We continue on this carousel of mediocrity, still searching for the answer of what makes Shades of Blue police procedural different from any other one we’ve seen. The only answer I’m still coming up with is Jennifer Lopez, but even that’s proving not to be enough in this episode of Shades of Blue.
We start off right after the HUGE cliffhanger from the last episode, where Harlee (Jennifer Lopez) is getting ready to defend herself from Matt (Ray Liotta) because she thinks he knows she is the mole. Most of us were unfooled, since 1) We’ve seen this cheap form of misdirection hundreds of times before, and 2) Either one of their deaths would result in a much worse show, and I think the network knows that. After Matt confides that she is the only person he trusts, he spends the rest of the episode flip-flopping back and forth on that subject.
In this episode, the title “Original Sin” has a double meaning. My distaste for how Shades of Blue is handling the treatment and development of their female characters should be apparent by now. This show takes it one step further and offers further proof on how skewed the point of view is against the females. The orgin of original sin is based on the religious belief that the reason man was kicked out of paradise was because of the weakness of the woman. The woman fell into temptation, then corrupted the man and then were both forced to leave utopia and brave it out in the real world. So everything bad that is happening to everyone is because of the women, the show wants you to believe. This viewpoint is exaggerated, especially when we are shown Tess’ side story, which doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose than to paint women as being untrustworthy and easily prone to hysterics. Did I also mention corrupt? That’s an important one.
The other meaning of the title would be as we take a trip down memory lane through a video confession that reveals Harlee’s dark, secret past and reinforces that, like Tess, she is responsible for everything bad that is happening to her and everybody else. Harlee’s past shows her to be a corrupting force well before Matt has her join his exclusive team. As the story progresses, you start to view her as less of the tragic hero, and more like the manipulative villain. Even when the show tries incredibly hard to remind you that she is a mother and paint her in a good light, the shadow cast by every one of her actions shows how far she will go to save herself and screw the people who consider her family. There are maybe two people you feel bad for in the entire show. The first would be Matt, who considers his team a family, even though they come off as mob gangsters with Robin Hoodian delusions. The second would be the daughter Cristina (Sarah Jeffrey), who only really gets forced into the story when we need to be reminded that Harlee is kind of, sort of, sometimes a good person. A possible third would be us as the viewer, but the season isn’t over yet, so that remains to be seen.
If you take a second to break down the episode, there are several storylines going on, each as seemingly unimportant as the next. There’s the storyline involving whatever case or murder the detectives are meant to be solving, which basically turns into background noise for all of their personal problems. Then there’s Tess’ storyline, which at this point can safely be considered their version of offensive comic relief. Then there is what ever contrived way they try to introduce a sexually charged aspect into this already jumbled mess of incoherent story developments. The only story that seems to matter or even show the faintest hint of development is Harlee’s struggle between two men, Matt and Robert. Very little about any of the other characters’ stories is revealed, which is innocuous in itself. That is, until they try to get political with them.
There is a terribly staged and built-up scene between Marcus, who is a veteran to the detective’s bling ring, and Michael, who is the new guy with a murder already under his belt. As you can tell, they are both black men, but what writer Adi Hasak really wants you to notice beyond their race is their stance on police brutality. Marcus, the clearly corrupt detective tries to console Michael by saying that what he did was just. In case you have a hard time remembering, that means he’s condoning killing an unarmed black man and covering it up. Michael, who is racked with guilt and still wanting to turn himself in and do the right thing, feels that the police should be held to a higher standard of accountability. This little exchange, that feels so forced and uncomfortable, is meant to start a discourse that wants to get you to see the opposition of the Black Lives Matter movement. Instead, it just comes off as a sad attempt at pro-All Lives Matter/Cop Lives Matter propaganda essentially trying to justify the murder of innocent black men through a poorly constructed comparison that still makes the (corrupt) cops look like despicable bastards.
If you think that things couldn’t get any worse, or that this show has plunged as far into the loathsome depths of depravity as it could, you won’t believe what happens next episode. You’ll definitely regret watching it, but can’t miss if you want to join me in my moral outrage. Shades of Blue has now elevated from Shades of Bland, to Shades of Bile.
Rating: ★★ (2/10 stars)