I’ll begin my recap by offering this disclaimer: some/many/most people may find this a little long, and I’m the first to admit I may have got carried away, but it is what it is. The second one will be shorter, and not so, well, wordy.
The episode fades in from white looking up at an impressive skyscraper bronzed in the sunlight. We tilt down to reveal a man standing behind a woman, the man is yelling in German or Russian or some Eastern European dialect with lots of hhhkkktt-ing and spitting. He’s also holding a gun, an old German Luger, to the back of the woman’s head. He yells and spits some more at someone in front of him, then the camera moves around behind him to reveal uniformed officers, police cars, and cordoned-off curious onlookers salivating to see someone get shot.
We move in toward the officer copping the brunt of the gunman’s spittle. Meet Sgt. Greg Parker of the Toronto Strategic Response Unit, played by Enrico Colantoni, Elliot from Just Shoot Me and Keith from Veronica Mars. He’s trying to reason with the crazy nutter (is that insensitive? How about manic attention seeker?), assuring him (in English) that he’s there to help him. Greg gets translations over his radio to try to calm the guy down, but it just makes him angrier and more nervous and gesture violently with the skinny barrelled handgun.
Greg says, “Sierra, switch channels,” and we jump to the top of one of the surrounding buildings where Jules Callahan is observing the scene. Jules is played by Amy Jo Johnson, who was on Felicity but will always be the Pink Power Ranger to me. Surprisingly, this actress is almost 38, I hadn’t expected her to be that old, she still looks the same as she did on Felicity nearly ten years ago. Which makes her 23 or 24 when she did Power Rangers, weren’t they supposed to be playing kids? Although that’s not much different to James Van Der Beek needing to shave twice a day when he was supposedly playing a 15 year old on Dawson’s Creek. Okay, kind of getting off topic here…
Ed Lane (Hugh Dillon – who looks like a cross between Bruce Willis and Stanley Tucci and any number of other actors with almost shaved heads), another SRU member, is lying on the edge of a building watching the offender through the scope on his sniper’s rifle. We even get a cool shot through the scope. Nicely done, already I’m impressed by the photography in this show.
Greg calls for Sierra One over the radio, Ed responds, and Greg very ominously orders “Scorpio.” Oooohhhhh, wonder what that means. Ed flicks off the safety on his rifle and his finger tightens on the trigger. Oh, that’s what it means. But before we see anything else the picture flicks quickly through a series of images accompanied by noises that make me think I’m being pulled through the Matrix or something…
Until we’re suddenly in a car outside a house in suburbia with a guy blowing his horn and calling “Eddie!” A screen title says “4 hours earlier.” Ah, I see, we’re going back to see why the crazy guy is holding a gun to the pretty blonde lady’s head. Maybe she cut in line at the ATM, I hate it when people do that.
The Eddie being yelled at is Ed Lane, who is finishing breakfast with his wife and 12-ish year old son with long girly hair. His wife is pissed at him because he’s planning to go to a co-worker’s retirement party instead of her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. He argues that anniversaries happen every year, retirements don’t. Yep, foolproof argument that one., can’t see her picking any holes in that. She tells him that the world won’t end if he misses it, but you can tell he’s not as concerned about the world ending as having to talk to her family. She tells Clark, the son, it’s time to go to school, but he’s reluctant to tear himself away from his cello practice. Seriously? Cello? Between the hair and the cello you know this poor kid gets beaten up daily.
As he walks out the door she asks him what he wants her to tell her parents about missing the anniversary. The guy picking him up, Kevin “Wordy” Wordsworth, is waiting for him and Ed asks him what he should say. He tells her they should remember Gilbert and Sullivan, and then they break into song. Yep, a police procedural with musical numbers. Something about when constabulary duties are to be done that a policeman’s lot is not a happy one. That’s “The Policeman’s Song,” from “Pirates of Penzance,” (thank you, Google) for anyone suddenly inspired to see the source material. These two didn’t do too badly, I sense some musical theatre in their backgrounds…
Scary German/Russian man is on a train talking to a younger and less scary looking German/Russian man. They speak some German/Russian for a while before they embrace and kiss each other on the cheek. He younger one calls the older one “Papa.” Nice of them to speak some English so we didn’t think they were lovers or something. Really helps with the exposition. Younger guy gets off the train, leaving older guy to look worried or scared or apprehensive or hungry. One of those.
