L.A.’s Finest (“Book of Secrets”)

Season 1, Episode 7
Date of release: May 27, 2019 (Spectrum)

And this show continues to fluctuate between emotionally interesting and dramatical bullshit. The Knox case has been a mess so far, and all I want for this show is to fix it and then end it like nothing ever happened, but television is known with examples of how writers carried certain stories or characters too far, which then destroyed the show. I can only hope that the Knox story is concluded by the end of the season, because at this point seeing him (or her?) carried to the next season, is there will be one, is going to be the death sentence of the show, if it hasn’t been already. This episode handled the Knox story a lot better, thanks to the fact that Arlo was in the center of it, and while I didn’t like Arlo at all, being the shitty and untalented criminal he is, at least the writers didn’t put Knox in the center of the story and made it all about Syd again. Focusing on Arlo’s stupidity as a Knox henchman was a good idea, and finishing him off by the end of the episode was an even better one. How many eyes have been rolled to the back of people’s skulls when Arlo decided to play games with Syd? How many facepalms have been executed by the viewers, when Arlo had to play games with the lifeguard and her boytoy for the night? If you want to be a crazy serial killer, be a crazy serial killer, but maybe you should have thought about your actions when getting involved with a drug kingpin. And because Arlo did not think his actions through, he became an annoying villain, a laughable villain, a ridiculous villain, and I was celebrating when Dante was doing to Arlo what Jack Bauer once did to Nina Myers. Now the only thing I hope that comes out of this story is how Nancy is going to be in trouble, now that Dante is in police custody and most likely singing like a Broadway musical star about his past with Nancy, and how it connects to the Knox empire now.

Syd sheds a tear for her betraying father.

The episode was focused with its narrative, making it better than the previous few. It had a worthy emotional arc in Syd’s story, even if it meant that she had to be cut out of the Knox story for this episode, and it had a worthy cop drama arc with Nancy, who was still in the middle of wanting to fix her screwed-up life, which might turn out to be a difficult thing to do, now that Dante is in custody and her husband is about to start asking some hard-hitting questions. Previous episodes of L.A.’S FINEST haven’t been this focused, making me wonder what made the show so mediocre before, until I saw the credits at the end — this episode was written by its creators, and suddenly I ask myself questions if the executive producers didn’t have a good handle on the writers room, or if there wasn’t a more extensive back and forth between the writers room, the showrunner and the other producers. Because only that could explain why the previous episodes were so uneven.

Syd’s story was good enough to make me wish that it would have been an arc on a family drama. Granted, I haven’t seen a lot, nor can I remember all of them, but a child’s reaction that their father has lived another life with another family on the other side of the country is always a great premise for any television show — especially for L.A.’S FINEST, which decided to include Marcus Burnett for once, even if only for one flashback scene, and make the viewers remember that the show is a BAD BOYS spin-off. For the first time since the pilot, an element from the Michael bay films has been included, and while it didn’t make me happy or giggly, it was also proof that the writers at least tried. Syd not only gets a story with her cheating father, but Marcus is being dropped in that back story as well, finally making use of the movies. Besides that, there is hope that Syd won’t have to be defined by her arc with Knox any longer, now that she has daddy issues to deal with and a half sister to meet. If this were a daily soap opera, let it be guaranteed that the writers would find a way to have Katherine be Knox.

Arlo was told not to kill anyone, but alas…

By the way, Syd’s ex-boyfriend and current love interest, whose name I forgot already, doesn’t necessarily have to be Knox any longer, now that Ms. Hart has been given some notable screentime this episode, having to deal with a kingpin and then going home to play with her daughter. It made me wonder whether she could be Knox – women kingpins haven’t been depicted at all, and since this show has two female leads, it wouldn’t hurt that the main antagonist was a woman as well. That would also help to get rid of the future eyerolls when Syd’s ex-boyfriend and current love interest turns out to be Gabriel Knox – a twist so evil and generic and like a soap opera that it would hurt.

The ending of the episode was kind of confusing for me though. I have no idea why Nancy would want the Bens to stall Dante’s processing, and I was angry as hell that she wouldn’t come with some answers to the questions of the Bens, let alone their decision to go along with Nancy’s request to stall and interfere with Dante’s booking. At this point I am just disappointed that Nancy still thinks she can fix Dante, or that he is still this big a part of her life, even though she should have written him off already. I can understand that a complex and rich past with the two makes it difficult to forget him and write him off, but Nancy has a life now, and seeing her about to throw it away for a guy who can’t be saved any longer is anger-inducing. Of course it’s what the writers were working towards, now that Nancy and her husband have a bit of a problem with each other, but damn, it does not make any sense.

