The crew sets out to bag their millions — but unforeseen complications arise
Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC
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Shades of Blue’s last episode ended with a kiss, and this week’s starts out even steamier. In the opening scene, Harlee and Stahl writhe around in his bedroom — and we’re not the only ones watching. Wozniak is keeping tabs on Stahl, and through the agent’s opaque glass windows, the lieutenant can see someone’s getting busy. Minutes later, he watches as Stahl ushers NYPD’s finest out of the building. Stunned, Woz gets out of his car to confront her… only to realize, after calling her name, that it isn’t Harlee at all. It’s the look-alike escort from a few episodes ago, whom Stahl is apparently still seeing. The gross-out factor with this guy continues to climb to new heights.

We go right from one creepy secret meeting to another: Zepeda is out to dinner with Cristina, trying to convince her he’s really her father, and that she should let him into her life. Those bruises Cristina saw covering her mother’s face? “She fell down the stairs.” Dumb-dumb that she is, Cristina falls for this one hook, line, and sinker. Laying it on even thicker, Zepeda tells his daughter that, had he been around, she would have much more family looking out for her. Cristina replies that she does have family: Aunt Tess, Uncle Tufo, Uncle Woz. That last name gets Zepeda’s attention. He already suspects Wozniak of conspiring in his arrest, and discovering the lieutenant has been an integral part of Cristina’s life doesn’t exactly make him feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

After a quick conference with the rest of her crew to go over the plan for the robbery, the real Harlee meets up with Stahl to relay the details. Getting more and more trepidatious, she wants to confirm her fellow officers’ immunity. Stahl says the only way the US Attorney will grant that kind of deal is if Harlee also gives up the name of the big shot who’s orchestrating this whole operation. Oh, and she’ll have to wear a wire again. But look at the bright side: As Stahl puts it, “This is the last big risk you’ll have to take.” How many heist movies have been founded on that hopeful premise?

Back at the precinct, Espada brings Woz the results of a license plate scan he ran on Harlee’s dopplegänger from the night before. She’s a working girl who bears a resemblance to their partner (at least in the logic of the show — personally, I don’t see it). Woz starts to piece together why Stahl is keeping company with this particular lovely lady.

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Meanwhile, Tess and Loman go to question the bartender at the kinky club where they found the asphyxiated proprietor the day before. The bartender tells them that before he died, the owner was planning to sell the place to two investors, by the names of Joaquin and Miles. As some commenters pointed out last week, that was Joaquin (the armored truck driver) we saw sneaking out of the club.

The hour is growing later, and the Feds are getting their team assembled for the sting. Harlee calls Stahl once more to ask about her crew’s immunity. Desperate and guilty, she finally gives up their ringleader: DEA agent Terrence Linklater (Stephen Lang). Smirking, Stahl walks back into the Feds’ situation room… and tells the other officers he wants every dirty cop brought in. No one gets immunity except Harlee.

NEXT: Slimeball Stahl

Despite Stahl’s (false) assurances, Harlee can’t breathe easy yet. She gets word from Woz that Zepeda has been sniffing around the construction site where Frank Kovach died, trying to work out who killed his only alibi. Growing more and more worried, she pulls Cristina out of school — when Cristina demands an explanation, Harlee says Zepeda failed to make a parole meeting (not true, since he was exonerated and isn’t on parole). Then, she goes and tracks down her ex herself. This time, she’s through playing games. She straight up offers him her share of the stolen DEA money if he leaves her and Cristina’s life for good. (Has Harlee not figured out that she doesn’t get to keep the loot? The whole point is that the FBI is going to arrest her whole crew in the middle of their illegal activities.) Later, Cristina checks up on Harlee’s story. She calls Nava’s office, and learns Zepeda is, in fact, a free man. Her distrust in her mother grows, just as she’s getting closer to her father.

Then, it’s off to commit grand larceny. Harlee drives Tufo to pick up the vans. Feeling vulnerable on the way, they bare their souls. Tufo shares that, according to his immunity papers, Saperstein was spying on them for two whole weeks. Harlee knows that isn’t true, he died the day after the Feds first picked him up. Her wheels start turning.

Let’s take a breather here and consult the Guilt-O-Meter:

Cristina: 6 out of 10, a Tad Guilty

Listen to your mother, girl! Say what you will about Harlee, but she’s a good mom, and Cristina should believe her when she says Zepeda abused her… especially because Cristina has seen the photographic evidence! Instead, Cristina goes out of her way to put both of them in danger. At 16, she’s old enough to understand why Harlee doesn’t want Zepeda in their lives.

