Monday, August 8, 2016

REVIEW: 'Angie Tribeca' - Angie and the LAPD Try to Protect the Mayor from Mayhem Global in 'Electoral Dysfunction'

TBS' Angie Tribeca - Episode 2.10 "Electoral Dysfunction"

The thrilling conclusion to season two. Every question answered. Every twist explained. A logically and emotionally gratifying finale that is sure to silence all critics and guarantee a season three.

Angie Tribeca took quite the risk in its second season. Adding a conspiracy element to a procedural very rarely works. It can soon swallow the whole show full and completely forget about what made it so great to start with. Not to mention the numerous shows out there that start with conspiracy elements and become too focused on the need to solve that overarching mystery. It can really be a dangerous element if not handled in the proper way. Angie Tribeca spent its first season building these characters up. It focused on episodic storytelling that highlighted just how weird and offbeat the show and the characters were. It's always going to be a show with hit-or-miss moments. Not everything works and that's perfectly fine. That's because the show has so much confidence with what it is. It was able to take the conspiracy storyline this season and put in through the machine of this show's tone. It appreciated why those stories can be so fun and rewarding to viewers while building up the connections between the characters. But it also never lost sight of the need to be fun and absolutely dumb and absurd. That led to a season finale that works incredibly well because of how wonderfully outrageous it is.

Last week's episode ended on Geils, Tanner and Lt. Atkins realizing that Angie had gone to the dark side and is plotting to kill Mayor Perry with Sgt. Pepper and Diane Duran. It finally became personal to them because of their connection to Angie. They work alongside her and have finally learned just how dissatisfied she has been on the job for so much of this season. She has struggled with how much good the work is actually doing for the community. That's what pushed her into joining Mayhem Global and their plot to take down the mayor. Angie took the fall for a crime she didn't commit just in order to meet up with Diane in prison and finish planning their assassination. Of course, she's not in prison for very long. Geils was able to uncover that Sgt. Pepper was truly responsible for killing the graphic designer last week. It didn't take a whole lot of investigating either. So now, Geils is able to walk into prison and get Angie released. But the problems are just getting started for the precinct. Election Day has finally come. The Mayor is being re-elected and Mayhem Global is about to strike. Can the precinct trust Angie to help them in this endeavor not knowing what happened to her in prison?

Angie isn't the only character being looked at under a microscope either. Everyone carries a whole lot of suspicion over the course of the finale. Every character is up to something shady. That's highlighted in a hilarious opening montage that shows Lt. Atkins enjoying an ice bath, Tanner tinkering with a whole bunch of clocks, Scholls drinking coffee from a blood vile and Angie enjoying a chocolate calendar in prison counting down the days until killing the mayor. That unusual quality extends throughout the whole finale. No one is entirely sure who they can trust. It seems like everyone is up to something mysterious. Angie and Diane were able to plot out their final plan for the mayor. Then, Angie got a package in the mail that changed everything. But then, she was released and able to go back to work like nothing happened. She wasn't even under the watchful eye of Internal Affairs. That's how commonplace everything felt upon Angie's return. But things weren't normal. There were multiple attempts to kill Mayor Perry before he was able to give his acceptance speech - even the safe house wasn't safe. Everyone is on high alert and very aware of just how stranger everyone else is acting. But that only sets up the phenomenal final act as everyone confronts each other and demands to know exactly what is going on.

So often in conspiracy stories, the fun and compelling elements are shortchanged in order to provide answers and resolution to the big mystery. Everything needs to make sense in the end and be rewarding otherwise it would feel like a waste for the season to spend so much time on it. The need to justify the mystery can often derail the elements that work perfectly fine. And here, Angie Tribeca understands that the answers and resolutions are just second fiddle to the absurdity happening amongst the characters. It doesn't need to provide any kind of big or rational explanation for why Mayhem Global exists and wants Mayor Perry dead. Sgt. Pepper already gave enough of an answer in saying that he thinks the mayor is the worst criminal of them all. He just wants him dead - even though Geils also notes that basically all the candidates for mayor are the same. Nor does Angie need some big epiphany in order to realize the error of her ways and return to the force. That always felt like a foregone conclusion. And here, it happens because she remembers that she has a baby and wants to be a good influence for him. Sure, it's hilarious that Geils just puts the baby in a box and mails him to Angie in prison. But that's the precise kind of absurd twist that only this show can pull off to bring fun and mystery to the finale.

