“There Are No Strangers Here” trades some unique perspective in for a boilerplate procedural case, despite stellar performances.
This recap of Tommy Season 1, Episode 2, “There Are No Strangers Here”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Tommy Episode 2, for all the things it did right, couldn’t help but feel like a disappointment in the wake of a premiere which assembled an excellent cast and promised to hold a unique lens to institutional sexism, political corruption, and the various difficulties faced by law enforcement in general and those who actively want to do the right thing in a humane way particularly. Edie Falco continued to impress as the titular Tommy in “There Are No Strangers Here”, but the episode itself seemed to abandon her unique viewpoint in favor of more boilerplate procedural format – one that rehashed a number of obvious topics that have been covered well elsewhere.
None of this is to say that the matter of a dead cop and the attendant elements of police brutality and racial profiling aren’t important enough to be gone over again, even in this show. The problem isn’t with these talking points, especially since, as it progressed, Tommy Episode 2 refocused on mental health in a high-pressure working environment as it emerged that the dead officer had taken his own life after trying and failing to cope with the trauma of a shooting incident. This is all welcome, valuable material; the issue is that for much of its runtime “There Are No Strangers Here” felt very much like any other network procedural, notably lacking much of the attention that was paid to Tommy’s history-making appointment as LAPD chief and her status as an out woman in the pilot.
Since so much of the focus is on Tommy and her close-knit team, there’s little chance for peripheral elements to really percolate in the background, and it’s easy to forget what, say, the mayor (Thomas Sadoski) or Tommy’s predecessor (Corbin Bernsen) are even up to. We do get some explanation about why Tommy’s relationship with her daughter Kate (Olivia Lucy Phillip) is so strained – she asked to live with her dad after their separation, and Tommy agreed without much of an argument because she was much better at being a detective than a mother – but don’t really see much of their current relationship beyond some arguments about intrusive security at home given Tommy’s career. A very last-minute and surprisingly brutal stabbing to close out Tommy Season 1, Episode 2 lands as something of a shocking reminder that there’s more at play here than the case of the week.
Luckily the acting remains a major highlight; not just Falco, but a standout in “There Are No Strangers Here” turns out to be Gary Perez as the ex-sergeant father of the dead officer who was ashamed and embarrassed enough about his son’s mental health to cover up his suicide and kick off a murder investigation which antagonizes the entire LAPD. His tearful confession and Tommy’s frank addressing of the issues after the fact were highlights of the episode – one can just hope that subsequent installments are more rooted in Tommy’s perspective and make good on the show’s dramatic potential.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.