Episode 2.1 “They Drive By Night”
The second season of LAWMAN opens with a kick to the balls – not literally, unfortunately, but still a surprisingly eventful opening. Seagal and his partners have responded to a call for an erratic driver going around with his lights off, hitting mailboxes. They catch up with the car and see it going the wrong way in traffic. You can hear officers yelling “No!” sounding seriously distressed. Many of these episodes have Seagal just showing up to the scene where other officers already have things under control, but here the camera captures a head-on collision over Seagal’s shoulder.
The people in the other car are okay, but obviously in shock, and must think they are hallucinating the sight of Steven Seagal helping them out of the car and telling them where to go sit down. This reminds me of a time when I was crossing a street that I cross all the time, and for some reason this one time when the light turned green I hesitated and looked over my shoulder, and just then a car ran the red light. If I hadn’t paused I woulda got plowed over. I was thinking about that as a car pulled out in front of me blasting “Baby I Got Your Money” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and that cheered me up. But then I thought, Wait a minute. Am I dead? Did I actually get hit, and now I’m in a heaven where every car that drives by is playing ODB?
I only bring this up because if you were in a nasty head on collision and 30 seconds later the star of UNDER SIEGE was leading you out of your car and telling you where to go, don’t you think you’d start having paranoid SIXTH SENSE notions? And wondering why the Angel of Death takes the form of Steven Seagal for you? I mean if it was me that would be one thing but most people would be like, “I don’t really consider myself that into Steven Seagal. I’m surprised my guide to the afterlife takes his form.”
But it’s okay, he’s not Death, he’s Steven Seagal. That’s right, Steven Seagal. Deputy Sherriff.
Really all they can do is wait for the medics and the fire department who are gonna have to extract the probly-drunk-or-high wrong-way-driver. Seagal does find one way to help out when they’re having trouble using a club to break a window they need to get through, and he kicks it out. I bet you thought he couldn’t kick anymore. Wrong. Okay, not a real impressive kick, but effective, which is what matters.
The next scene is another reckless driver, a white pickup they see swerving and who at first doesn’t stop when they tell him to. The guy has a sticker that says “SHUT UP” on the back of the truck, and when he finally pulls over and flops out of his truck he tries to ask “What’s the problem here, officer?” The guy has no license, does have an open beer in the truck and clearly did not study for the field sobriety test. We learn the sad fact that he already did 5 years for a previous DWI, has been sleeping on people’s floors for a while and just recently finally got a room.
“I ask you, man to man,” Seagal says, “You gotta get some help, man, before you kill somebody.” This is where Seagal uses his sympathetic adaptation skills, where he tries to adapt to the culture of the person he’s talking to in order to relate. He switches his grammar to ebonics: “Why you didn’t stop that car a little sooner when you saw the po-lice?” “How many years you was in prison?” “What you did to get 5 years?”
“We’ve gotta get this guy some help somehow,” he says. I like that Seagal shows his “I need time to change” side in this show. He’s always looking for “bad guys” but when he catches them he finds out most of them are just people.
At roll call one afternoon Seagal learns about an 18 year old that was murdered. They drive around looking for the suspect’s black Murano. At night they report to the scene where a woman’s car was shot up while she was pulling out to drive to work. She says “Ah – look at my car!” but seems surprisingly calm about the whole thing. I hope this doesn’t mean she gets her car shot up all the time.
Then they get a call from another incident nearby. It’s chaos but after they piece it together it seems the murder suspects in their suspect vehicle, who also probly shot up the poor lady’s car over there, did another drive-by, weren’t watching where they were going and got blindsided by a van. Fucked up from the accident but not wanting to go down they were seen running to a “wooded lot” nearby and then back to the scene.
The officers search the lot until Seagal says “That’s it!” and they’ve spotted the weapon. I’m pretty sure one of the other guys actually found it, but the way they edit it they clearly want you to think he used Seagal Sense to locate it.
But Seagal doesn’t try to take credit for any magic powers. “Once in a while you get lucky,” he says, “and you’re able to keep the community just a little bit safer.
