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Tommy - Packing Heat - Review



Tommy “Packing Heat” was written by Stephen Belber and directed by (the always wonderful) Adam Arkin, whose directing credits include Fargo, Justified, and Sons of Anarchy. The episode once again tackles a hot topic in LA – race and violence, and particularly how young people are affected by the intersection of the two. The mysterious photographer is back and the pictures start to have ramifications – Tommy (Edie Falco) and Kiley (Katrina Lenk) see their relationship come to an end, and Blake (Adelaide Clemens) finally comes clean to Tommy about Vincent – and the Mayor (Thomas Sadoski). The episode is dedicated to Mark Blum (Jacob Fulton) who sadly passed away on March 26 from covid-19. His long career included movies, Crocodile Dundee and Desperately Seeking Susan, and television, NYPD Blues, The West Wing, Mozart in the Jungle, and he was a staple of the New York theater scene.

The episode begins with a teen stopping a robbery with an illegal gun. It turns out that Jovani Perez (Victor H Rodriguez) is a local baseball phenomenon about to rocket out of poverty and into Major League Baseball.

On the home front, Kiley has dinner at home with Kate (Olivia Lucy Phillip) and Tommy, so it’s clear that their relationship is serious. Kate even remarks on how happy Tommy looks. It turns out that Kiley, of course, knows all about Jovani when Tommy hears about the incident. Tommy tells her that the DA wants to make Jovani the “poster boy” for a new program to help youth in trouble avoid jail. Kiley encourages her to include Jovani, telling her that he’s a good kid. Kiley asks if Tommy could introduce her to Jovani – she’s wanted to represent him, but he’s too young for her to be able to approach. Tommy, of course, tells her that she can’t, and Kiley says she understands. The two kiss – and once again, a mysterious photographer catches it on film.

Cooper (Russel G Jones), Tommy, and Ken (Michael Chernus) discuss Jovani being put in the new program. Cooper is vehemently opposed to Jovani getting into the diversion program. Ken supports it, saying he’s a good kid and it’s a good program. Tommy is a staunch supporter of the program, having used a similar one in New York. She recognizes that most of these kids only carry guns because they are terrified on their own streets. They don’t become criminals until the end up in the jail system. Cooper insists that the Police Union will push back and insists that once a kid starts carrying a gun, he’ll do it again. We learn much later in the episode that Cooper’s reluctance is based on an incident very early in his career when a child who had been shot by another died in his arms. It was interesting to see this different dynamic between Tommy and Cooper – and nice to see Jones get to really flex his dramatic muscles in this episode.

Tommy sends Diaz (Vldimir CaamaƱo) to the courthouse to give her support to the Judge (Kelley Rae O’Donnell) placing Jovani in the diversion program – which she does. Diaz sees Kiley in the courtroom. When Jovani’s mom (Idalia Limon) and sister Daniella (Olivia Perez) thank Diaz for coming and Tommy’s support, they also mention that they just met Kiley who they know is good friends with Tommy – based on photos of the two that have just been released! Diaz immediately calls Ken who shows the photos to Tommy. She’s furious and tells him to find out who took the photos. Naturally, because it is LA and the paparazzi are everywhere, nobody is too concerned – except Tommy, who’s used to having a private life.

The Mayor calls Tommy. Unlike Lou Woods (John Bedford Lloyd) who hates the diversion program, the Mayor tells her that he loves the program – but that with the photos of Tommy and Kiley, he is angry about how bad that looks. As he’s on the phone with Tommy, Doug (Joseph Lyle Taylor) is in the background egging him on. The Mayor tells him to knock off the “Cyrano” – and I loved the reference! But Doug is loving Tommy being in trouble and tells the Mayor that if the story gets legs, the Mayor will have to distance himself from Tommy.

Kiley comes to Tommy and apologizes about the photos. Kiley tells Tommy that Jovani’s mother approached her – not the other way around. She tells Tommy that she has to do her job. She really wants to help Jovani navigate the cutthroat corporate world of major league sports. She tells her that she would have gone to the hearing because she saw it on the news – again, it’s her job. Tommy tells her to do her job, but in order for Tommy to do hers, Kiley can’t drop her name. Kiley insists that she didn’t. Tommy gives her a pretty lukewarm assurance that she believes her.

Cooper is almost pleased when he comes to tell Tommy that there’s been another shooting and the gun had Jovani’s fingerprints on it. They’ve put a bolo out on him. The Mayor and Doug again confront Tommy. She tells them that she’ll admit that she made a mistake – but only after the kid is found guilty. The Mayor tells her that Milt got fired for mixing his girlfriend and the job…. Tommy asks pointblank if she’s fired – and the Mayor says no. Doug, however, then suggests getting the Ethics Commission to get rid of Tommy – and that way keep distance from it.

