It’s strange to think about how Angie Tribeca’s first season only happened earlier this year, as the changes that its second season has gone through feel like the type a show would need to grow into after a number of years and seasons. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Angie Tribeca’s decision to change up its tone and style this season is just how well the show is doing in terms of adapting and evolving. The show’s entire approach to storytelling has completely changed—even though its sense of humor and “plot holes” haven’t—and it’s so unexpected in how well it’s doing it. While “Beach Blanket Sting-O” hit on how finely-tuned Angie Tribeca has become on the joke side of things (and more fully-formed when it comes to the character development), “You’ve Got Blackmail” is arguably now the standard bearer for the “darker,” serialized aspect of it all, creating a more perfect union in the comedy and the big case aspect of this season.
Lieutenant Atkins: “Your reputation precedes you, Duran. Smart, professional, but with a fun, mischievous side.”
Just like the drug trafficking plot from “Beach Blanket Sting-O,” solving the Meet ‘n’ Cheat (.org!) hacking plot isn’t exactly the point here. The only reason Tribeca and company even figure it out is because Special Agent Diane Duran (Heather Graham) reveals her villainous self to Tribeca in dramatic fashion. And that’s after the clearly nonsensical concept of Duran finding “the location of the servers connected to the hack”… in an episode that opens with the hacking taking place at a laptop in a coffee shop (appropriately named Java Script Coffee Roasters). But as “You’ve Got Blackmail” has Duran point out, Tribeca is a “big part” of the “bigger picture” of this season, and it all has to lead up to that.
But of course Tribeca is a “big part” of the “bigger picture.” The show is called Angie Tribeca, and the show’s world revolves around Angie Tribeca. The entire series begins with the ultimate training montage telling the audience what kind of person Angie Tribeca is and what kind of show Angie Tribeca is as well. Angie Tribeca is the perfect woman… until this episode. Last season’s “Tribeca’s Day Off” played with the idea of Tribeca trying to be more than just the job and “Ferret Royale” gave her actual professional competition. Heather Graham’s Diane Duran is the natural progression of both of those episode’s concepts, as she walks into the picture with blowy hair (“My mom had blowy hair.”), the natural ability to turn a zero to hero, and an outfit for every possible criminal occasion. She’s a “tech expert” who can “have it all.” She’s absolutely perfect. As a ridiculous commentary on the idea of women having it all (especially in the hard-edged worlds that procedurals take place in) and being the sexy female professional, it’s great. Especially as Tribeca has no way to deal with it without the help of another woman, Scholls.
Also, after the past few episodes, it’s pleasantly surprising to see that Geils’ “I wanna date her” doesn’t lead to any romantic entanglement plot with Geils, Duran, Tribeca, and Scholls. It’s also nice to know Geils doesn’t go splat.
Duran: “At 9:03 a.m., self-replicating code was Trojan Horsed to the backdoor of Meet ‘n’ Cheat’s servers.”
Geils: “Those computer-sounding words convinced me you’re an expert.”
That’s not even addressing the other major part of the episode, as this week’s particular genre parody comes from all things cyber crime (and as Tribeca points out, it’s not just a “paper jam”). “You’ve Got Blackmail” throws Mr. Robot, CSI: Cyber, The Social Network, and every other bit of pop cultural pseudo-technological jargon into a blender and spits out some anal sex jokes (“-run -BackdoorPenetrating”), always relevant Dustin Diamond jokes, and— Well, I’ve already mentioned Diane Duran’s outfits for every possible criminal occasion. The Doppelganger (Josh Meyers) twins scene especially is pure Angie Tribeca’s silliness and attention to detail, with the split screen and the motion capture costume and even the delayed responses. And even though he mostly becomes an after thought for the “real” story, Danny Pudi’s role as Meet ‘n’ Cheat (and then FastFruit) CEO Garth Tweedner is such a specific type of scumbag that it’s almost like the show just ripped the character straight from an episode of Law & Order.