Episode 2.2: “Blade Master”
This episode opens on a Saturday night, another traffic violation (ran a red light). The officers quickly surround the vehicle and have their guns out, so the guy takes off and ends up face down on his father’s lawn with helicopters flying over shining lights on him.
This always happens on this show, somebody takes off (usually on foot after they saw the cop SUV) and when they get caught they always say they ran because the cops scared them. Not that they were guilty of something, they just panicked, you know? Well, alot of times I’m sure they’re full of shit but this guy I totally buy it. They looked like they were ready to kill him, and I’m sure he’s had bad experiences before. “All y’all do is beat my ass!” he says. I don’t blame him for running.
Well, they seem to straighten out the misunderstanding, and Seagal talks to the guy’s dad. “We got some killers out there, you understand what I’m saying?”
Later, Fortunato gets a call from “the narcotics boys” about a “buy and bust” they’re planning. The team stakes out a gas station to watch an undercover officer buy prescription pills. Without a prescription! That’s why it’s a crime. Seagal at first thinks “it ain’t going too good” but then using Seagal Sense he figures out when the deal is done and the dealer is about to drive away.
The plan is to let him go and follow him straight to his crack dealer where he’ll spend his new cash, which sure enough goes down exactly as planned. As they’re busting him an officer asks the gas station dealer, “You still smoke crack?” and he says, “On rare occasions, yeah.” I guess this was gonna be a rare occasion. Sorry, bud. Not today.
There’s a full moon, so Seagal puts on a robe and practices with swords. “When you’re a police officer,” he explains, “any time there’s an encounter or an endangerment, the strategy that I apply always really comes from the ancient philosophy of swordsmanship. You have to gain the best position.” That seems like an understatement for his sword style though, since he keeps simulating various dismemberments on his sparring partner. “Once that thumb is off you’re done,” he says.
This show still reminds me of Mr. Rogers, the way he always has different places to go to meet people and different things he has planned and he tells you about it. “Later this week I’ll be testing some of the sharpest swords in the world.”
At night he gets a call for a drunk disturbance, and I’m afraid this guy is not necessarily one of the sharpest swords in the world. He’s drunk and needs a ride home so he’s been bothering an ambulance about it. “But we don’t give rides,” a paramedic deadpans.
In this encounter instead of trying to gain the best position Seagal just feels bad for the guy and gives him twenty bucks for a taxi. The guy says, “Today’s my birthday, bro!”
“Today?” Seagal asks. “So according to the Chinese astrology you fall under the animal of the dragon, which is a magical, mystical animal. So use your magic to get sober and do good and prosper, okay?”
I think that advice helped the guy figure out that this cop that just gave him twenty bucks is also a famous star of action movies. “You gotta be kidding me!” he says. “I love you Steven!,” and they hug. This is one of those great bonding scenes. Seagal goes out there to be a tough cop but he can’t help meet people that he feels compassion for. They need time to change. This guy claims he has a master’s degree in chemical engineering (or “mechanical engineering” as Seagal repeats it) but you can see things haven’t turned out as planned. Seagal says when you look into his eyes “you see a flash” of what he used to be.
So he didn’t have to use sworsmanship philosophy on this guy, but he explains why having compassion and patience is “part of being a warrior”:
“The great warriors in Asia, particularly Japan, were not just people who were warriors. They were poets, they were healers, they were mystics, they really understood the art of being a warrior is really practicing the arts of war for the purpose of stopping war.”
In other words, as awesome as it is to chop a guy’s thumb off it’s even better to make friends with him and give him cab money.
To celebrate, Seagal goes and slices up some bamboo with those sharp swords he was talking about. You can see why this would be a fun thing to do. At one point he demonstrates that a machete can’t even cut through the bamboo that the sword can slice through like bologna. Take that, Danny Trejo.
But it’s not just about sharpness. The mind behind the sword is the real weapon, because of the knowledge and wisdom, etc.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.