L.A.’s Finest (“Con Air”)

Season 1, Episode 3
Date of release: May 13, 2019 (Spectrum)

And with the third episode, the show has lost all sights of being a BAD BOYS off-shoot, and it became a random crime procedural with a weird ongoing storyline that has both central characters in constant danger of getting killed or getting swept up by the office of the District Attorney. At this point, if you happened to have missed the series premiere, you will never know that Mike and Marcus over at Miami were the origins of Sydney Burnett’s life story, and it ‘s not like whatever she experienced in Miami and Cuba in 2003 made an impression for the character in the show, as everything that traumatized her happened not in 2003, but in 2014. The BAD BOYS mentions were small and scarce in the premiere episode, but by now they have disappeared entirely, making me wonder why the writers even bothered making it a BAD BOYS spin-off show. As expected, the name that pulled potential viewers to the show had no use at all for the narrative of said show. Now it tries to be something THE SHIELD could have been, if it hadn’t a showrunner like Shawn Ryan behind it, who knew what he wanted to do with the FX show. L.A.’S FINEST seems to have writers who don’t know what to do with the show.

I like the premise of both central characters being in the middle of a criminal enterprise, not knowing whether to go forward with the investigation and get to Knox with everything law enforcement has to offer, or doing it on their own while also risking their own reputations, their friends’ lives, and eventually their own lives, as I can imagine that Knox’s people won’t just stop holding Syd accountable for the theft of the fentanyl, just because she managed to stab one of the goons in the face (I guess she missed the huge artery in the neck?). What I didn’t like about this episode is that it mixed both the Knox arc with the episodic crime procedural element of the week, and never felt it like both stories belonged together, let alone did Syd and Nancy even have the patience and emotional control to work on both cases. Okay, the Knox arc isn’t really a case for them, but I can’t imagine why Syd and Nancy aren’t hindered doing their jobs, considering they are being threatened from the back of the room by people who either want to see the women dead, or their past getting blown into their faces. Syd is obviously in some serious danger here, as she was almost killed in her apartment, but Nancy might pay in the long run, as she is now on the radar of her husband’s office, and he doesn’t even know it yet. The threat both women face does not pair well with the crime procedural elements of the week, and at one point the writers have to decide which route to drive on: Are they turning L.A.’S FINEST into a thriller drama about two homicide detectives trying to get out from under the black cloud they have created for themselves, or is it going to be a crime procedural action flick in 13 hours that sometimes goes the way of an ongoing storyline, just to have a thread connecting all episodes?

Time to be a real person and change the look for shock value!

At this point I do believe that the change in network was damaging to what the show would have been. I can’t believe it would look like this on NBC, and I can’t believe that Charter Communications and Spectrum wanted just a crime procedural in the vein of FOX’s LETHAL WEAPON, which did successfully prove that a TV adaptation of an action movie franchise can look good without having to sacrifice the parts that made the movie franchise so good in the first place (Chase Crawford was great in the role of Martin Riggs, making it even more shocking that he behaved like an abusive dick on set). Now L.A.’S FINEST is stuck in-between two worlds, unable to choose which world to belong to, and unfortunately the way it got stuck between worlds doesn’t really help anyone involved here. The dynamic between Syd and Nancy from the pilot was deleted for the following episodes, and all I wanted from this BAD BOYS off-shoot was the two partners bickering at each other over the most random bullshit they can think of. Because this is a BAD BOYS spin-off after all, right? What I also wanted from this show was the two partners investigating a major drug-related crime that might have given them trouble here and there, that might have forced them to do it on their own, because for some reason they wouldn’t get the support from law enforcement or the district attorney’s office. L.A.’S FINEST did some of those things, and the show is only three episodes in, which means the other things might still come, but after three hours there is no sense of it ever becoming something resembling the movie franchise it was born out of. After three episodes, is it even proper to say that this is a spin-off, and not just an original crime thriller show trying to merge two narratives set in the same genre, but told like they were written by two different writers rooms?

Balloons for the detectives who can’t solve the case.

What was positive about this episode was the way the crime story of the week happened to be separated into two crimes at first, only to surprisingly merge for the action-packed climax (for a TV show at least), in which only eight people were involved, and only three of them died. I wouldn’t mind seeing more stories that have Syd & Nancy and the two Bens in some sort of a competition, just to come to a realization that they work best when they solve the cases together, and it never hurts when there is a little bit of comedy in the homicide investigations as well, because it would lighten up the show in general, especially now that the writers were seriously interested in the brutal business of having Syd hunt down Knox.

By the way, does Syd have a fetish for asphyxiation now, or was the ending just part of her trying to remember what happened during her torture? It kind of looked like both, and I am already angry that the episode didn’t make it clear which was more important here. Either the writers wanted to turn Syd into a screwed-up character who likes getting in some serious and suicidal danger (which would turn her from a BAD BOYS character into Martin Riggs of LETHAL WEAPON, making things even weirder than they already are), or she is really just trying to get to Knox, and trying to remember events from five years ago are a good first step. This uncertainty might be the end of L.A.’S FINEST – not only does the show not know which world to belong to, but it can’t even tell you why Syd is doing what she is doing. At least Izzy knows what she is doing, although you kind of have to get that from in-between her lines. It has to be said though that she looked far better and ore interesting with the buzzcut. It also made her a more intriguing character who doesn’t have to be defined by her relationship with her step-mother.

And sometimes, the cops team up to shoot the hell out of the perps together.

Best part of the episode: Izzy introducing her buzzcut to Nancy first, and then her father. It doesn’t bode well for the show that the most intriguing aspect of the episode was a personal family moment that was only the C plot.
Worst part of the episode: Here is another one for the “convenient storytelling is convenient” collection. Apparently Syd and Nancy aren’t allowed to arrest someone for lying to police detectives, and apparently they weren’t interested in keeping tabs on Kendrick, since they knew he was lying, and he was in on the murder.
Weirdest part of the episode: The talk about the “asshole’s face” between Syd and Nancy at the homicide scene looked like it was added after the episode was already shot, because the producers realized the show needed some added comedy. It was also a weird comedy moment, and I was more rolling with my eyes than being amused by Syd and Nancy doing asshole faces with their lips. The show definitely needs to work on the partnership between the two women.
Player of the episode: The mystery woman introducing herself to Syd and then later putting a bullet in one of the goons made her point very clear, and suddenly I am interested in how L.A.’S FINEST is going to work with a woman as the front antagonist. It will most likely take a while until Knox is shown (might he even be a character we have already been introduced to?), so there is a lot of time to have Syd (and maybe Nancy) go against a woman. Crime shows never seem to have a woman antagonist in an ongoing storyline.

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