Murder in the First: Season 2 Episode 8 – Out of the Shadows – Recap and Analysis

Out of the Shadows, the 8th episode of Murder in the First’s second season, was a decided upgrade over the previous segments. However, before you think that I’ve fully jumped on the bandwagon, or that I’m all in, let’s have a closer look.

*****MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*****

Actually I’m still in the camp of those who are not yet all in. As I noted in least week’s MITF notes, the show likes to toss in new characters, in what seems like a weekly basis.

All of a sudden, Mario Siletti, the DA who is in charge of the prosecution of the Dustin Maker case, has a wife and a nearly or possibly wayward son. Who knew?

The almost forgotten Alyssa, Molk’s strip club hostess girlfriend, has reappeared, and now, she suddenly matters. She’s the bag-lady for the union, delivering envelopes crammed with money on the union’s orders. She’s also terrified.

But I am getting ahead of myself. The episode began with Sugar and family emerging from a church – Tenea’s funeral. Gang squad coppers Raffi and Isaiah are watching from across the street. Sugar comes over, and we get that Raffi knows more than we previously thought. Sugar appears to think the same thing.

But did you notice the tat on Fatty B’s neck? I could be wrong, or this could have no meaning at all, but it made me flash back to juvie hall footage of the still missing Jalil who also had a tattoo that he hadn’t had before. Is there a connection?

Back at headquarters, Koto suggests that the Kaleb Peat case be handed off to the Cold Case cops, and that English, and Hildy work the Sarah Tran case. And the murderer could very well be in the building, so…

Especially since the forensics show that she’s been dead for six weeks and the phone message sent to her husband Brian Tran had a date that was three weeks after her death. Worth looking into, no?

Still at HQ, Raffi’s Commander Criolla, who we already know is running Junior McCormick’s debt clearance, and is way high up in the Union; he takes Raffi off the Sugar case.

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La Rafle

This location, in the above photo, is one of the most beloved places to visit in Paris. This photo is taken from the esplanade of the Jardin du Trocadero,  with the Palais du Chaillot being unseen and behind. This beautiful place overlooks the park, the water basin, and fountains. and provides a superb view looking towards the Eiffel Tower. Most people who come to Paris, arrive here at one point or another. I know I did in 1998, 2003, and more recently. in 2013.

As did these members of the German High Command, and among them was Adolf Hitler. The date of his visit was June 23rd, 1942.

The film La Rafle chooses to begin with archival film footage of Hitler and his staff as they took in some of the best known Paris landmarks, then drove on some of the most famous of thoroughfares in Paris. You are struck by the near complete absence of people, traffic, and everything that makes a city look and feel alive.

No doubt orders were given to keep people off these streets so as to not impair these sightseers.

The French title, La Rafle translates to English as The Roundup. Written and directed by Rose Bosch, this is a 2010 film about the roundup of 13,000 Jews in Paris, within 48 hours in the summer of 1942. Led by Marshal Petain and Pierre Laval, the French Vichy government struck a deal with Hitler in 1940. Germany would occupy northern and western France, including the Atlantic Coast. The Germans would also occupy Paris rather than destroy it. The rest of France would be called Free France.

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Murder in the First: Episode 02-07 State of the Union – Recap and Analysis

*****SPOILER WARNING*****

Murder in the First has displayed a sketchy game plan in this the second season on TNT. Make that multiple sketchy game plans.

Here’s one. Paint a pretty picture that has everyone believing that a certain party is guilty of something. Never mind that there’s no actual proof. Run with it any way.

Were you like me, and most of the viewers, thinking that Detective Navarro was the bad guy in the Homicide Detectives Squad Room. I was sure he was guilty of something. Wasn’t he on the run? Wasn’t he ready to spend mass quantities of the currency of the USA, just to pass into Mexico via Lane Six at the border crossing?.

That’s what I believed in the main. Last week I kind of hedged my bet by asking – well, what exactly was he guilty of?

We will circle back to Navarro in a while.

