Harlee takes her first steps toward making things right
Credit: Giovanni Rufino/NBC

After weeks of indecision, Harlee finally finds herself on the right side of the law (and J. Lo’s performance immediately becomes more dynamic and believable for it). Wozniak’s bad streak, on the other hand, has only widened in the wake of Saperstein’s death.

As dawn breaks on another lovely New York City day, we find the entire squad dressed in their finest blues, attending Sap’s funeral. After the service, Woz and Harlee sit on a bench and share in their mourning. But since Harlee’s agreed to spy on her boss, we’ll never be able to know for sure if she’s being truthful or if she’s just playing him. Maybe she doesn’t even know herself. When she returns from the funeral, she finds Stahl camped out in her stairwell. He hands over her new wire: It’s the same necklace that contained the original camera. This time, she willingly accepts it, and even offers her stalker friend a glass of iced tea.

But Stahl didn’t come over for a tea party. He grills her on Woz’s big job, the one he was planning with Donnie, which is apparently still on. The next morning, Harlee arrives at the precinct wearing her pendant. She’s still deeply reluctant to betray the man who was her mentor for so long, but she knows it’s the right thing to do. She walks into Woz’s office and tells him she’s ready to be a team player again. This quick about-face should tip him off that something’s not right, but he eagerly welcomes her back into the fold and tells her the job is set for tomorrow if his meeting tonight with their as-yet-undisclosed partners in crime goes well. He shoots down her request to accompany him, but she insists on tailing him anyway. She tells him they’re in this caper together now, for better or for worse. And for Woz, it’s gonna be mostly worse

The whole crew is hanging out around Tufo’s desk when Saperstein’s phone rings. Who would call Sap’s direct line, instead of 9-1-1? Harlee and Tufo rush to the apartment the call came from, where Harlee finds a man with a head wound and a gun pointed in her face. She calms him and learns he’s the victim who called Sap. His name is Dr. Isaiah, and he’s a local MD who (illegally) passes out drugs to the uninsured in his neighborhood. He needed help because someone busted into his place and snatched his satchel of pills, and he called Sap because the detective knew about his charitable works and offered to help if he should ever need it.

Harlee leaves the good doctor with some EMTs and heads to Woz’s meeting. Before she arrives, Woz calls Donnie, who was supposed to be there. But Donnie’s been saddled with a deposition and can’t leave without drawing attention. A frustrated Woz and a clueless Harlee pick up a new car and drive to the meeting place. On the way, Woz lets on that he has someone helping them on the inside. When Harlee presses, he won’t give up any more details.

NEXT: Wrong delivery

Instead, Woz brings up Zepeda. Stahl and Chen are about to hear more than Harlee wants about her involvement in his imprisonment, so she heads Woz off. Stahl couldn’t care less that his imaginary girlfriend may have had a bigger role to play in putting an innocent man behind bars, but Chen, who actually cares about right and wrong, isn’t so quick to dismiss this new information. In the Shades of Blue universe, Chen is probably far too good a person to last long in any kind of law enforcement role.

By this time, Harlee and Woz have arrived at the meeting place, as have her handlers, who followed and are now tucked out of sight. But when Woz’s new partners roll up, everyone is disappointed. It’s just a kid who was paid to deliver a car, not the hotshot criminals they were expecting. Things get tense, and guns are drawn. And when the kid tells Woz and Harlee to pop the trunk, the detectives really go ballistic at what they find. Inside is a man, blindfolded and gagged. This job was supposed to be quick and painless: not the words that spring to mind when describe kidnapping.

The kid can’t tell them anything about who hired him to make this delivery, so they turn to the bound man. He’s too afraid to give them any information, though, even his name. He says the guys who took him threatened to kill his wife if he gave up anything. So Woz and Harlee have no choice but to play along for now. Woz instruct her to take the man to…the marina! (That’s how you know things are getting good.)

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Let’s catch our breath and consult this week’s Guilt-O-Meter:

Dr. Isaiah: 2 out of 10, Quite Innocent

Sure, the dude kept a duffel of pills just chilling in his apartment and he pointed a gun in Harlee’s face, but Isaiah’s work distributing medicine is morally sound, even if technically against the law. The fact that his patients can’t afford the treatment they need is the real problem here.

