Monday, August 19, 2013

Rookie Drug Problem



GOLDEN BOY: JUST SAY NO

Episode Six of Golden Boy marches on, despite its premature end.

Ah, the good and bad of one Detective William Clark (Theo James), destined to be the youngest New York City Police Commissioner.  Is he a good guy?  Is he a bad guy?  Well, the world may truly never know given that Golden Boy was axed after a half-season, but let us now look at what came before and gleam from Just Say No whether our hot officer would have followed in the steps of mentor, Detective Don Owen (Chi McBride) or his nemesis, Detective Christian Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro).

The possible elimination of the Safe Streets Initiative brings Commissioner Clark to remember a particular investigation.  The 39 Precinct is hit with a new case.  A wealthy philanthropist and former addict, Claudia Drexler (Rachel Barrer) has been murdered.   Due to the victim's wealth and influence Detective Owen urges his protégé to have a soft touch (the wealthy are not like the rest of us, he warns).  Clark being Clark has no patience in this, and rather than finesse them he charges straight ahead, displeasing a suspect, Nathan Drexler (Paul Fitzgerald) as well as his father, power broker Marvin (James Naughton). 

Arroyo, whom we first see in the throes of passion with his partner/mistress McKenzie (Bonnie Somerville), immediately suspects Paul as the murderer, but Clark is not convinced.  First turning to Edward Rodriguez (Joey Azuene), a client at the treatment center Claudia funded, Clark soon finds that the actual case is much muddier than he first thought.  The investigation is keenly followed by Deputy Mayor Carlton Holbrook (Eric Morris), who makes things clear to Clark that he is to tread lightly.  We also discover that Paul himself is an addict.

Arroyo is slowly coming apart due to Clark's growing influence at the precinct and McKenzie wanting to slow down their relationship.  The investigation continues until we find the killer (hint: close to home).  On the domestic front, Clark's mother needs help to deal with a loan shark and we find that Clark's juvenile criminal past is slowly coming to light.  The petty thief is told by Owen, "We all have a past".  Loan shark is taken care of, and Arroyo's wife Lorraine (Andrea Navedo) proves herself adept at firing a gun, much to McKenzie's horror and fear.

Just Say No has kept the rather odd habit of tying the past to the present, and I say odd because in the future Marvin Drexler, the man who did his best to hide the truth, is seven years from now a powerful and influential councilman.  The suggestion is that Clark himself has something over him, which keeps the Safe Street Initiative he so favors from being eliminated.

Frankly by now the flashforwards are not even all that interesting.  In Just Say No, we see Clark as a jerk: short-tempered, aggressive, even unlikeable.  Given that, one wonders how he could work within the complicated political jungle of New York if he charges at things like a bull in a china shop.  We almost expect Clark to not follow Owens' advise about dealing with the elite, and if he couldn't muster the enthusiasm to offer a soft touch when questioning them about a murder, how will he behave with them once he has power?  His interaction with Marvin indicates he went the Arroyo way of knowing the criminal's identity and working his way back.

In fact, Golden Boy still does what it shouldn't: showcases the supporting actors rather than the lead.  Kevin Alejandro's Arroyo is the more compelling, interesting, and frankly smarter of the two characters likely to be a 'golden boy'.  Arroyo was right when he zeroes in on the husband, and Clark has to stumble around a bit before getting to what Arroyo was saying all along.  Arroyo also is the one that has a lot of balls in the air: his job, his rivalry with Clark, and his complicated love life.  Clark, on the other hand, just has his mother and being a somewhat unpleasant person there really is no joy in following him around.   As for his criminal past, it is played well but in retrospect is actually a bit boring. 

Still, in terms of this episode of this workplace drama with corpses, Just Say No has an interesting subplot and ends on a genuinely funny scene as the pistol-packing Lorraine shows McKenzie a thing or two (the subtext hilarious).  Sadly, Golden Boy is shifting from the Golden Boy to his nemesis as the more interesting part. 

7/10

Next Episode: McKenzie on Fire

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