Plus, that final act where all of the characters stand in the same room confronting each other while pulling off some fantastic reveals is hilarious. It turns out that none of the characters were who they said they were. Nearly every single one of them was wearing a mask. That seemed pretty obvious when it came to Lt. Atkins. He was the most overtly different throughout the episode - playing guitar in his office and calling Angie and Geils by their full names. But the show takes that concept and blows it up to epic proportions. The confrontation between the good and bad guys was always going to be great. But the fact that everyone was pretending to be someone else was a great joke that just kept getting better and better. So, Diane turned out to be Angie who was able to shoot Sgt. Pepper before he could escape and kill Mayor Perry. Meanwhile, Geils was really Lt. Atkins who asked his twin brother - remember that little detail from the first season? - to step in as him. Plus, Tanner turned out to be Angie's mom just trying to spend more time with her. Those were some hilarious reveals. But the true absurdity and hilarity came from Angie explaining that she was able to turn Diane in prison against Sgt. Pepper. That's why they swapped bodies in order to carry out this new plan. It was something Angie was able to do because Diane was actually Geils this whole time. It's way over-the-top and ridiculous. But it's also a solid joke that rewards people for not thinking too hard about it. It's great when everyone realizes that meant Geils and Lt. Atkins had sex with each other. But it also ends on the big romantic note of Angie stopping the bad guy and being able to kiss Geils passionately once more.

Overall, it's a solid conclusion to a season that took the experimental comedy to the next level. Of course, it didn't happen without a few stumbles. There were a couple of episodes during the middle section of the season that didn't seem to pop all that much. But again, that's the nature of the show. It's fun, simple and silly. Not everything is going to work. But when it does, it can be magnificent comedy. This season, the show proved that it can still remain great while tackling an even bigger and more complicated main story. That leaves plenty of prospects open for the third season - which the show teases in the logline of this episode but has already been officially announced. It should be interesting to see what happens next on the show. Will Angie and Geils officially start dating? Will Scholls still pine after Geils? Will Lt. Atkins find peace with his pending retirement? Will everyone continue to just forget about baby Angie? Or will everything just explode in completely ridiculous fashion forcing new character pairings to come together and force old ones apart? That last one seems most likely and I can't wait to see it happen next year.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Electoral Dysfunction" was written by Ira Ungerleider and directed by Ira Ungerleider.
  • Scholls is really only important here when it comes to discovering Lt. Atkins has been replaced by Sgt. Pepper in disguise. Other than that, she doesn't have much to do because there isn't a dead body for her to deal with. Or romantic complications to untangle!
  • It's great that the show knows full-heartedly that safe houses on procedurals are very rarely safe. From the moment Tanner and Hoffman take Mayor Perry and his wife there, they are in danger from both animals and bullets.
  • Co-creator Nancy Carell gets to reprise her role as the mayor's wife. She's hilarious by being more upset by a shooter destroying her wine glass than killing her husband. Plus, her lifting a dummy made to look like the mayor was pretty great as well.
  • Diane escaping pursuit from Geils by jumping onto a garbage truck didn't really work so well. It was simply a joke that just got lamer the longer it went on.
  • There's some solid hotel room humor here too. Angie and Geils are so into each other at the mayor's event that they need to get a room together. And yet, all the details about checking in and the difficulty in actually getting into the room almost kill the entire mood.
  • Geils: "Tribeca. Good news. The mayor is gonna let you go." Tribeca: "Pardon me?" Geils: "The mayor is gonna let you go."
  • Geils: "We came as soon as we heard. Then we left for the precinct."