Boyfriend arrested.

Best part of the episode: Thankfully Arlo was so stupid throughout this episode that he invited Death to his doorstep all by himself. Thank you for being so bravely stupid, Arlo. I couldn’t have killed myself ay better than that.
Worst part of the episode: Dante just learned that his son was being threatened with a gun. He comes home to see his wife packing up and leaving, and he is angry that his son is being taken away from him. Uhm, sorry to tell you Dante, but that situation is all on you, and you not realizing that your son would be better off far away from you while you’re dealing with the Knox disaster makes you a dumb man. Besides that, it was a story dropped right after the scene, since Dante never even mentioned any of it. All he wanted was to get Arlo. Dante’s story would not have been any more different without the inclusion of his wife leaving him.
Weirdest part of the episode: Why would Arlo even let Rebecca’s date of the night live? He is a freaking witness, and you kill witnesses, especially in the field you’re working in. Arlo… the curious case of a stupid villain.
Player of the episode: Dante wins the award for Veronica Mars-ing his way to Arlo. He was a better detective than Nancy and the Bens were in this episode.

L.A.’s Finest (“… My Lovely”)

Season 1, Episode 6
Date of release: May 27, 2019 (Spectrum)

I was hoping that the show might have turned a corner with the previous two episodes, because a show that knows what kind of story it wants to tell while also knowing its characters is a good show. L.A.’S FINEST has turned into a weird show in this episode, and I am starting to get the feeling the writers never really knew what to make of the premise they were hired to write about, let alone what to make of the show being a spin-off of a movie franchise, which by now has been dropped entirely. It makes me wonder if Charter Communications just wanted a television drama another network got rid of and didn’t care about the BAD BOYS connection to it. It makes me think that Charter Communications decided to buy the show from the studio, but also told the writers to get rid of the connection to Michael Bay’s films, and I really don’t know the reasoning behind this. Besides that, the show is very much schizophrenic at this point, with half of the titular L.A.’s finest being busy playing a part in a villain’s game, almost having no time investigating actual homicides. At one point, Syd and Nancy aren’t even detectives any longer, and in addition to the BAD BOYS connection having been lost, the show is also losing the general premise of its show: being a cop drama.

Even super villains go shopping for jewelry sometimes.

Those recent two episodes showed that L.A.’S FINEST doesn’t know what it wanted to be: The two Bens were investigating the murder of a transgender, in which Syd and Nancy were involved in the previous episode. But for the sake overcomplicating Syd’s life and bringing more flashbacks into Nancy’s back story, the two detectives have been removed from the LAPD’s story in this episode and they are now starring in their very own drama show, and it’s one I am less and less interested in, especially now that the writers have uncovered the most soap opera of all twists for one of the characters: Hello half-sister, and hello Joseph Burnett, who has lied to his children all this time by hiding the fact that he had another kid. Even worse was the way the twist was thrown into the finale of the episode. Joseph comes in, scream “Somebody called me, my daughter has been shot.” Syd comes around, calms down her father. And he can only say “No, not you, Syd.” How weird a moment is that to find out that you have a half-sister, and how weird is it to tell your daughter that you have another daughter you never told your one daughter about? And it gets even weirder. Katherine obviously knew all about Syd, hence her recognizing her sister on the street, but for some reason Joseph never decided to tell Syd about Katherine. At this point the story, which has just been introduced seconds ago, has turned into an awkward family drama that I would expect to find on a soap instead of a crime procedural.

The Ukrainians won’t care that American cops have invaded their business.

The biggest problem I’ve had with this episode though was how two-faced it was. The Bens’ investigation into Eve’s murder might have been a simple crime procedural meal, but because of the constant cuts to Syd and Nancy’s story, there was barely anything useful in that homicide investigation, let alone making me care about who the killer is. Not only did the story barely have time to develop organically, but the case was thrown from one suspect (Sam) to the next (Eve’s ex-girlfriend from before she changed her gender), and the case didn’t even get the emotional back story it needed to deliver the punch of the story when Eve’s ex-girlfriend jumped to her death in a wedding dress. There is an entire story behind that, but the writers decided to give all the attention to the women and their messed-up situation while surfing the disaster directed by Gabriel Knox.