Stahl: 9 out of 10, Super Guilty

Leaving aside the entire issue of his choice in sex partners for now, Stahl also betrayed Harlee’s trust and purposefully screwed with her… for no reason. What does he gain by not bringing Harlee’s request to Baker? Nothing, except more control over his asset.

After they return to the station, Loman comes to Tess and Tufo with his suspect in the club owner’s killing: He’s found Joaquin. Both of the corrupt officers recognize their co-conspirator, so they beg off the investigation, telling Loman to handle it on his own. Then, Woz calls Harlee into his office. He has a revelation of his own to share. He explains Stahl is the Fed who’s been watching them (Harlee plays dumb), then drops his bomb: Stahl’s booty call could be her (ill-used) sister. The guy’s obsessed, he even pays extra to call the hooker “Harlee.”

Finally, our girl recognizes the depths of scumminess her handler has sunk to. She digs up the monitor connected to the hidden cameras she installed in Stahl’s apartment half a season back. She rewinds until she sees Stahl’s deranged fantasies for herself. Then, curious, she goes back farther, to when Stahl made his call to Baker asking for her crew’s immunity. She sees him walk into his bedroom… but he throws his phone on the bed, then fakes his half of the conversation. He’s been playing her.

Harlee shoves the monitor back in her closet. As she closes the door in disgust, we see a flash of Zepeda’s face in the mirror behind her. (Props to Shades of Blue for pulling off a legitimately surprising and frightening moment.) Right then, Stahl himself knocks on her door. He’s there to wire her up before the robbery, but she has some questions first. She calls him out on backdating Saperstein’s deal and blames Stahl for her fellow officer’s death. But the FBI agent isn’t having any of it. Harlee is corrupt herself, and the only reason she’s not behind bars is because he gave her a way out. He’s certainly not responsible for the murder Woz committed.

NEXT: Go time

Harlee lets it go then, but as soon as Stahl is out of the house she tracks down Caddy (her old supervisor who bugged Stahl’s apartment) and has him refigure the wire (for what purpose, we don’t know yet). Then, she asks him to teach her how to wreck a truck engine. After the lesson, the whole crew meets up. The big job is happening at last. Espada, Tufo, and Tess take one truck, Woz and Harlee take the other.

After a few minutes, Harlee and Woz get a call from their partners: Their vehicle has stalled — just as Harlee intended. If Stahl can’t secure their immunity, at least she can make sure they’re not at the scene when the arrests go down. She tells them to bail out on the mission, but Woz grabs her phone and encourages them to find another car. So much for that plan.

As this saga unfolds, the Feds are watching the trucks’ movements via satellite. When Baker sees Tess, et. al.’s vehicles go off-route, she gets spooked. She tells Chen to go rescue the truck dispatcher’s husband, whom Donnie, Joaquin, and Linklater have been holding hostage in the warehouse as collateral. Baker was originally going to wait until the arrests had been made, but now she doesn’t want to take any chances. Her forethought is in vain, however. When Chen gets to the warehouse, the prisoner’s throat has already been slashed. Things are falling apart fast.

While all of this is going down, Good Guy Loman is still protecting and serving, unaware of the chaos surrounding his entire team. He’s spent the day tracking down his murder suspect, Joaquin, a.k.a. one of the armored truck drivers. Loman tails him on his route, and follows him to the location where they’ve arranged to exchange the money. Loman sees a robbery of some kind going down, so he approaches and calls for backup. By the time he gets close enough to see it’s his own crew doing the burglaring, Tufo, Espada, and Tess have also arrived on the scene, having commandeered another car.

Everything is set to hand over the cash, until Tufo has a sudden, ill-timed moment of decency. Mid-exchange, he confronts Joaquin about killing the owner of the bar. Of all the times to start caring about right and wrong! Things get tense, and everyone’s hands go to their guns. Then, Loman the Oblivious chooses that moment to pop up, weapon drawn. He tries to arrest all seven bad guys at once and, in the ensuing chaos, someone’s gun goes off. Tess is hit. Then, Loman’s backup arrives.

I think Woz put all our reactions best in the last line of the episode: “Oh, shit!”

Final Guilt-O-Meter:

Zepeda: 8 out of 10, Real Guilty

Manipulating his daughter, threatening his ex-girlfriend, breaking and entering — the dude’s been out of prison one day and he already has a serious rap sheet. His rating isn’t higher only because I need to leave room for whatever he’s planning to do in Harlee’s house.

Loman: 6 out of 10, a Tad Guilty

Maybe willfully oblivious is a better term than guilty. But Loman’s need to play the righteous hero in all situations overcame his common sense this episode, and Tess got shot as a result. All he had to do was wait for his backup to arrive, or even just slip away and report his crew to the nearest precinct, and no one would have gotten hurt.

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Shades of Blue
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