Harlee: 2 out of 10: Quite Innocent:

At last, our girl is putting her full might behind uprooting Woz, the source of her department’s wrongdoing. Harlee never seemed as enamored with criminal activity as the rest of her crew. This is a much better look for her.

So that’s where she brings him, still tied and blindfolded. She searches the place to make sure they’re alone. Instead, she bumps into Stahl, who’s tracked her there. When she gets angry he won’t help the man, he grabs her hand. Chen, watching from the car, sees this all go down, and our eyes roll in sync. Chen’s complete intolerance for Stahl’s creepy BS has cemented her as my favorite character on this show. When Stahl returns to their car, she asks what he was doing by making moves on their asset. He tries to play it off as part of his strategy: Harlee forms attachments to strong men who protect her. You can see Chen screaming “Suuuuure” inside her head, but she doesn’t question her superior officer.

While Harlee is down at the marina, Woz goes to deal with Donnie. He is beyond furious that the plan changed without his consent and that he’s now got a terrified, imprisoned victim to deal with. Woz busts right into his boyfriend’s deposition, and the force of his shouts alone practically blow Donnie off his chair.

NEXT: Fancy meeting you here

Harlee has been working on their kidnapping victim, trying to earn his trust — no easy feat when she refuses to remove the ropes binding his wrists. But he finally cracks and spills that his wife, Ellen (Jennifer Mudge), works at a company called First Guardian Securities in Brooklyn. That’s all Stahl needs, and he peels out to go hunt bad guys, leaving his mole alone and out of range of his surveillance.

Woz and Harlee meet back up, and Woz finally gives her the last piece of this complex, nefarious puzzle: Donnie Pomp is his man on the inside, the guy who’s been protecting all of them. In turn, and having no idea Stahl is already tracking down this lead, she tells Woz where their unfortunate new friend’s wife works.

Stahl arrives at First Guardian and asks for Ellen. He finds out she’s a dispatcher who assigns the company’s armored cars. But before he can get any more information, Woz walks in. Stahl is in a bind, until something spooks Woz and he bolts. Harlee meets up with her handler, and Stahl reads her the riot act about sharing information with Woz that could put him in danger. But all is forgiven when Harlee catches him up on Donnie’s role in this operation. She thinks he’s the leader behind the whole thing. Meanwhile, the real hero, Chen, has had enough of this fling between her partner and Harlee. She’s sick of ignoring her conscience, so she goes to the DA and tells him she believes Zepeda was framed.

Back at the precinct, Tufo and Loman release Dr. Isaiah from his cell and return his stash of medicine, which somehow never made it into evidence. Tufo tells him, now that Sap is no longer available, he’ll be taking over as the doctor’s officer on-call.

Harlee and Stahl track down Ellen, who’s frantic about her missing husband. She says the kidnappers promised to contact her with their demands, but she’s heard nothing so far. Harlee tells her to sit tight. Then, she has to go meet with Wozniak and feign surprise when he tells her he’s uncovered who the kidnapped man’s wife is and where she works. Being a rat must be exhausting.

As they’re talking, Donnie comes in, and Woz asks her to leave. But this is a conversation Stahl needs to get on tape, so Harlee pulls a pretty ingenious stunt. She gets back in the room under the pretext of needing Woz to sign some paperwork. As she walks back out of his office, she drops her coffee cup in his trash. Inside the cup is her necklace, recording everything the two men say. Harlee rushes out to Stahl’s car to watch the live surveillance tape. She arrives just in time to hear Donnie ask for her boss’s forgiveness and to profess his feelings for Woz, all to her utterly shock.

Over at Rikers, Zepeda gets a surprise midnight visit from his lawyer. The DA called: They’ve exonerated him of all charges, and he’s getting out of prison that night. Chen, you know not what you do!

Final Guilt-O-Meter:

Tufo: 3 out of 10, Mostly Innocent

Even though he’s struggling to reconcile the Sap he knew and loved with the Sap who was a rat, Tufo did right by his friend when he took over protecting Isaiah.

Chen: 3 out of 10, Mostly Innocent

We can’t really blame Chen for setting Zepeda free on the world. She thought she was doing the right thing by freeing an innocent man. And on the surface, she was right…but that doesn’t mean Zepeda’s not going to cause some serious damage now that he’s out.

Episode Recaps

Shades of Blue
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