Tuesday (Dec. 6) finds “Shooter” taking a trip back in time, showcasing Bob “the Nailer” in his natural habitat: War. The episode in question, titled “Overwatch,” followed through on Bob Lee Swagger’s (Ryan Phillippe) mission to become a ghost and, in the process, unveils the show’s real villain: The C.I.A.
Yet, with all the grittiness of the narrative — showcasing Swagger’s time in the field — it feels that “Shooter” is retreading old ground to find something new and exciting. Four episodes in and it doesn’t feel like the series has stepped out of the 2007 film’s shadow. It may, or may not. But in its attempt at shooting for “Homeland” glory, it hasn’t yet hit the target (pun intended).
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This right here is where “Shooter” could’ve strived to be different. As shown in Tuesday’s episode, Swagger is a keen shot and the scenes that play out in the field are engaging and remind us of other shows that have dipped into government espionage well. But, alas, this is neither “24” nor “Homeland” and the biggest weakness the series has is its knack for delivering too much exposition.
Case in point: In a key scene which finds Jack Payne (Eddie McClintock) in the middle of torturing and planning out Agent Memphis’ (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) death, he takes the time — in true Bond villain fashion — to explain in detail just how he’s going to kill her. If ever there were an example of how a television show may not trust its audience to put the pieces together on its own, this would be it.
That’s not to say that the episode in question doesn’t work. It just doesn’t hit any high bar at all in the genre.
What we do get is a peek into Swagger and Isaac Johnson’s (Omar Epps) military relationship. As well, it looks like Hugh Meachum (Tom Sizemore) has been involved in Isaac’s life for a lot longer than we previously expected. We may not yet know what the C.I.A. is up to, but the failed attempt on Memphis’ life has finally put her and Swagger on the same team — which is exactly what happened in the movie.
At the end of the day, “Shooter” delivers the goods when it comes to the primetime balance between military action and dramatic intrigue. While it doesn’t break the genre mold, the USA series continues to be an enjoyable — albeit gun-riddled and corny at times — way to spend a Tuesday night. Just make sure to keep your expectations in check and you just may begin cheering every time Bob “the Nailer” — wait for it… — nails the bad guy.
“Shooter” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA.
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