Halfway through its first season, USA’s “Shooter” has succeeded at setting up the story dominoes for Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe) to come in and knock them all down.
But while the main motivating factor behind the series is to follow Swagger while he hunts down the truth to prove his innocence, one character has begun to spring forward as a solid standout from the series: FBI Agent Nadine Memphis (Cynthia Addai-Robinson).
In Tuesday’s (Dec. 13) episode, titled “Recon by Fire,” Swagger finds his way to an off-the-grid compound for a militia named “The Tree of Liberty.” On a mission to find the real bullet behind the Ukranian President’s assassination, he soon is taken into the fold of a rogue, gun-happy, anti-government group. And while Isaac Johnson (Omar Epps) soon catches a hunch that Swagger faked his own death and was hunting down the elusive — and highly illegal — bullet, it’s Agent Memphis’ story that actually incited a gasp or two.
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After last week’s abduction revealed Jack Payne’s (Eddie McClintock) true (and murderous) colors, Memphis has found herself in a rather uncomfortable position within the FBI, stalked by Jack as he cleans up more ties to Russian informant, Dimitri Voydian (Ondrej Habinak).
While we have to wonder why Memphis is taking so long to realize she cannot trust anyone in her office — after all, Jack Payne is directly connected to Johnson — we have to give the show credit for putting her on the receiving end of some creepy stalker-ish behavior. First Jack sends her roses, then he taunts her from an unseen location in a parking lot. She should know that any concerns she brings to her superiors, at this point, will be scoffed at. And they are.
We already know Bob Lee Swagger will come out of this story in one piece. The stakes there aren’t incredibly high simply because his ending — if following the movie’s canon — is pretty much written. It’s worth noting that while the show has consecutively delivered some compelling gun fights, it feels like Swagger can simply put on a disguise — ball cap and glasses, anyone? — and go out on the town like it’s no big thing.
And while the character of Julie Swagger (Shantel VanSanten) has felt very one dimensional this whole time, it’s Nadine’s journey that consistently captivates and engages us. That’s not to say that Julie doesn’t have any purpose in the story. Unflinching in her devotion to Bob — and his innocence — when Agent Memphis mentions Jack Payne to her, she jumps at the chance of putting the man’s name in lights.
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Presenting the notion to the press that Payne is the real guilty party really throws Nadine under the bus. But, with five episodes down and five to go, it’s time for “Shooter” to lay its cards on the table: It’s time for Nadine to pick a side.
And let’s be real here: Things really aren’t going her way. With dwindling allies and Johnson onto her, can things get any worse? Maybe.
With Payne’s surprise appearance during the final minutes of the episode, we have to wonder what direction their next conversation will go. As we said, he’s directly connected to Johnson and with Meacham (Tom Sizemore) pulling the strings, it’s a safe assessment that Johnson wants this loose end tied up… By any means necessary.
“Shooter” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA.