Michael Hayes (1997) s01e22 – Vaughn Mower

So I missed the penultimate episode because streaming rights or something but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it had more of a conclusive feel than this episode. Something about the one feels like they held it from an earlier airdate and retooled it.

Though there was a recent plot point where someone made fun of Rebecca Rigg’s hair so maybe she got it recut to match her original hairstyle.

The episode’s about Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s first wife’s murderer, Luis Guzman, getting out on parole and Santiago-Hudson stalking him. Given Santiago-Hudson’s first wife is a retcon (or at least a “this episode” reveal), it doesn’t end up being a particularly effective arc. Partially because there’s just no weight behind the story since it’s all new backstory, partially because director Tim Hunter—whose contribution I was pleasantly anticipating—absolutely fails on the direction. The scenes between Santiago-Hudson and new wife Tembe Locke are really thin. And Guzman’s a wasted guest cast.

The B plot is Caruso investigating former boss and very infrequent guest star (hasn’t been around since the first thirteen) Philip Baker Hall on bribery allegations. The show seems to forget it’s already used this exact plot line with one of Caruso’s other mentors, but maybe going through three or four batches of show runners confused everyone. Especially if this episode is airing nine episodes late, since it appears to have Mary S. Ward and Jimmy Galeota dealing with David Cubitt in the witness protection program. Only the last anyone saw Cubitt he was bleeding out on the sidewalk in a hastily done scene, which literally no one ever refers to again. Because the show doesn’t assume anyone watches the show; never a good sign.

It only gets really interesting at the end, when all of a sudden—out of nowhere—there’s this heavy implication Ward has been madly crushing on brother-in-law and better dad to her kid than his brother Caruso the entire show. Even though there’s been not even zero romantic chemistry between them but anti-romantic chemistry; Cubitt being irrationally jealous was one of his character traits.

Really bad series finale. Okay episode, minus the weirdly bad direction from Hunter, who either couldn’t figure out how to compose for perspective or was trying a new style thing and it’s just bad. He seems to be going for environments confining the actors thing, which does not work with the worst in a while music from Roger Neill. The music’s obnoxious.

“Michael Hayes” is a sterling example of could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. It’s really too bad they couldn’t crack the series, given the cast quality, though it really did teach Caruso how to act for CBS. Good for him and all, just not good for his acting. But who knows… maybe they just cut all the character work. Sure seems like it at the end of this episode.

It’s too bad.

It’s also really unfair they never had Jodi Long as a regular even though she did more episodes than anyone but Caruso and Santiago-Hudson.

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