And that story wasn’t really interesting to me either. The episode could have had a great thriller plot after Arlo’s threat from the previous episode, but the fear of losing someone in her life didn’t phase Syd much. In fact, she was so unphased that she figured she could get the drop on Arlo by figuring out who the guy is. And because Syd and Nancy don’t play by the rules, they decided to play rough with the Armenians, which might mean the writers just dropped another hot iron into the soup, and Syd and Nancy aren’t just dealing with Knox’s drug buddies any longer, but also the Armenians. I don’t mind the characters getting into some seriously heated waters, but if the Armenians were introduced to stay, then I can continue saying that the writers did not know how to keep track of the stories they have established. And here comes Charter Communications and Spectrum back into the fold: Did they not follow the progress of the writing and producing of the show? Did they give any notes as to what they wanted from L.A.’S FINEST? Or did the writers room have carte blanche, which essentially means they went with whatever story they came up first?

Giving up on taking out the sniper.

Best part of the episode: White Ben was given some character development over the course of this episode, getting all panicky while asking Sam a few questions in the hospital, and talking about his wife to Eve’s ex-girlfriend. It’s almost like he is ready to let other people in his life, which makes for a great character.
Worst part of the episode: Arlo came over like a genius mastermind during the confrontation between him and Syd, with Katherine being involved as well. Only have I never thought of Arlo being a genius. In fact, he was kind of a terrible weirdo who needed a dropkick, after he pretty much celebrated the fact that Kat and Syd didn’t know each other — why would that be “better” than he thought? I thought Arlo would kill someone Syd cares about, but she won’t care about someone she doesn’t know. Except of course all Arlo wanted was to put a rift between Syd and Joseph. But there already was a rift between them, which was retconned by the writers a few episodes into the show, when Joseph suddenly turned into an ally for Syd’s Knox troubles.
Weirdest part of the episode: I thought we already went through Nancy’s back story, but apparently we didn’t, because this episode delivered a whole ‘nother round of flashbacks for her. And because those flashbacks ended with the murder of her mother, it means those will continue to be important, and who knows, maybe the writers were just waiting to connect Nancy’s past with the current Knox story. This did not leave a tingling in me, and now I’m asking why I still need to see more of Nancy and Dante when they were still young.
Player of the episode: Katherine looked like a younger Octavia Spencer, and now I would love to know what Octavia Spencer would have brought to the role. Let’s give this award to the casting director who decided not to ask Octavia Spencer is she wanted to cameo for an episode.

L.A.’s Finest (“Farewell…”)

Season 1, Episode 5
Date of release: May 20, 2019 (Spectrum)

This episode had signs of the writers not wanting to tell a generic crime procedural. After the previous episode did not have a homicide investigation of the week, this episode had one, and the writers decided to end it in an open fashion, potentially pushing it into the next season, because maybe in the world of hardcore narcotics agents and homicide investigators on both coasts of the United States mainland, murder cases don’t just get concluded after 40 minutes of television. I would certainly hope that the murder of Eve, and now Karim, is part of the narrative now, and while I’m not expecting for those murders to somehow tie into the Gabriel Knox DEA/LAPD investigation (it would be kind of stupid if it were to connect in a future episode), it better be a meaningful murder investigation nonetheless, now that the writers have added an extra episode (at least) to it. Note that L.A.’S FINEST is yet another crime procedural that took a transgender character and had him or her be the victim of a murder, because apparently that’s what transgender people are all about in crime shows on television. They can never be the heroes of their own story, they always have to be the victims.

The only lead to Syd’s dope torturer is dead now.

The episode was good enough, although it didn’t come close to the potential turnaround that was the previous episode. The writers did fix the problems with the Knox story though, so that’s a positive thing about the show at this moment. Knox becomes a more ruthless villain in Syd’s life, and some of Knox’s henchmen and women decide to go directly to Syd and threaten her, instead of, I don’t know, maybe killing her just out of spite and revenge. The fact that they haven’t killed Syd yet and are only threatening her proves two things: One, this is an ongoing story in a crime drama, and the story can’t just end after five episodes. The writers need to drag it out, make it a continuous issue for the characters, turn it into a more threatening and dangerous story after each episode. And two, it could establish that Knox is actually a character we have come to meet already, and whoever Knox is (most likely someone in Syd’s life) does not want to see her dead, but does like to play with her fear. Such tasty, tasty fear. Are we sure that Knox isn’t a red balloon that has a murderous clown attached to the other end of it?

By the way, here is my number one suspect for who Gabriel Knox really is: Syd’s former lover and baby daddy Warren Hendrix, who happened to lead the investigation into Knox. When the DEA and LAPD were raiding Kobi’s store and Warren was killing him, there was a moment of silence between Warren’s “I said drop the weapon” and Syd finding her former lover hovering over the dead body, as if Warren’s police procedural work was only a cover to make sure that people close by can witness that Warren was just doing his job, even though we didn’t get to see any of what he was actually doing. We didn’t get to see how Kobi was murdered (we just heard the shot), and Kobi wasn’t saying anything, when Syd joined the crime scene in the back alley. By the definition of a television police drama, that usually means something fishy has happened, and that makes Warren my number one suspect.

