The Breakdown

Siegel, Sid and two other guys are sitting in a car waiting for a guy named Abe Greenburg to come out of a nearby house.  The two guys in the back are trying to talk Siegel out of killing him but Siegel responds by breaking one of the guy’s nose.  They are not alone however since sitting in a car behind them are the guy that ends up getting killed in the confessional booth and the switchblade guy that’s been following Jasmine around presumably as backup for Siegel.  Greene walks out of the house and Siegel is so determined to make sure this guy dies he finally decides on killing him personally.  Siegel walks up to Greene while he’s in his car and shoots him several times.  Unfortunately for Siegel, there is yet more people at the scene who not only witness the entire thing but photograph it as well.  The passengers are none other than Hecky and Jasmine, which officially solves the mystery about how Hecky was able to blackmail Siegel.

Hecky and Jasmine go back to their apartment to develop the incriminating photos on Siegel in their darkroom/bathroom.  Jasmine immediately wants to burn them but Hecky sees too many dollar signs to back out.

Three weeks later, the Mob Squad responds to the double homicide in the restaurant committed by Sid in the previous episode.  The victims are identified as Little Moe and Jerry Two-Tone, two of Siegel’s known associates.  While they speculate who killed them, another squad of detectives comes in saying they’re intruding on their crime scene since the two victims were actually informants for them.  The police chief immediately comes in to intervene and orders Parker that he and the rest of the Mob Squad to stay away from the investigation.

Parker immediately meets with the squad and tells them to pull the surveillance off of Jasmine because they as many available detectives as possible.  He then informs them that the reason Little Moe and Jerry Two-Tone got whacked is because they were about to testify in court about Siegel killing Greenburg.  Despite the chiefs orders, Parker tells the detectives to bring in every lowlife they can find to question them and that he wants them to be first people to arrest Siegel.

The police station suddenly becomes much more crowded as dozens of lowlifes walk in for interrogation.  Most of them deny knowing anything but one guy lets slip that Hecky was blackmailing Siegel over incriminating pictures.  Before the detectives can get anything else out of him, Ned shows up.  Joe talks with Ned in private about the other cops finding out about the pictures which makes Joe nervous about the amount of danger Jasmine is in.  Ned tells him that if he really wants to know about that, then he should ask her.  Shortly after, the entire room goes quiet as Sid walks in for interrogation.

The creepy switchblade guy (I think they finally said his name was Leslie) finally approaches Jasmine claiming to be in business with Hecky.  He reveals that he was the one that tipped off Hecky about Greenburg getting killed though he admits that he didn’t know Siegel was going to be the one to pull the trigger.  Jasmine denies knowing anything, but he presses on regardless and tells her that he and Hecky had made an agreement.  He tells her that he was supposed to get half of the blackmail money which he thinks amounts to $5,000.  Jasmine continues to deny everything and walks away.

Joe questions Sid about his whereabouts during the murders at the restaurant.  Sid insists that he was at his home with a woman but he stonewalls them about any other details including the woman’s name.  He tells them that he thinks it was Jack Dragna, another local mobster who he says killed the two men in an attempt to muscle in on Siegel’s business.  Joe and Sid then briefly discuss the murder of Hecky with Sid saying that he was a hack and deserved to die for his crimes against comedy alone.

The detectives then place Sid in a line-up in the hopes that he’ll be identified by one of the two witnesses.  The first witness is Carl Steckler, who naturally proves to be unhelpful and claims that he didn’t see who it was.  The second witness fares no better by making a positive ID but instead of fingering Sid identifies the guy standing next to him (a Mob Squad detective) which puts the cops back to square one.

Meanwhile, in a Las Vegas desert Siegel is trying to persuade a couple of Meyer Lansky’s lackeys to tell him not pull out of their plans to build a casino in the currently empty terrain.  Siegel insists that the smell of money is in the air but the lackeys only smell cow dung.  Undeterred, Siegel like a soothsayer predicts that one day Las Vegas will be a thriving neon city with the sole purpose being to make money.  The lackeys retort by saying that some figures back east are getting nervous about this prospect and that they don’t want to build another Atlantic City.  Siegel tells them that Atlantic City is in the past and Las Vegas will be the future.  While Siegel also admits that the casino’s construction hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing, he says the problems are now solved.  As he begs his case, he opens the trunk of his car and out comes a guy with a bag on his head.  Siegel tells the guy that he has disappointed him before casually dropping him in a large hole.  Siegel then gets his gun and walks over to the hole where he and half a dozen other guys shoot the mysterious man to death before covering him in cement.

