Tonight, it’s all business in Vegas. The bodies of Cornaro and his associate turn up in the cornfield of a farmer who’s very upset at what they’ve done to the pH of his soil. Jones comes back to town to avenge their deaths, and by the time the dust has settled, Lamb and Savino both have new bosses. In the meantime, the two men have an Odd Couple-style dinner at the Lamb ranch.
We open with the unearthing of the bodies by the farmer and his son, then cut to life at the Savoy. Business is apparently booming at the tables, and Savino and Laura discuss the newly competitive mayoral race over breakfast. Candidate Brady’s not all that happy about the new flyers comparing Bennett to Stalin, but Laura defends them using a boxing metaphor. One of Savino’s men claims the match she names was fixed, but given the reference to voting machines programmed to go their way, this seems fitting.
ADA O’Connell (in purple) and Sheriff Lamb identify the bodies, and Lamb predicts that now “every thug in Wisconsin” will be on his way to Vegas to avenge Cornaro’s death. Somehow, “every thug in Wisconsin” doesn’t sound all that menacing but, as we learned two weeks ago, they’ve got reason to worry. Jones, the psychopath from Milwaukee with engineering student glasses, is on his way back. At the airport, one of Lamb’s men asks him his business. “Wholesale butchery,” replies Jones. Points for honesty.
While Savino berates his men for burying the bodies in a cornfield subject to frequent plowing, instead of out in the desert, a friend and associate named Borelli runs into “Jonesie” in an alley. Needless to say, that’s it for Borelli, and for an innocent woman who happens onto the scene at the wrong moment. It doesn’t take Lamb long to figure out it’s one of the vengeful thugs from Wisconsin. He charges into Savino’s office (again) as Savino mourns the death of a man he played ball with “back at St. Joe’s.”
When Savino refuses to discuss who might have killed Cornaro, Lamb and his men shut down the Savoy, in order to “protect civilians.” I didn’t realize police powers extended that far, but apparently they do. (Just as they apparently extend to questioning everyone at the airport who happens to be from Wisconsin.) Back in Chicago, Savino’s boss Angelo blames the whole mess on Savino’s pursuit of the Tumbleweed, and mutters about wanting to give “Red” another shot at running Vegas. (Do we know a Red?) Angelo flies out to Vegas to explain to Savino in person that he knows Savino “did” Cornaro, and that giving up his plans for the Tumbleweed will be the price.
Apparently Jones has somewhat esoteric taste in weaponry. ADA O’ Connell reports that Borelli, Savino’s old friend, was apparently shot with the same kind of Czechoslovakian military-issue weapon used on Cornaro’s secretary and her boyfriend. They also know their suspect is “thin and pale.” There’s also an interesting moment when the husband of the murdered bystander shows up – brother Jack jumps in and whisks the man off to his own office, while Lamb appears to grope for words. In light of later conversations, this may just be a reference to Lamb’s sensitivity to the sudden deaths of wives, but it also suggests that Jack, at least, does not regard Sheriff Lamb as much of a people person. Dixon Lamb also starts to prove his worth as a deputy, even though his lead on the false name Jones has been using takes them to home of a portly black man (not thin, not pale).
Jones gets into the closed Savoy by posing as a carpet salesman, but catches the eye of a young security guard before he can make it to Savino’s office. The ensuing shootout alerts Savino, who comes out with his own gun drawn and manages to wing Jones. But, in another interesting bit of character development, Savino chooses to stay and tend to the wounded security guard instead of racing, however futilely, after Jones. He has his staff call an ambulance, and covers the young man with his coat. Savino could perhaps not be blamed for thinking that no good deed goes unpunished when Lamb ends up arresting him, claiming it’s the best way to get Savino into protective custody.
Lamb takes Savino out to the ranch, cuffing him to a convenient hay rack while he splits wood. Jones, who’s back at his hotel removing Savino’s bullet from his own arm (shades of The Mob Doctor!), hears about Savino’s arrest, and then tricks a policeman into revealing that Lamb has Savino in his own custody. We also see Mia‘s loose-cannon father Rizzo in a phone booth talking about how everything will be over by the end of the night.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s Odd Couple time. Savino does not want to drink hot coffee when it’s 100 degrees out, and he probably doesn’t enjoy the country & western station Lamb has the radio tuned to either. Lamb says, more or less sarcastically, that he’d hoped they could use this time to get to know each other better, but it’s Savino who gets Lamb to reveal a little – a very little – about himself when he gets Lamb to tell him that his wife died in an accident while he was on a tour of duty he could likely have gotten out of if he’d asked. Lamb also fries up some steaks, though he’s unapologetic about his lack of culinary finesse:
Lamb: I eat to live.
Savino: I live to eat.
Lamb: It shows.
I guess Sheriff Lamb is meant to be stoic and manly in an old-school way, but it’s striking how articulate and well-mannered Savino always seems by comparison.
Jones tracks Lamb and Savino to the ranch without much trouble (apparently those maps in the front of the phonebook can really come in handy). Lamb leaves Savino inside during the big showdown, but survives the shootout that follows largely because Savino manages to grab a gun and follow him out.
The Savoy reopens! Mia and Jack flirt! But it’s not all good. Angelo tells Savino he’s managed to placate Milwaukee, but that he needs Savino to come with him for a drive. Now. Laura, understandably, doesn’t like this one bit.
Out in the desert, Angelo explains that he’s promised Milwaukee Savino’s life in exchange for Cornaro’s. But it’s Rizzo’s job to pull the trigger, and when the time comes, Rizzo turns the gun on Angelo and shoots him. He’s done this with the approval of the higher-ups back in Chicago. “Now you work for me,” he tells Savino. So, does this mean that Savino and Lamb have a mutual enemy now? This would make sense, as the show seems to be building them up as uneasy allies, rather than natural enemies.
Lamb also witnesses a changing of the guard. Bennett tells Lamb that Brady has won the election when he drives out to the ranch to deliver official certification of Lamb’s own election as sheriff (a formality, as Lamb ran unopposed). So apparently election night was going on as Lamb and Savino were bickering about steak sauce. I’m a little surprised the writers slipped it past us so quietly, after the big build up last week. And you might think Lamb would be a little more engaged in the whole thing, considering his own role in the town’s political hierarchy, but I guess he’s too stoic and old-school for that.
Seven episodes in, the gap between Lamb and Savino in terms of character development shows no signs of narrowing. Is Lamb a straight-up Gary Cooper type, or is he meant to have hidden depths? If so, I wonder when we’ll see them, and if this will, in any way, finally give Carrie-Anne Moss something to do.
The episode ends with Brady and Rizzo enjoying their respective victory celebrations, and with Laura and Savino passionately embracing as Judy Garland sings “Lucky Day.” And that’s it from Vegas.
Next week: torch singers and radioactivity?