Teenagers have fun looking at dead boners.

In the meantime, consider me disappointed that Syd was dragged back into the case, even though she wanted to stay far away from it. Consider me weirded out that Warren was trying his best to force Syd into the case, to show off in front of her, to make sure that she will always be part of Knox’s life. Dude, the woman said ”No,” but apparently he wasn’t listening to her like he was apparently never listening to her. Of course, if Warren happens to be Knox, it’s what you do to keep Syd close all the time.

The private moments of the characters were solid. I’m liking Izzy as a character more and more, as she gets more depth with each episode, and the death of her mother turns out to have created a bit of PTSD for Izzy. Her no-care attitude at the LAPD barbecue was nice to look at, and for once there was this sense of Izzy still being a teenager, so of course she finds a liking of macabre crime scene pictures, drinking beer, and probably doing some drugs every once in a while — no hard and dangerous shit that can kill you, but weed and maybe a few pills. Still, her trauma of losing her mother connects her well to Nancy, and I would love it if that special friendship between the two can continue and build over time. Nancy and Izzy have something in common when it comes to losing family members, so they should be understanding to each other more than Nancy is understanding when it comes to her husband’s stuff. In hindsight though, it’s a bit of a shame that a character like Izzy is being wasted for this crime drama, although it is Izzy who levels up the show drastically and makes things a little more interesting. Especially now that Izzy has been turned into a target for Knox to attack, just to get Syd to comply.

Picture show in Los Angeles.

Best part of the episode: Knox extends his feelers, and Carlene is now officially connected to the District Attorney, making the case a little more interesting now. Besides that, Carlene is an interesting villain, whom I could imagine is Knox herself (that would make her my number two suspect). Television needs more women villains, and less women victims.
Worst part of the episode: Warren Hendrix should be more than just Syd’s former love interest, who is now her current love interest coincidentally spearheading the Knox investigation. He better be Knox, or his character is going to waste immediately. I hate it when characters are introduced, just so they can only be a love interest to one of the main characters.
Weirdest part of the episode: Post-mortal erection? Does that even exist? An erection happens because of strong blood flow, and there usually isn’t a blood flow when you’re dead, right?
Player of the episode: Izzy wins the award for being the most realest character of the show at this very moment. White Ben could be second, but I barely know anything about him, so for now he is still Matt Saracen to me.

L.A.’s Finest (“Déjà Vu”)

Season 1, Episode 4
Date of release: May 20, 2019 (Spectrum)

Could this episode be the turnaround of the show? While it continued not to deliver any connections to the movie franchise it was born out of during the pilot episode, it was a much better hour than the previous two, making me hope for the best with L.A.’S FINEST, and letting me think that the writers were about to have the Knox story under control, after it was created in a somewhat hurried emergency fashion. In the meantime, the show is slowly removing itself from ever being a crime procedural, as this episode didn’t even have the homicide investigation of the week, and instead focused sorely on the auto shop bust, as well as Syd & Nancy planning to get the case of Fentanyl worth $20 million into the chop shop before the LAPD and DEA bust. So, besides this episode potentially being the turnaround for the show to become better, is it also the beginning of a highly serialized crime story that won’t include random homicide investigation and instead has Syd & Nancy come closer and closer to the ever-present villain in the background named Knox?

And I wouldn’t even mind if L.A.’S FINEST turns into that kind of show, although it will become evident that it wasn’t created as such. Between the order for the pilot episode and the rest of the season, a lot has happened and you might have noticed all of it during the previous two episodes, which is probably why they were so uneven and unnervingly disturbing for a crime procedural created for a broadcast network and now produced for a pay-per-view media company. The good thing that came out of the change in broadcaster is the potential of dark character drama, as evident in Izzy’s arc. Yes, it was disappointing that the episode didn’t make clear who Alice is and why Izzy decided to become this emotionally rich character, but the fact that she became this character after four episodes shows that the writers were interested in something else than just a simple crime procedural — something NBC might never have approved, which means Izzy only gets to exist the way she does, because the show changed broadcasting hands.

The identity and age are unclear with this person.

