In the season's penultimate episode, Harlee and Wozniak barely stay one step ahead of Linklater and the law
Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC
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In the aftermath of last week’s stupendously botched fake robbery, Wozniak and Harlee try to land on their feet — but that’s not easy when there’s little solid ground to stand on.

Once the crew realizes Loman’s backup is arriving at the armored truck, everybody bolts. Well, everybody except the second driver because he’s already dead, shot during the firefight. Tufo hastily transports Tess and Joaquin (Michael Drayer) to Dr. Isaiah (Peter Jay Fernandez), the good Samaritan from a few episodes back who provides medical care to the undocumented and uninsured. Meanwhile, Woz and Harlee take the stolen car, along with the cash, and make a break for the drop point. As they speed along, they worry that Loman will turn them all in — a good bet, considering he tried to arrest them a few minutes earlier. But Harlee has faith: She covered for him during the dirty shooting, now he’ll do the same for them.

Suddenly, in the middle of their emotional debate, a car slams into them from the left, flipping them over on to the side of the road. Before Harlee blacks out, she sees a masked figure approaching. When she next comes to, Woz is hauling her out of the car. Despite being slammed with enough force to flatten a four-door and lose consciousness, both detectives emerge unscathed, except for similar rakish cuts on the sides of their faces. Though their good looks remain intact, the money is all gone.

When Baker tells Stahl there’s a casualty at the site of the robbery, he hustles over to the scene, where he finds Loman. Once Stahl learns the detective belongs to the 64th precinct, he marks him as an accomplice to the rest of Harlee’s no-good crew. He cuffs him and takes him in for questioning.

Harlee and Woz get to a drug store and clean themselves up in the bathroom, where they get a call from Linklater. Their partner is seething because the Feds are raiding the airstrip where they were keeping their captive. Someone’s double-crossed him, and he’s looking at Woz and the rest of his team. When Woz tells him the money’s been stolen, Linklater is ready to bury them all. But he needs his cash back, so he arranges a white flag meeting instead. After the call, Woz shares his evolving theory: Donnie is behind all of this. He needed the money to pay for a real estate deal that went south, and his cut alone wouldn’t be enough. Woz is under no illusions that his man would put their lives above his own ends. Plus, whoever hit their car did so in the same manner the police use to stop fleeing suspects. It was a cop who stole the money.

The whole ragtag bunch — Woz, Harlee, Donnie, and Linklater — meet for dim sum in Queens. Donnie is enraged when he hears his nephew, Joaquin, is currently under the knife. Linklater trusts Donnie, however, and lays the blame at Woz’s feet. The lieutenant has 24 hours to recover the cash. (The “or else” is implied.)

NEXT: Thicker than water

Once Stahl gets Loman in a room alone, he tries to get the rookie to give up his team. Without the stolen money, they have no evidence to charge the other officers with, except a witness statement from Loman. Plus, Stahl believes he was in on the plan (despite calling in the robbery). Loman plays dumb, though. He says the robbers were wearing masks and his crew is at the precinct, doing their jobs as they speak. For now, his loyalty still lies with the family. Baker is pissed their whole operation has gone to hell, and they’re out $12 million. They need to nail the 64th precinct for the robbery and recover the money, or there will be hell to pay. Luckily, Chen has a lead: Linklater went back to work that afternoon.

Woz goes to check on Tess at the church and to gather intel from Joaquin, who’s recovering from his first experience with unanesthetized abdominal surgery. Before Woz can get to that, however, his wife, Linda, calls. She has some unsettling news to report: The same car has been driving past their house again and again. It could be Linklater’s people, or it could be Miguel, looking for Cristina. Either way, Woz tells her to take Cristina and go to a hotel and to make sure they’re not followed.

Still trying to suss out Loman’s level of involvement in his crew’s misdeeds, Stahl visits the fetish club, where the detective says he was investigating the murder of the owner. The bartender confirms Loman’s story and that Joaquin was a suspect. Stahl asks if she can identify Joaquin’s partner, and the bartender points out Donnie’s picture. Stahl isn’t surprised: That’s the kid’s uncle, an obvious connection. The bartender is grossed out to hear this. She caught them together at the club once. (I’m not sure what a casually tossed-out, unexplored mention of incest is supposed to add to this story line. Maybe we’ll find out next week; maybe it just adds to the impression that the depths of Donnie’s depravity reach further than we expected. Whatever the purpose, it’s an odd piece of information for the show to reveal and then promptly ignore.)