Here’s another way that Murder in the First did the old switcheroo on us. While I think it is evident that no one watching this season thought that Hildy’s bro – Junior McCormick, was any kind of a good guy. He looked, sounded, and acted like he was born with a chip on his shoulder.

But who knew that he would be this bad. Aside from his detective work, he also moon lighted as the Union’s unofficial Collection Agency. You know – Junior was the muscle to squeeze those who needed squeezing. Nothing like a good five or six punches in the face to get those recalcitrant debtors (those with major unpaid debts to the union) to open the company safe to make a payoff. Each time Junior brought in a bundle, the amount on his own marker was reduced.

Which leads us to another way that the producers and writers of this series continue to play a shell game on we viewers. When things are getting stale – introduce some new characters like –

Exhibit A – Koto’s Dad – just an ordinary father who dreamed his son could become a future Mayor of San Francisco

Exhibit B – Detective Molk’s pole dancer girl friend

Exhibit C – Hildy and Junior’s Dad – a former cop himself. And make him a racist too. Junior asks Pops to front him for 70K. Really? When Dad said he didn’t have 70K laying around (who does?), you just knew we’d be seeing more of Dad McCormick.

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True Detective: Episode 02-05 Other Lives – Recap & Analysis

*****MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*****

When we last watched True Detective, Episode 4 (Down Will Come) had ended in a bloody shootout. The streets with no names were filled with the bodies of cops, criminals, and people who were just caught in the crossfire. The gutters literally ran red with blood.

So when Episode 5, called Other Lives, began – the calendar had moved forward some sixty plus days. Nothing had remained the same, in terms of career, for Detectives Ani Bezzerides, Detective Ray Velcoro, and CHP Officer Paul Woodrugh.

Bezzerides was still a cop, still based in Ventura County, only she was no longer a homicide investigator. She was now set up as the uniformed desk officer of the Property & Evidence Lockup. Her bosses had also required her to attend group counseling to work through her sexual predilection…

Bezzerides: I like big dicks.... that woke up the room of her fellow  cop in group counseling

Bezzerides: I like big dicks….
that woke up the room of her fellow cops in group counseling

involving well hung men on the job. Meaning her fellow cops.

This didn’t mean she had stopped working the case; only it meant she was ‘investigating’ from her desk, rather than out in the field.

Velcoro had resigned from the Venice police force. He took Frank Semyon up on his offer to come work for him. Velcoro was now collecting overdue rents from the residents at Frank’s motel. Velcoro, now shorn of mustache, and 60 days into his sobriety looked much better. But is he a new man? Not really.

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Murder in The First: Episode 02-06 – Oh, Mexico Recap, Review, and a Host of Questions

Murder in the First Season 2 Episode 6 Oh, Mexico – Recap and Commentary *****SPOILERS GALORE*****

The episode opens with Sugar Cascade at a jail house to pick up his sister Tenea who is supposed to be release today. Only she’s been released yesterday. Sugar leaves perplexed.

Back at the courthouse, with Jamie Nelson and the second chair, Aaron Mazur on hand, Dustin Maker pleads guilty. The  judge suggests that Nelson’s shrink is not the court’s shrink, and before accepting the plea, he orders another psych  evaluation to determine if Maker has the competency to understand what his plea actually means. I’m not sure what to make of this. What is the point of having this great attorney on hand and her client wants to plead out. I’m wondering what Jamie Nelson’s hidden strategy actually is.

Lt. Koto is offered a promotion by the Chief of Police. Koto asks to stay on at present level – at least until his department gets their feet back under them. His team has lost 2 men. Koto’s Dad has bigger dreams – He sees Koto as a future mayor of SF. Dad challenges Koto – Loyalty is great if you are a follower. If you’re a leader it is a weakness. Are you a follower or the future Mayor?

Koto heads out to the detective squad room. He asks for more info on the shooting and the suicide. Where’s Navarro? Molk says I’m going to swing by Navarro’s house.

Hildy tells her Bro that Peat’s death wasn’t a suicide, and that Navarro hasn’t been cleared.