Now that Nancy knows all about Syd’s nightly hobby of burning down drug clubs and angering high-profile drug dealers, the story of the two central detectives of the show trying to smuggle the Fentanyl to another group of drug dealers was kind of nice. Their initial conflict filled with secrets about their past was resolved, and the two started working together to solve the problem they were thrown into, becoming partners again in the process. Of course, stashing the Fentanyl with a bunch of random amateur drug dealers seems sort of convenient in hindsight, but I did appreciate that the problem didn’t just disappear for Syd after this episode. Instead of staying far away from Knox and all the trouble that come with the anonymous drug kingpin, Syd gets pulled back in, and judging by the way she removed herself from the chop shop, there might even be a way to pin some of the drugs in the chop shop on her. Remember the bluetooth speaker she used to distract the fireman and get out of the garage? Well, that bluetooth speaker will remember Syd’s phone, and all a DEA agent needs to do now is figure out which devices have been connected to the bluetooth speaker, and voila, you might realize that one of the devices is Syd’s iPhone. That is in fact what I was thinking about when Calloway called Syd back into the office by the end of the episode. But instead of pushing Syd into legal trouble, she was pushed into potentially emotional trouble, by having to deal with Knox again.

Izzy’s story could have deserved some explanation though, but with the show’s change from an NBC police procedural to a pay-per-view crime thriller in 13 acts, there is a chance that even Izzy’s story turned into a serialized character arc, and that each episode will explain her growing into a mature character, defining her emotional trouble, with this episode serving as the first act of her great arc. And honestly, I was super happy that she wasn’t out and about doing some weird teenage bullshit. Her trip had a purpose, her effort to get a fake ID in the previous episode had a purpose, and her failed meeting with Alice in a federal prison in this episode had the purpose of giving her a character arc and maybe a more deeper connection with her step-mother, which could also be helpful in the progress. Of course, the writers messed it all up by not immediately going into who Alice is and what the whole trip to a federal prison was about.

Syd woke up into a new life, mourning her previous one.

White Ben’s story was solid as well. The revelation that his wife is currently working on their first baby for the third time gave the man some character depth, and I adored his moment with Syd later, as they turned into baby buddies together and giving the two detectives something to connect over, something they have in common and only the two can talk about with each other. Losing a baby (or in Ben’s case, two) is traumatic enough to build an emotional connection with a friend who has a similar experience in their past, and it does look good for one of the guys behind the two central characters — in a broadcast network crime procedural, they would have just been supporting characters, solving the cases with the lead detective(s) together, barely getting any other kind of screentime. But because L.A.’S FINEST is not an NBC show any longer, the writers were allowed to give one of the Bens this dramatic storyline. I hesitate to even say it, but could L.A.’S FINEST be a wonderful example of how broadcast network crime procedurals should handle some of their regular cast members and the characters they portray?

Flashbacks into how Syd became the woman she is now were inevitable, and I was happy to see that those were delivered after four episodes. And this time around, the flashbacks were distinguishable from the present-time narrative, which is also a good thing. If we got anything useful out of those flashbacks, with the exception of Syd’s former lover, who has now returned to her life again, will have to be seen, but what those flashbacks did at the end was interesting for Syd as a character: Seen as a rock star in Miami, but pulling amateur moves five years ago by getting into a car to see Knox, who probably knew already that Syd was a cop by then, which is why she was tortured and left for dead. Of course, since Knox has never been seen on screen so far, and not even Syd knows what he looks like, all of this can mean that the villain is someone we have already seen. Maybe it’s Syd’s former lover?

Those are baby buddies. They really exist.

Best part of the episode: No fighting, no anger, no disappointment between Nancy and Izzy. No, Nancy was understanding where Izzy came from and what she wanted to do by skipping school and sneaking into a federal prison. That was a nice surprise, and hopefully that will define their relationship for the better.
Worst part of the episode: This is 2019, and men still have to tell women what to do. Syd’s lover five years ago tried to direct her undercover operation, and Calloway in the present tried to take the raid for himself, because he believed he was manly enough to take the lead. And the worst thing is, Syd didn’t even have anything to say about either of those instances, although in Calloway’s case, it was helpful, since she got the time and cover she needed to plant the Fentanyl.
Weirdest part of the episode: I thought Syd hated her father. But three episodes later she asks him to do a favor, to break the law with her, and daddy sees it as an opportunity to rekindle that father/daughter relationship. Convenient storytelling is convenient.
Player of the episode: Joseph Burnett did a good job in being Syd’s go-to guy for doing something illegal, when she needed it done. He didn’t even ask questions, although he was probably happy that he was being asked in the first place.

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.

