Despite the changed circumstances under which our Gang of Four (plus one) are operating, the fourth season is sticking to its traditional early arc: nothing to heavy, nothing too serialised, Number of the Week teritory with little nods here and there as to how things are going to shape up.
‘Wingman’ was a relaxed and funny episode which saw the team split into two to follow separate paths. It began with a superb little scene where Detectives ‘Riley’ and Fusco pursue a drugs suspect at full pelt through New York streets, only for ‘Riley’ to lose patience, climb a sightseers open top bus and down the suspect from one hundred yards: kneecap only, of course.
This gets the boys into hot water with the new Captain Moreno (Monique Gabriela Curnen) who doesn’t like ‘Riley’ kneecapping people indiscriminately, with even Fusco reading John the Riot Act over how he has to behave now he’s Police.
Enter the new Number, Andre Cooper (Ryan O’Nan, a name with a peculiarly apt relation to Andre’s job). Andre, a former longshoreman, or docker to us Brits, is a professional relationship consultant or, if we want to be crude and mocking about it, a pick-up artist. Andre prefers the professional aspect. He’s not out to show guys how to con women into one-night-stands but to educate social incompetents into men who women can genuinely be interested in.
So they feed him Fusco.
It’s a riot alright, with the two trading lines like they’re in a weekly sitcom, but there’s a serious side as Andre quit his job not long after there was a murder at the docks, following the disappearance of a container holding an arms shipment. Victim. Or Perpetrator?
Meanwhile, John’s learning how to be a good detective and turn away the wrath of Captain Moreno, who’s nicotine-patching like crazy and cranky with it. Using the info he can get via the underground set-up, he’s pinpointing perps and getting confessions like crazy. The Captain is pleased and favours him with a slightly concerned smile.
Double meanwhile, ‘Professor Whistler’ is approached by Miss Groves, who, on behalf of the Machine he no longer trusts or listens to directly, seeks his assistance on a mission. Wht mission that is, not even Root knows yet, receiving her information on a not so much Need to Know basis as a When You need to Know. Harold describes it as a Wild Goose Chase, Root as a Scavenger Hunt.
And it’s a scary one. It’s all about buying an Anti-Tank Missile, just minutes before the cops bust the dealers, and shopping it, via a series of contacts, to a Latvian Mob. Harold is supposd to be ‘Mr Egret’, a quasi-mythical figure amongst arms dealers, and it’s beautifully hilarious how, when challenged to be Mr Egret at no notice whatsoever Michael Emerson transforms Harold into a dark and intense man of few and ordinary words that are nevertheless shit scary: who would imagine the menace you can get into ‘Yes, I would mind’.
But Harold can’t maintain it. It’s like the Senator, the line he cannot cross. He cannot put this weapon into the Mob’s hands and he says so at the most inconvenient moment. Fortunately, as Root says, the Machine knows Harold well enough to have anticipated this. It’s another variation of the Frodo Principle: she just pulls out her two guns (where does she keep them, given that Amy Acker is tall and slim, wearing pretty tight clothing and doesn’t bulge except where she should?) and kneecaps all four.
Result: access to one storage unit complwete with a) all the munitions you could want and b) two very big canvas bags stuffed with a sizeable proportion of all the money you could want to spend, given that harold is cut off from his fortune. The Machine is trying to make things better for him.
Back at Fusco and his wingman, the ruth is coming out. Andre is Victim, not Perp. He knows about the ‘disappearance’ of the arms shipment (is this the same one?) and of the murder carried out to cover it up. That’s why he quit the docks, but his loyalty to his old comrades has led him to refuse to testify. Unfortunately, his old comrades don’t believe that and, just as Fusco is getting the hang of talking to women, the pair are kidnapped and tied up in a container to die of heat-stroke or drowning.
Shaw, who has been acting as Fusco’s other, and more cynical wingman, is going after him to the rescue. Reese can’t, because Detective Riley has a fiery Captain watching him. He’s got a murder to clear up though, in true PoI fashion, it turns out by be the same one, enabling ‘Riley’ to come out with the absolutely brilliant line that he’s solved three murders today and didn’t want Fusco to die before he could brag about it!
All’s well that ends well. The Captain is pleased with ‘Riley’, though she’d still like to blame him for four knee-capped Latvian mobsters. Fusco is pleased with his partner, who’s on a steep but effective learning curve, and even more pleased to have a date with an attractive woman. Finch is thinking hard, but meanwhile they’re all in funds again…
And for future reference, there’s a passing remark about a gang boss named Dominic.
All in all, not one of your heaviest episodes but a fine distraction nevertheless, and a perfect demonstration of the way the show is adapting itself, and its audience, to the new rules. It’s re-building its world exactly as it had to do three seasons ago, in order to create the platform on which a larger edifice will be constructed. We will see that soon enough.