Grace (Thandie Newton) is the kind of emotional wreck who seems more like a ticking time bomb than a competent detective. But being both at once is what creates the dramatic tension for this new series from DirecTV.
Grace was going undercover in the fake-prescription drug ring of Joe Laszlo (Philip Granger), but got busted on a deal gone south, at the same moment when her young son was gunned down in the street on the way to school. She’s convinced that the two events are related somehow, but nobody seems to be able to prove anything. She’s officially on administrative leave, but wants to go back undercover to see if she can unearth the clues that nobody else seems to be finding.
Her family life is a mess. Her husband Tom (Kavan Smith) is holding down the fort with their troubled teenage daughter Evie (Sarah Jeffrey) while Grace does her disappearing act, back into the seedy underworld, against the specific directives of her superiors on the police force.
Yes, we have lots of clichés to work at once here, but now we’ll add a few more. The Laszlo crime family itself has two sons, the older of whom wants to learn the business, but he’s a hothead, and is too quick to enter into passionate relationships with paramours who then have undue influence on him, and he also rushes to judgment regarding who’s responsible for a “hit” on one of their own. He assumes it’s the Asian gang, and arranges a retaliation, despite his father’s orders to stand down until he’s certain who’s to blame.
And just when this is starting to sound too much like the Corleone family in the original “Godfather,” along comes the younger son, who’s been away for a while, but now offers himself as a reasonable option to negotiate with the rival crime family about settling this dispute, because he is an unknown, and they won’t know what to expect from him.
To make matters more complicated, Grace’s partner in the police department seems to have something going on the side that might be causing him to be susceptible to corruption. Her superior, Lieutenant Hernandez (Claudia Ferri), convinced that Grace has been compromised, orders her not to work this case, but then gets caught in a gunfight herself, and has now taken a more personal interest. Joe Laszlo does, in fact, discover that Grace is an undercover cop, but she convinces him that instead of killing her, they should work together, because they’re both trying to discover the identity of the same killer, and since she’s convinced it’s someone inside his organization, she tells him that she’s in a better position to investigate than he is.
Sound complicated enough? It is. It’s also gritty---the language is as rough as the mean streets of Oakland , and the sexual scenes are “laid bare,” like the characters themselves. This series is not going to compete for the audience of PBS specials. Or the audience of The Bible” series on the History Channel, either. “Rogue” iss awkward in several places, and probably juggles too many plot themes at once. And the main character is kind of a mess. But maybe that’s exactly why we want to find out what happens to her, and how she gets out of this one.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas