Election Overdose: Vegas 1.06 ‘The Real Thing’ Review
By Carol Tacker
Last week, Vegas was pre-empted by Presidential election coverage. This week, just when we think we are finally over all the ads, debates, polls, speeches and analysis of the election, we get a mayoral election as a central point in this episode. All together now, utter a big collective groan. But wait, take a deep breath, because this week, Vegas got it right, including the usually vexing crime of the week. Even while watching with election burn-out, it was a very good episode.
In prior episodes, that crime of the week had little or nothing to do with the strength of the show, the interaction between Savino (Michael Chiklis) and Lamb (Dennis Quaid). Instead the crimes were tedious forays into standard police procedural territory. But not this time, where the crime and even the mayoral race, stayed focused on the main characters. The show begins with Sheriff Lamb finding his son holding three young men at gunpoint in the desert. The three culprits are standing with their pants around their ankles. Nothing off-color here, this is just Dixon Lamb’s (Taylor Handley) way of compensating for his handcuff shortage. Pants down equals can’t run, he explains. The whole snatch and grab peccadillo that caused this scene was a throwaway and apparently included only to give the Sheriff a chance to growl the words, “Sometimes there’s a difference between law and justice.” This will make sense later.
Cut to the real crime of the week. Dentist’s office, showgirl distracts him from his lunch hour to see if he will repair her tooth that was kicked out of her mouth during a show. He gasses her and when she wakes up with a new tooth, she finds poor Dr. Howard Saffran dead on the floor of his office, apparently strangled.
Cut to the Savoy count room (stay with me, I swear they will connect) where the lovely Mia Rizzo (Sarah Jones) is informed by Mayor Bennett’s team that an ordinance now requires there to be a city auditor in every casino count room. This requirement is going to make it difficult for Savino to provide the skim back to his bosses in Chicago. One of the employees counting the money spills his bicarbonate of soda on the table and Mia notices the mixture melts the paint off a chip. She quickly pockets it and takes it to Savino. Now Savino has two problems. A city auditor is in the count room, and the possibility that his casino is being hit with counterfeit chips. He tells his men to bring in the most well-known local maker of counterfeit chips, while he confronts the mayor over the auditor problem. He reminds the mayor of his five thousand dollar contribution to his campaign and the mayor reminds him that he is there to serve the people, not the casinos. Furious, Savino returns to the Savoy determined to take the mayor “out of the game.”
Meanwhile, Sheriff Lamb discovers the dead dentist owed his bookie almost forty-thousand dollars. His soon to be ex wife tells Lamb he gambled away all of their money, including their child’s college fund. When they question the bookie, he says he had no beef with the dentist because the doc paid off his debt in full the week before, $37,400 in cash. Following a lead, Lamb finds a lab where the dentist was making counterfeit chips using dental cement, which apparently matches the weight and density of the chip material. Someone had torn up the lab and fake chip and chip molds were missing. Here’s where it all comes together. Lamb goes to see Savino to let him know about the chips, and they have a common goal to find the person who stole fake chips and chip molds and who was also the likely killer of the dentist who made them.
“You need me,” Lamb reminds Savino, who then says, “And you need me.” Finally, we have a crime at the heart of the show, which leads to an understanding between the stars.
The Sheriff discovers a dead guard at a medical warehouse where dental cement is sold (but only to dentists, legally) and where a large amount of that material is missing. Meanwhile, Savino’s wife reminds her husband of his promise to be open with her. He admits he is worried about the mayor, and having auditors in his count room. She reminds him the dry cleaner, Jerry Grady, who is running against the mayor is only eight points behind in the polls and that women voters do not support the mayor. She decides to get involved in preparing Grady for his upcoming mayoral debate after Savino meets with Grady to get him on his side.
To up the ante, Savino’s boys hijack a truck full of televisions and distribute them to places “women go” like the beauty parlor where both Mrs. Savino and the Assistant District Attorney Katherine O’ Connell (Carrie Anne Moss) are having their hair done. The two women have a brief discussion concerning how Kennedy will win the presidential election based on his appeal to women.
The crime of the week gets hotter as a man posing as a chip supplier wheels a cart into the casino and knocks out two guards and escapes with five-hundred thousand from the vault, while posing as a supplier of legitimate chips. Eventually, the trail leads back to a cashier at the Savoy, who earlier cashed out exactly $37,400 in chips to the late dentist. As Lamb takes her away for questioning, Savino argues he can get to her partner in crime faster than Lamb can if he leaves her with him. Lamb does not. She confesses it was all her boyfriend’s idea to involve her and her dentist in a scam, and then kills the dentist and takes the fake chips and chip molds the dentist had made and eventually uses the chips in a ruse to take five-hundred grand from the vault.
Lamb arrives at the boyfriend’s trailer in the desert just before Savino shoots him. As Savino predicted, he did find him first by questioning all the casino employees who knew the cashier. Lamb demands Savino turn him over to the law. Savino reminds Lamb if a mountain lion was killing all of his ranch stock and taking food off his table, Lamb would kill it. Lamb says yes but it’s not unlawful and you can’t take the law into your own hands, thus giving Savino the opening to reply, “Sometimes there’s a difference between law and justice.” He punches the criminal and turns him over to Lamb who responds, “Fair enough.” Savino and Lamb share a knowing smile. Not a “bromance” exactly, but at least an understanding.
Back to the mayoral debate, where a sweaty, nervous (“Men don’t wear makeup”) mayor is facing his smooth-looking dry cleaner contender. Mrs. Savino has made sure the contender’s forehead is powdered to avoid looking shiny on camera à la Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential debate. After the contender delivers his opening remarks, we see one of Savino’s men climb a tower and cut the television cable so the mayor gets no chance to respond, thus leaving nothing to chance.
This episode was fun and fast paced and cohesive. The homage to the Kennedy-Nixon debate and even the recent election was amusing and the crime was perfectly integrated into the main theme of the show. Bravo. This is the best Vegas episode so far. Savino’s closing line was, “People always remember the last thing they see.” Remembering this episode will only bring viewers back for more.