Thursday, February 13, 2020

REVIEW: 'Tommy' - Tommy's Instincts Prevail in a World of Harsh and Corrupt Mentalities in 'There Are No Strangers Here'

CBS' Tommy - Episode 1.02 "There Are No Strangers Here"

Tommy works to keep her officers in line when one of their own turns up dead, and some want to take extreme measures to find the perpetrator. Mayor Buddy Gray and Deputy Mayor Doug Dudik are concerned about what damaging information Arturo Lopez, a recently arrested acquaintance of Buddy's, may have on him.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of CBS' Tommy.

"There Are No Strangers Here" was written by Tom Szentgyorgyi and directed by PJ Pesce

It absolutely seems as if the creative team understands which stories are particularly relevant and topical within the police genre without any real specificity as to why that is the case. It's strange. It makes it seem as if the show is just going through the motions of what it knows it needs to do. That doesn't make it exciting or engaging. It's mostly just a slog to see if the show can actually become an ensemble instead of depending entirely on Edie Falco's central performance. That isn't enough. She has to be given quality material to work with. Otherwise, there just is no reason to watch or invest in anything that is happening. Here, a police officer is killed. The LAPD fears that it was an ambush. Everyone is amped up with the urge to send a destructive message to the local communities. There is equal parts animosity and respect for the police. They serve a noble job even though corruption and bias frequently lead to major cases of abuse. Early on, the investigators are willing to dismiss the complaints against this officer because they didn't actually go anywhere significant. But that was also used as evidence against a potential suspect in a way that seemed to seal his fate completely. At that moment, that's when Tommy speaks up and ensures that everyone did all the work necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Her officers lash out against that mentality. All they worry about is the warrant. They don't care that they barge into this man's apartment with automatic weapons certain that he is guilty of the crime. All they have is speculation and the word of unreliable informants. Tommy comes to a peaceful understanding with the suspect. But even that is laughable. It's an attempt at fostering a conversation about how communities of color are frequently mistreated by the police. But the show hopes that a Malcolm X quote can do the majority of the leg work to explain what is actually going on. It states over and over again that Tommy is a more effective leader. She is someone who absolutely deserves this job. Her officers should trust her immediately. But that's just the natural instinct of her being the protagonist. There is no real substance under the surface that offers her as someone with this grand vision who stands up because it's the right thing to do despite the difficulties. Instead, it's just a bunch of obstacles that stand in her way that make life more dramatic for a television show. That's not meaningful. It means the seams are showing. The audience can see the creative team labor in order to deliver some kind of message. And yes, the final reveal does resonate in a way. It delivers the message that people don't have to project strength simply because they believe it's required of them to live in society. They should feel love and respected enough to share their emotions even when they are in dark places. People have to count on others and let them in when that happens. There should be no shame in that. That's the message Tommy wants to deliver as her eulogy. She doesn't want to turn her back on this man who was failed by the system around him. That is tragic. But again, it's a plot point delivered in order to send a message. It's a meaningful message diluted because of the lack of substance elsewhere. Meanwhile, the mayoral drama is a dire and chaotic mess. It goes for a scandalous appeal by showing the mayor as being willing to order a hit on a man in prison because of the information that could be coming out if he chose to cooperate with the federal government. The show wants to have it both ways though. The Deputy Mayor is clearly a slimeball. With Mayor Gray though, the show wants to present him as a nice guy corrupted into doing a bad thing. That can't serve as potential redemption though. He is still a man in a position of power who abuses such authority in order to protect himself. That is despicable and ensures that nothing of value or insight can particularly happen next when depicting the relationship the police must have with the local politicians.