“Orientation Day” was another solid episode of Shooter, shunting the third season closer to a finale that’ll hopefully tie up all the loose ends ahead of the show’s recent cancellation.
Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe) began “Orientation Day” badly injured after being tortured by Red Bama (Gerald McRaney) last week, but you’d never have guessed. And while in any other show that would annoy me, in Shooter it’s exactly what I want. I’m not here for Bob Lee to wince when he walks; I’m here for him to shoot everyone in his general vicinity. The clue is kind of in the title.
So I’m glad that “Orientation Day” promptly dropped any pretence that Swagger might spend the episode recuperating. Instead, he and Isaac (Omar Epps) tracked the slippery Carlita (Felisha Terrell) to a neon-lit Atlas training campus, where her background was partially explained and her current allegiances were tested. The monochrome flashbacks weren’t exactly cleverly implemented, but they did the job. And it’s nice to see allusions being made to the first and second seasons of the show.
Plus Carlita is turning out to be a great, unpredictable character, even if you get the sense sometimes that it’d probably be easier for her to just explain what she’s up to rather than leaving Harris (Jesse Bradford) drugged in a closet and everyone else chasing her shadow. But, you know, drama.
Besides, her killing off Russo (Raymond J. Barry) might have seemed a little premature, but it was also poetic enough that I didn’t much care. It’s always good to have a smug, behind-the-scenes villain to combat the heroes’ brawn with sinister brains, but it can only go so far. His plan to manipulate Team Swagger using their simmering histories and resentments was a good one, on paper, but its failure was more satisfying for the audience. We needed a Bob Lee and Isaac fist-bump. It has been a long time coming.
Meanwhile in “Orientation Day”, Harris and Nadine (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) attempted a pitiful blackmail of Brooks (Michael O’Neill), who it turns out was the real murderer of Bob Lee’s father, Earl. And what’s more, he knew Bob Lee was in the car when he did it. I must admit the intricacies of Atlas’s various schemes and cover-ups are passing me by a little, but you can’t fault Brooks as a slimy, moustachioed far-right war criminal. This show has had excellent villains since its second season.
And Julie (Shantel VanSanten) got something to do in “Orientation Day” that wasn’t just staring wistfully at the door waiting for Bob Lee to come home – even after she told him to leave. She discovered this week that the entire house is bugged, and promptly whisked Mary (Lexy Kolker) away with her sister. She obviously hasn’t considered that sis is around the house all the time, and it’s pretty inconceivable that Atlas managed to bug the place without her knowing. Don’t trust her, Julie! We’re rooting for you.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.