Diaz tells Tommy that he liked the mom – and the two go to visit her. She reveals that she had been keeping her husband’s (Ian Paola) gun hidden in the ceiling for protection. People think that they are rich because of Jovani’s talent – but he can’t make any money until he goes to the big leagues. When Diaz checks the ceiling for the gun – it’s gone – of course…

Jovani calls Kiley when his mother tells him to, and Kiley tells him to turn himself in, so she’s at the station when Tommy gets there. Kiley tells Tommy that she didn’t call her in order to keep a distance between the two of them. Tommy tells her to leave, but Kiley won’t abandon Jovani.

Tommy asks Jovani if he knew about the gun. He admits that he did, but says that he’d forgotten about it when the Judge asked him if he knew of any other firearms. He insists it was an honest mistake. He also insists that he wouldn’t throw his career away over it.

While Tommy is in the car with Diaz, things start to fall apart. Woods is on the radio declaring that the bleeding heart program lead directly to a bleeding body. Tommy asks Blake to look into the photos. Blake wants Tommy to address the Kiley situation, and Tommy insists that her private life is private, but tells her to tell the press that there was no discussion of Jovani outside the department. Meanwhile, Kiley gives a very brief interview and mentions – innocently – that she and Tommy had briefly discussed Jovani when it first broke on the news.

Meanwhile, Tommy and the Mayor are doing press at a public school and the reporters ask about the case. When things get out of hand, Doug once again pours poison in the Mayor’s ear about keeping distance – and Sadowski hilariously takes the advice literally, sidling away from her.

Kiley meets with Tommy in the police garage. She apologizes for giving a statement which directly contradicted the statement that Tommy had Blake put out. Kiley still insists that she doesn’t want to turn her back on Jovani. She wants him to know that someone has his back. Tommy tells her that she understands – but the problem is underscored by the fact that they are having the conversation in the basement. The press is just reporting them doing their jobs, but it makes the “us” thing difficult. Kiley asks her if it’s just an excuse to leave when their relationship is getting serious. Tommy insists it isn’t, but she’s still ending it.

Tommy isn’t satisfied with the evidence against Jovani and wants to look at his posse. Diaz insists that they wouldn’t mess with the gun. Diaz goes back to interview the Mom – and asks Daniella if she knew about the gun. She says yes – and then tells him that their cousin Victor also knew about it. Jovani kicked him out of the posse for selling drugs (and of course, it was a drug dealer who was killed…). Victor confesses – he was jealous of Jovani.

In the end, the Judge extends Jovani’s probation because of not disclosing the second gun – so he won’t be eligible for MLB for another year. However, the Mayor has put things in motion. Mrs Gates (Tonye Patano) tells Tommy to turn on the news – the Mayor is announcing that the Ethics Committee will be investigating Tommy and Kiley. Ken who is watching with her freaks out. I really loved this little scene as the banter between Falco and Chernus is great. Tommy tells him to calm down and go and write her resignation speech – And Ken responds with an incredulous, “Really???” To which Tommy just replies – no.

Meanwhile, Blake has been continuing to look into Vincent’s disappearance. She confides in Ken, who urges her to let it drop in case it blows up the affair with the Mayor. Blake goes to see the Medical Examiner – Fulton – to ask about Wilson. He’s very friendly and tells her he was the last victim of the Crenshaw Fireman, until she wants specific details. Then he completely blows her off.

Blake is heading home, when she’s accosted in the hallway outside her apartment by the guy (George Feaster) who followed her last week from the bar. He appears to be the photographer. He has photos of her in bed with the Mayor in Malibu! And that should be her first clue as to who’s behind this – the owner of the house, of course! He tells her to be careful – and to tell her Boss to be careful too.

The episode ends with Blake coming to Tommy and confessing to the affair with the Mayor and telling her that she’s uncovered the corner of something. Tommy tells her that she has to tell her everything. She tells her that she can trust her and that she’ll get to the bottom of it. Falco plays this perfectly – and I’m really looking forward to Tommy kicking some serious ass in the last two episodes! Blake asks that they speak somewhere else….

This was another fast paced, jam-packed episode. Lots of great scenes. I think that Kiley and Tommy are likely done. I’m betting that the Mayor really doesn’t know half of what Doug does – but is he simply turning a willfully blind eye? What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!



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