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And…time! We’re halfway through Shades of Blue’s penultimate episode of the season, let’s see what’s happening with the Guilt-O-Meter:

Loman: 8 out of 10, Real Guilty

The psychology of who we’re loyal to and why is not always logical. For example: Loman called the cops on his own team but then lied to the FBI about their crimes. Sure, they protected him before, but his shooting was unintentional and didn’t fit a longstanding pattern of corruption.

When Stahl gets back to headquarters, there’s a surprise waiting for him: Harlee, with her wire, ready to cooperate. Well…that’s at least what she’d like him to think. Thanks to Caddie’s tinkering, her wire went silent for two crucial hours earlier that day. Stahl doesn’t believe Harlee had nothing to do with the money’s disappearance or that she’s not playing him. Plus, he thinks she didn’t fully cooperate with his investigation, which jeopardizes her immunity deal. The FBI is arresting Linklater, and once he reveals all the details of the robbery plan, they won’t need her anymore.

There’s just one problem, however: The man they bring in isn’t Linklater. Turns out, the head honcho Woz and Donnie have been working with has been posing as a DEA agent, but none of them have any clue who he really is. Even if the Feds bring charges against the whole crew, they won’t have the operation’s ringleader — or the money. Harlee convinces Stahl and Baker to put her back in the field, so she can wrap this whole job up.

NEXT: Best revenge is your paper

Back at the church, Woz interrogates Joaquin. His hunch was correct: Joaquin and Donnie did kill the owner of the kink club, after said owner killed the landlord in an argument that got out of control. As Joaquin relates this gruesome tale, he begins to hemorrhage. Isaiah tells them he’s got to get to a hospital or he’ll die, so Woz volunteers himself and Tufo to take him. (This seems wildly out of character for a man who’ll commit literally any disgusting, immoral crime to protect himself and his people. Why risk everything for this kid?)

On the way, the gruff old guy takes a surprisingly tender approach to Joaquin. He holds him in his arms and tries to comfort him as the bleeding grows worse and even shares how he once had a daughter. In kind, Joaquin talks about his own demons, including an abusive mother. The group therapy ends when they arrive at the hospital, only to realize Joaquin couldn’t hold out that long.

Harlee goes to check on Cristina, who is upset her mom keeps scaring her and seemingly taking outlandish precautions (like pulling her out of school and sticking her in a hotel) for crazy, paranoid reasons she won’t fully explain. She finally lashes out: She knows Miguel isn’t on parole, like Harlee said. She asks her mom to come clean about why she’s been lying and acting so shady these past 10 days, but Harlee can’t give her real answers, and blurting out “I’m a corrupt cop on the hook for $12 million in stolen DEA money” is the sort of mother-daughter moment she’s hoping to avoid.

After Stahl releases Loman, the detective returns to the armored truck. In his mind, he replays all that went down there: the second driver being shot, Harlee pleading that this isn’t what it looks like, himself trying to arrest his whole crew. Then, the memory continues past what we saw last episode. Harlee told Loman this whole operation is Donnie Pomp’s doing: he found out Loman’s shooting was dirty, and the crew volunteered to rob the truck to keep them safe. (This story makes approximately zero sense. What were they going to do, flee to Mexico together without letting Loman in on the plan first? But Harlee’s improvising with a gun in her face, so we’ll let the shoddy reasoning slide.) She also told him to lie to the Feds when they questioned him. To protect his crew, just like they protected him. Crying, Loman calls the 64th and asks to speak to the captain.

At the hotel, Harlee takes Cristina’s laptop and records the confession we saw at the top of the series. She thought, at the beginning of her foray into criminal activities, that the ends would justify the means. But she’s come out the other side, and nothing is justified. All the morally compromised things she’s done have changed her, and she didn’t realize who she was becoming until it was too late. Intercut with Harlee’s tearful confession, we see Woz doing the same: He’s confessing for real, to the priest at Isaiah’s church.

After baring her soul, we find a much more badass-looking Harlee (strutting along to a kickass soundtrack) walking down a back alley. She slides open a metal door, behind which stands a very pleased-looking Caddie, surrounded by stacks of cash. Woz was right to conclude a police officer took their dough — he just suspected the wrong one. On top of the world, Harlee grins and announces that now they get to call the shots. Her abrupt about-face makes me wonder if that video isn’t a decoy, and maybe even part of a plan to get away with $12 million.

Final Guilt-O-Meter

Harlee: 9 out of 10

Lying to Cristina and creating emotional instability at home? Check. Stealing a fortune from the government? Check. Planning a car crash that easily could have killed Woz and herself? Check. Putting her entire team’s lives in danger by stealing from Linklater? Check. Harlee outdid herself this week.

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