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Shooter - Backroads/Red Meat - Double Episode Review

So, I may or may not have completely missed the fact that this show returned. Oops. It's cool, though, I figured it out! These first two episodes gave us quite a bit to get excited about, but before we move forward, let's take a look back at where we left our friends at the end of our truncated second season.

Character Catch-Up

Isaac: He was making his way back to the US (from Mexico, I think?) when he was detained trying to cross the border illegally. After a series of custody exchanges, he eventually learns from Senator Addison Hayes that Solotov had no orders to kill Isaac's wife, so Solotov was just being a big meanie. Isaac was then eager to comply with his order to kill Solotov, which made things a bit messy.

Solotov and Bob Lee: Under the guise of "Travis", Solotov accepted Julie's invitation to Mary's First Communion, with intentions to make it an explosive day. Bob Lee discovered Solotov would be at the church and rushed to confront him, restraining his murderous rage after Solotov revealed he was wearing a bomb. He really wanted his money back, which Bob Lee agreed to give him if they walked out of the church with no issues. They did. Isaac then showed up to kill Solotov, causing Bob Lee to jump in front of the bullet to prevent the bomb from going off. Bob Lee shouted to Isaac about Solotov's bomb as he was dragged away by Solotov. Solotov later attended to the wound crudely in order to keep Bob Lee alive to lead him to the money.

Julie: She spent a lot of time arguing with Bob Lee about his comings and goings when Solotov was still a threat (even though she was unknowingly becoming good friends with Solotov). She was also dealing with a bit of stress from potential legal issues after having blown out a man's eardrum at the shooting range. He deserved it, but still. With all that going on, she heard the gunshot commotion outside of Mary's first communion, but by the time she got outside, she had no real idea what was happening. She ran into Isaac at her house later where she was quickly brought up to speed before deciding to set aside her hatred of Isaac so she could work with him to track down Bob Lee

Memphis: Stuck with Jeffrey "Suspicious Because He's Useless" Denning, aka "Potential Cannon Fodder" Denning, she continued her pursuits of Atlas. She eventually learned everything she'd heard was true when Tio came clean to them, but they weren't able to keep her alive long enough to officially testify about anything. Sad day. Luckily, Tio was able to spit out Addison Hayes's name before she died, which gave Memphis plenty to continue her investigation.



Our season begins in the past as we see Bob Lee's dad, Sheriff Swagger, shot while taking down a criminal near a barn. He returns to the car to call it in when he is again shot, this time lethally, by an unknown assailant. It also was probably a sniper from the looks of things. We then see Bob Lee wake up in Solotov's passenger seat where he rides for a bit before jumping out and running away. He runs all the way to the barn where his father died before Solotov finds him, making sure to point out that he pulled Solotov's crude stitches so he can bleed out and leave Solotov with nothing. Not terribly smart considering Solotov knows his family and could easily get revenge. But it's all good, Solotov knocks him out so he can drag him to get taken care of. He comes to in a horse stable with a doctor fixing him up, but the doctor soon attempts to run and is quickly killed for it. Solotov threatens to kill the cops that show up if Bob Lee doesn't help him out. After several attempts from Bob Lee to slow progress (including a roadblock thanks to a clue Bob Lee left at a gas station), they arrive at the location and make the rest of the journey on foot. As they walk, Solotov attempts to relate by saying that both of them want to take down Atlas. Bob Lee claims he doesn't care about Atlas, prompting Solotov to as if he's forgotten about his father. Say what?! In response to his confusion, Solotov reveals he knows Bob Lee was at the scene of his father's murder, despite official reports claiming he was alone. As they continue to walk, Solotov tells him Atlas has always been involved with the Swagger family and that it wasn't a coincidence that Isaac was tasked with recruiting Bob Lee in the first season. When they finally reach the box, Bob Lee claims there's a booby trap, but Solotov is more than happy to take the risk. He finds a gun in the box and tries to fire it, but quickly learns a lesson Bob Lee learned as a child from his father: "If it ain't loaded, it ain't lethal." A brief fight ensues, ending with Bob Lee shooting Solotov before falling to the ground in the dirt. Julie and Isaac, who have been working together all day without too much fighting, show up shortly after the fight, and while Julie is left to care for Bob Lee, Isaac takes the ledger and swears to Bob Lee that he will end this.

