Review of this week's "Vegas"



Good news for Vegas fans--CBS has ordered a full season of episodes.

Vegas 1.3  (Ill)Legitimate

Vegas 1.3

I could get all technical and point out that the 100 year old oak tree in Ralph’s yard isn’t exactly historically correct but hey, I understand the need for the occasional dramatic/artistic license. It was a beautiful tree.

Ralph and Jack go to the Savoy to find Vincent Savino requesting that they arrest a couple of card cheaters. Jack makes eyes at Mia Rizzo (Sarah Jones).

Angelo’s nephew is being sent out under the guise of being the courier for the skim. And we discover that Savino has a new plan for expanding, taking over the Tumbleweed Club and building “ a place twice as good as this one”. He also reveals that he isn’t using Chicago money but once the deal is done, he’ll deliver the new hotel in a neat bow to Angelo.

From there we briefly meet a couple of maids in the laundry room of the Tumbleweed and from there we go to a union meeting and talk of a wildcat strike against the Tumbleweed. Estelle makes an impassioned plea for getting ‘what’s right’. Again, dramatic license because the Culinary Union back in the day was the union to work for in Las Vegas. My mother was a union member for over ten years beginning in 1961. In addition, Al Bramlett was touring the deep South talking to young African-American men and women who were toiling in the cotton fields that life in Las Vegas as a member of the Culinary Union could change their lives dramatically.

As Estelle is walking home (and no, you couldn’t easily walk from downtown Las Vegas to the Westside because of the train tracks), she is killed by a hit and run driver (should I point out that NCIS: Los Angeles had a similar death in the first fifteen minutes of that show an hour earlier?). Jack interviews a couple of Estelle’s friends who spill the beans about the union meeting and that Estelle was the first female shop steward. What what’s that on the effects track, a train whistle and a coyote? Plus that’s a lot of greenery for a desert.

The next day, Savino visits the Tumbleweed and talks to Mert Hays (William Russ) about buying the Tumbleweed. Savino shows him design plans that would turn the Tumbleweed into what looks like the Fremont Hotel. He talks about doing with legit money,not mob money. This paves the way for Savino to go talk to a real banker, Mr. Farwood.  This banker character is based on Parry Thomas, the Mormon banker who with Jerry Mack ran the Bank of Las Vegas. Thomas provided legit money to casino owners, he didn’t need a hood like Savino to convince him of that.

Ralph, in the meantime, is trying to track down Estelle’s killer while Jack is busy flirting with Mia Rizzo who comes in for her work card. She flirts back. Ralph breaks up the flirt fest and Jack gives her a work card. An older white guy, Randell, and his son, Terry, come in, they tell Ralph they are family friends of Estelle’s. Her mother was their housekeeper and she and Terry grew up together.

At the Tumbleweed, Ralph and Jack track down their suspect in Estelle’s death and he tells them that Estelle was trouble because she liked “white men”. On the way out, Ralph runs into Katherine (Carrie-Ann Moss is the one person on this show who looks comfortable in vintage clothing.)

As Ralph and Katherine are talking, we cut to the exterior of Fremont Street and see a car coming at the camera and a guy throw a Molotov cocktail into the Tumbleweed.  Ralph throws himself on Katherine to shield her from the explosion.  A fireball explodes out the door of the Tumbleweed.

Katherine and Ralph flirt until Jack and Dixon come up and give Ralph the update on injuries, make and model of the offending car and wait, there’s the Sahara sign and is that supposed to be the Landmark in the far background?  Grrrrr!  Fremont Street and the Strip aren’t interchangeable!!!!

Katherine offers to help with the investigation.

