Archive for February, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Southland: Fallout – A Review And Recap

“LAPD officers start every shift knowing they only have a fraction of a second to make a difficult choice. The ramifications will last their whole lives.”

There’s never been a statement about cops that rings truer than the opening voice-over of last night’s episode. A split second that lasts a lifetime. An act that forever spins and twirls inside your head like a crazed ballerina on speed.

You’ve lived all your life as you, and suddenly “you” has become someone different. A stranger. Someone new now lives inside your mind, sharing your thoughts and controlling your actions. The “you” you’d lived with for so long is gone and will never return. That “fraction of a second” was the tipping point that sent “you” away for good.

I’ve shot thousands of rounds of ammunition in my lifetime, popping holes in paper targets depicting faceless men with coke-bottle-shaped limbless bodies. Center mass, that’s the spot. Always the center. And I always left a gaping hole right there. Right in the center.

My “fraction of a second” came a long time ago during a gun battle where 68 rounds were exchanged between a robber and police. I terminated the threat with five carefully placed rounds of my own.

No paper.

No coke bottle.

No score.

All flesh and bone.

BAM! Center mass.

BAM, BAM! Center mass.

BAM, BAM! Center mass.

It was over. And then it began.

Now every day for me is like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. The clock sounds at 6am, the music starts, and it’s August 1994 all over again.

A lifetime of that nonsense.

And that same day has just begun for Officer Tang.

Tang is served with divorce papers and the act sets off a wave of emotions. She knew the day would come, but what she didn’t know was how it would affect her job and the way she conducted “cop” business.

Police officers are expected to perform their duties fairly and justly without allowing their emotions to stand in the way of either. But cops are human. They have bad days. Their kids run away. Their cars break down. Their babies get sick. Their plumbing leaks. Their parents die. Their spouses cheat. They’re people, just like you.

But, while they’re dealing with their own personal issues, they also have to solve yours and protect you from the crazies of the world. Sometimes, they have to suck up their own troubles to run inside a burning building to drag you out because you were too drunk to save yourself. They have stop grieving the death of their own mother to stop yours from hacking your father to death with a meat cleaver.

Their kid’s at home with a raging fever that just won’t go away, but they have to stand there and listen while you rant and rave and throw a temper tantrum about cops not doing anything but hanging out in doughnut shops. Sure, you’re yelling and screaming, calling them names and spitting on them because you hate what they stand for, but you don’t realize that an hour before you began your tirade, the officer standing calmly in front of you had risked her own life to pull a baby from a burning car. You don’t even notice the smell of her burned flesh and tire smoke on her uniform. You don’t see the pain in her eyes.

Yes, that’s the kind of bad day Officer Tang was facing. And yes, her emotions were going to cloud her judgement.

- Sammy and Ben are still at it, with Sammy giving Ben a very large cold shoulder. Cooper is trying his best to cheer up Tang. Lydia and Ruben are still not on the same page. She doesn’t quite trust him as a partner yet, so she’s not spilling the beans about her pregnancy. Not yet anyway.

- Sammy and Ben roll up on a disturbance between two food vendors who’re arguing over a parking space. Sammy “burps” the siren once to let everyone know the police are on the scene. Sometimes that single little act is enough to stop a fighter in mid-swing. Saves a lot of unnecessary fighting with suspects. And, the siren noise often sends guys running whose pockets are filled with dope and/or guns. Like shooting fish in a barrel. They make it so easy for the good guys.

- Tang sees a man peering inside a car window and she instantly springs into action—show me your hands, put your hands on the car, spread your feet (cops always say spread your feet, not “spread your legs.” think about the reason for the choice of words), and then she cuffs him. Well, turns out the car belonged to the cuffed guy and he’d locked his keys inside. Cooper walks off to retrieve a Slim Jim from the patrol car (Slim Jims are flat pieces of metal designed to slip between the door frame and window glass. Once inside, officers are able to maneuver the device until it hooks onto the proper mechanism and a gentle push or pull unlocks the door. Newer cars prove to be problematic and often the use of a Slim Jim causes quite a bit of damage inside the door).

Tang issues a traffic ticket to a man who’s waiting curbside to pick up his wife. Sure, he’s blocking traffic but his wife is on crutches and is making her way out of a doctor’s office. She has a broken leg so stopping there was basically using common sense. Tang will not not listen to reason or apologies. Ticket issued. Sign here.