The Mob Squad are discussing the possibility of putting a bug in Cohen’s office at the Clover Club since Siegel visits there a lot and presumably also discusses business there as well.  Before they can go into many details however, one of the detectives comes back with some background information on one of the witnesses.  He reveals that Steckler was recently released from San Quentin and that before his arrest he was a bagman for Cohen making it clear that he was the guy who told Sid where to find the restaurant victims.  Unfortunately, because of a miscommunication, Steckler had already been cut loose.  Morrison orders an APB to look for Steckler in the hopes that he will be the key to take down Siegel.

Joe makes a visit to Jasmine’s apartment to tell her the cops no longer have her under surveillance and that she appears to be in the clear.  She tells Joe however, that there’s something about the way Hecky was killed that doesn’t sit right with her.  For starters, she doesn’t understand why Hecky would go to Joe of all people for protection.  She also doesn’t understand why he would go to the mobsters by himself without the backup he hired.  Joe counters that he doesn’t understand why a guy would intentionally drag a woman he supposedly loves into such a dangerous situation.  She claims to Joe that she wasn’t involved in the blackmail scheme but Joe is quick to point out that somebody had to take the pictures and it probably wasn’t Hecky.  He then tells her that he knows about her leaving a bag inside a train station locker and takes the locker key out of her purse saying that it’s safer with him.

Before Joe can leave however, Jasmine is visited by Cohen forcing Joe to hide in the closet.  It turns out Cohen had the same thoughts that Joe did about the pictures and asks Jasmine if Hecky knew anybody that was a photographer.  She says that she doesn’t know of anybody like that and that it’s likely he met someone after she and Hecky supposedly broke up.  Before Cohen leaves, he asks to use the bathroom and conveniently ignores the red light bulb inside that clearly indicates the bathroom also doubles as a darkroom.

Joe tries to exit the apartment in the meantime but before he can make it to the stairs, Sid is already on his way up and Joe has no choice but the go back in the apartment and hide on the fire escape.  Sid tells Cohen that the cops are on to Steckler and that he called Sid asking for some money to get out of town.  Sid goes on to say that he’s having Steckler meeting him in Griffith Park with the intent to kill him and tie up loose ends and that Cohen should go to the Clover Club to establish an alibi.  Unfortunately, for both of them Joe hears everything.

Steckler is waiting at Griffith Park and sees three of Siegel’s guys in the distance but is quickly suspicious when he sees that Sid isn’t there.  They try to shoot him but luckily for Steckler, Sid apparently sent the three most incompetent hit-men he could find and Steckler is able to get away and hide in a nearby merry-go-round.  Just as the inept assassins are about to kill him, Joe turns on the merry-go-round which quickly disorients the gunmen and Joe slowly and methodically shoots and kills all three of them.

Shortly after Joe finishes off the last gunman the rest of the Mob Squad arrive to question Steckler.  Enraged at the attempt on his life, Steckler immediately spills his guts and tells them that Sid was the one who killed Moe and Jerry and that he was the one that told Sid where to find them.  He also very enthusiastically tells them he will testify in court.  As the Mob Squad take Steckler in, Sid is seen watching everything from behind a tree.

The Analysis

This episode is without a doubt my favorite in the series so far.  While the first episodes consisted of mostly buildup and asking questions this episode felt like the complete opposite.  This episode was actually able to keep me on the edge of my seat and also had a suspenseful (though slightly comical) action scene.

Last week Mob City asked so many questions that it got a rather distracting after a while.  I knew what was going on but I didn’t have much clue as to why which became increasingly frustrating.  Thankfully, not only did none of that happen this week but they quickly settled many of the questions they left unanswered last week.

What did Hecky have on Siegel?  He had photographs of him committing murder.  Who were those guys Sid killed in the restaurant and the confessional booth?  They were witnesses about to snitch to the cops.  Who was the guy with the switchblade?  An associate of Hecky’s with an ax to grind.  I can now stop focusing on the questions and just concentrate on the story now.

While the cops, save for Joe, aren’t really given much to do, the mobsters were fantastic.  Edward Burns was greatly entertaining as Siegel in this episode as he predicts with an almost uncanny accuracy about the future of Las Vegas.  This is especially surreal for me to watch since every performance I’ve seen of Burns in the past has indicated he has the personality of cardboard.  As good as Burns is though Robert Knepper as Sid is quickly establishing himself in my eyes as the most interesting character with his murderous streak mixed with a surprising amount of loyalty to Siegel and Cohen.

I went into this episode worried about what I was in for due to the lack of much happening in the previous one.  Thankfully, Darabont quickly put those concerns to rest and reminded me why I’m such a fan of him the first place.  I can now go into the next episode with enthusiasm instead of skepticism.