Savino and Hays meet. Hays is unhappy about his place getting bombed and says Cornero is applying pressure to get him to sign a deal. Savino calls Cornero a goon. If they are talking about Tony Cornero, whose ties to Las Vegas go back to the 1930s when he owned the Meadows nightclub and the Tony Cornero who built the Stardust, they are talking about a dead man because Cornero died at the craps table in 1955. Grrr……

Savino promises to get Cornero off Hays’ back and Hays tells him he has to the end of the day. Savino goes to visit Davy Cornero (perhaps a distant cousin of Tony’s). Savino tells him to back off and offers to cut him in but not his bosses in Milwaukee. Cornero agrees.

Ralph talks to a desk clerk from the Blue  (what originally sounded like a jazz club is now a motel????) who tells him that Estelle was arguing with a white man.  Jack reports that he checked out Estelle’s bank account and she was getting $500 a month “regular like clock work”.

The money was coming from Randall, who it turns out is her father. His wife is not happy about that.

The next scene takes us to a parking garage where a couple of thugs try to take out Savino but lucky for all of us, they are bad shots.

Randall visits Ralph and Jack at the Sheriff’s Office and tells his sad story. Estelle wanted him to publicly acknowledge her paternity. He balked. He was paying for her to go to Nevada Southern University (they got that right) and he had agreed to tell his wife and son that he had an affair with the housekeeper and Estelle was his daughter.

Savino and the DA are talking. Savino is filling him in on the hit gone wrong when Ralph interrupts them. The DA covers by saying he was there to tell Mr. Savino that if “he wants a mob war in this city, he’s going to hear from us, see he understands” he says as he walks out. But Ralph is now suspicious of him.

After the DA leaves, Ralph and Savino talk. Savino underplays the hit. “You fellas want to kill each other, don’t do it in my town”. “It’s my town, too” Savino tells him.  “We’ll see.” Says Ralph on his way out.

To their credit, it was a well acted scene.

Mia comes up to Ralph and Jack as they are leaving the Savoy and Ralph tells Jack that his interest in Mia is not a good idea.

Looks like Terry is the one who ran down Estelle. He knew Estelle was his sister. Ralph realizes that the kid is a junkie. Terry cops to loving Estelle, he bought her an emerald necklace and bracelet but took them back from her apartment and pawned them the day before. He still has the jewelry box and Ralph discovers pictures hidden in the box. The pixs are of her and Randall, someone was watching them and she was being blackmailed.

Katherine and Dixon interview the kitchen staff of the Tumbleweed and discover that Hays was talking to Milwaukee guys.

Johnny Rizzo is back in town and back in the Savoy. He and Savino talk and Savino tells Rizzo about his idea of taking over the Tumbleweed. Johnny wants half the take from the Tumbleweed to keep him from telling Angelo that Vincent was going behind his back. That partnership can’t be long for the world.

Ralph and Jack discover that one of Estelle’s co-workers from the Tumbleweed was the person who was following her and blackmailing her. The maid was jealous and that led to Estelle’s death.

Katherine comes by to wrap up the case and tells Ralph that Cornero is currently missing. Over at the Savoy, Mia apologizes for not knowing that her dad was coming to town. The Mormon banker has invited Savino and his wife to the country club. “to be a fly on that wall” says Mia.

“Must not be easy trying things your way.” She tells Savino. “The old ways were never easy either. Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward.” Savino tells her.

To the strains of Dino singing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head”, Savino’s guys take out the Milwaukee guys. “Be sure you bury them good, I don’t want any guest appearances.”

“You make the rules, we just got it take it” Jack tells Ralph back at the ranch when he discovers that Ralph didn’t tear down the tree.  After Jack leaves, Ralph looks out the window and in his dream, he sees his wife hanging laundry.

Back on Fremont Street, Jack approaches Mia, they flirt and he asks her to dinner but she has plans. The DA is there and he is going to show her around. You just know that Mia would rather stay and have dinner with Jack. Maybe another time.

This episode was interesting and had some good scenes. But the writing is still overall lackluster and could definitely use a big injection of drama and character. Because  the cases of the week aren’t interesting enough and the overall story arc of the conflict between Ralph Lamb and Vincent Savino isn’t compelling enough.

 What do you think? Hit the comments section and let us know!