Molk shows up at Navarro’s home and there’s no sign of Navarro. A couple of skin heads roll up. They look over Molk who has opened his coat to reveal his badge and that his hand is on his gun. The skinheads and Molk exchange fake pleasantries before they drive off.

Attorney Jamie Nelson questions Dustin Maker’s parents about a broken arm when Dustin was six. She says, The bone in his arm was shattered. But the parents were a no-show at the hospital as well as the recovery. Nelson is suspicious,  as am I, as are you, and is anyone who watched the show. Maker’s parents could not look any more like they were hiding something.

What are thee people hiding?

What are these people hiding?

I’m not sure where this can lead either. Even if the parents are revealed to negligent or abusive, how will this help Nelson? Is child abuse an excuse for cold-blooded murder. Not an excuse but it certainly mitigating in establishing Maker’s state of mind over the years.

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Transindia – A Documentary by Meera Darji

transindia

From the USA Today newspaper:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Monday issued two directives moving the Pentagon closer to allowing transgender men and women to serve openly in the military.

First, Carter ordered the creation of a Pentagon working group “to study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly,” Carter said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

Earlier this year, it was announced that TV and Film actor Taye Diggs, who can currently be seen playing a San Francisco PD Homicide detective in the TNT television series Murder in the First, has agreed to perform in the live theatrical production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. This production won the 2014 Tony for Best Musical Revival. Mr. Diggs will take over the role of Hedwig on July 22nd at the Belasco Theater on West 44th Street – the epicenter of New York’s theatrical zone known as Broadway.

Then there’s the near constant coverage of Caitlyn Jenner in the supermarket tabloids and the gossip press and media.

We are all aware of the success of the TV series Orange is the New Black, as well as the award-winning TV series Transparent.

All of the above are references to transgenders in the news and in the media, as well as in the arts. But what about the transgenders who you don’t read about. The ones that are living their lives not only here in the States, or in the European Union, but in other places in the world.

UK filmmaker Meera Darji has recently completed her Documentary Short called Transindia. It is a moving documentary that explores the Transgender community (Hijras) in Ahmedabad, India. The Hijras, long ago, in the days of the Mughal Empire, were accepted in society, where they earned a good sense of respect.

The days of the Mughal Empire were followed by the era of the British Raj, when Britain had colonized India. During this period, in 1871, a law was passed. Section 26 of the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 – basically classified all Hijras as criminals. The nuts and bolts of the act basically allowed that any Hijra, appearing in public places or streets, either dressed or ornamented as a woman, who plays music, dances, or performs any public exhibition, could be arrested without warrant, and would face either 2 years of imprisonment, or fines, or both.

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True Detective: Season 2 Episode 4 – Down Will Come

True Detective Season 2 Episode #4 Preview (HBO)_20150714020412_8

Back in 1971 Rod Stewart and Ron Wood penned a tune. The title was Every Picture Tells a Story. From the lyrics:

Make the best out of the bad, just laugh it off
You didn’t have to come here anyway
So remember, every picture tells a story don’t it

Now think of what Velcoro said about the world, its people . and their problems, in answer to Woodrugh saying I just don’t know how to be, out in that world.

Woodrugh:  Velcoro: Look out there. Nobody does.

Woodrugh: I just don’t know how to be, out in that world.
Velcoro: Look out there. Nobody does.

Velcoro said – Look out the window. Nobody does.  It’s like dust in your eyes – blink it away.

From the song:

I firmly believe that I didn’t need anyone but me
I sincerely thought I was so complete
Look how wrong you can be

But the characters in True Detective aren’t complete, and certainly what you see is not all that you get. The Series, in its second season, is the TV equivalent of peeling an onion,. What I mean is that there’s multiple layers to each of the leads. They’re haunted by their pasts, and they struggle in the present.

True Detective Season 2 Episode #4 Preview (HBO)_20150714020319_6

As Frank Semyon says to his wife, Avocado trees? Having a kid? Stan? With everything going on in my life – I’m lucky I can even see. So Frank goes back to being a mobster rather than a business man. He’s doing drug deals, he forces his way into a motel partnership with the same guy he sold the motel to in the first place. He shakes down a construction outfit.