Memphis has been spending her day digging further into Hayes and Atlas. She starts by attempting to confront him in her office just after Tio's murder, but is not able to get much ground. Instead, she is met with a light warning that people don't usually get to decide exactly when they take their last breath, but that this moment is usually chosen for them. Ominous. She then meets with Harris to see just how much he knows about Hayes and Atlas since, you know, he works for Senator Hayes. Harris is absolutely clueless about the whole thing and isn't even sure he believes it. She decides to let Harris hear everything from Denning's mouth, but when arrive at his house, it is very clear that no words will be coming from Denning's mouth again. He's been murdered. I'm a bit upset they didn't take my suggestion of the Denning-is-actually-Atlas twist and instead went with my less exciting cannon fodder theory, but at least I still get to be sort of right. I was really hoping for that twist though. Maybe they'll do it. Did we ever actually see his face? Conspiracy! Regardless of my disappointment, Harris is now sufficiently convinced about Atlas, and agrees to help Memphis. They intercept him at a standing lunch reservation so Memphis can apologize for her accusations since she's realized whoever runs Atlas would need an account with a ton of money and she now knows he has no access to that kind of cash. It's a beautiful moment and Hayes knows exactly what she's insinuating. He even offers to pay her off, but she reminds him again of his financial issues before exiting the building. I don't know if I already felt this and forgot it, but I like Memphis a lot.

Later, Hayes is visited in his hotel room by Isaac, who has the very important ledger in his possession. Hayes attempts to take the ledger, but Isaac holds on tight and humors the man for a moment before Hayes begins to have a strange reaction to his refreshment. Memphis steps out to reveal that he's tragically having a heart attack, reciting his own "people don't decide the time and date of their death" mantra back to him before he fully succumbs. Isaac informs her that this is the path he's taking now to make sure she knows what she's getting into. She does. She states that she realizes Atlas isn't going down unless she's willing to break the law, which she is more free to do now that she has quit the FBI. The news of Hayes's death later pops up on a mystery man's screen, prompting him to call in and ask what his next steps need to be, stating that he'll still need "the card" to whatever next steps he was told. Excuse me? What is this, sir?

Red Meat

A few days later, Bob Lee decides to look more into his father's death by starting with the escape of the criminal he was hunting, Jimmy Poole. Julie isn't a huge fan of him starting another mission so soon, but she foolishly agrees to it when he promises it won't be a big thing. You're smarter than that Julie! And Bob Lee, you know very well there's going to be more to this story. How dare you make that promise! Bob Lee starts his investigation at the work farm Jimmy was at to figure out how he escaped. The man he talks to claims Jimmy left while they were on highway duty, but backtracks a bit when Bob Lee says he heard Jimmy escaped directly from the facility. Bob Lee makes a quick verbal note of a Bama Cattle Company truck and makes some undocumented worker insinuations before deciding he'd heard enough from the man. As the man walks away, though, he makes a call to Bama to tell them that Bob Lee is snooping around. While Julie settles some paperwork regarding legal action for the man who's ear she blew out, Bob Lee and Sheriff Brown check out the old bank Jimmy robbed the day he escaped. Nothing about it makes sense to Bob Lee, however, such as Jimmy stopping to murder a guard before he leaves and simply walking away from the bank when he had just stolen a new car that he parked out front. He then learns Jimmy walked to a diner and had a burger while the cops were at the bank and deduces that he was so relaxed about everything because he was waiting for his accomplice to pick him up. At dinner that evening, Mary and her aunt discuss how they're going to paint her room her dad's favorite color and Julie calls out Bob Lee on the lack of attention he's been paying. She takes it in stride, and Mary doesn't notice a thing, but they have a brief discussion about it later. Very brief. As soon as Julie starts to get a little serious about the situation, Bob Lee turns it into a bit of a joke and they drop it in lieu of some adult fun.

Bob Lee continues his investigation the next day by paying a visit to the Pooles. They are less than receptive and really don't offer much other than the fact that Jimmy was all set to work at Bama Cattle before his escape, and that his wife is awful. After Bob Lee frees a tormented dog belonging to Jimmy's niece, she thanks him as he leaves and says that Jimmy's wife isn't as terrible as they say. He stops for gas on the way home as two men enter the store with guns and start firing. He approaches the door to stop it and notices in the reflection of the camera that one of the men is the corner with his gun out waiting for Bob Lee to enter. He goes around the back and successfully stops the men, asking who sent them and how they knew to wait for him. Sheriff Brown thinks it's all in Bob Lee's head and dismisses the notion. He returns home and apologizes for being late, but he's met with angry/disappointed glares from everyone present. He further realizes his mistake when he sees Mary's room was all set up to paint and they were waiting on him to get home with the paint. Which he didn't have. Despite all the anger in his direction, he continues his hunt the next day by going straight to Bama Cattle and asking about Jimmy Poole, subtly making sure they know he's there to study their weaknesses and that he knows they're shady. Not terribly subtle, however, as he later finds out they've taken out a restraining order on him. Sheriff Brown attempts to end Bob Lee's crusade by letting him hear the audio recording of his dad's death, but it ends up doing the opposite when Bob Lee notices that the shot that killed his father had to have come from much farther away than where Jimmy was. Sheriff Brown is finally convinced something more was going on and they end up getting permission to exhume his father's body, only to discover that his grave marker had been switched, further showing how strange this situation is. They finally get the body as Bama Cattle's security dude watches from a safe distance away, and the bullets inside Earl Swagger are later examined. Bob Lee determines that second shooter was, indeed, a sniper, while Red Bama tries to flee before being stopped by his security man and told his father is coming.

