SHOOTER Review: “Exfil”


SHOOTER hits a solid second episode with “Exfil.” The Shooter pilot was good (ready,) it started off with a bang. Exfil was much better. USA shifted the Shooter air date a few times. At first I thought they were being overly sensitive, but it turns out they were right. Apparently we do live in a country where people’s heads explode over just about anything. A common strategy is airing the pilot, plus one on the first night. I think Shooter may have done a little better as a one-two delivery.

This week we learn, right away, that it wasn’t out president’s head exploding on the windshield of the armored limo; it was the Ukraine’s president. This is an important plot point for several reasons. It opens up the conspiracy to nation building in a whole other part of the world, and to a degree, it’s evidence that Swagger is innocent, at least of wanting to kill POTUS. It’s possible that a sniper may require more than one shot, but it’s damn near impossible they would confuse the target and score a head shot on the wrong guy.

Swagger is transported in an ambulance to a hospital where Agent Memphis’ stupid boss, Howard, tries to interview Swagger. He won’t talk until his lawyer, Sam Benson, arrives. Sam is a character, he isn’t just the Swagger family lawyer, he was a friend of Swagger’s father. Sam is no dummy, and he figures Swagger’s hospital room may be bugged. They exchange a little information, the most immediate issue is get Julie and Marry to safety.


Protecting Julie and Mary is as important to Swagger stateside as body armor is in the combat zone. It helps that Julie is up to the challenge. She seems unphased by reports that her husband took a shot at the president. In her mind, Bob doesn’t miss. It’s more than faith, she’s certain. She’s also capable and understands her responsibility to Mary.

Swagger gets moved to a federal detainment facility where Payne retains a dirty guard on his payroll. At first, Swagger is placed in protective custody, but Payne has his inside man move Swagger to a more dangerous location. The other boys pick on Swagger at lunch, and he fights them off, but a Russian named Alex steps in and takes Swagger under his protection. Alex, and many of his friends, appreciate Swagger smoking the Ukrainian President. Alex is a powerful but decent federal criminal. He has friends on the outside, barters goods on the inside, and has an untraceable satellite phone. Swagger calls Isaac to make a deal for his family’s safety.

We meet the guy Isaac answers to this week, a CIA Agent named Meachum. Meachum isn’t happy the way the assassination went down; Swagger was supposed to die. That said, he isn’t crying about the results either. The right target is dead. He tells Isaac to clean up his mess while he flies to Russia to meet with his counterpart. We don’t learn everything about this deal, but we do learn Payne is one of Meachum’s men. Isaac is pissed Payne screwed this up and senses Payne was messing around instead of staying on mission.


Swagger makes a deal with Isaac, he will confess if Isaac promises to keep Swagger’s family safe in the clear. Isaac likes the deal, the sooner Swagger confesses, the better. He updates Meachum about his plan, but Meachum calls Payne and orders Swagger’s immediate execution. Payne’s corrupt guard sends a homicidal rapist into Alex’s cell. Swagger fights and kills the guy, then he kills the guard, cuts the guard’s thumb off, and uses it to escape prison.

Swagger knows he can’t go home, but he needs a place to rest and heal. He takes shelter at his former spotter’s mother’s house, Mrs. Fenn. She’s happy to take Swagger in, Donnie spoke highly of him. Meanwhile, Howard and other FBI Agents stay close to Julie as other teams comb through the mountain of evidence against Swagger.

Memphis doesn’t believe the case against Swagger and reaches out to Isaac when she discovers they served together. Isaac tells her to back off and so does her unimaginative boss, but she thinks there is much more here than an ex-Marine sniper missing his target and killing the wrong guy. Memphis establishes trust with Julie and the two covertly help each other out.

The Memphis dilemma is headed in an interesting direction. Sooner or later she’ll face a conflict between the law and national security. We know Swagger will choose national security over the law, but he’ll also pick his family over everything else. You can’t mess with a guy who wore his nation’s flag on his shoulder while his finger was on the trigger.


Howard figures out Swagger may be hiding at Mrs. Fenn’s and Isaac wants to get their first, possibly to kill him. Swagger escapes before Isaac gets his chance. He’s in the open now with a reference from a powerful Russian prisoner. Finally, he calls Julie to check in. She has her end on lock down which frees him to do what he does best, hunt.

I love where this show is going. Snipers are like guardian angels in the combat zone and most of the time they get zero recognition. The Swagger character dips into the sniper skill set, but snipers also often rely on a coordinated support team. We’ve seen the team of baddies grow, I’m hoping to see Swagger’s team grow too. He’s going to need intel on targets and their movement. It would be interesting to see Solotov appear in the story. Swagger assumes Solotov winged him by accident, but what if he let Swagger live on purpose? Plenty of good story to mine moving forward.

Season 1, Episode 2 (S01E02)
Shooter airs Fridays at 10PM on USA

Read all of our reviews of Shooter here.
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.

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.
Follow Eric on Twitter: @Etom2012
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