TV Review: Intelligence – "A Champagne Payday"

(Spoilers for the episode that aired Oct. 17.)

The second episode of CBC’s Intelligence opens with the mirror image of the previous one. The sunny, soaring plane ride of “Where Good Men Die Like Dogs” makes way for “A Champagne Payday”‘s shadowy scenes of Jimmy Reardon’s brother Michael pulling up in a car to meet with the people he’d contracted to arrange a hit on Bill, the snitch who caused Jimmy problems and whose death is causing spymaster Mary Spalding (Klea Scott) problems.

Mike presents them with a couple of bottles of champagne for a job well done, and the promise of actual payment next week. Since they weren’t planning to offer long-term financing, they aren’t pleased with the arrangement.

Michael (Bernie Coulson) is the sibling who makes you wonder if there wasn’t an affair with the mailman in Mrs. Reardon’s past. Maxine (Sabrina Grdevich) seems to be the practical, financial brains, schmoozing the banker with thrilling stories of her grandfather’s bootlegging past and keeping the tax man at bay by preserving the facade of legitimacy over at their shipping business. Jimmy (Ian Tracey) is the underworld brains, setting up a drug production and distribution network, expanding into bank machines to facilitate money laundering. And Mike? Well, Mike’s the doofus screwup, which undermines the Reardon family’s criminal mastermind trifecta slightly.

To get money to pay for the hit, now Mike takes a job with the bikers, rivals of Reardon’s criminal empire who are trying to muscle in on his territory. Mike’s actions cause Mary’s sneaky underling Ted (Matt Frewer) to suspect the hit on Bill, and therefore the Reardon empire, are possibly tied to the bikers as well. Jimmy’s sense of ethics and family responsibility force him to pays off Mike’s debt as soon as he discovers it … which could also have the downside of creating that tie the spies suspected was there to begin with.

While on his drug run for the bikers, Mike is shockingly clever enough to realize he’s being watched when the cops tail him down a dead end turnaround point. He sends the drug truck driver away, waits until nightfall, then unloads and hides the contraband while the oblivious cops sit metres away. I have a bad, bad feeling Mike’s trying to pull one over on the bikers more than the cops.

Now that Bill’s death has raised even more questions about Mary’s ability to handle Reardon as an informant, she gets advice from Vancouver cop Don Frazer (Andrew Airlie), who we learn at the end of the show might be more than just a sounding board, in a cozy scene at her hotel room. On his advice, and with the approval of the CSIS higher-ups, she hires one of her escort agency owner and informant’s girls to infiltrate Jimmy’s strip club, the Chickadee.

Jimmy’s partner and Chickadee manager Ronnie (John Cassini) is smitten with the Russian dancer Christina, flirting with her in front of his stripper girlfriend Sweet and sowing the seeds for a possible love – or at least sex – triangle.

Mary tries to keep this undercover operation secret from Ted, but pretty much everyone in Intelligence has secret sources of intelligence, and he finds out from his CSIS source. As Mary says about trying to turn the mole she now knows is in her wire room, “everyone has something to hide,” but it seems those secrets are never as hidden as the bearer thinks.

Mary is trying to protect her relationship with Reardon, which she sees as key to getting the CSIS job she’s been promised. But Ted, who’s been demoted from The Nasty Bastard to The Snake in ads, but who still wants the job Mary covets, and Roger Deakins (Tom McBeath), the CSIS director whose job she’s planning to assume, want to destroy it, so they plot to get Jimmy investigated and therefore arrested by the Americans.

Jimmy’s got personal problems, too, since his ex-wife Francine (Camille Sullivan) won’t let him see their daughter, Stella, and he’s determined to win sole custody. The lovely but very messed up Francine is using their daughter as a pawn to try to get Jimmy back. Apparently, though, the best way to reconcile with a guy isn’t to get wrecked, bring another man into his strip club, create a scene, and beg him to get back together one more time. Good to know.

Jimmy’s lawyer looks about 12 but is canny enough to know that Reardon’s custody case is a losing battle. He expresses his doubt that with his background and associations Jimmy could be declared a fit parent. So if he attacks Francine’s fitness, the worst case scenario is that neither of them wins – Stella least of all. Ever the decent guy – for a crime lord – Jimmy refuses to consider getting Francine involved in trafficking so she can be caught and deported, and thinks paying her off or coming to an amicable arrangement are futile.

Jimmy and Mary’s interests collide in Randy Bingham, a stock broker who’s now dabbling in arms shipments, and who owes Reardon money. He’s got a cop in his back pocket for these occasions, who lets Bingham know he’s being watched, getting him to panic about the deal while leading Mary and her unit to his associates.

This second episode continues to weave the entwined plot and character threads as creator Chris Haddock slowly builds the drama and suspense. Intelligence has a dark, brooding quality to it, with shaky camera shots, often through blinds or other obstructions, but there’s moments of unexpected humour, too.

One in “Champagne Pay Day” comes from Bill’s friend, who confirms to Jimmy that his brother was involved in the hit after Mike continues to deny it. “You know what Bill’s hobby was?” the friend asks, and I prepare for some little humanizing touch about the dead guy, or piece of information that will fit into the intricate puzzle of this show. “Spiders. Now I gotta go take care of them. I’m gonna get bit.”

The next episode of Intelligence airs Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 9 p.m. on CBC.

This entry was posted in Canadian TV, Intelligence. Bookmark the permalink.