Yes, Tang is having a rotten day.

So are Sammy and Ben, and the pot finally boiled over when Sammy said to Ben, “This car (patrol car) is the one place where somebody’s supposed to have my back.” His meaning was clear. Ben betrayed him when he accused Sammy of planting a crack pipe on a gang member (see last week’s review).

Sammy’s cold shoulder and mistrust continued after Ben saved him from Crazy Carol’s stabbing attempt. Ben thought the act of saving Sammy would be enough to mend the relationship, but Sammy quickly told him differently. “What you did (tackling Crazy Carol) is your job.” Yes, this relationship may be over for good. But one thing that will never be over is the compelling need to protect another officer from physical harm. Hate one another or not, the back up, even if it’s only while on duty, will always be there.

- Lydia and Ruben are still plugging along, working the murder case involving, ironically, a pregnant woman who killed her drug dealing boyfriend/husband (I’m not sure which). There were some good points in these scenes, like when Lydia and Ruben go to the front door to knock and we see two uniformed officers hanging back in the front yard. That’s the way it’s done. Detectives often take uniforms along when they’re about to make an arrest. They do so for a few reasons. One – everyone recognizes a police uniform as authority. Not everyone immediately recognizes a detective. Two – back up. Three – safety in numbers. Four – patrol officers have cages in their cars and much safer to transport a prisoner in a cage than it is to wrestle with them in a detective’s car. Although, we saw Lydia and Ruben transport the woman in their car. Notice, though, that Lydia rode in the backseat with the female prisoner. That’s the standard when you transport without a cage. However, officers should always sit with their gun side away from from the prisoner. Or, lock the weapon in a secure location (trunk, etc.). I noticed that Lydia was seated to the woman’s left in this scene. Is she right- or left-handed? Where was her gun?

By the way, foot pursuits with pregnant women and fat men normally don’t last very long.

Okay, back to Tang. She and Cooper are in foot pursuit of a man with gun. The suspect is wearing a gray, hooded sweatshirt.

Tang follows behind the guy, searching for him in back yards. Did you hear her heavy breathing. Believe me, the adrenaline is high in these situations. You try to be quiet so you don’t give away your position, but you just know the guy can hear you breathing. Your heart beats like a parade drum mallet against against the inside of your chest, another sound that’ll surely send bullets flying your way. But you push on, as did Tang.

Then it happened. Tang’s fraction of a second had arrived.

Her nerves were on edge. She knew there was a guy with a gun.

Emotions.

Heart pounding.

Fear.

Divorce papers.

Not thinking clearly.

Gun!

BAM!

Center mass.

Tang shot the wrong guy, a kid with a toy gun.

However, the shooting was surely justifiable. The kid matched the description of the guy she’d been chasing. And he had a gun. She probably didn’t notice the orange tip (realistic-looking toy guns are required to have an orange tip on the barrel). It’s possible and highly probable that she didn’t. Besides, who’s to say a bad guy wouldn’t paint the tip of a real gun orange to give him that second or two advantage of “what if.” No doubt, the shooting was justified. But…

Tang does the unthinkable. To cover up her mistake, she removes the orange tip from the toy. This action is definitely not justifiable.

Cooper knows in his heart what she’s done. And that’s not what Cooper’s all about.

During the internal investigation, Tang, of course, doesn’t mention the cover-up.

But neither does Cooper. He does, however, confront Tang and tells her to go back inside and tell the truth about what she’d done.

Instead, Tang becomes defensive and goes home, where she digs into her pocket and comes out with the plastic, orange gun tip, and drops it into a bowl on a table beside the front door.

Cooper, troubled deeply about Tang, heads straight for his 12-step sponsor and a meeting. Anxiety’s conjuring up old cravings, and I’m pleased he chose this route instead of the alternative.

Tang, well, unfortunately we’re counting down her final days on the show. I’m pretty sad about her leaving because she was a great addition to the show. I only hope that Lucy Liu’s departure isn’t an omen of…No, I’m not going to say it. Let’s end this week on a happy note, with the possibility of a season 5 on our minds…

PostHeaderIcon Castle: Once Upon A Crime – A Review And Recap

What a difference a week can make. Beckett’s back in charge and she even managed to hold on to her gun for an entire episode. And miracles do happen, she wasn’t kidnapped, not even once.

