After an hour that felt like filler, Shooter returned with a pulse-pounding hour that moved the storyline forward and brought us one step closer towards a highly-anticipated showdown.
There was little to dislike about Shooter Season 3 Episode 10. The weakest part of the hour was Julie, and not because she was particularly bad or anything like that. More on that later though.
One of the best parts of the hour was the possibility of Isaac and Bob Lee being real friends again or at least both of them letting go of the past.
I didn't realize how much I wanted that to happen, but Isaac worked his way up to being one of the best characters of the season. Congratulations, my guy. You started at the bottom, and now you're here.
The shift in Bob Lee and Isaac's relationship this season has been remarkable.
Isaac, for all of his murderous ways, took on the role of the pragmatic, mission-focused one, who rarely let any emotion (outside of perhaps anger) get the better of him. He has also served as a sounding board and, dare I say a voice of reason to Bob Lee.
It's funny how the tables can turn, isn't it? Isaac has been the one to advocate on behalf of Julie while Bob Lee got lost in his revenge mission. Isaac is the one who encouraged Bob Lee to let go of the past and value the present.
Bob Lee: I hope Carlita made it out okay.
Isaac: She knew what she was doing.
Bob Lee: That psycho didn't get in your head too bad, did he?
Isaac: Nah. You?
Bob Lee: I'm good. I'm thinking you might be right, though. Once we finish this thing, we should leave all of our old shit in the past.
Isaac: Copy that.
Isaac has been consistent in reminding Bob Lee that this mission is so much bigger than whatever happened to Earl.
Whether it was intentional or not, Isaac has shockingly been a decent friend this season. So, by the time the two of them reached a truce and fist bumped after going through hell together yet again, it felt well-deserved.
Isaac wasn't without his faults this hour because he did imply that our beloved Harris was in on the missing decryption card at first. What you're not going to do is slander Harris' good name. Not on my watch, you won't.
They dropped the ball leaving Harris and the decryption card with the least trustworthy member of their ragtag team. They also took a million years to get back to him even though he didn't answer any of the dozen phone calls Nadine made. That's on them.
The show did a decent job of shrouding Carlita's motives in uncertainty. She bugged herself and was luring them to the Atlas spot, so it seemed like she was on their side, but then the way she was speaking to Russo would imply otherwise.
It almost always felt like Carlita was plotting something on her own and that there was a larger plan in motion, but she is such an unpredictable character so it could have gone either way and been plausible. The hour felt like a potential swan song for Carlita once they begin showing flashbacks.
Technically, her fate is still up in the air, but I have no doubts she escaped the Atlas base unscathed.
The series has a clever way of interweaving threads connecting earlier seasons to the current one in unexpected ways. Did you catch the callbacks to previous seasons?
Agent pain in the ass Payne was Carlita's recruiter. Then, of course, the reason behind Atlas putting Ray Brooks in this position is connected to Lon Scott and his company. Do you remember him from Shooter Season 1?
The sneak-peek into Carlita's background was enjoyable. It's hard to believe she was considered "too emotional" by Russo because she did a great job of coming across emotionless while with the Swagger squad.
Her relationship with John was interesting too. They came across as star-crossed lovers who would have otherwise been in love if not for their roles in Atlas. She still had feelings for the guy after he was forced to torture her.
After Hayes' death I discovered myself on the kill list. I used my status as a target to track and infiltrate the group. Memphis was able to unlock the decryptor. She's smart-- driven, but she struggles to accept that there is no black and white in this world only gray. Swagger is skilled but is hampered by his sense of duty which leads him to take unnecessary risks putting himself and others in danger. Johnson is consumed by guilt over his wife's death. He uses violence to try to escape those feelings.Carlita
Carlita killing Russo was poetic justice, but based on the torture he was inflicting on Isaac and Bob Lee, they would have loved to kill him themselves.
Russo had this weird Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter vibe going on, but aside from that, he was a delicious villain. He chose to enact mental warfare, and sometimes, that's far more entertaining.
There is something magnetic and powerful about getting into an opponent's head. In the end, they do all the real damage to themselves. He was working Bob Lee and Isaac over real good.
The crazy thing is that both of them needed it. It all started with Carlita reading the hell out of nearly every member of the Swagger squad while giving Russo her assessment. She read them to filth to the point of discomfort, but no part of what she said was wrong.
Russo used everything she told him and more to screw them up, but it backfired because it brought Bob Lee and Isaac closer together.
Bob Lee does have a hero complex. He does put duty ahead of everything, and that and his family are his weakness. He has spent the entire season battling with all the ways he's similar to his father. They share many of the same flaws.
Russo: And what do they know of the plan?
Carlita: They've surmised the targets could be Senate holdouts to Brooks' confirmation. On the surface, they're cohesive, but there are divisions and conflicting agendas, and Swagger has never forgiven Johnson for his betrayal. I believe we can turn them against each other, and I made sure they'd come looking for me.
It was the culmination of everything that everyone (those who care about him and his enemies) have been telling him for a while. Julie, Solotov, Isaac, Bama, Russo, Brown, they all have been telling him about himself for the past two seasons, and it feels like Bob Lee has made a breakthrough.
Isaac's torturous moments were powerful though. His issues haven't been as upfront or regularly touched upon as Bob Lee's, so his breakthrough was especially satisfying.
Isaac had to meet himself in the mirror and confront his demons while looking at that wall filled with his sins. He couldn't take it. Up until this point, we knew he was running on pure revenge, rage, and guilt.
Isaac never took a moment to let any of his actions sink in, so it never came across as though he was regretful or anything of the sort. He unraveled in front of that board (with the flashes of all the people he killed), all while trying not to let it show that Russo was getting to him. It was a fantastic scene.
With scenes like that and the ground covered during this season, it begs to question if the powers to be behind the series knew that Shooter's time would likely be up by the end of the season? It feels that way. All the character development and groundwork feel like the series planned accordingly just in case.
Maybe there's a chance that the series will have a proper sendoff.
Did anyone buy for a second that Brooks was trying to do good and oblivious to being an Atlas asset? He's just as slimy as all the other Atlas a$$holes.
To be fair, Nadine and Harris' attempt to blackmail him was weak. It was obvious he wasn't going to bend to their will, but what wasn't obvious was that he's the man who pulled the trigger and killed Earl.
The worst part about that footage, other than the fact that it was .009 seconds before the bomb was about to explode and Bob Lee chose to listen to the tape instead of grabbing all the shit and bolting, was that Brooks knew Bob Lee was in the car and killed Earl in front of him anyway.
That bastard! By now, he has to know that Swagger is coming for him, and it's not going to be pretty. Eff him up, Bob Lee!
- Where can one find both Carlita and Isaac's leather jackets? They were badass.
- Why did Julie tell Bob Lee not to come home only to watch the door hoping he would? Make it make sense.
- Am I the only one who thinks Julie's sister is shady? Not only did Atlas put a bug in Mary's teddy bear, but they bugged the whole house. How? When? Anne is the only one at that house consistently.
- Nadine and Harris may rekindle their romance when this is over and if both of them survive. Fingers crossed that they do.
- Admittedly, Atlas' huge, elaborate, intricate plan to bury and protect their secrets is going over my head a bit. They're going through a lot of trouble to avoid being exposed and tried for treason, but their motives are so all over the place most of the time.
Are you rooting for a Bob Lee and Isaac bromance? Does something feel off about Julie's sister? Are you surprised that Carlita remained loyal to the Swagger Squad?
Did you suspect Brooks was the real shooter? Hit the comments!
Don't forget you can watch Shooter online here via TV Fanatic if you need to catch up!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.