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H:LOTS – S05E09 – “Control”

November 13, 2010

Generally speaking, I don’t tend to give the titles of H:LOTS episodes the same consideration as I do ones for other shows. On lesser dramas this often leans towards an over reliance on the titles to do the work of the acting, story arc and direction. Like Damages, I find H:LOTS episode titles to be amusing, not especially intrusive, yet provide enough information to frame the episode. However, “Control” jumped out at me immediately because there was clearly a strong mandate to seamlessly connect the various arcs to the theme and it was executed exquisitely. Frank’s desire to control the way his disability and ability are seen; Lewis desire to exert control over a drug king pin who is challenges his authority. Gee and Kay’s seemingly hands off approach to management is in and of itself a form of control, albeit a calculated one. Even Munch’s is perpetual amused detachment during investigation – the thing that makes him a smart and easy going detective – is a form of self-control that probably has caused him more personal pain than it has prevented. It’s all here and exposed in this episode, without commentary or heavy handed metaphor.

Lewis sizzles in his interaction with Luther Mahoney and it’s all about control:

remember when I was workin’ as a beat cop. Our job was to clear the corner. No big deal. Just tell people to move along and most of the time, the police tell you to move along, that’s what you’re gonna do, you’re gonna move along. But every once in a while, there’s gonna be some knucklehead fool, wanna keep standing on your corner talking trash. And he told me, don’t you ever, ever, let some knucklehead stand on your corner and shame you. Cause once you’ve done that, you’re done as a beat cop. So what he suggested I do, was that I take out my billy club and smack him upside the head so hard, that everybody who heard it knows who had the last word… Luther, you’re on my corner.

For for the love of Xena why hasn’t Clark Johnson gotten the propers he deserves for his intergalactic acting chops? To be sure, every single actor on this show is phenomenal, but each season Clark Johnson gives a performance so mind-blowing that it’s unfathomable he’s not been awarded a truckload of acting awards.

As Pembleton, fresh from his successful hoop jumping, waits for the homicide phones to ring, Lewis walks in and shakes his head, “Not a single murder this week. That’s not the Baltimore I know and love.” With the corruption charges dogging Kellerman and Pembleton’s stroke, there hasn’t been a lot laugh about, even in a black humor kind of way, these past eight episodes. But Lewis is definitely trying to bring back a few lulz. Along for the ride with Lewis on this traveling comedy show is Munch who utters one his patented fabulous zingers as he and Lewis happen upon a drug related homicide, “From the tracks on his arms, the large caliber wound, the proximity to a heroin market — I’d say it was a heated dispute about the symbolism of red and blue in eighteenth century French romantic poetry.”

Control. Pembleton trying to harness it by being a better detective than he’s ever been. Control. Bayliss trying to emotionally distance himself from Pembleton while trying to be present for him as a partner. Control. Lewis struggling to navigate his world as a cop and a black man in Baltimore. This episode was all about control and the tenuous grasp these fictional detectives have on in it.

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