Harlee puts Wozniak on the defensive

By Ariel Kay
February 26, 2016 at 04:11 AM EST
Peter Kramer/NBC
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In the aftermath of Saperstein’s death, Shades of Blue draws firm lines between the righteous and the damned. Starting in “Good Cop, Bad Cop,” you’re either one or the other.

The episode opens with a close-up on Sap’s face as doctors remove his breathing tube and close his eyes for the last time as a hysterical Harlee looks on. Back home, Wozniak is trembling at his kitchen table, barely able to bring a shot glass to his lips. That’s where his wife, Linda, finds him. She expresses sympathy but quickly tells Woz to buck up. His squad will march to the beat he sets. (I’m getting a real Lady Macbeth vibe here — probably because of the creepy ill-suited horror music playing over the scene. I wonder how much she knows.)

Later that night, Cristina sneaks her boyfriend Manny (Juan Castillo) into her apartment. (Harlee forbid Manny from mentioning their first encounter at the precinct, so Cristina still believes her relationship is secret.) They enter the bathroom, and we see Manny’s face is covered in blood. He has deep cuts on both sides of his face. Cristina cleans him up as best she can, but this requires stitches. She promises Harlee’s unit will make this right, but Manny doesn’t share her confidence in the police.

At FBI headquarters, Stahl and Chen must woefully tell Baker that they can’t directly link Sap’s death or the explosives to Woz. Conveniently, this particular hospital has zero security cameras in their ICU. Baker realizes that confirmation from a source (a.k.a. Harlee) is the only proof they’ll be able to use to lock up their target.  

Later that night, Woz is woken to Harlee frantically banging down his door. She is enraged at his deceit, and no excuses will work with her now. Before work, the whole team (minus Loman, who never gets invited to any of the fun parties) gather in the cold storage room of their favorite bar. (Why? Why do they choose to meet in a refrigerator?) Woz, really going Method with his responsible dad act, gives a rousing speech honoring Sap and telling them not to dwell on the fact that he may have been an informant. Tess is not about to hear that, and Espada and Tufo bring up that, just because Sap is gone, doesn’t mean the FBI isn’t still breathing down their necks. Harlee just stands up and walks out.

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She goes to meet Stahl in an empty field next to (you guessed it) a marina. Her handler immediately breaks down their situation: Harlee needs to confirm Woz is Sap’s murderer, or her lieutenant is walking. Harlee is conflicted, however. She blames herself for Sap’s death. If she hadn’t been a dirty informant to begin with, Woz never would have suspected him, and right now she would rather punish herself than Woz. She refuses to rat, so Stahl switches tracks and begins questioning her about Zepeda. What did Woz gain by framing him? Harlee keeps playing dumb, so Stahl pulls out his ace: They have an eyewitness to the murder.

NEXT: Cops on film

True to her word, Cristina summons Woz and Tess to report the attack on Manny. As the teens tell them, it was two patrol officers who turned his face so many pretty colors. Woz says if the cops needed to use that much force, they would also have been required to file a report. But Manny says the officers just beat him up and dashed. The detectives aren’t entirely convinced that’s the whole story, so Manny takes off in a huff. Cristina gives them some serious side-eye, so, guiltily, they track down the offending officers. One, Hollister (Theo Stockman), has a fonder recollection of the previous evening: He and his partner stumbled upon some “bangers” in the park and interrupted a drug deal gone bad. Funnily enough, the dealer took off before they were able to make any arrests or recover any illegal substances, and neither of them is responsible for Manny’s injuries — that was another “‘Rican” (as in Puerto Rican, as in these cops are super racist).

Harlee finds Loman back at the precinct, clearing out Sap’s desk. Chastened, she tells him he should apply at another precinct — one where he won’t become corrupted like all of them. Then she and Woz go into his office, where Harlee tells him she got intel that there was a witness to Rita’s death. Unimpressed, Woz says he “took care of” that little hurdle a long time ago.

That’s when Harlee finally arrives at a truth she should have seen a long time ago. For her boss, there is no such things as stooping too low. He’ll do whatever it takes to maintain his position. Their whole crew is made up of Woz’s disciples so he can play God. Well, she’s through being a loyal convert. Woz listens to her tantrum, then he puts the ball in Harlee’s court: He gives her the name of the witness, Rita’s friend Maxine (Amelia Pedlow), the maid the Feds interviewed the day before. He been paying her off for 10 years, to keep Zepeda in prison and Harlee free. Now, she’s Harlee’s problem.

It’s been a wild ride so far. How’s our Guilt-O-Meter doing?

Woz: 8 out of 10, Real Guilty

Killing Saperstein in cold blood was bad enough. But this fake mourning and “keeping it together for the team” shtick is just too much.