Ed and Wordy arrive at the SRU base and meet another guy who’s name I missed but he doesn’t seem interesting enough for that to matter. They talk about Ed “test driving the new Bremly.” Ah, gun talk. If I can get through the musical number I can get through the gun talk.
They arrive at the building as Jules and another SRU officer, Lewis, are rappelling down the front of it. Greg comes out and tells them he faces a world of pain when the windows need to be cleaned. Really? I guess those cop issue boot mark stains on the outside of the building are more difficult to get out than blood stains. They say they’re sorry but I don’t think they mean it.
Greg and Ed walk through the building, Greg briefing him on the deal of the day: a drug squad bust. Nice that they know about that so far in advance, I guess someone’s planning ahead. They walk past “Spike” Scharfe who is operating a Johnny-Five-like robot that I assume they use to defuse bombs or surveil dangerous situations or take turns racing around the building.
Scary guy is still on the train, concentrating on breathing heavy and looking menacing.
Greg is trying to convince Ed he should go to the anniversary party. He tells him a cop retires every week, and who is he going to go home to “when the day comes?” Nice line. Apparently Ed didn’t think so though, he’s not phased.
Scary guy walks inside an office building, approaches a woman wearing a nice blue smock and pushing a trolley of cleaning implements, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume she’s a cleaner. They speak some German/Russian but this time we’re lucky enough to get subtitles. She’s not happy to see him, which I actually worked out without the help of the subtitles. He says he just wants to talk, but the look on his face and the grabbing of her arm and pulling her along beside him says otherwise.
In the SRU briefing room Greg is giving details on the drug bust. Ed assigns teams. Jules is made Sierra One (lead sniper) and Ed is Sierra Two.
Scary guy is trying to convince Martha the cleaning lady to come with him, she keeps telling him to leave her alone but he’s not listening. She gets more upset and he starts to yell at her, getting the attention of a couple of people in the building lobby. She starts to cry and calls out, “Help me!” in English. A balding businessman comes to her rescue but when scary guy pulls a gun on him he apologises and whimpers away with his tie between his legs.
Martha starts walking away from him past some elevators, and for some reason no one is coming out of them and no one is waiting for them. Although there’s always been a big line for the elevators in every office building I’ve ever worked. But here, no one. That’s lucky.
He keeps telling her to come back (why doesn’t he just go after her rather than screaming down the hallway? He’s lazy as well as expects everyone to do what he says? Actually, yeah, that sounds about right), but she keeps ignoring him. He yells and screams and spits some more before he does the inevitable and shoots her in the back. Then he walks towards where she’s bleeding on the floor, looks down at her and says, “I warned you!” before stalking away. To be fair, he didn’t actually say, “I’m going to shoot you in the back if you don’t stop,” I’m sure if it wasn’t for the heavy blood loss she would have pointed his error out to him too.
Opening credits. Which consist of each character in a series of serious and somber shots. Hey, who’s the blond guy? Haven’t seen him yet. Surely they wouldn’t introduce a new and inexperienced member to the team in the first episode would they? The last shot is a close up of a thumb flicking off the safety on a rifle. Which would have been much cooler had they not put a little ting sound effect over it that sounds like an email alert. Not particularly ominous.
Scary guy exits the office building, he has one arm under his coat. Watcha got there I wonder to myself. It’s his gun, you idiot, I reply. You mean he’s not smart enough to ditch the murder weapon, I respond. Apparently not, I mutter sarcastically under my breath. I smile smugly that I couldn’t come up with a better retort. I sure showed me.
Anyway… we can hear a police report coming over a radio alerting to a male, white, 40’s, blue jacket, heavy set just as the guy walks past a cop. First of all, wow, that’s unlucky timing. Secondly, heavy set? They’re trying to save the feelings of the murderer by being polite about his weight? If they’d had a better description you know they probably would have said “thinning hair” rather than “balding,” too.
So the cop of course makes the crazy guy for the suspect based on the superb description and turns and follows him. Crazy guy is also paranoid guy so looks around and notices the cop behind him, then of course pulls his gun, yelling and spitting again, and saying very threatening-sounding things I don’t have the benefit of subtitles of understanding.