As anyone watching knows, Angie Tribeca makes it difficult to select just a few aspects to focus on because of how dense it is (for a “stupid” comedy), but if there’s one constant this season in terms of absolutely solid reveals and beats, it come from Lieutenant Atkins. I’d even say that, like Christina Hendricks’ transition straight from Mad Men to Another Period, Jere Burns’ hop from Justified to Angie Tribeca has been a comedic godsend of sorts. The scene between the Lieutenant Atkins and Mayor Perry is even better than their scene from the previous episode, especially with the visual of steam coming out of the Mayor’s ears. And the reveal of him eating a bowl of Duran’s homemade linguine after Geils says that “anybody could be in on” her plan is such another shining example of Angie Tribeca’s attention to detail in direction. His button to that same scene—“Keep in mind, this is all being funded by our tax dollars”—immediately cutting to the gang’s extremely expensive operation (new car, digital implant, etc.) again proves just how good Angie Tribeca has gotten at specifically lampooning the intricacies of the genre.
The same goes for the fight scene between Tribeca and Duran, as Angie Tribeca once again shows off its knowledge of how time works (or doesn’t) in “high pressure” procedural situations.
Ultimately, the most important part of all of this—both this episode and this season—is that it makes the audience want to keep watching to see what happens next. Sgt. Pepper, Mayhem Global, Diane Duran—it’s all building to something big, no matter how dumb it might be. So the fact that this is all just the beginning is even more impressive. In hindsight, it’s interesting that the first season got the marathon approach when this second season is perfect for binge-watching purposes. But the anticipation is well worth it considering the quality of this season so far. Basically: If people weren’t watching Angie Tribeca before, they better get on board now.
- For whatever reason, the Meet ‘n’ Cheat employee saying “I think we’ve been hacked!” got me each time I watched the episode. That’s not even the funniest part of the opening scene!
- Kudos to Rashida Jones for making her fake typing early in the episode especially fake. There was no way she was typing anything, and I think it added to the entire premise/concept.
- Tribeca: “How do you live with yourself?”
Tweedner: “I’ll tell you how I live: I sleep on a bed made out of human buttox. Every item of clothing that I’m wearing was handmade by a gifted Asian child. You wanna know what I drink instead of water? Supermodel breast milk. Wanna know what kind of car I drive? A pre-owned Toyota Avalon.”
- Geils: “Sir, on behalf of the 99%, thank you.” You’re a job creator.” Tweedner also proceeds to get out a bottle of milk, labeled “H. Klum.”
- Ned Doppelganger: “Allow us to demonstrate. Name any fruit.”
Ted Doppelganger: “Ugh, you’re that guy?”
- Mayor Perry: “My name is on the list. Mayor Joe Perry. Username: ‘mayorjoeperry1’. Password: ‘yesthatmayorjoeperry’.”
- Cedric the Programmer! Bernie Macbook! White guy nicknames for Geils! A lot happens in this episode.
- Duran: “Did you really think you could take down Mayhem Global?” Well, considering they just found out what it was, no? It’s all nonsense—it’s great.
- Tribeca: “You don’t understand. She’s wearing a cape. And rocking it.” This line may be one of the most relatable lines I’ve heard on television in recent memory. Seriously, my immediate reaction note to the cape ensemble (“motorcycle chase couture”) was: “THERE’S A CAPE.”
- Lieutenant Atkins: “Okay, has everyone in this scene talked?”
Tribeca: “Oh, I haven’t, sir. But— Now I have.”
- In the most blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moment of the episode and series, Alison Rich’s Detective Small makes her return in this episode. It’s especially surprising since she’s credited at the end of the episode, but it wasn’t until my third viewing that I actually spotted her (and not because she’s so small). In my review of the premiere, I originally said that Detective Small is Detective Heather Small, keeping with the show’s naming of characters after famous celebrities/brands/characters and explaining who “Heather” (with the birthday) from “Miso Dead” was. As it turns out, that Heather is still a mystery, because Detective Small (no first name) is obviously still missing… But she’s apparently taking public transportation (as Tribeca asks “Who the hell are these people? What are they up to?”):