He even asks Velcoro to sign on with him. Velcoro says, I’m not muscle, Frank. But Semyon doesn’t want Velcoro to be muscle – Frank likes that Velcoro is smart. He even suggests that Velcoro put his police career to bed.

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Happy July 4th: Presenting Some Art to Celebrate the Holiday

Happy July 4th!

It is hard to believe that the year (2015) is half over. Where does the time go? As has been my custom, I present my annual July 4th trip to the virtual art museum. Actually none of us need leave our desks, homes, or go anywhere to visit these artworks. And of course there is no admission fee for this virtual museum.

There is no overriding theme for my selections, and except for a couple of July 4th graphics – the art does not truly pertain to Independence day. Generally, I bring you art that has simply caught and attracted my eyes. Some art work will be included because of the bold and striking colors, or the design. Others because they show some activities that you or I might find ourselves involved with over this weekend. Or places that we might visit. And still others because I simply like both the look and feel of the art, and that the paintings display beauty as well as invoking thoughts of happy times.

I’ve included landscapes, figurative, impressionist, classic realism. Most are oil paints but some have been created by water colorists. Enjoy.

We will lead off with a trio from Terri Kelly Moyers. Terri grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and now lives in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Whether she’s painting a portrait or a landscape or a cowgirl riding a horse, Moyer’s subjects are things that she sees beauty in, and things that create an emotional response.

She has said “I want to share what I see with other people and help them have the same pleasure I have. Each artist interprets and edits things in a different way, infusing his or her work with a different quality or emotion.”

The first from Moyers is called Morning Exercise – Santa Anita. I know that many folks will attend race tracks and enjoy horse racing today. This image portrays what takes place in the hours of the early morning before the tracks open to the general public. This is when the track grandstands are empty and the people at the track are mostly trainers, grooms and handlers, exercise boys or girls, horse owners, and clockers.

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Looking Back Twenty Years – Crimson Tide (1995)

crimsontide_s

Capt. Ramsey: Those sailors out there are just boys… boys who are training to do a terrible and unthinkable thing, and if that ever occurs the only reassurance they’ll have that they’re doing the proper thing is gonna derive from their unqualified belief in the unified chain of command. That means we don’t question each other’s motives in front of the crew. It means we don’t undermine each other. It means in a missile drill, they hear your voice right after mine, without hesitation. Do you agree with that policy, sailor?

Hunter: Absolutely, sir.

Capt. Ramsey: We’re here to preserve democracy, not to practice it.

That was a dialogue between Gene Hackman as Captain Frank Ramsey and Denzel Washington as Lt. Commander Ron Hunter as the XO of the submarine, the USS Alabama. This 1995 film was called Crimson Tide and it is the latest in my Looking Back Twenty Years film series.

Structurally the film is so much like so many other naval films. There’s usually an up from the ranks Captain. He’s almost always an older man, he may be crusty or even cantankerous, or someplace in between. He is set in his ways, can be petty, mean-spirited, and selfish, He doesn’t brook any dissenting opinions from his subordinate officers who are always younger, smarter as in better educated, and have different philosophies on everything from commanding men to taking orders.

You already know some of the main players in this genre – Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian from Mutiny on the Bounty, Captain Queeg and Lt. Steve Maryk from The Caine Mutiny, Cmdr Rich Richardson and Lt. Jim Bledsoe from Run Silent, Run Deep, and to keep the list manageable, Lt Commander Morton and Lt J.G. Doug Roberts from Mr. Roberts.

Some of Hollywood’s biggest names have appeared in films about the naval warfare and men under stress during those conflicts. James Cagney, Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Mel Gibson, Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Henry Fonda to name just a few. Of course in Crimson Tide, Hackman and Washington get above the title star billing. But this film also featured the then relatively unknowns James Gandolfini and Viggo Mortensen. as well as George Dzundza who also appeared in The Deer Hunter and No Way Out.

As the film begins, NBC News correspondent Richard Valeriani is aboard a French aircraft carrier somewhere in the Mediterranean.

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