Chase Recap 01/19/11: Sarah Palin, is This What You Mean by a Mama Grizzly?

Which of us is more guilty of racial stereotyping: Me, for assuming that our favorite U.S. Marshals were busting a drug kingpin when I flipped on last night’s episode of Chase to see them raiding a McMansion belonging to a Hispanic family? Or the producers of the NBC show (which returned with a new episode for the first time since early December) for allowing my immediate guess to prove correct?

Annie Frost and her team embarked on the first half of their first-ever two-episode adventure, and the writers used the opportunity of this broader canvas to tell a by-the-numbers tale of crooked cops, crooked lawyers, and a ruthless crime family that will stop at nothing to protect its own. That sentence is probably overselling it a bit.

The opening bust brought Pablo Cordova to jail. Fast forward to two months later, and we find that Cordova’s accountant, who is now under witness protection, is the fellow who turned him in to the Feds. We watch as Cordova’s henchmen kill the agents assigned to watch over the accountant and kidnap him. They take him to a warehouse where Cordova’s loyal wife throws the man in an empty oil barrel, douses him with gasoline, and sets him on fire.

Cut to: our heroes having a barbecue of their own (albeit a much more conventional one). They’re all gathered in Marco’s backyard, throwing back some beers, and grilling up some meat. Natalie (Marshal Jimmy’s girlfriend) confides to Annie that she’s going to propose to her man. She’s even got a ring. So she’s not a traditionalist — fair enough, but would she really choose a backyard barbecue at a friend’s house as the occasion to pop the question?Apparently so.  They cut away before we got to see Jimmy’s response.

That’s because all of the marshals’ phones started ringing.  They’d gotten word that the witness against Cordova had been killed, and learned that Cordova’s wife was responsible. Apparently there’s a mole somewhere in the investigation who betrayed the witness. In the next scene, we are conspicuously introduced to U.S. Attorney Dan O’Neil, the prosecutor in the Cordova case. Annie shoots him a look that says “I hate lawyers.” I then wrote in my notes that O’Neil was almost certainly going to turn out to be the mole.

Then there was a bit of business with a stupid cop who answers his cell phone in the middle of busting Mrs. Cordova, meant to show us how ruthless these drug cartels are — I am shocked, shocked! to find out that they’d threaten the families of cops to get what they want.

The marshals are able to stop a plane carrying Cordova’s son before it takes off from a small landing strip, but Ms. Cordova has gone elsewhere. She’s heard that a new witness has come forward in the case against her husband, and she needs to take care of this problem. That’s when Marshal Daisy (we learned she’s nicknamed “Hurricane”) turned to the team’s resident computer geek to “triangulate Cordova’s cell phone.”  The resident computer geek was played by local actor Steven Walters, who can currently be seen in Second Thought Theatre’s Thom Pain (Based on Nothing).

They track the phone to a location and surmise that’s where the new witness is being hidden. Sure enough: it’s at  15 Sherman Street (actually 1518 Bayside, near this intersection in West Dallas).  But the marshals are too late. Mrs. Cordova and her henchman have blown up the van carrying the witness.  Sadly for her, the new witness was her own beloved sister. She finishes off her sister with a bullet after the explosion didn’t quite kill her.

An examination of the crime scene leads them to find a tracking device that proves what I knew from the first time I saw him: that no-good U.S. Attorney Dan O’Neil is a rat. Annie confronts him at his office, where he gives her a way to contact Cordova. I was a little confused by this. If they’d triangulated the location of Cordova’s cell phone earlier, didn’t they already have her phone number? Oh, I guess Cordova was willing to answer since the call seemed to be from O’Neil when Annie used his phone?

Regardless, Annie sets up an exchange. They’ll release Cordova’s son if Mrs. Cordova turns herself in. For some reason they opt to do this out in the open, on the steps of the “county courthouse.” (This week the Houston courthouse was played by the Masonic Temple in downtown Dallas, whereas previously 2100 Ross Avenue got to play that role.) The exchange occurs, but just as Mr. Cordova is being released from custody (due to the death of any witness against him), and Mrs. Cordova and their son converge, gunmen posing as TV cameramen open fire and kill the drug kingpin’s family while wounding our beloved Annie Frost. They were representatives of a rival cartel who saw chance to gun down Cordova and his family in one fell swoop.

So what was left to happen in this episode?  Why a musical montage, of course!

While some generically soulful tune played, we watched Marco come to terms with his past (I didn’t mention this plot at all, did I? We learned that Marco left undercover narcotics work after he killed his own crooked partner), we saw Jimmy turn the tables on Natalie and propose, we saw Cordova back at his McMansion talking on a cell phone while appearing to plot revenge, and we saw Annie heading home after depositing the bullet that almost killed her in what appeared to be a keepsake urine-sample container.

Finally, we got the cliffhanger. Annie stops at traffic light (at Valwood Parkway and Luna Road in Carrollton) when another vehicle slams into hers from the side. A group of menacing henchmen get out, throw her in their car, and speed away.

Should we be concerned for her?  Will she survive this ordeal? Was she taken by Cordova’s guys, or the rival cartel? Will she ever tell Marshal Jimmy how she feels about him?  Most importantly, will Steven Walters get any more screen-time if he appears in the second part of the episode?

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