Monday, August 1, 2016

REVIEW: 'Angie Tribeca' - Geils Investigates Angie for Murder in 'Contains Graphic Designer Violence'

TBS' Angie Tribeca - Episode 2.09 "Contains Graphic Designer Violence"

When a graphic designer is found dead, all evidence points to Tribeca. Why?! What does it mean?! It's just needless cliffhanger after needless cliffhanger with absolutely no accountability for narrative satisfaction!

Angie Tribeca has changed so much this season. Over the last few episodes, she isn't the same character that she was before. She has become darker. She's more jaded and cynical now. It's a character shift that's on purpose as well. This season has been tackling a more ambitious season-long story. For it to have the appropriate emotional stakes, Angie has fallen out of love with her job. That was a huge defining characteristic for her in the first season. And now, she has nothing but disdain for the job because she no longer feels like she is getting anything of true substance done. She can solve all of these cases but the system will eventually let all of these criminals go free for trivial reasons. To her, it doesn't feel like she's making much of a difference on this job. That's why she was so susceptible to Sgt. Pepper's suggestion to join Mayhem Global. It didn't take much convincing at all. But now, things are taking a much darker twist with Angie as the show gears up for its season finale.

Angie is actually framed for murder in "Contains Graphic Designer Violence." It's surprising to see her just take the accusation so casually. She's not fighting against this or trying to prove her innocence. Sure, no one at the LAPD takes the murder all that seriously because it was just a graphic designer who was killed. Apparently, they are the worst. It's always fun when the show goes off on little tangents like that. It shows just what kind of professions these characters (and perhaps the writers) actually care about. But a man is still dead and Angie has been arrested for the crime. But even before that happens, Angie isn't excited to investigate the case. It's just another dead body to her. She doesn't believe the killer will be sufficiently punished for the crime. So, she just refuses to care. It does make her a more reactive character throughout the episode. She's no longer the person driving the crazy and silly antics of the show. That responsibility now falls onto Geils as he tries to understand what's going on with Angie. And yet, Angie gets a really solid visual joke with her drinking out of a paper bag at work and then just making a margarita.

But again, Angie has been arrested for murder. That's a big deal. At first, the investigation is just like any other. Geils and Tanner talk with a couple of potential suspects. That includes the upstairs neighbor who is always practicing his trombone and a disgruntled client unhappy with the graphic design work. The interview at the precinct with the neighbor is a much more effective piece of comedy. The guy has the motive to do the crime but is crossed off as a suspect just because Tanner knows exactly how much his beloved trombone actually costs. Geils talking with the speciality beer guy just felt like a weird scene. The joke of the guy continually unloading and loading the same crate over and over again just didn't seem to have much purpose or a strong enough punchline. It was largely just padding for time. Geils and Tanner for a moment believe they hit a dead end until, of course, Scholls comes in with the evidence that makes it an open-and-shut case against Angie. It's great that she's the one to deliver that news. Angie being arrested for murder would greatly help her chances of being with Geils in a genuine and loving way. That allows for some great fun in the second half of the episode.

Because Angie just accepts the arrest though, it forces everyone else into action. The rest of the squad doesn't understand why Angie would kill this guy and leave so much evidence behind for them to find. The gun she used came from the evidence room and it was then thrown away with her DNA on it in a trashcan full of other items that connect back to her - like a sandwich with a bite mark that matches her dental records. It's a huge victory for Detective Liukin from Internal Affairs. That character wasn't all that great or memorable in her first appearance. But it's still noteworthy that she returns here to take Angie down. But Liukin has no personal attachment to Angie. The rest of the squad does. It's hilarious watching as they all come to that realization too. They understand and enjoy the cliche phrase of every case being personal. But in this instance, that really is the case. They all work with Angie. More than that, they all like her. So this case really is personal to them. So, it's now up to them to actually investigate this case and unravel who is conspiring to frame her for this crime - and how all of it connects back to the mayoral election.

It turns out to be an easy investigation for Geils too. He cracks open new clues by getting into the mind of a killer. That's a tactic that always works on TV procedurals. And it sure does the trick here as well. It's because of that mentality that he discovers the perch from the building next door where the killer wanted to kill the graphic designer from. The audience was already privy to that information before the detectives. That opening scene is fantastic because it suggests that a gun can be just as difficult to assemble as any piece of IKEA furniture. That's a solid gag. Plus, it provides solid detective work for Geils when he later discovers all the missing pieces of the gun that were left behind. It's silly but pushes the story forward in some important ways. Angie has been a major part of the Mayhem Global storyline all season long. Geils and the rest of the detectives have been concerned about it when it affects the episodic case. But once the case is closed, they don't actively investigate further. But now, Geils can no longer be blissfully ignorant to everything that is going on. He needs to know about Sgt. Pepper and the assassination attempt that's coming for Mayor Perry. Of course, he just stumbles onto that information. It's literally just sitting there for him to see in Angie's apartment. He didn't notice it when he arrested her. But once he returns, he is able to put all the pieces together.

"Contains Graphic Designer Violence" really does play as plot setup for next week's season finale though. It establishes the stakes for all the characters while making sure they are in the right positions to be most effective. Geils needed to learn about Sgt. Pepper and Angie's role in this conspiracy. And now, he does. It looks like Sgt. Pepper was the one who truly killed the graphic designer. Geils believes Angie took the fall just so she can meet up with Diane Duran in prison to put the final touches on their plan to kill the mayor. The outcome of all of that will be revealed in the finale. Geils believes that Angie is capable of being that deceitful and villainous. He needs to believe that Angie would do this. He has accepted that she no longer loves the job. But now, he believes she has taken that feeling to a dangerous extreme. However, it does seem unlikely that she would actually follow through on killing the mayor. So, it should be interesting to see how every shakes out in the finale next week.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Contains Graphic Designer Violence" was written by Mathew Harawitz and directed by Dan Beers.
  • The running joke about Geils needing to read a book in order to understand what's happening with Angie is fantastic. Apparently, this is just a phase that all detectives go through. It's so common that there needed to be a book about it.
  • When Geils first goes to Angie's apartment, it's to get her side of the story. And yet, there's already a mob of reporters and officers outside once they walk out with her in handcuffs. The squad wants to help her but legally cannot.
  • There hasn't been enough of Detective Hoffman this season. However, him turning his head because he's not a fan of saying goodbye was a hilarious visual. In fact, that whole scene was awesome.
  • It's great that all it takes to get into Angie's apartment is simply using the giant key that is just lying in front of the door. How much more obvious could it get? Again, another really solid, silly visual gag.
  • All Scholls wants is for Geils to look at her the same way he looks at Angie. Even when they were dating, he never looked at her like that. He was just always lying about still being in love with Angie. And now, all it takes is that look to get her onboard with trying to prove Angie's innocence.
  • Product integration has always been weird on this show. It does it by having the characters be in on the joke and spoofing the regular commercials for the product. But this episode's focus on Little Caesars was just a little too random and awkwardly placed.