Isaac and Agent Memphis (or, as Gregson mentions during their visit, just Nadine now) have been on their own crusade this week hunting down as much as possible about Atlas, starting with a meeting with Gregson. She tells them that things are just getting started and tells them they could have learned exactly what that meant from Hayes if they hadn't killed him so quickly. A bit of an oversight, sure, but at least they got rid of an important player in Atlas. Their next stop is to see Harris to convince him to break into Hayes's office safe. He tries to shoot this down since he was technically fired even though the paperwork wasn't filed, but you don't really say no to Isaac and Nadine. He should have tried a little harder, though. He gets apprehended for trespassing after opening the safe and the FBI is called to clean it out. Luckily, this was all arranged by Isaac, Nadine, and Gregson, without Harris's knowledge of course. It had to look real so Atlas wouldn't know they had it, of course. Poor Harris. This plan was enacted in the nick of time as someone comes by Hayes's office a little while later to attempt the same thing, only to find out the files are already in FBI custody. While our investigative quartet attempts to make sense of the files, they discover a kill list containing all of their names, along with Solotov, Martin Jacobs, Carlita Cruise, and, at the top of the list, good ol' Bob Lee Swagger. The only name none of them know is Carlita's, which makes her place Isaac and Nadine's next stop, with Harris coming along for the ride. In the empty apartment, Nadine finds a go-bag under the sink, complete with money, passports, and a couple flashbangs that go off right in her face. She's an important character, though, so she just has a minor injury thanks to the writing sink. Cruise is clearly an Atlas member marked for death in an effort to tie up loose ends. At this point, Harris is ready to give all this up and is very nervous, but Nadine tells him she knows someone who will keep him safe. My money is on Bob Lee. That is, if I had money to put down. I'll rephrase. My Monopoly money is on Bob Lee.

So far, we've been treated to a premiere that should have been a finale, followed by second episode that could have been a premier if it had a tad more action. With that, I can't really gauge how I'm going to feel about this season, because it really has just begun. The premiere came off a bit rushed, understandably, and had all the classic hallmarks of a season finale with just enough of this season's mythology weaved in to make it fit better as premiere. I would have liked to see it extended over two episodes as initially intended, solely because we didn't get enough of the Julie/Isaac team-up I was really looking forward to. The moments with them we did get to see were solid and the perfect amount of trust. Or, I suppose, lack of trust. It was also great to see Julie put a bit of her gun training to work, which we will hopefully see a bit more of this season.

The second episode served more as a true premiere in that it picked up the seeds that were planted and established the roots of them so we can spend the rest of the season watching them grow. I enjoyed the dynamic between Isaac, Nadine, and Harris, though I completely agree with Harris's assessment that he isn't as "James Bond" as his two partners. If she truly is about to drop him off with Bob Lee, that could be just as fun to watch, though I'd be a bit nervous that he'd end up spending more time around Julie than Bob Lee and potentially coming between the couple. Although, currently, Bob Lee doesn't need any help with hurting his relationship with Julie, he's doing a fine job of that himself. I'll have a much better idea of my thoughts on all of these after next week's episode so I can truly have a feel for the season. Overall, I will commend them on their efforts for working around the issues that came up over Ryan Phillippe's leg last season. They're handling it in the best possible way, it's just a shame they had to stitch around some plot points. I have no doubt we missed out on some solid two hours of television since they ultimately had to sacrifice an episode of their season 3 plans to accommodate one of the two missing episodes from the end of season 2. I'm still fully looking forward to whatever journey they decide to take us on, though!

How did you like the first two episodes? Were you hoping to see more of the Isaac/Julie team-up? Will Julie and Bob Lee survive yet another season of too much adventure? Sound off in the comments below, and hopefully I'll see you all on the other side of this hurricane!


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