The cop tells him to drop the gun, but, surprisingly, crazy guy doesn’t, and instead grabs a nearby blonde woman as a hostage. Cop calls it in.
SRU equipment storage. Ed and Jules finish the checklist of gear and he asks her how last night went as they walk towards their SUVs. She says good and he cleverly uses great subtlety to probe for further details by saying “and?” repeatedly. That’s some quality investigative work. Now we know why he’s a guy with a gun. She eventually admits that all she had been able to think about was finishing her drywall. Was that really worth all those ands? Not very interesting.
They get the call, by which time the rest of the team has assembled around them at their SUVs, so they get in and drive out.
Ed and Jules’ SUV. Greg is briefing them on the crazy guy and where his is. Ed is just as surprised as I was to find out the guy is using a Luger. Thank you!
They “break it down” by talking about the location and where they’ll set up from, each of them from the top of a different nearby building. Apparently “every unit in the city is going to want a piece of this.” Makes the cops come off a bit blood-thirsty if you ask me.
Airport. Blond guy from the credits gets off a plane. He gets a cool little-bit-slow-motion-walking-towards-the-camera-all-staunch-and-tough introduction shot. It’s at this point my wife almost melted as she sat beside me. Well done, Director, that shot had the desired intent.
Plaza. Some guy with a megaphone calls, “there’s nowhere to go,” before saying to the guy next to him with a goatee, “this is going nowhere.” Heh, good one. Crazy guy yells some more. He must have got seriously hoarse shooting this episode. Then, almost as if on queue, the SRU SVUs come tearing round the corner up the street. Goatee guy next to him notices and says, “here comes the cavalry.”
SRU unpack their gear, which mostly involves the snapping of straps and the locking and loading of guns with lots of sound effects added in post production. When they’re ready the team all walk in what can only be some kind of pre-organised formation down the street to the scene that had me expecting “Beat it” to start in the background. Greg inspires them all with a, “Let’s keep the peace.” Yeah, bit late for that, buddy.
They all split up to their various positions. In the comms truck, inner perimeter, outer perimeter, snipers on buildings.
Greg talks to megaphone guy and goatee guy and is handed control. They tell him he doesn’t speak English but aren’t sure what he does speak. Yugoslavian or Croatian maybe. Their translator speaks Russian, which doesn’t sound terribly helpful. Greg requests a Croatian translator and wants to know when the Doctor (their resident psychologist) arrives.
Greg, with two guys in front of him, approach the crazy guy. I’ve got to say, if you’ve got to talk to someone with a gun, standing behind two guys with even bigger guns is probably the way to do it.
Greg introduces himself to crazy guy, saying he just wants to talk, which is met by some noisy Croatian in return.
Lewis is in the comms truck where he basically just speaks into the computer saying what’s going on and it automatically transcribes it. Very handy. “8:46AM, Sergeant Gregory Parker begins negotiation.”
Flash black towncar on freeway. Blond guy is in the backseat when a news report of the hostage situation comes over the radio. The driver assures him they’re not going anywhere near it, so Blond guy says, “Then let’s take a detour.” Oh he’s so tough being driven around in his big black car.
Lewis in the comms truck directs Ed and Jules to the tops of their respective building. Ed gets in the elevator with a bunch of civilians who look a bit wary of the dude with the big rifle. Jules isn’t so lucky, elevators are locked down and has to take the stairs. She and Lewis discuss the wind creating an “updraft,” which obviously makes shooting the bad guy more difficult.
Some cool shots of Ed going out onto the roof, attaching himself to the railing and lying on the edge looking down on the scene.
Blond guy is now at the scene. So is the female Psychologist, who joins Lewis in the comms truck. Lewis logs her arrival. She tells him the woman who got shot probably won’t make it, Lewis says he’ll update the boss.
Outside, Crazy Guy is still yelling, Greg is still waiting on his translator.
Lewis is directing Jules through the building hallways but apparently there have been renovations and the plans are wrong because she runs into a dead end. Those damn DIYers and their renovations.
The Doc gives Greg her opinion on just how nutso she thinks crazy guy is. Her first impression is that it’s not a substance issue, but there are multiple stressors. Uh huh, that’s what I would have said too. Stressors.