Woz’s relationship with Cristina’s mom may be on thin ice, but he’s still got a soft spot for the kid. He and Tess deliver the news that the patrol officers have a very different memory of how Manny got hurt. They try to explain her boyfriend is lying to her, but Cristina cuts them off. She knows Manny isn’t lying because she was with him when he got beat up. And she has video. She pulls out her phone and shows them: First, the cops harass Manny and his friend without cause, then they make a lewd comment toward her. After that, Manny pushes Hollister, so the cops beat him bad enough to require stitches. (Why did she wait this long to come forward with the video? She has nothing to fear from the police, unlike her boyfriend.)

Woz and Tess call in Harlee and bring her up to speed on the situation. They show her the whole video, which includes a first act involving Cristina and Manny smoking weed before the main event. (Cristina, upset at the time because Sap is in critical condition, gets a little teary. Manny comments on how pretty she looks when she’s crying, which is one of the creepiest sentences any man can utter. Also, how dumb is she to film herself doing illegal drugs? I’ll chalk it up to being 16, but for a cop’s kid, that’s a stretch.)

NEXT: Making it right

Over in FBI land, Chen and Stahl are still trying to connect Zepeda’s conviction to Wozniak. Chen informs Stahl that Nava is the ADA handling the Zepeda case and, being the super creep he is, Stahl decides to make life particularly difficult for Harlee’s boo. Posing as an officer with the DA’s Ethics Office, he finds the ADA at the courthouse and questions him about his relationship with Harlee. After all, her lieutenant was the arresting officer on the case that Nava is now prosecuting: It’s a violation for Harlee to share any biasing information with him.

Nava confronts Harlee at the precinct. Stahl spooked him, and he wants to know: Did Harlee get close to him just so she could manipulate him into keeping Zepeda locked up? She can’t tell him no, and they may be through for good. Harlee knows Stahl was behind this, and she makes a special trip to federal headquarters to chew him out. As she approaches Stahl’s office, we see his computer screen is full of pictures of her. What a psycho.

Harlee yells at her handler not to mess with her personal life, and he basically calls her a whore for sleeping with Nava. She slaps him, then breaks down. Sap’s death, Zepeda’s upcoming trial, being an informant, fighting with Woz, discovering Cristina’s bad behavior — she can’t keep all these balls in the air any longer. So she opens up to Stahl about Zepeda’s abuse. When he asked why she never pressed charges, Harlee says she framed him instead, so he could never get to Cristina. Stahl sees an opening and makes a deal: If Harlee gives him what he needs to nail Woz, he’ll drop his entire investigation into Zepeda. She doesn’t say yes, but she doesn’t say no, either.

Then Harlee goes directly to Woz, who’s still eager to put their earlier spat behind them. As a peace offering, he brings her to the back of a bar, where Loman has lured the two officers who beat up Manny. Tufo and Tess are waiting, and the three squad members jump the guys. Watching the display does not have the desired effect, however. Harlee isn’t as happy to see this form of justice being meted out, and she’s particularly displeased to find Loman engaging in more corruption. But afterward, she tracks down Cristina and Manny and tells them those cops won’t be harassing minorities again. At least she can look her daughter in the eye now.

At Sap’s wake that night, the whole crew gathers to pay their respects. When Harlee sees his body, she’s again overcome. Seeing him for the last time has finally set things straight in her mind. She whispers a promise: She’s going to make it right. Later, she pays Stahl a visit, and tells him what he wants to hear: Woz did it — and to make sure the charge sticks, she wants to wear a wire. Her loyalties have been tested, and she’s finally decided where exactly they lie.

Final Guilt-O-Meter:

Harlee: 2 out of 10, Quite Innocent

Congratulations to Ms. Santos for earning the lowest Guilt-O-Meter yet! Harlee really turned a corner this episode by agreeing to take down Woz. We’ll see what happens once she’s wired up, but that look on her face when she saw Sap in his coffin has me thinking she really means to do right this time.

Stahl: 7 out of 10, Quite Guilty

The scene I am most looking forward to for this entire series is when Harlee finally uncovers the depth of Stahl’s sexual obsession, and gives him a serious lesson in just how not interested she is. Sticking his nose into the most stable relationship she has, just to feed his twisted delusion, is a low move.

Loman: 7 out of 10, Quite Guilty

Woz is losing his most trusted ally, so it only makes sense he’s started grooming Loman to take over her role in their extracurricular activities. But Loman, for all his protestations about being a good cop, took to beating those patrol officers far too naturally.

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seasons
  • 1
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  • 01/07/16
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  • In Season
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