SHADES OF BLUE REVIEW: “Equal & Opposite”



Airtime: Thursdays at 10PM on NBC

Tweetable Takeaway: Woz breaks his arrangement with Mendez and Santos turns the cameras on Stahl on @nbcshadesofblue.

explores the cause and effect of crime and punishment in Equal and Opposite, Newton’s third law of motion. Outside of vaguely remembering these laws, I can’t remember many real-life instances when they hold true. You charge something on credit or take a loan; you don’t owe an equal amount back. The time you spend eating a bacon-wrapped pizza doesn’t equal the time it takes to shed the effect. In drama, a cause must have a powerfully unequal response. Dramatic laws are much closer to life; completely unfair.

Seizing a trunk load of drugs sounds like a win.

This week, it starts when Santos and Tess bust a couple of drug dealers and discover a huge pile of Raul Mendez’s heroin in the trunk. Tess is the first to realize this innocent cop move could cause a huge retaliatory ripple from their felonious friends. She convinces Woz to return a brick of heroin to Mendez, to keep the peace. This is complicated law and order stuff here. Woz agrees, but only because it feels like entrapment. He decides he was wrong about Santos being the rat, but maybe it’s Tess, she might be setting him up. Paranoia rashes all over this episode.

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Tufo spots a car surveilling him as Saperstein gets learns Portuguese from his Brazilian call-girl friend. He informs the rest of the team they’re being watched. Stahl calls Santos and apologizes for endangering her. There is no mention of the explosives he found with Chen in Woz’s storage locker last week; they owe us some story interest for that. Santos asks Stahl to drop the surveillance team Tufo spotted. It’s news to him, his detail was off duty that day, not his guys at all. Then, he tells Santos to get back to the office. How exactly does he know where she is? This spooks her, she feels like he might have a camera hidden in her house, she’s been getting a creepy vibe from him for weeks.

Santos doesn’t have any real evidence yet, but she knows how she might get some. She gets her former training officer, Caddie, out of prison a few weeks early and he helps her set up cameras in Stahl’s apartment; counter surveillance. Stahl seems like the buttoned up type but they always end up being the worse don’t they.

The cop and the drug dealer battle for supremacy.

Woz meets with Mendez but decides not to return any heroin. Their deal was for a certain amount of sales and Mendez is way over his limit. He is out a half million dollars worth of product and is pissed Woz doesn’t have a reparations plan for his troubles. Mendez decides to apply a little pressure on his NYPD benefactor. If blow-back had a music cue, now would be a good time.

Mendez sends a crew to vandalize some of the shops that pays team Woz to protect. They start with a cigar shop, break the windows and tag the building. Woz sends a message to Mendez about who is really in charge. His team takes down Mendez’s street crew, but sends one of them to deliver a message; don’t mess with Woz. We haven’t spent a lot of time with Mendez or know how smart he is, but these don’t seem like productive moves.

Stahl shadows Woz’s team and also spots the other tail. He runs the plates, gets a hit, and visits Donnie’s office. Donnie admits his IA team is watching Woz, but he isn’t running an official investigation, more like a preventive check. Stahl says he was told about the tail, but didn’t say by who. Donnie probes Stahl to drop a hint of who he has on Woz’s team, but he doesn’t. He asks Donnie to drop the team so his FBI investigation doesn’t trip over local law enforcement. Donnie agrees to drop the detail. Donnie appears to be a crafty guy but we don’t get much lens on his motives.

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Santos is past due on actionable intelligence against Woz.

Santos informs Stahl, Woz is expecting some sort of big delivery and Stahl updates Santos that their tail was from the Internal Affairs. Then, she gets a call that chills maternal heart; someone was pulled over driving her daughter’s car with a broken taillight. She interrogates the boy, Manny; he claims he wasn’t stealing it, and his phone rings. Manny is Cristina’s boyfriend. He has no clue this is Cristina’s mom he is talking to. Santos checks out all the picks he has of her daughter on his phone; nothing crazy, but bad enough. This is news to Santos. Her daughter has never kept secrets from her before, not like this. She lets Manny go, but tells him to keep his arrest, and their meeting, secret for now. He says he really likes Cristina, but agrees to keep quiet. Cristina is a smart kid. I want to see bigger secrets than the older-boy crush.

Donnie admits to Woz he put a tail his team and tells him about the Stahl visit, he knows they have a rat. Woz wants to see all the evidence they gathered. He suspects Tess at this point. She’s been weird. He follows her when she sneaks out, but finds her in a hotel room, rolling around with Espada. She explains about her broken marriage. Woz gets it, but tells her to break it off with Espada. She wants to keep her . Men come and go;Tess chooses the badge. Woz looks to other team members for the FBI plant.

Mendez learns Woz’s secret and Woz gives Mendez something to hide.

Mendez goes too far when his men steal Woz’s car. They spray paint it pink and leave a stack men’s magazines in the back seat. Mendez figures Woz is ashamed of his desire for men, but he isn’t. Woz retaliates swiftly. He ambushes Mendez and has some rival drug dealers sexually assault him, video tape it, then dump him in Philadelphia. He’s no longer welcome on Woz’s turf. This should explode into some lovely drama down the road. Mendez runs morgue, death is literally his business.

Santos hates where she’s at between Woz and Stahl. She checks her surveillance feed, watches Stahl perform his dating pre-game rehearsal. His date is a paid escort and he asks her to call herself, Harlee. That’s a little weird isn’t it? Imagine if the FBI raided her home and found these videos. The office would get pretty awkward for Stahl.

Woz goes through the photos provided by Donnie’s. The time-stamps don’t corroborate the story Tufo and Saperstein gave him about the afternoon they spotted the IA surveillance team. Now he thinks one of those two must be the rat. We don’t really know what Tufo was up to, but Saperstein is just trying to up he level of Portuguese for his girlfriend’s sake. Woz is about to blow; it won’t take much at this point. Cause and escalating effect, it’s the law of drama.


Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.

Twitter: @etom2012

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