Lewis has a new location for Jules but it’s not as good, higher angle, ricochet risk. She gives Sierra One to Ed who is in a better position, making him the guy who will have/get to take the shot. He lines up on the target. Lewis tells Greg the snipers have switched. Ed says he “has the solution.” Nice way to say he has the bad guy’s head in his crosshairs.
Blond guy somehow got inside the crime scene tape. He’s resourceful this one.
Jules is in position finally, she says she has a good vantage, and that Sierra One (Ed now, remember) looks good. I was expecting some crack from Ed about looking good but he’s obviously in the zone, concentrating on the target, mumbling, “Easy Mr Happy.” Because that’s not weird…
Greg calls again that they’re there to help, and suddenly we’re back where the episode started. Crazy guy just yells in return. Greg ask Ed if he has the solution, he confirms he does.
Greg, through the translator, tells crazy guy to “put the gun down”, then, “we want to help.”
Ed is still mumbling to “Mr Happy,” now asking him if he, “wants to dance?” Now it’s actually getting a little creepy.
Greg tries again, guy isn’t interested, just keeps yelling back.
Greg checks with the translator to find out what he’s saying, which is apparently, “I’ll shoot her, don’t make me shoot her.”
Greg gives Ed the “Scorpio” order, meaning take the shot. He lines him up, about to shoot, when uh oh, Jules spots someone running towards the action.
Greg tells Ed to hold fire.
The person running is crazy guy’s son from the train. He’s yelling and crying and dodging cops like a pro. Wow, these cops suck.
Wordy eventually catches him before he gets too close and they work out he’s the son. He’s calling out to his father, who now actually looks a little distracted for the first time. Greg confirms Scorpio is still in effect if he re-escalates, but they may have a “TPI”. Yep, I’d just been thinking that too, looks like a terribly pretty itch to me. Totally pasty igloo? Yeah I have no idea.
Wordy tells the son to tell his father that no one is going to hurt him, which he may or may not have passed on. He’s pretty hysterical and since he’s not speaking English he could have said, “I’m enjoying the way this man is holding me,” for all I know.
Crazy father doesn’t take that too well and he yells back angrily again. This guy is just mad at everyone, even his son can’t catch a break.
This next part all happens pretty fast, crazy guy points his gun at Greg, everyone ducks, Greg gives the Scorpio order again, son ducks around Wordy and runs toward his father, Ed focuses on his target, his finger tightens on the trigger, Jules calls “Ed, the boy!”, just as he appears in Ed’s scope in front of the bad guy, and just as he pulls the trigger… Uh oh…
Silence. Ed spends the next five seconds fumbling with his gun to try to see what he shot. Nothing… Street… People… Dead guy on the ground… Street… No, wait, go back… Dead guy is crazy guy. Or, was crazy guy I suppose. Son is leaning over him crying. Phew. Ed tries not to have a heart attack.
The police move in on the boy, Greg moves the hostage away. The son yells to the sky, “Why did you do that?” “He was a frickin nutter!” Ed calls back. Okay, no he didn’t do that, no one answers him.
We see blond guy watching, trying to look all mysterious and brooding.
Ed is still recovering from nearly shooting the wrong guy. He unhooks himself from the rail and slowly walks around on the roof trying to catch his breath and not throw up on himself.
Ed is approached by Goatee Cop, who tells other officers to tape up the area as it’s now a crime scene, and that Ed is under investigation. I guess that happens after every shooting. He takes his rifle and they walk away together.
Goatee Cop and Ed walk outside, as he tells him he’s, “sequestered and there’s no talking.” Cops are looking at him. He’s looking at the body. Blonde lady sees him. Not that she’d know who he is. Doctor Psychologist lady is comforting Crazy guy’s son. Ed walks past blonde guy, who tries to stare him down. Oh you sure told him, you tough guy with your fake blond hair.
Someone who I guess is Greg’s boss arrives, gets a bit snarky: “That was over fast,” and wants another staging area set up for the media. Something tells me we’re supposed to think this is his beaurocratic and annoying boss.
Greg tells him it was by the book. Greg also calls him “Norm,” which I’m going to assume is actually his name and he’s not just substituting it for “dick” because he can’t swear on TV.
Ed and Goatee Cop walk past Greg and Norm, and Norm tells Ed he did a good job. Hmmm, maybe we’re not supposed to think he’s so annoying. Goatee tells Greg he has to come with them. Greg asks Ed how he’s doing, and he says he’s fine. He’s not particularly believable, but he says he’s fine. They get in Goatee’s car and the rest of the team watch them drive away.