Espo and Ryan were back at work being detectives. Castle was funny again. Alexis and Mama Castle were…well, I’m not sure what that mess was all about except to serve as a means for Castle to introduce the “bow theory.” And Lanie was back doing what she does best…

So this week’s episode was all about fairy tales and, between you and me, Lanie probably felt very much at home since a good deal of her forensics information comes straight from the pages of Grimm. Well, with the exception of what she gets from the lady above and from this guy…

You know, I was ready to stick a pin in my own eye when Lanie said, “She (the victim) was running from something. She has dirt on her feet.”

Now that was a scientific conclusion if ever there was one. Hmm…make a note, writers and future jurors. Everyone with dirty feet has been running from something.

- Lanie did make one true statement. “…I won’t know exactly what killed her until I get her back to the morgue.” Yes, Lanie, that’s where the process—the autopsy and learning what happened—takes place. In the morgue, not from thin air. Like…knowing the hair found on the victim’s arm was wolf hair. What? To learn this, she’d have to test the hair specifically for wolf using primers to amplify a DNA sequence that’s specific to a wolf. Now, how many times do you think that happens in the real world? “I found a hair on the arm, doctor. I’m pretty sure our New York City victim was killed by a wolf, so that’s what I’m testing for, first.”

- Based on the depth and length of the gashes, looks like the wounds were made from one claw. First of all, how’d she know a claw made the marks?

- Ketamine and Oxycontin were used to sedate/kill the victims in this episode. Now, I understand the reason for using the combination in the first murder. That was explained—Ketamine was injected but didn’t quite do the job so a second injection of Oxycontin was used to finish off Red Riding Hood. That’s all fine and good, but why would you repeat the process a second time knowing it didn’t work?

Of course, you know that when people are attacked they’ll most likely fight back so, wouldn’t you want to eliminate the need of having strategically place a needle directly beside another needle mark while someone is doing their best to bash your brains out of your skull? After all, the fight to survive is fierce. Besides, an injection of either of these drugs wouldn’t render someone unconscious the second the needle hit the flesh. People use these drugs as pain relievers (one for people and the other for animals). They abuse both drugs as a means to get high, not as a sleep aid.

Besides, the victims were fully dressed, in costume, positioned on their backs, when Lanie “predicted” the needle marks on their backs.

- When Lanie was discussing Snow White’s death she said, “Time of death was between five and seven this morning.” Finally! She made her time of death statement without goofing it up by offering some stupid reason as to how she arrived at the conclusion. You know, like, “Time of death was between 4 and 6 based on the chicken driving a race car at right angles to the bowl of sheep fingers and donkey snouts.”

Time of death was between five and seven. That was great, and that was all that’s needed at the time. Stop there Marlowe and you’ll be fine. Otherwise, poor Tamala Jones sounds really goofy. I feel sorry for her at times. I really do.

- Again, Beckett is back! She’s in charge, doling out orders and making decisions without having to bat her eyelashes and wiggle and jiggle to get Castle’s approval before she makes a move. Repeat after me…Castle is a civilian. Beckett is the cop. Castle is a civilian. Beckett is the cop. Anyway, is was good to see the old Beckett back at work this week. Don’t you think she’s more appealing this way than when acting like a gun-losing, high-heel-wearing, insecure, supermodel wannabe?

- The team narrowed down their suspects by eliminating the people who couldn’t be suspects. Now that’s the way it’s really done. Also, they found Charlotte Boyd (who turned out to be the killer—pegged her early on, by the way) by eliminating people who couldn’t/wouldn’t be the next victim. Good, basic police work.

- The entire blackmail case was very weak and not very well thought out by the writer. Why would people pay $50,000 for a crime they didn’t commit, as suggested by the final victim/killer. It was obvious that she was the killer, by the way.

- Don’t you love how security cameras are always, always, always in the right place at the right time with absolutely perfect full face shots of all suspects and witnesses. In real life, we normally see a grainy, black and white shadow where the face is supposed to be, making the guy look like some weird character from a horror movie.

Oh, and this red herring guy, Darren…didn’t work at all. We didn’t hear enough about him to make us believe he was a killer. Besides, the boilerplate script told us he wasn’t the guy.

12 parts to a Castle script:

1. The crime.

2. Lanie provides set up with horrible forensics information.

3. Team splits up to locate clues and witnesses.

4. Espo and Ryan pop in with exactly what Beckett needs to…

5. Kick in a door to the wrong place.

(insert kidnappings and gun-losing, as needed).

