Alright, I’m starting to get it. This show is just an unabashedly over the top, gruff cop slinging one-liners, heightened reality crime world that never even tried to jive tonally with the movie it originated from. Bill Paxton’s Frank was cheesy as hell to start but I’m warming up to his snarky voice. I like seeing the villain of the week pop up, ranging anywhere from a Mexican cartel, to the Russian mob, to a rogue mercenary outfit. This week it was the Yakuza, and while it wasn’t as full of twists and turns as previous episodes, it was still a consistently entertaining hour of television I have to admit I enjoyed.
Last week we learned about Frank and Rebecca’s past and how she basically sees him as a father figure. This week we get an entirely new character who also looks at Frank (and formerly Kyle’s father Billy) the same way. But first, after some gruff cop-talk voice-over from Frank about the men who gave their lives defending the Alamo, we open with Rebecca and Frank playing an arcade shooter game. She tells him that he had told her any time she needs to hit the pause button all she has to do is ask. “What’s the deal with you and Kyle?” she asks him. He explains how he promised Billy, Kyle’s old man, he’d look after him. But she still does not trust him, though she doesn’t come right out and say it. And she shouldn’t–Kyle was put in their group to snitch on Frank to Deputy Chief Lockhart, though since Frank agreed to help Kyle solve the mystery surrounding the death of his father, Kyle really hasn’t given her anything.
Kyle isn’t giving things to other women in his life either, if you catch my drift. He’s having flashes of clues he’s gotten about his dad’s case while his wife is jumping his bones. They have to stop. Kyle explains his pops left a stack of open cases when he died. He’s thinking of checking them out.
That will have to be in another episode, I suppose, because the next thing we know Frank and Kyle are being brought in by the Narcotics division to help with a sting operation. Four kids in Los Angeles recently OD’ed to death on an extra potent form of MDMA called Sphynx. The narcos have been tipped off that a huge shipment is coming into a Los Angeles port. Why is Frank there? Because the CI who tipped them off specifically requested him. A guy named Carlos Cortez. We get a flashback to Frank and Kyle’s dad chasing a fat kid down back in the late 90’s, then starting a relationship with him as an informant. In present day, Carlos has a wife and kid and works security at the docks. A guy came to the port and told him that there was some money in it for him if he made sure security was light on a certain night. Carlos figured this was a lay-up and brought it straight to the narcos for a little extra payday. When Frank and Kyle stake things out the night the transaction is supposed to go down, it turns out it was all a set up. Carlos was fed false information to see who the leak was. He’s gunned down by none than the Japanese mob, the Yakuza.
Frank of course is livid and drags Kyle along (he’s always dragging Kyle somewhere) to a club where the Yakuza hangs out. It ends with him gunning down one man, and is about to gun down another who he recognized from the deal at the docks when the FBI raids the place. Turns out, as Agent Woodrow later explains to them, Frank compromised an ongoing federal investigation on the Yakuza and their club, they even had a wire up. That tips Frank off that the FBI knew the entire time it was a set-up and they just let Carlos walk into certain death. They take the Yakuza man, who turns out to be a Japanese national, and plan to deport him. This doesn’t work for Frank’s investigation and inherent need to avenge his friend’s death.
SO, they get their friend Moreno, aka the Mexican comic relief guy, to help spring the Japanese national from the holding tank before he can be deported. Posing as “Agent Andy Garcia” Moreno demands the Japanese prisoner. When the guard calls Lockhart for approval, she’s distracted by Frank and Rebecca somehow patches into her landline phone and poses as her. Moreno comes out with the guy, who Rebecca and Tommy immediately take to a shark tank for questioning. Literally, they put him in a shark tank with a shark. How they know that he won’t be eaten before they get their answers, I’m not sure. But they do get their answers–the Japanese man fingers a man named Takashi Koh as the Yakuza boss. And he also tells them that the real shipment of dope was already in the port the night of the set up, right in front of their faces.
Frank and his team go to the port and cut open a container to find millions of dollars worth of drugs. Rebecca notices a guard eyeing them and texting someone–turns out he’s alerting the Yakuza the cops have found the drugs. Soon the Yakuza shows up in cars straight out of the Fast and Furious movies. Frank and co. can’t call for back up because that would reveal that they deliberately stole a prisoner from custody to continue their investigation. In slow-mo to the tune of a Johnny Cash song about the Alamo, an epic gunfight ensues… Actually it’s over pretty quickly as our heroes suddenly all run out of ammo at once. This never seemed to be a problem before in any gun fight on the show, and there were some MUCH longer exchanges of bullets with bad guys, but I digress. Just when they think they’re screwed, a couple of guys from Narcotics show up and save the day, gunning down the Yakuza.
Frank however, has a bone to pick with their boss Takashi. He shows up and attempts to bash his head in with an aluminum baseball bat Carlos had given him when he asked Frank to be the godfather of his child. Takashi draws a sword and suddenly I’m watching a sword vs. baseball bat battle starring Bill Paxton and loving every second of it. He obviously gets the best of Takashi eventually (not without getting a gash requiring copious stitches) but Kyle at the last second stops him from bashing the mob boss’s head in. LAPD raids the place and arrests Takashi. Frank didn’t get his full revenge. What he does get is drunk.
Kyle and Rebecca have a brief exchange that seem to finally put them on the same page. Rebecca says until Frank solves Billy’s murder, that shadow is going to hang over all of them. But maybe Kyle is there to bring the entire group back to the light. He did JUST stop Frank from savagely bashing a man’s skull in with a baseball bat. So. She could be on to something.
Meanwhile, Frank visits Kyle’s dad Billy’s tombstone and drunkenly talks to his old deceased friend. We actually see Billy with him, talking to him, though we know it’s not real. What’s interesting though is the episode ends with Billy asking Frank “What are you going to do when Kyle finds out?” What that is, I have no idea, but color me intrigued.
Overall the episode wasn’t the best of the bunch yet, but definitely kept me interested and warmed me up to some of the characters I’d written off. It’s still The Bill Paxton Show, so much show that I believe Kyle’s character could be killed off in Episode 5 and the rest of the series would be exactly the same. But this episode, with it’s final cliffhanger question, did make me interested in Kyle’s dad’s murder and what Frank could be hiding about it for the first time. Hopefully that will be revealed in an upcoming episode.
Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
Training Day airs Thursday at 10PM on CBS
In Los Angeles, a city where streets are overrun by drug dealers, those who have sworn to uphold the law are breaking them to clean up the streets. Paul is a veteran TV reviewer whose methods of writing TV reviews are questionable, if not corrupt.
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Paul Gulyas | Contributor