SHOOTER ends its first season with “Primer Contact,” an action-packed episode that delivers everything we wanted plus a few surprises. “Primer Contact” checked all the important boxes. It was entertaining, thrilling, and answered most of the conspiracy questions. Costa Ronin, an excellent actor, was brought in to play the Russian ambassador, but he was given very few scenes. I’d love to see more of him next season. There was a great shootout in the woods and one final long shot to save Julie; I was cheering, it was a great fourth quarter.
The episode begins with a sequence of shots with Bob Lee, Memphis, Johnson, and Julie planning and launching a mission to recover Mary from the basement of the Russian Embassy where Krukov is hiding her. Krukov was a late addition baddie, he seems more financially motivated but we know he’s willing to kill. However, he’s never cruel and treats Mary well so we never really feel like she’s in danger either. That’s a problem for me. This is where a guy like Payne would have been handy, we were never really sure what limits he had on cruelty.
The sophisticated villain has been in office since Hans Gruber killed the incumbent, we’re used to the suit and the grooming. All sophisticated villains need a wild card hench, someone capable of doing anything. The granddaddy psycho hench is a Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) type from Tombstone; even his baddie boss is afraid of the day he takes over. Of course, Bob Lee rescues Mary, he even gets a little help from the Russian ambassador who has no love for Krukov. That beat does make total sense.
Memphis is happy Mary is safe but she knows she still has to arrest Bob Lee, she just isn’t in any hurry. First guy in cuffs is going to be Agent Johnson. This is where “Primer Contact” gets a little bumpy. We meet a woman with powerful connections, National Security Advisor Gregson. The first time we see her, she’s at the Russian Embassy and tells Krukov to release Mary. Gregson knows all about Annex B and wants to recover the drive-evidence, but she doesn’t want a headline she can’t control. She must be thinking about the press of the 70’s. We also find out she’s been calling the shots for Johnson too.
That’s Johnson’s secret? Here, Shooter enters some dangerous territory. Now I’m thinking back on everything Johnson has done, like kill Donnie’s mom. It’s possible since we didn’t see him do the deed, she’s alive in protective custody somewhere but that’s asking a lot of a loyal viewer. Epps is a great actor and he made Johnson an interesting character, I get wanting to bring him back. It’s the finale, and they did everything else well, this is forgivable. This Johnson wrinkle serves the show more than the plot. The reverse would have been a disaster.
Krukov does what Krukov wants. He put a tracker in Mary’s lunch and plans on using her as leverage to get his Annex B evidence back. He makes an arrangement to meet with Bob Lee but plans to kill his whole family once he has the drive. Bob Lee gives Julie some diamonds and an escape plan, he knows he has to kill Krukov to keep them safe. He doesn’t know Krukov is following Mary and Julie and sending a platoon of Russian baddies to kill him in the woods…after they secure the Annex B drive.
This is a tense sequence; Bob Lee can’t be in two places at once. We see him take out a lot of armed hench, but he’s all alone and there are too many of them. Meanwhile, Memphis and Utay arrest Johnson and he tells them where Bob Lee is headed to face the hench horde. By the time the FBI arrives, Bob Lee is hiding behind a tree, surrounded by the last handful of hench and their leader. Johnson and Memphis arrive in time to take out a few, but Johnson gets hit in the arm and Memphis takes two in the chest plate.
Bob Lee surrenders to the Russian hench leader, but nails him with a knife throw to the throat. Julie and Mary hide from Krukov in a hotel room just a few miles away. Krukov blasts away with a shotgun and she returns fire with her pistol. We knows she’s tough, but it doesn’t look good. Bob Lee helps Memphis recover, her vest kept her alive, but he doesn’t have time to run down the mountain to save his family. He does have the Black King rifle and sets up a really long shot to end Krukov for good. This is the ending we wanted to see. Bob Lee nails the baddie and hugs it out with his family.
Memphis arrests him, we know it’s coming, but I don’t think we need to see it. A moment later, we see Memphis, Bob Lee, and his lawyer arrive at CIA headquarters with NSA Gregson. She frees Bob Lee but he tells her he left the Annex B drive at the Russian Embassy in the room where they had Mary. Let the diplomats work it out. It ends with a scene between Gregson and Johnson. Meachum and Krukov were just the tip of the iceberg, she has more work for Johnson, but he wants out. I get why they had these last few scenes but the season could have ended with Bob Lee embracing his family after killing Krukov. They had me at the showdown!
Season 1, Episode 10 (S01E010)
Shooter airs Tuesdays at 10PM on USA
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.
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Eric Rodriguez | Contributor