L.A.’s Finest (“Defiance”)

Season 1, Episode 2
Date of release: May 13, 2019 (Spectrum)

And between the pilot and this episode, the writers forgot that the show was an off-shoot of a movie franchise. Between the time it took for NBC to get rid of the show after production of the pilot, and Charter Communications to acquire it and get into the scripted TV business with a series order, the writers got rid of the connection to BAD BOYS, and suddenly L.A.’S FINEST was just another crime show. This episode was even more surreal, because it managed to begin its episodic homicide case 12 minutes into the episode, and barely had more than five scenes to develop over the course of the episode, while the remainder of this hour focused on the lives of its two central characters and their very complex past lives as troubled characters, and both having to deal with those demons from the past now. It seemed like the writers realized, now that L.A.’S FINEST was ordered on a pay-per-view network, they don’t have to make it a crime procedural any longer. No homicide investigations in each episode are necessary to develop the characters or the back story, because now the characters can do whatever the hell they want, without having to be directed by the network executives to investigate random murders. It’s pretty evident how the pilot had a pretty big homicide investigation, because it was a pilot produced for NBC, but the second episode decided not to give a damn about the homicide investigation and instead go straight into character arcs.

Fletcher likes to have some naughty fun during his off time.

And I really have no idea if it was such a good idea to reboot the show this way right after the pilot episode. Not that I mind seeing Syd and Nancy battling their demons, now that they come home to roost trouble, but there is a difference between the first episode not at all going into the back stories of the characters and just tease us with things that happened (Syd’s trauma from five years ago, Nancy’s contact with one of the bad dudes Syd was after), while the second episode goes straight into giving some answers, while also deepening the trouble the two women might be in pretty soon. All of a sudden Nancy has a criminal background, and Syd decided to blow up some drug dealers by torching their club and stealing their drugs, and both women will now have to deal with the wrath of the men they screwed over with their recent deeds. And of course, both Syd and Nancy’s back stories happened to line up quite neatly — the drugs Syd stole happened to be Dante’s, who was Nancy’s boyfriend and criminal partner in her teenage years. Talk about conveniences.

The homicide investigation was a bit ridiculous at times, but that’s nothing new with crime procedurals, who sometimes like to enhance the eye of a victim, who is on camera, just to see what is behind the camera that is recording her (that was an investigative mode on a first-season episode of RIZZOLI & ISLES, and I still laugh myself to sleep over that scene). This episode took and then ate the cake, when it managed to trace three burner phone the serial killer in the making bought for his victims, got one of the potential victims to talk, and then figured out where the serial killer in the making’s car was, simply due to the use of bluetooth. I have no idea how the cops on this show even got to that thought process in the first place, but let me tell you that those scenes were written to quickly finish up with the homicide investigation, because there is no time for that genre stuff in this show that does not air on a broadcast network.

The Bens really try to be the funny dudes, but they kinda aren’t.

Meanwhile, the writers really focused hard on Nancy’s back story, including various flashback scenes of her life with Dante, and making the viewers believe that those flashback scenes were actually part of the current homicide investigation and Dante was actually Eric, and the girl he hung out with and called his girlfriend was the next victim, who needed to be rescued before she also found herself with a bullet in her back. The reveal that all those scenes were indeed flashbacks was a nice one, but in hindsight I have no idea why the writers needed to fool us with those scenes, or why those scenes couldn’t have been connected with some emotional moments from present-time Nancy, who must obviously be distraught by the fact that her past life is about to catch up with her. The only emotional character scene of the episode belonged to Syd, and that happened because she couldn’t stand having to listen to her idiot and loser father, but it was an emotional scene not for Syd’s sake, and instead just to get one of the Bens to her and tell her a random story, which happened to be a funny lie, just so Syd can crack a smile and forget the emotional troubles she just had. I didn’t mind this scene individually, as it promoted partnership between detectives, turning the Bens and Syd & Nancy into best friends, who will always have their back, but in hindsight it seemed weird that Nancy didn’t get the emotional scene she needed, while the flashback scenes demanded for Nancy to be more emotionally distraught than Syd is. Although Syd definitely has all the reason in the world to be a little scared right now — busting up some high-profile drug dealers is not such an easy job to do, not even when you’re a cop with homicide, who was once working for the DEA.

The blind guy versus the tough cop.

