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The Player - House Rules - Review: Cheaters Never Win

I was expecting this weeks episode to be a heavy action episode with little story. I got more than I expected with a cherry on top.

Alex’s job this week is simple: get a teenager, wanted for planting a computer virus in the Pentagon’s computer system, from his school in Seattle to the Indian consulate in 36 hours.

The Bet: Can Alex Kane find Solomon before the triads do and get him to safety.

Ada doesn’t know where the kid is so Cassandra can’t tell Alex where to start. She teases him about using his low tech approach on this investigation. What follows is a bit of flirtatious banter so…um…flirty that even Mr. Johnson raises an eyebrow.

Alex starts in Solomon’s dorm room. Unfortunately, the Triads beat him there. Alex has to go through a second story window to get away. Cassandra gleefully teases Alex about it. There are moments, like Cassandra teasing Alex after he jumped out the window, that give me the impression that the writers are aiming for a partners/sibling/friendship tone. It’s adding to the fun of the show.

After all the talk about Alex’s low tech method of finding Solomon it’s Cassandra and Ada who find Solomon hiding in a garage on campus. Alex is pretty hard on Solomon because his hacking puts American soldiers, agents and diplomats in danger. Solomon denies planting the virus. He tries to explain that found it on the system and was trying to get rid of it when the fed’s kicked him out of the system and destroyed his laptop.

Solomon doesn’t have time to convince Alex he’s telling the truth because government agents are outside the garage and heading in. They grab the classic car that Solomon and his teacher retrofitted with an electric battery and race out of the garage.

They find a quiet spot for a little exposition. We’re given a scene that uses character work to raise the scene to something more than an information dump. Alex isn’t inclined to listen to Solomon’s declarations of innocence so Cassandra decides to talk to him directly. When Cassandra tells Solomon she knows how to exploit something called “Zero Day Vulnerabilities” Solomon is dumbstruck. This is the moment, I think, that Alex softened to the kid. He tells Cassandra to give Solomon a moment because he thinks Solomon just fell in love with her. It’s just adorable and I’m falling for the little guy myself.

Cassandra informs Alex that the NSA realizes that Solomon was trying to help. The Feds were actually targeting Alex in the garage. Helicopters fly overhead so Alex decides they need to get moving. They wind up in the subway system and under fire. When NSA Agent Jones tells Alex he can get Solomon out of the subway alive and protect him. Alex takes him up on the offer.

I think I figured out why the gamblers like Alex so much. Previously I thought it was just that Alex kept the game exciting and interesting but I now think the real reason is that The Game is not Alex’s primary concern. As was nicely established in episode 2 Alex needs to do the right thing more than he needs to win the game so Alex is never going to make decisions based on winning the game. This makes him supremely unpredictable and isn't chance what gamblers like?

Of course Alex’s decision to trust the NSA is what put’s Solomon in the greatest danger. One of the agents, Agent Rehnquist, works for the Triad. Solomon hasn't been abandoned though. Apparently, Solomon sent Cassandra a text before getting into the NSA’s vehicle. Solomon reveals that Cassandra has been eavesdropping and knows where they are. Nice!

The moment Alex finds out he takes off to save Solomon. (I have never seen anyone hop on a motorcycle like that! Pretty sweet!) The rooftop shootout ends as expected. Alex rescues Solomon and gets him to the Indian Consulate alive.

Cassandra gets to go undercover for a change. She poses as a lawyer to make sure that no charges will be pressed against Solomon for hacking into the Pentagon system in exchange for Solomon's help eradicating the virus. (The kid playing Solomon has an adorable smile.)

Mr. Johnson seems to be tracking this Triad story before it becomes a bet. He pops in on a Chinese man who runs a casino. It is becoming clear that Mr. Johnson’s job involves more than cleaning up loose ends after the game is over. As Johnson explains it, his position with The House means not only keeping the gambler’s happy but keeping them in line as well.

Johnson discovered that Mr. Zang, a man Johnson has a very long history with, cheated when he placed a bet on the current game. That bet was canceled because the gamblers are not allowed to bet on games they have a personal stake in. Authorizing the hit squad to go after Solomon is about as personal as it can get.

It’s not clear how old Johnson was when he and Zeng became friends, but it is clear that Zeng and his uncle are the sources Mr. Johnson’s fighting skills. Their personal history is no protection when Johnson later finds out that Zeng has broken other House Rules. The punishment for these infractions is death.

Alex is still in mourning. He fell asleep watching videos from his honeymoon. When the video ends he looks at other pictures they took during their relationship (The Fourth of July, his birthday, etc.). Alex realizes that the dates are wrong.

He shows them to Solomon because…genius…and asks if he can discern a pattern in something so obviously intentional. Solomon comes through and finds a hidden telephone number. This sends questions tumbling through my mind. When did Ginny embed this information? Was it Ginny? Was, whatever happened to her, a potential event she knew could happen and was planning for?

I should have guessed who was going to answer that phone call when Cassandra found the security footage of the body switch as Ginny’s body was being taken to the morgue. Now Cassandra knows Alex's conspiracy theory is real. Do you think Cassandra is going to go to Alex about what she found or will these investigations continue separately?


Alex offers to do whatever they want to get her back. But they haven't told her what they want. She asks him not to try and find her because whoever has her will kill him. The shots of Ginny on the phone were set up such that we got zero clues as to where she is or who has her. This is a moment when I wish this show was now being handled like Netflix series. The entire season is uploaded at once and I can skip to the end and find out what’s going on right now! On the up side it’s moments like this that ensure The Player is the first thing I watch when I get home from work.

Have any of your theories changed with this episode? I’d love to hear them.

About the Author - Prpleight
Prpleight is a screenwriter and senior software engineer with solid geek cred. When not writing code, screenplays, or watching TV (sometimes she does all three at the same time), she uses her broadsword Bessie to battle evil. She's been a frequent contributor to the SpoilerTV discussion boards for several years now.
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