Sunday, June 16, 2019

REVIEW: 'City on a Hill' - Jackie and Dourcey Team Up to Stop a Crew of Robbers in 'The Night Flynn Sent the Cops on the Ice'

Showtime's City on a Hill - Episode 1.01 "The Night Flynn Sent the Cops on the Ice"

In early '90s Boston, Jackie Rohr, a renowned FBI agent, does not mind the culture of corruption or quid-pro-quo politics. But Decourcy Ward, the ambitious new Assistant District Attorney, wants to uproot the system. When an armored truck heist in Revere leaves three guards missing, Jackie and Decourcy struggle to align their moral compasses. However, the two men find themselves in a faux-alliance that may, ultimately, turn into something real.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Showtime's City on a Hill.

"The Night Flynn Sent the Cops on the Ice" was written by Chuck MacLean and directed by Michael Cuesta

This is a very slow premiere that takes a long time to actually establish its premise. It's not until the very end of this 60 minute episode where Jackie and Decourcy decide to team up together in order to take down a robbery crew headed by Frankie and his brother, Jimmy. Plus, it has a very conventional twist at the end of the premiere that proves all of this is more complicated than it initially seems. Of course, it should make it easy for the audience to assume that Frankie's crew will be taken down sooner rather than later. That seems to be the point of the reveal that Jimmy is an informant for Jackie. He could connect his brother back to this crime that has law enforcement talking because three guards are still missing. Before that, Jimmy came across as the lackluster and struggling brother who messed up his life and is always coming to Frankie asking for help. Frankie is very reluctant to do so. And yet, he sees the benefit in getting his brother back on his feet so that he can actually reunite with his own family. He wouldn't have to take away any more precious time that Frankie may have with his own wife and kids. Frankie is also more than comfortable making grim and lethal decisions with no remorse whatsoever. He plots this armored truck robbery. It doesn't go according to plan because it rarely does in this medium. He has to decide whether or not to kill the hostages because they have seen some of the faces of the crew. The moment Frankie takes his mask off it seals the fates for these guards. Their bodies are dumped with the intention of them never being discovered again. It also shows how much control Frankie lords over his crew. He demands respect even though it's probably reckless for him to trust his brother. Jimmy should not be joining this crew on their next job. And yet, that's where he is. He seems bound to mess things up somehow. Right now though, that mostly presents as him having a bond with Jackie. The FBI agent is more than willing to bend the rules in order to get the outcome he desires. He is corruption brought to life with everyone in the city despising him while also respecting the great work he has done in the past. As such, he walks around with that sense of superiority. He wants to just keep doing a solid job until he can retire with a full pension. He doesn't want anyone to disrupt his way of life. That's why he comes into conflict with Decourcy. The young transplant from Brooklyn comes to Boston with the hope of cleaning up the corruption. He sees the value in bringing his noble standards to this world. He wants to restore the image of this once great city. He just doesn't know how to do that without creating a sea of enemies for himself. Every action seems to piss off someone from the local police or the FBI. He does finally get the message. He reaches out to Jackie knowing just how pivotal this robbery case could be for his career. He sees it as a way for him to leave his mark on this city immediately. Jackie plays ball because he too sees how it could be beneficial to himself. And yet, it's really only the actors involved in this story that makes any of it all that compelling. Kevin Bacon is great but Jackie is mostly a broad character audiences have seen many times before. Aldis Hodge brings authority to his performance as well even though there is only so much self-righteousness that one can take as well. And so, the show could really struggle if it doesn't present some aspect of this world the audience can actually engage with because it's executed in a unique way.