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Tommy - The Swatting Game - Review

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Tommy “The Swatting Game” was written by Christina Anderson and was directed by Melanie Mayron, whose other credits include Jane the Virgin, Grace and Frankie, and Pretty Little Liars. Jane the Virgin had everything from comedy to drama, so I knew we were in good hands with Mayron. Anderson’s only other writing credit is My America, but this is a really good episode, with the same fast pace and snappy dialogue that I’ve come to associate with the show. I really liked the take on female gamers and that the show is continuing to shine a light on the racism issue. The episode also focuses on the cber-crimes of swatting – sending a large number of police to a particular address on a crank call – and doxing – publishing personal information of an individual on the Internet.

The episode begins with gamer Crystal (Sixx Orange) getting swatted as she’s intently gaming, resulting in her father being shot and killed when SWAT storms her house thinking there’s someone with a gun in her house.

Cooper (Russell G Jones) calls Tommy (Edie Falco) at 3am, and we see that she’s spent the night with Kiley (Katrina Lenk). It’s their first night together, and Tommy called her. She seems to care about Tommy, checking to make sure that she’s alright with what happened. She is. Turns out there is some chemistry between these two after all!

When Tommy arrives on the scene, Cooper fills her in that it was a prank and that Officer Wayne Billy Hepfinger) shot the father, thinking he had a gun, when he just had a baseball bat. Blake (Adelaide Clemens) pulls Tommy to talk to the press, telling her that “downtown” has told her not to apologize or express any regret and to highlight transparency. Tommy, of course, goes on to commit the number one no-no of politics and policing as the first thing she does is say that she is very sorry. It’s possible that a good lawyer can spin that to save the department by throwing Tommy under the bus and making that simply a personal response – and not the LAPD’s response.

However, we are soon introduced to Simmons (Donnie Keshawarz) from the Office of Legal Counsel who reads Tommy the riot act – in a very calm way – for saying she was sorry for the shooting. Tommy clarifies that she said sorry about – and I liked this bit of witty back and forth. However, Simmons is angry that she took responsibility for the LAPD – and he’s right in suggesting it’s going to end up in a lawsuit. I really liked the addition of Keshawarz. He plays Simmons restrained so it’s really hard to get a read on him. Will he be an ally or an adversary?

Tommy tries to reach out to Kate (Olivia Lucy Phillip), but she won’t answer her phone. It turns out that the DA has decided not to prosecute any of the DayGlo Johns, so it looks like Tommy may have blown up her relationship with Kate for nothing.

Tommy meets with Ashley (Sasha Diamond) and Cooper to dig in to the swatter. She learns that he spoofed Crystal’s number and that Crystal is a rising star gamer. Tommy then sends them to talk to Crystal. We get quite a bit of background on Crystal in this episode, and I really like how they’ve fleshed out this character. It turns out that she used to be a gamer herself, but she quit when the comments got too harsh. And this is torn from the headlines. Female gamers are attacked regularly on the Internet simply for being female. Crystal is simply stunned that anyone would want to swat her Dad, but of course, he wasn’t the target. Their interview is cut short when Crystal’s sister Alyssa (Kailee O’Sullivan) shows up and puts an end to the interview and states they’ll be suing! Simmons was right.

Tommy meets with Officer Wayne who tells her that he’s resigning. Tommy tells him that he doesn’t know how it will turn out, shootings are hard, but with counselling… But that’s not what’s really bothering him. He was doxed. All of his personal information was released, including the fact that he is HIV positive. She tells him to take a breath and not do anything in haste. Tommy is ready to blame it all on “transparency” – they put his name out.

Ashley discovers that the doxer and swatter are the same person. Ashley explains to Tommy that as far as the doxer/swatter is concerned, as long as they are suffering, he’s winning. Which naturally gets Tommy’s back up! She holds a press conference and calls the swatter a coward and the doxing disgusting.

Kiley calls to check in on Tommy and see how she’s doing. She’s seen that Tommy is having a tough day. I thought this was sweet and cute – but it also made me wonder if Kiley is too good to be true?

Tommy and Cooper go to see Ethan Glem (Jack Berenholtz) the CEO of StreamConnect to get the real name for the user behind the crimes. He is the usual slick corporate executive, denying that they do anything that would encourage or enable swatting. Tommy has had Mrs Gates (Tonye Patano) dig up everything she could on Glem, so Tommy has ammunition to go back at him. She brings up the riots associated with his gaming events – and the optics of all the violence around the games. Tommy assures him that they’ll make sure that his name – and the company’s are in the news every day…. She suggests that he give them the name so that he’ll be the company that helped catch a killer. After all, people love those companies! Falco – as Tommy – was smart and ballsy in this scene and I loved it!

