“Lifetime Achievement” asks Tommy to choose between her position and her instincts, as a popular public figure is killed — and subsequently accused of being an abuser.
This recap of Tommy Season 1, Episode 3, “Lifetime Achievement”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Since her appointment as chief of the LAPD, Abigail Thomas (Edie Falco) has always resolved to put the truth first – even if it threatens her fragile position. But Tommy Episode 3, “Lifetime Achievement”, is the first episode to really test that idea and the first to show some cracks in her otherwise do-the-right-thing demeanor. What’s even more damning is that it’s a case closest to her which prompts her most worrying moral crisis.
That case is the murder of Alexander Shaw (Byron Jennings), a famous Hollywood producer, by a woman, Tara Owens (Samantha Smart), who claims he raped her three years prior and attempted to do so again on the night of his death. This isn’t just a typical #MeToo story – it brings to the forefront Tommy’s conflicting responsibilities as the female police chief in a town dominated by Hollywood money and influence, and the personal pick of Mayor Buddy Gray (Thomas Sadoski), whose office, as well as much of L.A.’s upper establishment, benefited greatly Shaw’s donations.
There’s also a personal connection in Tommy Episode 3 since Tommy is an abuse survivor herself, though her typically steadfast demeanor doesn’t really allow for that to give the case or character any more emotional contours. But it does make her attempts to appease all parties slightly more curious; ultimately Tommy gets to the truth in “Lifetime Achievement”, and a woman rightly defending herself from a predator gets the justice she deserves, but there was more deliberation in the build-up to this payoff than there was in the first two episodes, and curiously in a case which seemed like it would be much more cut-and-dry for someone like Tommy.
This kind of character complexity is undoubtedly welcome, but I’m not sure Tommy Season 1, Episode 3 was the right place for it. What sets Tommy apart from her predecessors – and what sets Tommy apart from other procedurals – is the unique perspective she brings to her position; the show has to stay true to that in order to be worthwhile, though increasing ratings seem to suggest that people are on-board with it all the same.
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