Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rookie Finds Model Behavior


GOLDEN BOY: SACRIFICE

We've reached our tenth Golden Boy episode, and this one may be the worst one yet.  The show, which due to low ratings was cancelled before Sacrifice aired, could hardly afford to make episodes this weak and even nonsensical.  Golden Boy was sold as the backstory of how titular (and gorgeous) character William Clark (Theo James) became in seven years the youngest Police Commissioner in New York City's history.  Sacrifice now signals that Golden Boy will be about his love life, one that has nothing to do with the latest crime, a crime that leads us down so many roads that ultimately take us nowhere.

We start seven years in the future, where Commissioner Clark is at a parole hearing, speaking about how the parole candidate did not do what good parents do: make sacrifices for their children.  Instead, the parole candidate made his children sacrifice for him, and that leads us to the case in hand.

There is a missing girl who has sadly been found washed up from the river.  She is Shana Taylor (Harper Carroll), teen girl and aspiring model.  At the crime scene is none other than Margot Dixon (Trieste Kelly Dunn), Clark's unofficial girlfriend.  Oddly, this reporter thinks Clark will give her some information.  Can't imagine why.  It also strikes Clark as odd that her estranged husband, Deputy Mayor Carlton Holbrook (Eric Morris) has tapped him to be a liaison for the Safe City Initiative (whether this is related to the Safe Streets Initiative mentioned in Just Say No is left unanswered). 

As the investigation continues, we find that Shana might not have been an aspiring model, or rather that she herself did not actually aspire to be one.  These dreams of fame and fortune came about from her mother, Linda (Anastasia Barzee), who moved her daughter from the Midwest to New York to enter Shana in the world of high fashion (already we think shades of an older JonBenet Ramsey).  Shana's father Hank (Jeb Brown) had opposed her move, but he wasn't the one who had custody after the divorce, did he? 

While Detectives McKenzie (Bonnie Somerville) and Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro) investigate the contemptible modeling agent Spenser Amano (Carman Lacivita), who had curiously taken out a life insurance policy on Shana, we get a clue from Shana herself.  She had been caught shoplifting, but her 'father' had come to the store and gotten her out without an actual arrest.  Yet how could this be if Hank was half a country away? 

Well, that answer comes easily.  Neil Jacobs (Christopher Evan Welch), a neighbor who sells antiques from his home, is the 'father' from the video.  However, when Owen, Clark, and Joe Diaco (Holt McCallany) come to ask questions, he has up and left.  It seems that The City Light, the newspaper Margot writes for, has received a mysterious scoop that allowed Jacobs to flee.

More incompetence from the future Commissioner, a little inappropriate pillow talk, perhaps?

Well, now the 39th Precinct has to find Jacobs, which they do.  At first he appears to be a potential but not serious suspect, but things get pushed to a whole new level when Hank decides to be an avenging angel and gun down Jacobs.  Clark instinctively tackles Hank, saving Arroyo in the process.

The shooting leaves Arroyo rattled in more ways than one.  It's bad enough that he nearly got shot, but that the Boy Wonder saved his life is almost unbearable.  Still, this changes Arroyo tremendously: he now seriously comes close to leaving Lorraine for Deb, and also pushes him to investigate the source.

Sadly, that source is not Margot...it's none other than Holbrook!  The fact that his ally in bringing Clark down nearly got him killed infuriates Arroyo, so much so that he actually starts helping Clark, shocking everyone around him.  More devastating is that McKenzie has clearly moved on and is starting to see someone else. 

As for the investigation, well attention turns from Jacobs to Linda, whom they suspect of being a stage mother.  However, as it turns out Linda, while pushy, was also unaware of Shana's friendship with Jacobs.  A wristband both Shana and Jacobs wore proves the missing clue.

As for the future, we find that Commissioner Clark was at the parole hearing...of his father, and as he storms out angrily we find that Sacrifice would probably have caused Golden Boy to not be renewed if the decision hadn't already been made.

Frankly, this last twist not only was not a surprise but one I figured almost from the beginning.  It also is a flaw in Andi Bushell and Brett Mahoney's script (one of many) in that the theme of Sacrifice, that of the parent who sacrifices their child for their own interests, is not followed through. 

The end result is that Linda may have been a poor mother, but it never decided whether she was reprehensible or just clueless.  Barzee's performance as the constantly whimpering mother did not help.  Linda was softened in the screenplay to make it look like she might have been merely clueless rather than vicious.  Brown's distraught father was similarly overplayed, so much so that the phrase, "He doth protest too much" came to mind; I even wondered whether HE killed his own daughter given how exaggerated he was.  It certainly would not only have been a better twist but it actually would have tied into the theme of Sacrifice, whose ending was nowhere related to the crime of the weak...I mean, week.

That is just one of the myriad of difficulties Sacrifice has.  We have so many clichés of what we've seen before it really doesn't elevate the episode to anything particularly good.  You could even make an argument that even the title is unoriginal.  You have the stage mother, the father about to kill the suspect, the office shooting...what is special about situations that appear to be going through the motions than telling us something unique.

Further, one wonders HOW, given they no longer live together, Deputy Mayor Holbrook could be the inside source.  That question is never answered, as well as why Amano would take a life insurance policy on a teenager he is suppose to promote.  The shady world of teen/tween models is touched on, but not explored.  Instead, we get another cliché: the creepy neighbor who at first is innocent then via a convenient wristband is guilty. 

About the only good thing in Sacrifice was Alejandro's Arroyo, a man who, having faced death head on, might actually be turning a new leaf.  His story would be fascinating to watch, but given it's CLARK we're suppose to care about... 

Sacrifice signals that the Dixon/Clark/Holbrook triangle will become the central storyline of Golden Boy, which I think is a poor decision.  Less now about how William Clark found his destiny, Sacrifice shows it is slipping into soap opera. 

5/10

Next Episode: Longshot

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