Jarek to be the Luther-type cop or the Mackey-type cop, who exists above the law, has questionable ethics but he gets away with it because he's so damn good. The persona would work better if we saw Wysocki brilliantly solve cases, but that hasn't happened. His personal's life a complete mess. His signature scene so far is the one with the nun early in the series, when he lists the kind of person he is off of the clock. The picture he painted himself built anticipation and expectation to meet his fiancé, and to see him live this life.

His personal life's been less than interesting though. He shared three scenes with his fiancé before they broke up. His relationship with his ex-wife followed the typical procedural relationship drama with the added flair of adultery. Jarek needed to make a choice in this episode. The tertiary character in the case-of-the-week plot opened Jarek's eyes about his own double life. Jarek tried to win his ex-wife back but she rejected him (which makes no sense ). At home, he broke his fiancé’s heart because she deserves better than him (Jarek evidently watched the "Promicide" episode of Dawson's Creek because Pacey used the same reason to end things with Joey Potter). My problem with the story is, Jarek's feelings throughout the episode didn't track well. The double life bit felt shoe-horned in because season has two episodes left now, and something needed to happen to make the arc worthwhile. "Black Sox" began with Jarek, his fiance, ex-wife and her date on a double date but nothing happened. I ask, what was the point?

I maintain that Teresa and Gibbons are the same side of a coin. Teresa needs to match Gibbons if she hopes to take him down. No other episode highlighted this more than "Black Sox." Gibbons knows that Colvin's targeting him. He tries to get his man into the job of commissioner. Teresa plays along and even tells the Alderman that his recommendation will receive the promotion. Lucky for Teresa, she knows someone in the mayor's office who's interested in seeing Gibbons taken down. Soon, the Alderman's man works as the mayor's head of security. Now, he knows he has a fight on his hands. He wonders why he didn't act more aggressively to contain Teresa, and he'll probably continue to wonder once he's in jail. The grand jury investigation looms next week.

In the C story, Vonda learns that her father cheated on her mother with a woman he rescued several years ago. The revelation damages the memory of her father in her mind. The watch she joyfully accepted in the beginning only reminds her of her father's infidelity. Jarek tries to convince his niece that her dad was still an honorable cop despite his transgressions. Jarek wants to believe that his police work makes up for his own transgressions.

"Black Sox" is about identity. Who are these characters? How do their jobs define them, and how do their private lives define them? For example, Vonda and Isaac are good partners on the clock but Jarek takes exception when he learns that they're partners in romance. How different are Teresa and Gibbons at the core (okay, maybe I'm the only interested in an answer to that question). The episode's a step down from last week but I enjoyed the majority of the episode. I look forward to part one of the two part finale next week.

Heather Mitchell and Kevin Townsely wrote it. Michael Offer directed it.


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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.