Best part of the episode: Izzy might turn out to be a great character. She is a weird teen, as evident during her “playing dead” scene in the pool, but she is also an understanding teen with a cop step-mother, who likes putting “confidential informants” in the trunk, so that her step-kid has room in the back of the car. I was expecting a troubled relationship between Izzy and Nancy, but this episode made it seem like they are very cool with each other, and if it weren’t for Nancy’s troubled past, they might even be best buds.
Worst part of the episode: Turning flashback scenes into “normal looking” scenes, just so you can reveal at the end that those scenes were flashbacks… Yeah, please don’t do that. Just because LOST made flashbacks part of almost every show’s narrative doesn’t mean a police procedural show can fake us out with flashbacks. Although I am now interested whether those flashbacks will be part of the show’s narrative, or if they were only here to explain Dante’s relationship with Nancy.
Weirdest part of the episode: How to investigate a homicide, with three burner phones and bluetooth. Must be easy as hell to do so. I was left behind scratching my head.
Player of the episode: It was difficult to find enjoyment in this episode, so I will give this award out to the genius who had the idea of Nancy and Mr. Magoo pointing guns at each other, as depicted in the above screenshot. I chuckled a bit during that moment.

L.A.’s Finest (“Pilot”)

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

Did you miss that this show ever existed? Have you looked past the announcement that two of the finest working actresses in Hollywood have been cast as partners in an action-packed police procedural, which is also the television spin-off of a Michael Bay movie franchise? Did you think that the show would be dead forever after NBC decided not to pick up the show after giving a green light for the pilot? I couldn’t even blame you for missing all news about L.A.’S FINEST, because as long as you don’t follow every word outlets like Deadline or Variety are writing, you might hear about the show for the first time right now as a matter of fact. Even I needed to remind myself hard that L.A.’S FINEST was a thing about to premiere on a network I haven’t heard of or didn’t even know existed before, and this after two of the finest working actresses of Hollywood have been cast in the show, and it’s a television spin-off of a Michael Bay movie franchise. Which tends to show you that not even those three big names that are being carried by the show can help to make it more visible to the eyes of potential new viewers.

Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union are two actors I never mind seeing in an action-packed production. The two women have gotten to an age now where the portrayal of them as action heroes could turn out to be more intriguing, and in general, the idea of placing actresses in their late 30s or early 40s into action production should be an idea worth following up on more often. After THE EXPENDABLES came out with one sequel and then another sequel, there was talks about an all-female spin-off, and I think I already saw some testosterone-laden internet users being heavily disappointed by the fact, even if nothing is being taken away from them, as they would still have three THE EXPENDABLES movies in their collection. Kind of like how I never understood the hatred against Paul Feig’s GHOSTBUSTERS reboot, and how men’s rights activist were suddenly all up in arms about the existence of the film that took nothing away from them, when it comes to the previous existing films. Maybe it’s good for L.A.’S FINEST that it airs on a network I still couldn’t find when my life depends on it, because all of the men’s rights activist won’t even know this show is on. Then again, can anyone be mad about Alba and Union teaming up to kick some seriously evil ass in the city of angels?

The team gets to investigate their first murder in the city of fictional murders.

Granted, L.A.’S FINEST doesn’t even need to be a BAD BOYS spin-off. Sydney’s past as a DEA agent as depicted in the 2003 sequel isn’t even mentioned, instead the back story of the show goes with events from five years ago that have traumatized the character. Her persons of interests, her brother Marcus and her lover Mike, are mentioned once each, and it didn’t add much to her character back story, even if you could ask yourself whether Sydney was pregnant with Mike’s baby, or if that story had finished long time ago, even before her traumatic experience five years ago, and some time after the events of the 2003 film. You could replace all this back story information with any other random name from the Hollywood name generator, and L.A.’S FINEST would be the same show. The fact that you know who Mike and Marcus are, and how their relationships have played out thanks to the existence of the 2003 film, does not add anything noteworthy or useful to the premiere episode of the spin-off action show. But I can’t help myself feeling giggly and happy about Gabrielle Union being part of the television spin-off. This woman who hasn’t aged a day between her film appearance and this episode gets to continue kick some butt. I am excited about that!

Syd is in some sort of trouble again.

Meanwhile, Sydney’s partner Nancy McKenna didn’t have much to offer either. As expected, she and Sydney are in the same living situations as their male counterparts of the BAD BOYS films. While Sydney takes over Mike’s role as the (wo)manizer, waking up with her latest one night stand, doing things on her own without the assistance of her partner, Nancy is like Marcus Burnett, the family personality, who goes home each day to a husband and stepdaughter, and who has something to lose. Nancy is the one worried about having to go undercover to save a kid, or needing to play the good cop, because someone has to do it, and she knows she will have to do it, because she knows she is the only one who could lose anything when something goes wrong. L.A.’S FINEST managed to copy the initial premise of BAD BOYS quite well, even repeating some of the lines from their counterpart characters directed by Michael Bay (“Some tropical fruit bubblicious.” “And some Skittles.” “Shit just got real.”), which definitely created momentum for the show, although in hindsight I am still wondering whether all of this is even necessary, and whether Alba and Union couldn’t have starred in an original action show, with an original setting, original characters, and a more unique back story for either of them. At the end of the day I am wondering whether this show just exists, because FOX happened to be a little successful with their television reboot of LETHAL WEAPON, and other networks tried to replicate that success by getting any recognized IP ready for a television remake. In fact, L.A.’S FINEST and LETHAL WEAPON could air back-to-back, and the only difference you would notice is that one show features female cops, and the other has male leads. Other than that the shows aren’t really different at all. Which means L.A.’S FINEST will turn out to be just like LETHAL WEAPON: At one point everyone will lose interest, the show gets cancelled, and the writers wasted the potential of a great cast.

