Shades of Blue recap: Who Is It That Can Tell Me Who I Am
Harlee had an extreme night last episode: She was practically mauled by her handler before getting into a life-threatening standoff with her boss, and then she ended her evening with a slice of ADA Nava. All that would justify a sick day for any normal person, but Harlee’s just getting started.
She exits Nava’s place around 3 a.m., only to find Stahl waiting for her across the street. He’s there ostensibly to pick up her recorder, but he’s clearly just jealous of Harlee’s new boo. She hands over the tape and drops a little knowledge in the process: She’s done her research and learned that the FBI can’t compel her to wear a wire, particularly if she fears for her life. Which she does because Wozniak is getting seriously paranoid.
If Harlee is having a tough evening, Loman isn’t faring any better. We find him standing on the tracks of an above-ground subway, looking down to the river below. Anguished over his dirty shoot and disillusioned about the morality of police work, he’s at the end of his rope. He throws his gun over the edge and then climbs onto the railing, where he considers following his gun into the watery depths. He spots the gun lying on a bridge support below him; it didn’t make it into the river. Before Loman can decide to jump, a train comes, and the conductor screams at him to climb down. Loman does, but his guilt and despair won’t be so easy to overcome. This problem is not going away overnight.
In a taxi heading home from Nava’s, Harlee spots a robbery in progress at a bodega. She draws her weapon and manages to stop one of the robbers as he’s leaving the store. But his accomplice pulls a knife on the store owner and tells Harlee he’ll kill him if she doesn’t let them go. Backup arrives, and the second robber stabs the store owner (not fatally) before both criminals run off.
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The conductor must have reported Loman’s behavior because, the next morning, Tufo and Det. Stuart Saperstein (Santino Fontana), another squad member, are ribbing him about his suicidal depression. Fun times, until Tufo spots a funeral card on Loman’s desk. It’s for Jamarr (Ify Enemuo), the dealer he killed. (Loman has been getting close to Jamarr’s cousin without revealing his own involvement in her loved one’s death.) Now Tufo and Saperstein turn serious. They cannot tolerate a crewmember who feels remorse for taking out a bad guy. Saperstein forces Loman to switch guns, saying his is the luckiest in the precinct. (It’s not explained how Loman got his gun back, but he has it now, in any case.)
Harlee leaves work to go to see Woz in the hospital. He crashed his car last night after getting buzzed and then getting off with a nameless guy in a back alley. (Shades of Blue‘s really trafficking in self-loathing gay clichés.) Harlee should be pissed at Woz for nearly killing her hardly 12 hours ago, but she forgives him straight off the bat. That’s good because he’s got another dangerous and illegal favor to ask: He wants her to drive an empty van to his storage unit. He hands her a burner phone, telling her she’ll get a text with the van’s current address. Harlee asks, but Woz won’t say what he’s plotting.
NEXT: A track-side intervention
Back at the precinct, all the detectives (except Harlee, who’s off doing Woz’s bidding) notice Loman’s not around, and Saperstein figures he must have gone to Jamarr’s funeral, despite their warnings. Tufo, Espada, Saperstein, and Tess all head to the church, where they find Loman at the podium, about to make a confession. They pull him out and slam him into the back of a squad car to the jeers of angry mourners.
After, Harlee meets up with them at a diner — well, all except Loman, whom they’ve left in the car outside. Saperstein complains about Loman’s behavior, saying he’s not one of them and he needs to get over his guilt about doing his job. Harlee sighs, then comes clean: Loman made a mistake in shooting Jamarr. It wasn’t self-defense; it was murder. None of the other detectives has much of a reaction to this appalling information, aside from making sure Harlee isn’t in jeopardy. I guess years of committing their own sins on the job have warped their ability to feel guilt. Harlee’s phone beeps with the location of Woz’s van, so she bounces. Once she’s gone, Saperstein declares they have to get Loman’s issues figured out before they can continue the robbery investigation.
Let’s stop here to discuss the squad’s current culpability:
Loman: 5 out of 10, Neutral Party
Turning into a sad sack has really made me feel for the guy. He’s the only one wrestling with his role in Jamarr’s murder, as well as with larger issues of race and crime. I don’t quite understand why he’s more willing to end his own life than he is to confess, but he’s moving ever closer to doing the right thing.
Stahl: 8 out of 10, Real Guilty
Letting Harlee believe she had to wear the wire, even though it endangered her life? This guy is cold.
