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BOSS 2.01 & 2.02 Review

After cleaning house, Mayor Kane deals with his wife's shooting while maintaining his stranglehold on the city of Chicago.

Episode Title: "Louder Than Words"

Writer: Dee Johnson

Director: Jim McKay

Episode Title: "Through and Through"

Writer: Bradford Winters

Director: Jean de Segonzac

Previously on "Boss":

Chicago Mayor, Tom Kane was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder. Reporter, Sam Miller launched an investigation into toxic waste dumped at O'Hare under Kane's authority. The Mayor backed State Treasurer, Ben Zajac for Governor but soon found Zajac and a group of Alderman conspiring against him. The final blow came when Kane learned that both his Chief of Staff, Ezra Stone and aide, Kitty O'Neill betrayed him. After confronting Stone, Kane had him killed, leaving many to question his death.

Story:

Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) consults with Dr. Harris (Karen Aldridge) about his condition and assures her that she's safe from Ezra Stone's thug. Harris warns Tom that his judgement will only become more compromised and that his best days are behind him. Meredith Kane (Connie Nielsen) visits her daughter, Emma (Hannah Ware) in jail and asks her about Tom's condition. At first, she refuses to say anything but as Meredith goes to leave, Emma tells her that he is suffering from Lewy Body.

While dealing with the press outside, Tom is confronted by Darius (Rotimi Akinosho), who demands to know why he hasn't done anything to get his daughter released. When he becomes belligerent, Tom reminds Darius that he is attempting to threaten the Mayor of Chicago. Tom meets his new temporary aide, Ian Todd (Jonathan Groff). Elsewhere, Gubernatorial candidate, Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner) and his wife, Maggie (Nicole Forester) question Kane's sudden lack of support. Over at the Chicago Sentinel, Sam Miller (Troy Garity) continues his crusade against Kane, hoping to track down Kitty O'Neill to find out more about her relationship with Kane and Ezra Stone's untimely death.

Tom continues to push for an unpopular urban renewal project and comes up against resistance with the black caucus, lead by Alderman Ross. Meanwhile, Senator Walsh uses the issue as a talking point with the local community in her run against Zajac. Sam gets a talking to from the owner of the Sentinel about his attack on Kane's urban renewal project. With a number of corporate sponsors tied to the project and the paper, he orders Sam to make amends at the O'Hare Expansion Ceremony.

Darius meets Trey (T.I.), a former gangbanger and asks him to go after someone on his behalf. Ross' aide, Mona Fredricks (Sanaa Lathan) secures the vote of an Alderman against Kane's project, but Kane's staff has the Alderman pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. Ian offers to get her released if she'll vote with Kane. As the vote is taken, Mona uses her personal information to leverage a key vote and it appears Kane's project will be shut down. However, a staged fight among council members allows Kane to suspend the vote.

At the O'Hare Expansion Ceremony, Tom gives a well-received speech and walks off stage with Meredith, just as shot are fired. Meredith is rushed to the hospital. With the vote still on schedule, Ross plans to put a stop to Tom's urban renewal project while he's pre-occupied with Meredith. Meanwhile, Ben's wife, Maggie suggests he use a photo of him protecting her as the shooting happened for some good PR. Tom's hallucinations continue to worsen, as he sees Ezra Stone over and over again. Kitty (Kathleen Robertson) stops by the hospital to see him, but Tom ignores her.

After learning that Dr. Harris is back in town, Sam tracks her down at the hospital parking lot. When he asks about Kane's condition, she tells him that it was someone close to the Mayor who she was treating. Ian tells Tom that Emma refused to leave the prison on furlow to be near her mother. Meanwhile, Ross continues to work towards swaying the Aldermans' vote in his favor. When Mona questions his timing in light of recent events, he berates her. Tom shows up at the vote and uses his wife's shooting to sway favor.

The vote goes his way and afterwards, Mona tries to reason with him about the impact it will have on the community. Tom then asks her to be his Chief of Staff and she agrees. Sam meets with Kitty in a bar and the two exchange intel on City Hall. Ian meets with Emma and tells her that if she wants to get back at her father, she won't be able to do it from jail. He later tells Tom he's working on a plan to bring her home on house arrest. Tom decides to keep Ian on indefinitely. As Meredith comes to consciousness, Tom goes in to see her. She asks him if he did this to her. In a state of shock, he tells her he didn't.

Breakdown:

Don't bother telling Tom Kane he isn't God. Even the doctor who diagnosed him with the disease that will one day render him even more incapacitated then his father-in-law and predecessor, Mayor Rutledge, can't convince Tom of his mortality.

With his dubious staff members disposed of, Tom is back on top, though his seat of power is never truly secure. But long after Ben Zajac was forced to bend the knee and kiss the ring, Alderman Ross continues his war on the Mayor. However, Tom Kane's reach knows no bounds. From a boozing Alderman to a "brickhouse" female inmate, there's no one he can't buy, blackmail or just plain kill.

The first season of Starz's fantastic new series, "Boss" was all about getting to know Tom Kane, while he's still in his right mind. In his "Crusader of Light" speech endorsing Incumbent Governor, Mac Cullen, Tom spoke of men of "moral muscle" and "unimpeachable" ethics. Would we find Tom Kane to be one of those men? Not even close.

Though Tom claims to champion Chicago, it's become more and more apparent that it's his own ego and legacy he's concerned with. And to preserve it, he'll stop at nothing.

But the same criticisms can be leveled at just about everyone surrounding Chicago's "Boss." When she's not giving Communion, Emma sleeps with her drug dealer. Kane's golden boy, Zajack sleeps with anything in a skirt and Meredith conspires against her own husband's administration.

The difference is that the ends justify the means in most of these cases (We learn that Zajack's wife doesn't care about his womanizing so long as they make it to Springfield). The same can't be said for Tom.

To that end, "Boss" sometimes feels more like a mob drama than a political story. You could argue they're one and the same but at times the number of bodies, ears and ruined careers piling up on City Hall's doorstep seems a little bombastic. Fortunately, these first two episodes of the season focused more on Tom Kane's political maneuvering and less on his thuggery.

Speaking of which, the ghost of Ezra Stone looms large as Tom slips more and more into hallucination. I'm glad we haven't seen the last of Martin Donovan as Stone, probably my favorite character in the series. His trippy intrusions are welcome, so long as their not over-used.

It'll be interesting to see what Ezra Stone's replacement, Mona Fredericks brings to the table, as well as Tom's new aide, Ian Todd. While Kitty and Ezra's icey repoire with each other and long-time relationship with Tom was fascinating stuff, Mona and Ian are both young, ambitious political upstarts. The question now is who will be the first to try to step on the Mayor's shoulder in the climb to power?

With two episodes in the books, "Boss" is proving once again to be a top-notch drama, with the kind of layered storytelling that demands (and rewards) your full attention. After a rather sensational finale, "Boss" gets us back in touch with Tom Kane, who's life has come to an odd paradox. He's equally as powerful and fragile as ever. It doesn't get much more compelling than that.