BDSM is no big deal in this BAD BOYS offshoot series.

But this is just the opinion after one episode of seeing Sydney and Nancy clean up the streets of Los Angeles from a few dangerous cartel members. From here on I’m looking at more similarities between this show and the film franchise, or if L.A.’S FINEST is just another crime procedural with a few too many action set pieces and an ongoing storyline about an event from five years ago that needs investigating. Will Nancy and Sydney screw up one of their investigations in the near future and cause some unnecessary destruction, like it has been the case with Mike and Marcus? Will Nancy and Sydney’s boss, played by Evan Handler, go crazy every time he sees the news of more destruction after the two women drove through town, and risk having his head explode, or is that part getting lost on the way to the television spin-off? Will Sydney be more involved in Nancy’s life in the future, becoming something of another mother for Nancy’s stepdaughter, or will the writers not be interested in going forward with that story from the films? Those questions haven’t really be answered during the first 44 minutes of the show, but those are important questions to answer, when you ask the question whether or not L.A.’S FINEST truly is a BAD BOYS spin-off, and will do its best to emulate Michael Bay’s double feature led by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

Story-wise, the premiere episode didn’t have much to offer at all. A dead nanny, a kid first traumatized, then playing computer games with the Bens, Sydney and Nancy investigating, and moving from one suspect to the next, and at the end of the hour it’s all about saving a kid’s life while depicting a solid partnership between the two women, who only need to look at each other to know what is going down in the next few seconds. One shared look during the climax, and both women knew that Sydney will play the good cop to signal the kid to make his Bruce Lee move, while Nancy knows she only has to wait to get the perfect headshot. One look and Sydney knows she will have to deal with the grenade as soon as it falls out of the hand of the cartel gangster. I am however curious about why the two women don’t know each other that much, considering they are already in sync when it comes to their partnership on the job. I can’t imagine that Nancy never knew about Sydney’s trauma five years ago, and I can’t imagine that Sydney never expected for her partner to have her back, and even show up when she really doesn’t want it, like when Sydney was getting closer to Gabriel Knox, and suddenly got surrounded by a bunch of guns. For being this good at being partners, they don’t seem to know each other that well.

Good cop and bad cop are finally at work.

Best part of the episode: Two women who would normally be sorted out by Hollywood serve up some great action moves, proving that the disco generation still got some moves. Gabrielle Union looked fabulous in her role, and even in that tight and loose skirt during the club scene when meeting Ray, and Jessica Alba is probably one of the most attractive moms out there, showcasing that you can still kick some ass as a mother. By the way, I love the notion that Nancy has a step-kid in this show, which is something television hasn’t really followed up on at all: What if the kids in your household aren’t your own?
Worst part of the episode: When Sydney gave the kid her watch with the name Mike engraved on it, and the kid was asking who’s Mike. That was not just an obvious hint at the film franchise, but also just an instance of making sure the audience knows this is a BAD BOYS spin-off, but in that particular case it felt more alienating than the throwbacks through certain pieces of dialogue and jokes.
Weirdest part of the episode: Everyone’s got a secret back story in the show, and for some reason I couldn’t care less about them. Maybe it’s the realization that L.A.’S FINEST is just another crime procedural, but I did roll my eyes a few times during Sydney’s talk with her father, and the bad dudes calling Nancy to reiterate to her that Sydney’s moves have gone too far. I hate the feeling of potentially having to deal with an antagonistic character among the heroes, just for the writers to blow up that story, too.
Player of the episode: Sydney wins the award for being bisexual. Waking up to the sound of a woman at the end of the episode was a nice surprise. Besides putting older women into action roles, which Hollywood hasn’t seen much of, the notion of bisexuality on the show could also help making things more interesting. By the way, Gabrielle Union has been drinking from the everlasting fountain of youth, because she has not aged a single day between BAD BOYS II and this episode. Paul Rudd, you just got competition!