Harlee finds the van in a deserted lot. She then calls Stahl and clues him in to where she is and what Woz has asked her to do. Maybe she is still a little pissed her mentor almost murdered her. Or she’s afraid if he doesn’t get locked up soon, she’ll end up back at the marina. Stahl is surprised and pleased she’s offering information. Before he and Chen can arrive, Harlee checks the truck to make sure it really is clean. Under the carpet, she finds a false bottom, and in the secret compartment, she discovers a counting machine and a package of explosives wrapped in plastic. She calls Woz in a rage. What is he getting her into? But Woz is just as clueless as she is. If that’s really the truth, then he’s in way over his head. Is Donnie double-crossing him too?
Back to the other detectives’ twisted intervention. They’ve taken Loman, handcuffed and terrified, to a dirt yard under the elevated subway tracks. They push a gun in his face, and make like they’re about to force him to play Russian roulette, all while screaming about how they’re “family.” If this is their plan to certify his loyalty, they have some messed-up ideas about what that means. (Then again, we already knew this.)
Loman pleads for his life and desperately fights to get away from the gun. That’s all they were looking for, and they ease up. They’ve confirmed Loman isn’t suicidal after all and that he can now be trusted as Harlee’s partner… Um, that isn’t how it works? Not wanting to get your face blasted off in a sick hazing ritual is not the same thing as being cured of suicidal ideation. These people are all terrible police officers.
NEXT: What Woz is up to
Stahl and Chen meet Harlee at the van. They check it and find the compartment, which she’s preemptively emptied. The Feds want her to lead them to the destination Woz gave her (his storage unit), but she takes them to his trailer instead. She still has some loyalty left, it seems, and she doesn’t want them too hot on his trail. Meanwhile, Woz meets Donnie to question him about the van’s unexpected cargo. By “question,” Woz means “suckerpunch in the face.” Donnie explains his plan: a controlled explosion at an abandoned warehouse — no one will be hurt. (We still don’t know why he wants to blow up anything.) Woz counters that their whole plan was supposed to be pickup, delivery, security. Explosives were not part of the deal.
Next, Woz goes to meet with Loman, who he hears isn’t doing so hot. No kidding. In an effort at family bonding, Woz assures the younger officer that he’s also killed people on the job. Big surprise, that confession is not helpful. Loman dismisses his attempts at empathy, saying it’s not the same thing. Their unit puts away eight times more black suspects than white ones. He’s struggling with his neighborhood’s perception that he’s sided against them. He hates that black kids in his own community are taught to fear the police, taught they could be shot at any time. Woz tells him the police, not the people they serve, are his family now. Again, not helpful.
Following that fun pep talk, Woz has to go deal with Harlee, who’s furious that he’s upping the risk on their criminal activity. Normally they just take bribes — explosives are not part of their operation. Woz brings her up to speed on his latest gig: Some big-time criminal is moving cash offshore, and Woz is providing security while the move is made. “Four hours, one night, in and out.” Harlee says it’s too complicated, but Woz brushes her off.
Maybe he shouldn’t have been so hasty. After Stahl finds Woz’s trailer is clean, he searches for other properties and discovers Woz’s storage unit. Inside, he finds the explosives, as well as four counting machines — enough to add up hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time.
Everyone on the squad has been recruited into Operation Cheer Up Loman, an utter failure thus far — probably because their tactics have included making him fear for his own life and regaling him with tales of their own criminal missteps. Now, it’s Harlee’s turn. They’ve dug up the address of their burglary suspect’s girlfriend, so Harlee takes Loman with her to investigate.
The girlfriend opens the door a crack, and it’s immediately evident she’s been beaten. However, she won’t let the cops in without a warrant. She closes the door, and Harlee and Loman immediately hear her being kicked around some more. But without a cry for help, it’s illegal for them to enter. Harlee gives Loman the choice: They can go by the book, and come back with a warrant tomorrow (by which time the woman will be in a much worse state and their suspect in the wind); or he can “hear a cry for help” and bust in the door right now. He steals himself, then makes his decision: Sometimes, the right choice isn’t going by the book. The door comes down.
Harlee: 6 out of 10, a Tad Guilty
She’s doing more and more to help the FBI nail Woz, the brains behind their squad’s illegal activity. She’s still not giving him up completely, but seeing as how Stahl himself is turning out to be quite a nefarious character, her uncertainty over what’s right and what’s wrong makes sense.
Saperstein: 9 out of 10, Super Guilty
As the leader of the hazing ritual, Saperstein showed himself to be unfeeling and quick to attack a member of his own squad. He previously provided comic relief, but we’re learning he’s not to be trifled with.