The city is hit with a rash of swattings. I loved the set with the giant map that showed where all the swattings were. Tommy continues to get negative feedback about her apology. Commander Washington (Chinasa Ogbuagu) asks if there will be another one – she didn’t like Tommy assuming blame for the police as if they’d done something wrong. Cooper tells her that the politics of her job don’t allow her to apologize too.

After following one false lead on Arthur Stray (Marc LeVasseur) who left creepy messages on Crystal’s page, he tells them about readymaO5 who bricked his phone to block him from Crystal. Alyssa doesn’t want Crystal to help them catch readyma, but in the end she insists that she wants to.

Crystal plays to lure readyma out. I really liked the scene between Ashley and Tommy – it was a nice way to bridge the generation gap here! Tommy doesn’t understand why anyone would want to watch someone else play a video game, and Ashley explains that it’s like watching chess – very bloody chess! And that makes perfect sense. She also tells Tommy, that she used to play when she was younger and even won a tournament. But as soon as you are good – and female – you start getting horrible comments. It starts with ‘they went easy on you because you’re a girl’ and escalates to death threats on her and her family! And yes. That really does happen. Far too much. Ashley tells her that these days, she actually prefers the comments to the actual gameplay.

Readyma does respond to a bid that Ashley places on Crystal, and Tommy and Crystal take turns responded in the comments. I loved that Tommy’s remark is “you couldn’t swat an ass in a strip club!” They get the address of readyma – or Steven Mist (Ed Squires) and SWAT goes in to take him!

Tommy insists on interrogating him. Mist insists that he didn’t do anything except try to take his elite fighter out on missions. It’s clear that he has no grip on reality. He’s angry that a girl kept beating him at the game. He’s already taunted Tommy as a “Lady cop,” so she knows exactly what to say to him – you got beaten by a girl twice!

Meanwhile, Kate has been having a very bad day. She’s at a school fair and steps out to get something from her car. She finds an honors student – Davis Jacobs (Nile Bullock) – being roughed up and arrested by two officers – Parker (Mitchell Cetuk) and Lawrence (Gareth Keegan). When she tries to intervene, they arrest her too! She tries to tell them who her mother is, but Lawrence, who is clearly racist and not happy about having a woman boss either, scoffs at her, telling her that his boss is white and gay!

Kate ends up calling Diaz (Vladimir Caamano) for help after Henry won’t pick up. When Diaz shows up, the Officers try to disrespect him too, but quickly change their tunes when they find out that Kate really is Tommy’s daughter. They tell them that Davis was taken to central Juvenile Hall. Diaz and Kate go to pick up Davis and find him beaten as he was placed in custody with a violent offender. Kate finally calls Tommy, and Tommy tells Cooper she wants to talk to the two Officers. Cooper insists that she bring Simmons in on it.

Simmons meets with Tommy, the Officers, and the Union President – Lou Woods (John Bedford Lloyd). He accuses Tommy of not being there for the Officers but for herself. Tommy focuses on what was done to Davis – not Kate, however. It’s seems clearer that Simmons may be an ally in this scene – but he’s not happy that Tommy is planning on calling Davis’ family – and apologizing again!

Tommy stops by Kate’s. Henry isn’t there. Tommy asks why Kate didn’t call her, and Kate throws Tommy’s words back at her – you said you couldn’t interfere. It’s pretty petulant and childish. Henry was breaking the law – Kate was being harassed! However, I did like how they highlighted that there is rampant racism and a double standard. She tells Tommy that it wouldn’t have mattered who she called. Because she and Davis are black, they don’t get to explain. However, Kate does tell Tommy to move back in… but will she?

In the final scene, Tommy has called Kiley again and the two are sharing a bottle of wine. She tells Kiley that she called because she enjoys her company. Kiley remarks that she’s never shared time with anyone who is even busier than she is! The two kiss and are interrupted by Tommy getting another phone call – this time from the Mayor. No doubt he’s not happy about the apology either! Kiley is about to step out of the room so that Tommy can take the call in private, but Tommy stops her – and Tommy doesn’t take the call!

I really liked this episode. It was smart, topical, and once again, hit some current hot topics. I also like the fact that the show is able to have so much story and action and still give us lots of character development. Once again, Falco delivers a terrific performance. I’m hoping that we are going to see more of Kershawarz as Simmons – I’m still not sure whose team he’s playing for! What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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