Jules is checking her rifle, making sure it still works even though she didn’t use it. She puts it in the back of the SUV as Blond Guy approaches her. He says hi, that he saw the whole thing, and his name is Sam Braddock. She isn’t sucked in by his prettyboy looks and clearly not naturally blond hair and just replies, “Good for you.” He tells her lady snipers are sexy and then starts talking about her rifle. She doesn’t look interested. He says he carries a vintage Colt himself, and reaches into his jacket pocket, and she immediately draws her gun on him, screaming, “Put your hands where I can see them!” Which of course pulls over the rest of the team, all with guns trained on Sam and yelling similar warnings at him.
“Lower your weapons,” can be heard over the team’s yelling, and Norm stalks towards them, repeating his order, which they obey, as they all realise that Sam is holding a photograph, not a gun. Good one, guys, not jumpy at all.
Norm tells Sam he was supposed to report to the station, but Sam says he heard about it and didn’t want to miss it. Norm tells the team they’re relieved and that Sam should follow him. Sam tells them they have, “nice post-incident reflexes,” but I think that was his sarcastic face. Looks just the same as his interested face (and I suspect his happy face and his sad face) so it’s still too early to be sure.
Ed at SRU headquarters. Big impressive building, they must have good funding. Ed sits alone in a room with a stunning view behind him. He must have serious things on his mind to not be marveling at the cityscape through the enormous window. He looks pensive. His phone rings but he ignores it. Ed’s wife is at home trying to call him.
A Special Investigations Unit guy comes into the room to question Ed. First he takes Ed’s vest, shirt, boots, and pants, and stops just short of giving a body cavity search. He is however nice enough to give him other clothes to put on. The cavity search might have been next on the list but we’ll never know because Ed’s representation breaks up the party, sniping at SIU guy for not waiting for him before they started. Maybe he thought they’d already done the cavity search and was upset he missed it.
SIU guy tells him they were just getting his clothes, to which he replies, “They say debriefing and you take it literally.” Ah cop lawyer humour. He tells Ed that he doesn’t have to tell SIU guy anything, then asks him if he wants to talk to him now. Ed shakes his head so the lawyer nods and just stands there.
Next they’re sitting on opposite sides of the table talking, so I’m not quite sure what happened there. Maybe Ed caved after some uncomfortable silence, or maybe he was hoping to get to the cavity search too.
SIU guy grills Ed on what he means by getting the Scorpio order. They’re interrupted by Ed’s phone ringing again, wife again. The lawyer says it’s his right to answer it if he wants to, so he does.
She wants to know if it was Ed’s team today, and if it was him. He says it was and she says she’ll meet him at home, but he tells her to, “go to the thing.”
SIU gets straight back to the questioning but the lawyer cuts him off, saying it’s textbook, that he should just give him the “use of force wheel,” which is a diagram of a circle that Ed points to to show the suspect progressed from assaultive to grievous body harm. Handy wheel.
Ed’s lawyer asks if they’re done, but SIU guy wants to know if Ed knew the suspect’s son was at the scene. He says his observers told him there was a male youth. SIU guy asks Ed if he thinks every effort was made to involve the son in the negotiation as a Third Party Intermediary. Hey, TPI!! So that’s what it means! Ed says he does. SIU guy asks if all options were exhausted before the use of lethal force. Ed replies with, “What, the option of watching him shoot my team-mate?” SIU guys says he’ll put that as a yes. Oh nothing ruffles this guy!
SIU then provides some useful exposition into the investigation process: they will investigate alongside the coroner’s office and they’ll decide whether Ed used excessive force. He recommends Ed takes a break, spends some quality time with the family. How very thoughtful of him. Almost like he hadn’t just been trying to badger Ed into admitting he shot the guy because he wanted to see his head explode.
Ed’s son at orchestra practice. His cellphone rings and he gets up to answer it, leaving the others to continue. He didn’t turn his phone on silent?! Rude…
His mother tells him what happened with Ed, although we don’t hear any of her side of the conversation, which was a great way to do it, his expression said it all.
