BOSS 2.03 ‘Ablution’

Episode Title: "Ablution"

Writer: Angelina Burnett

Director: Lesli Linka Glatter

Previously on "Boss":

Episodes 2.01 & 2.02

Story:

Tom (Kelsey Grammer) arrives at City Hall where he is briefed by Ian (Jonathan Groff) on the situation with his daughter and the shooting. Later that day, he meets with Cook County State's Attorney Doyle who shows Tom a binder full of hate mail. With no leads on the shooter, Tom tells Doyle he can't think of anyone who would target him.

While Meredith (Connie Nielsen) goes through painful physical therapy at the hospital, Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner) and his wife, Maggie (Nicole Forester) prepare for an interview in their home about the shooting. Elsewhere, Darius (Rotimi) asks Trey (T.I.) for a place to crash while the heat is on.

Ian and Mona (Sanaa Lathan) get into a heated debate over the Lennox Gardens project while meeting with Tom. Ian urges the Mayor to let McGantry handle the project but Mona insists on opening it up to competitive bidding. Their argument is interrupted when Tom sees the Zajacs' interview on TV. He berates Ian for not keeping tabs on Zajac's campaign and then agrees to try and bring the cost of the project down while upping the subsidized housing budget as Mona requested.

Zajac meets with Kitty (Kathleen Robertson) and asks her to be his campaign manager, but she refuses by telling him she's not in the game anymore. She then tells Zajac not to call her again and abruptly leaves. She later gets a call at home from Senator Walsh's daughter. Kitty meets with Walsh, who also asks her to run her campaign. Later, Ian pays a visit to Zajac, insisting he run all future moves by the Mayor. Zajac loses his cool, but Maggie steps up and assures Ian the campaign will comply. Zajac makes her his campaign manager on the spot.

Tom meets with McGantry and asks him for a lower number on the Lennox Gardens project. At first McGantry is insulted, but when Tom won't budge on the matter, he agrees to take a look at the figures.

Later, Tom gets checked out by Dr. Harris at his father-in-law's apartment. Dr. Harris asks if his hallucinations are increasing, but Tom says it's nothing he can't handle.

Doyle returns to the Mayor's office with pictures from Tom's confrontation with Darius. Tom says he forgot about it and that he doesn't think Darius had anything to do with the shooting.

Ian visits his old boss, councilwoman Driscoll. She's sad to see him go, but she says he can make it up to her. She closes the door and the two begin kissing passionately.

At home, Tom tries to talk to Emma (Hannah Ware) about Darius. He tells her he is a person of interest in the shooting investigation and needs to know what she knows. Disgusted, Emma tells her father that she never should have trusted him.

McGantry visits Meredith in the hospital in an effort to get Tom to back off on the housing project numbers. However, she tells McGantry that he'll have to handle Tom on his own this time. When the numbers come in with little improvement, Tom tells Mona to hire another firm.

Emma meets with Darius and thanks him for providing protection for her in prison. She then warns him about her father and tells him to leave town. He asks her to come with him, but she shows him her ankle bracelet. Darius walks off, dejected and heartbroken.

At his campaign headquarters, Zajac seduces a young volunteer who proceeds to perform oral sex on him. Elsewhere, Kitty meets with Sam (Troy Garity), who wants to know more about Ezra Stone's murder. Kitty has no info for him, but she does let Sam know that she is working for Walsh now. Shocked by her move, Sam tells Kitty he'll be in touch.

Tom announces the city's partnership with the new firm on the Lennox Gardens project. Meanwhile, Ross (James Vincent Meredith) promises to slow the development down to a crawl. At home that night, Tom watches Mona have dinner with her family via hidden camera. He then gets a call informing him that the police have found the shooter.

Breakdown:

State's Attorney Doyle described Mayor Tom Kane's job as a series of "conflicts, entanglements and moves." But really those terms describe Kane's entire existence. There is no separating the professional from the personal and nothing and no one is sacred in Kane's world.

With his impending insanity looming large through increasingly frequent hallucinations, Tom Kane is beginning to take into consideration his relationship with his wife and daughter. There's also all those dirty deeds he's sanctioned through the years for which he needs "ablution," as the ghost of Ezra Stone repeatedly reminds him.

But as Meredith told Tom in the hospital, he needs to "temper his expectations" of others and perhaps himself. Case in point, his relationship with Emma. Tom tried to talk to her, only to find out if her boyfriend is a threat to himself. For all he's done wrong, Tom seems to think it's justifiable so long as he's running the city of Chicago. This episode served as yet another reminder of that.

With two new lieutenants in place, it was interesting to observe the ideological differences between the obsequious Ian and the idealist Mona. Neither one seems like quite the kind of enabler Tom is used to having at his side, though Ian certainly has the potential. What's interesting is that of the two, Ian is much more likely to betray Tom, as we saw during his rendezvous with Driscoll and yet it's Mona whom the Mayor is keeping close tabs on. Perhaps it's a case of "know your enemy" paranoia on Tom's part. Chicago politics seems to be rife with guys like Ian, but Mona's a different animal entirely.

And speaking of animals, we saw more of the sex-starved Gubernatorial wannabe, Ben Zajac putting the moves on ladies. But a college-age campaign volunteer? That's just too damn easy. But then again, can we blame Ben? His own wife, who's well aware of his wanton ways, keeps him at arms length and brushes off any of his attempts to show genuine affection when a camera's not rolling. There's is a fascinating relationship, quite different from the old cliche of the womanizing politician and the dutifully suffering wife.

If there's one complaint about this episode and "Boss" in general at the moment it's the Emma and Darius "West Side Story" plot. Their connection was never that convincing, perhaps because it wasn't given enough time to evolve. Scenes where they lay in bed and she waxes philosophical and he asks what the hell she's talking about don't exactly sell their love story, either.

Then there's the scene in this episode, where Emma implores Darius to get out of Dodge before her daddy sends his men after him. A bit too melodramatic for a show that's much more even-keeled in tone. That's not to say I'm writing off either character. I just think they're much more interesting apart, than together.

That aside, "Ablution" was another excellent episode full of the kind of dirty politics and sexual exploits that make you feel like you need a cold shower afterwards.