6. The red herring is introduced, usually by glaringly shoving him/her in our faces.

7. Beckett and/or team interviews red herring. He didn’t do it.

(insert kidnappings, as needed).

8. Castle magically discovers the identity of the real killer

(lose gun and kidnap Beckett and Castle here)

9. Someone returns Beckett’s gun.

Beckett makes arrest.

10. Everybody smiles and back slaps all around.

11. Sweet, goofy, touching moment.

12. Credits roll.

And – Scenes from next exciting episode of Castle…that airs either two, three, or four weeks from now after two, three, or four reruns.

Anyway, back to this episode.

- Castle notices the bows are tied differently, and he sees the odd one when walking into a room where he thinks the woman on the bed has been murdered and the killer could possibly be inside the home, hiding??? Where are his eyes focused now (above)? Where would his focus be when he first saw the woman on the bed? On the bow? Probably not. Besides, what would have drawn his attention to the bows on the other victims? That’s something that would (maybe) have been noticed later when searching for clues while comparing photos.

But, even with the usual Castle goofiness, this episode was much better than the stuff we were subjected to over the past two weeks. Actually, I’d like to forget about those two episodes. Maybe flush them into the place where bad things go. Things like Christina Aguilara’s rendition of The National Anthem, and Ashley Simpson’s SNL performance.

Yes, the crew was back this week and the episode was fun and quirky. And, of course, after four long years of not even breathing heavy and Marlowe telling us to be patient (I’ve seen human corpses and dead snails move faster than this relationship), there was this…

Yep, the relationship is moving right along…

Melanie, what’d you think of this episode? Better than last week?

Melanie Atkins

Well, after the convoluted fiasco last week, I was thrilled to see the promos for this one. Once Upon a Crime deals with a killer with a nursery rhyme theme — not anything to laugh about, unless you consider the gallows humor — and this episode brimmed with it. A dead Little Red Riding Hood brought out all sorts of Big Bad Wolf jokes… and yes! The banter was back! Not only between Rick and Kate, but also between Rick and Martha, who is putting on a strange one person play, and Ryan and our dynamic duo. This was classic Castle, and I loved it.

Sure, Lanie spouted off a few crazy notions, like claiming lividity had something to do with determining the first victim’s time of death, or that the second victim had received injections like the first one had — while she was still on the ground fully dressed at the crime scene. But the excellent banter allowed me to ignore those glitches.

Even better, Martha called Kate to invite her to her play at the loft, and then Martha told Rick, “You should make a date of it.” Maybe we should call her Matchmaking Martha. Rick’s response to all this? He pulled out the scotch. Hilarious!

We got more Ryan and Esposito this week, too, and they had a priceless scenes in the old lady’s apartment when Ryan freaked out about the dolls. I’ve got to admit, I thought they were creepy, too. So funny.

We also got some movement on the Rick-Kate front. When Kate got mad about the case at one point, Rick said, “You get cute when you get angry.” And unlike in earlier seasons, Kate didn’t get upset at all. She just smiled. Rick backed off anyway, of course, saying, “But not when you’re angry at me.” I love seeing progress in their relationship.

Then we got a bit of foreboding when they discussed the secrets the killer’s victims had been hiding for seven years. Kate said, “Secrets are like time bombs.” And Rick added, “Yeah… they explode.” Yikes! Yes, they are each still keeping secrets from each other — Kate lied to Rick when she said she didn’t remember his I love you after she was shot, and he hasn’t told her he’s still digging into her mother’s case and Kate’s own shooting — and we know that sooner or later those secrets will come out, with explosive results.

I was disappointed when Rick realized they’d arrested the wrong killer and they had to leave Martha’s play to finish solving the case, a simpler puzzle than we’ve had lately, but with a nice twist. A case I actually enjoyed hearing about.

Then they went back to the loft for Martha’s encore performance! Just Rick, Kate, Alexis, and Martha’s boy toy playwrite. How intimate and sweet. Caskett perfection, with Kate sitting on the couch next to Rick — and then she took his hand! Yes, I squeed! After the bones we’ve been thrown lately, this was true progress.

Now, we have a two week hiatus thanks to March Madness… and I know which episode I’ll rewatch during the break. This one! I loved it.

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