BOSS 2.06 ‘Backflash’

When Tom heads to Canada for treatment, he leaves Chicago to crumble in his absence.

Hilary Rothingby Hilary Rothing

Episode Title: "Backflash"

Writer: Bradford Winters

Director: Mario Van Peebles

Previously on "Boss":

Episode 2.05 "Mania"


With Tom (Kelsey Grammer) out of reach, Ian (Jonathan Groff) goes to see Meredith (Connie Nielsen), who assures him her husband just needs a little space. However, the situation at Lennox Gardens is intensifying as some residents refuse to vacate. The police are called in, which only escalates the conflict.

Meredith calls the treatment center in Toronto she recommended to Tom and gets confirmation that he's there. There, Tom undergoes treatment while his hallucinations worsen, interspersed with flashbacks to his time under Mayor Rutledge.

Back in Chicago, Zajac (Jeff Hephner) finds himself alone in his campaign headquarters while Walsh makes plans to move her office to Chicago and put Kitty at the head. Now fully recovered, Meredith makes her first public appearance since the shooting, heading over to City Hall to take control of the Mayor's Office in Tom's absence.

After seeing the protests on TV, Zajac lends his star power to a group of citizens whose homes are being foreclosed on. Though they mock him at first, the group soon embraces the fallen politician and the spotlight he brings to their cause.

Meredith tells Ian and Mona (Sanaa Lathan) to tell the press that the Mayor is "hunkered down" dealing with matters. When Mona tells her that council leadership is calling for an emergency meeting about the volatility in Lennox Gardens, Meredith says to have them come to the Mayor's Office. Seeing an opportunity to do damage to Cane's administration, Alderman Ross (James Vincent Meredith) has Trey (T.I) tell his crew to start a riot in the city. However, Darius (Rotimi) refuses to go through it.

Based on a text from Tom, Meredith tells the Aldermen that Tom was called to DC by the FBI regarding the assassination attempt and asks that they keep the news to themselves. Unsatisfied with her explanation, the Aldermen question Tom's disappearance at such a time. Meredith assures them that he is in contact with the Police Superintendent. Elsewhere, Zajac is arrested after the protestors clash with police. That night, Sam (Troy Garity) invites Kitty (Kathleen Robertson) over and the two end up having sex.

The next day, Meredith meets with the Superintendent, who questions her statement about his communication with the Mayor. Meredith says it was a misunderstanding and asks him to tell the public that the Mayor needs to stay out of the public eye due to the assassination attempt. When he resists, Meredith brings up a police shooting from the night before and threatens to have him fired.

At home, Emma (Hannah Ware) meets with her parole officer who confronts her about testing positive for drugs. Unable to get any pills from Darius, Emma is stunned. After getting a call from Meredith, Governor Cullen (Francis Guinan) goes on TV to let the public know he's calling in the National Guard. He also uses the opportunity to endorse Walsh.

At Sam's apartment, Kitty recognizes Ezra's handwriting on the Bensonville document and tells him. Emma visits with her grandfather and asks if "they did this to him?" In Toronto, Tom responds well to treatment.


While Chicago goes down in flames, in Toronto Mayor Tom Cane's condition improves thanks to an experimental treatment for Lewy Body. It's a symbolic and also very literal correlation, as leaving the citizens of Chicago to suffer for his own gains is what Cane has done throughout his mayoral reign. Why should this be any different?

Well for starters, the violence in Lennox Gardens marks a historic time in Chicago's history. That being the near 20th anniversary of the original Lennox Gardens riots. As Meredith explained to Governor Cullen, Tom's first big blunder in office was not calling in the National Guard then. But she doesn't allow Tom's administration to make the same mistake twice, asking the Governor to call in the cavalry.

"Backflash" was brimming over with all kinds of revelations, many via Tom's hallucinations and flashbacks. We all but got confirmation that Ian Todd is Tom's illegitimate son. We always knew Ian was a career climber, but watching him get comfortable on Tom's throne solidified just how power hungry he is. And the fact that he watched Tom mistreat his mother might explain why Ian is so dismissive of women. Or maybe that's a bunch of Freudian hooey and Ian really wants to see Tom out of office. Either way, I'm anxious to find out where this thread goes.

We also learned that behind every evil man is an even more evil woman. With Tom off in Toronto, Meredith proved a fine and fitting replacement for her conniving, backstabbing, rage-prone hubby. In her short tenure as Tom's proxy, Meredith lied to a roomful of Aldermen, implicated the police superintendent and the FBI in said lie, blackmailed the superintendent and did a little groveling to the governor on Tom's behalf. She also lied to the press, but everyone does that, right?

Women behind the scenes has been one of the major themes of "Boss" since the pilot. Kitty, Maggie, Meredith and Mona have all been pulling strings and running dirty plays in support of male politicians each supports or supported. But Meredith has the most to lose if the man she stands behind should fall.

And speaking of the fallen, Ben Zajac decided it's better to be a big loser among little losers than all alone. Mopey, sheepish Zajac showed up in support of those losing their homes to foreclosure and the relocated Lennox Gardens residents. Offering nothing more than the target on his back for attention to their cause, Zajac seems to have found refuge among a group of Chicago citizens in desperate need of an advocate. Could this be his comeback? In last week's episode, the Gubernatorial candidate hoped for a large scale emergency that would push his affair with Alderman Ross' wife to the backpage. And it sure looks like he got it.

Tom Cane's mental state might be improving, as he was able to successfully identify a series of slides without Ezra Stone's in his ear. But what awaits him when he returns to City Hall and the mess he made and then left behind? Just about everyone from Walsh to Ross to Governor Cullen to possibly even Zajac is capitalizing on Tom's absence in a time when Chicago needs him the most. Picking at the corpse when the Mayor's not dead just yet could prove dangerous to those conspiring against him.

And with Tom out of commission, "Backflash" allowed us to spend some time with the Mayor's better half. As a mother and wife, Meredith Cane is truly an enigma. But as a politician, she's as common as they come, covering up a crisis with lies and a smile.

"Backflash" was another near flawless hour featuring some great performances by Connie Nielsen and Martin Donovan, two of the most intriguing characters in "Boss." And of course, Kelsey Grammer continues to play perhaps the most despicable man on TV to perfection.