VEGAS 1.11 ‘Paiutes’
Episode Title: "Paiutes"
Writers: Greg Walker and Steven Levenson
Director: Christine Moore
Previously on "Vegas:"
It’s taken some time, but things are finally starting to get nice and messy in "Vegas." "Paiutes" gets high marks for tightening up various entanglements and featuring a couple of great guest stars in some fun roles. In fact, this episode might have been the best to date, if not for a watered-down kidnapping subplot that was easy to forget with so much going on in this hour.
"Paiutes" was a busy, almost frantic episode between the Sheriff’s department’s pursuit of a pair of vengeful brothers (Hey, it’s R.J. Mitte from "Breaking Bad!) knocking off bars and sports books, Mia’s enlistment of Jack to help crack a poker cheat, Katherine’s race to beat the feds to a takedown of Johnny Rizzo and Sheriff Lamb’s kidnapping.
To that end, opening the episode with the kidnapping reveal and then interspersing the hour with dramatic time-stamped flashbacks did little to heighten the suspense, especially as the hour wore on. We know Sheriff Lamb (Dennis Quaid) isn’t in any real danger, as "Vegas" isn’t anywhere near the season finale. And in the end, the reveal that Mia’s (Sarah Jones) poker cheat, Hal Whitford was the culprit was pretty anti-climatic not to mention obvious, considering Ralph was on his way to the bank with the one-hundred and thirty-thousand bucks the Sheriff’s department lifted off the hustler.
What did work here was the further development of a number of questionable relationships. Mia called on the Sheriff to help sniff out a cheater, allowing her to spend more quality time with Jack (Jason O'Mara). "My family doesn’t bite," he tells her when she drops by the hospital to visit Ralph. "But mine does" she coolly reminds him. Everyone but Jack seems to think this relationship is a bad idea. I’m all for it as Mia Rizzo is one of the more interesting characters on "Vegas" and Jack desperately needs something (or someone) to do.
Over at The Savoy, Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) and Johnny Rizzo (Michael Wiseman) butted heads again, this time over Rizzo’s squandering money on a loan for The Tumbleweed. When Mormon banker, Leo Farnwood pressed Vincent about the loan, Rizzo made a veiled threat against his family. Little does Vincent know, the Mormons have a mob of their own and its leader is Michael Ironside. In one of the coolest scenes of the series to date, Mormon enforcer, Porter Gainsley (Ironside) and his men gave the Chicago boys a talking to inside a barn. In the end, Vincent handed over The Tumbleweed in exchange for his and Johnny’s lives, which only angers Johnny.
Meanwhile, Katherine O’Connell (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Savino’s wife, Laura (Vinessa Shaw) had another chit chat; Laura suspects Rizzo had Diane Diamond killed. Armed with this information, Katherine went to D.A. Reynolds (Michael Reilly Burke). You know, the guy who told Savino about Diane in the first place. It’s great to see Katherine take up the fight against the Chicago mob. She’s tagged along on some of Sheriff Lamb’s investigations, but her crusade against Rizzo is much more interesting and believable.
"Vegas" has struggled with trying to weave its mob drama through a procedural format. While "Paiutes" was a great episode, I found myself way more interested in its subplots than the cases the Sheriff’s department handily solved. CBS isn’t HBO, but it’s hard not think about how much better "Vegas" would be if it lost the procedural element entirely and focused on Sheriff Lamb’s fight to hold onto his way of life in the face of the Chicago mob’s plans for their new playground. That said, "Vegas" is still an enjoyable show. Or at least parts of it are. A show can't be everything to everyone, which it sometimes feels like "Vegas" is trying to do. At the very least, it's something fun. Though there is that nagging feeling it could be so much more.