Episode Title: "Road Trip"
Writer: Nick Santora
Director: Frederick E. O. Toye
Previously on "Vegas:"
It was called "Road Trip," but this thirteenth hour of "Vegas" was all about fathers and daughters. And more specifically, what happens when the bond between the two is broken.
On a drive out to the desert to pick up some fancy, new fangled electronic slot machines, Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) and his two underlings, Red (James Russo) and Cota (Sonny Marinelli) find themselves stranded in the desert when their car overheats. And with that, "Vegas" briefly turns into a "fish out of water" mob comedy as Cota suggests they cuddle to keep warm while Red shoots at coyotes he mistakes for wolves. In the end, it turns out the slots are merely a mirage, as the models contained inside the thief’s Airstream are French machines. Sacrebleu!
This little comical detour doesn’t take anything one from the intensity of the episode, however. While Savino and company continue on their trek down a desert road to secure the latest in casino technology, Johnny Rizzo (Michael Wiseman) tricks Jack (Jason O'Mara) into responding to a call from a woman he supposedly met at a fund raiser. And the deputy easily falls into the trap, despite an earlier warning from Savino.
When Jack arrives, Rizzo ties him up and demands answers about what Mia told the A.D.A. Jack denies any involvement on either his or Mia’s part with the government and is punished for it with a cattle prod.
While Rizzo tries to jolt answers out of Jack, Dixon (Taylor Handley) investigates the poisoning of Fay Binder (Lili Simmons), the star a family singing group. Though they appear to be a loving bunch of Osmond-wannabes, the "Teentastics," as they’re known, are as dysfunctional as they are talented. Realizing she’s about to be ousted from the group for her wanton ways, Fay quickly turns the tables, accusing her father (Hey, it's Doug Savant from "Melrose Place") of sleeping with waitresses and her mother of popping pills. In the end, her parents remind their daughter that it’s all about business and wildchild Faye, it seems, is bad for it.
With Ralph (Dennis Quaid) helping Katherine (Carrie-Anne Moss) track down Mr. Jones (Damon Herrmiman), who executed a brilliant escape with the help of his government-issued braces, and Jack tied up with Rizzo, Dixon is left to solve this one on his own. Though his father and uncle have their doubts, Dixon proved himself a competent detective following the trail of mayo to the culprit; Faye doesn’t like eggs, yet mayonnaise was in her system, proving she accidentally ate the poisoned sandwich she intended for her sister.
"Road Trip" is easily the strongest episode of "Vegas" to date. Jamming four storylines into an hour isn’t easy to do and yet here it was done quite well. And there were also plenty of character moments, particularly for Savino, who is missing his daughters now that they’ve been banished to Chicago with his wife. The title "Road Trip" has more than one meaning for Savino. He’s a mobster now, alienated from his family, but as he told Red and Cota, there was a time when his father pushed him to take a different path, that of an engineer. When he meets the daughter of the horse rancher who gives the mobsters a lift to their meeting, Savino treats her like one of his own, buying her a necklace from a roadside store. But after he and his men are forced to draw their guns when bikers threaten the rancher, the girl draws away from him. It’s a very humanizing moment for the hardened mobster and neglectful father. It makes you wonder what actions he’ll take as he continues to pine away for his family.
But the two big developments in "Road Trip" are the (presumed) death of Johnny Rizzo and the capture of Mr. Jones by Savino. His plan may have worked, but Savino’s set up of Jack and Mia will surely have consequences. However with Jones now at his disposal, Savino could make any number of moves, all of which would be extremely dangerous with Katherine and Ralph on the hunt for the Milwaukee enforcer.
It’s great to see a show so much improved in just one episode. "Vegas" is still betting big on the charm of its old West ways, what with Ralph lassoing a boy out of a car teetering on a cliff and Katherine boasting about her "ranching and beef jerky" upbringing. And it's still working. That along with a number of solid storylines now humming along makes "Vegas" a fun place to be on a Tuesday night.