Ed is talking to Doctor Psychologist. She tells him he did a great job but needs someone to talk to, strictly confidential. Ed says if she wants a date she should just ask. She takes a second, fake laughs, then says, “Oh, screw it, I forgot who I was talking to for a minute. You’re not that guy. You’re not gonna wonder if you did the right thing. You’re not gonna have any sleepless nights, flashbacks, memory loss, time distortion. You’re not gonna feel alone, feel guilty, feel guilty about not feeling guilty. That’s what happens to other people. You’ll be fine. You know where to find me, not that you’ll need to.” Ouch. Told him. Ed stares off out the window thinking to himself that even though she was mocking him he isn’t going to do any of those things.
BANG! The sound of a gunshot is followed by a rifle reloading. Slide ratcheting back, spent shell ejecting, new one automatically sliding home ready. BANG!
Ed is at the firing range, shooting a rifle at a paper target of a person. One shot after the other. Bang. Reload. Bang. Reload. Each shot going through the centre of the target until the last shot eventually tears the target free and it falls to the ground.
Wordy appears beside him, gently taps him on the shoulder (probably the safest way to interupt an angry man with a gun) and tells him it’s time to go.
Ed walks into the hallway and is met by Jules, who asks if the cone of silence has been lifted. He says it has. She asks if he’s good. He says he is. He’s big on sharing the details, is Ed. She tells him it was a clean shot, that he saved lives. He says, “What’d I tell you, making the world safe so that others may eat pie.” Uh, sure, haven’t heard that one before but I like it. Pie, that is.
They walk into the retirement party. Whoever’s talking acknowledges Ed’s arrival and he gets a clap all round. Ed sits at a table with the rest of his team.
Norm arrives at the table with Sam and introduces him to everyone, saying he’s joining their team, that he’s been in the army and joins them from JTF2. No idea what that is, but I’m going to guess some kind of sniper training school or something. Sam tells Ed he made a nice shot. He sits down and wastes no time before hitting on Jules, asking her if that’s short for Julia. She just replies, no. She’s a tough one. She asks him why he’d leave an elite counter terrorism team for urban policing. But he doesn’t get time to answer before Spike asks him, “How many Al Queda guys you take out?” Sam replies, “What? To dinner?” Ha! A funny, pretty boy. I immediately dislike him more.
The conversation moves away from them, and we focus on Ed half-listening to what they’re saying. He spots a TV on the wall showing footage from the shooting, including a family picture of the dead guy with a wife and kid. He gets up and walks to the bathroom. Greg sees him go and follows him, finding him splashing water on his face. Ed tells him he’s fine. Greg says, “You may wanna do the math one day on all the ‘I’m fines.’” Ed just nods. Greg leaves him to stare at his reflection in the bathroom mirror.
The shooter’s son is standing looking at his body in the morgue, crying.
Jules, at her house, is scraping putty off the edges of the window in a door. She takes a swig of beer. This is the Jules-out-of-work moment you show us? Strange choice. She obviously takes her home renovation seriously. Thanks, tells me a lot about her as a person, gives me a lot of insight into her character. Maybe next time we’ll see her whittling a small rifle from a block of wood.
Sam sits on his bed looking through some photos. One of him and an older guy who is probably his father, then one of him and another solder. He wipes his eyes like he was crying. Aw, Mr Sensitive.
Greg signs off the incident report on the shooting, then puts it into some kind of futuristic looking file holder that looks like it should belong in Minority Report or something. That’s crazy!! What’s wrong with a cardboard folder? They must have a huge budget for almost glass looking file things, this is a seriously well funded police department. Then we see the view out the window of the conference room he’s in, very nice skyline.
Ed arrives home. The TV shows static. It makes for a great shot with the reflection on his face, but they left the TV on? And on a station whose programming ends in the evening and turns to static? Okay…
His son comes down the stairs. Ed looks at him for a moment before walking to him and wrapping his arms around him. He just holds him tight. Ed’s wife watches from the top of the stairs. Ed kisses him on the top of his head and pulls him tighter, his eyes are wet. Either he’s thinking his own actions left a son without a father today, or he’s jealous his kid has a good head of hair while he started balding prematurely so began shaving his head at 22 to hide it. Probably the first one.
Good first episode, I liked it. A few weird moments, and some parts felt a bit heavy handed, but there was some really cool photography and the odd great line of dialogue. Next week: First in Line.