Shades of Blue Season 3 Episode 10 Review: By Virtue Fall

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The bar for Shades of Blue Season 3 Episode 10, the series finale, was set incredibly high. 

That's because every installment of Shades of Blue Season 3 had viewers on the edge of their seats. Every performance left us breathless. 

Facing the Commission - Shades of Blue

So perhaps it shouldn't be such a surprise that this final episode was a letdown, but it's still disappointing. 

We've watched Detective Harlee Santos struggle to find a balance between her loyalty to her crew, need to protect her daughter, and her desire to be a good cop for three seasons, and it all came down to this.

Unfortunately, the culmination wasn't all that exciting. 

Cole: In my line of work you don’t leap without knowing where the ground is.
Harlee: And in my line of work you don’t let your partner go through the door without backup.

It was no surprise that Cole bailed on his agreement to testify. He's always been a coward, walking the line between assuaging his conscience while still keeping himself safe. 

More often than not, Cole has let Harlee put it all on the line while he played in the shadows. 

Cole would rather be on the run for the rest of his life instead of facing Ramsey when it fact facing Ramsey on that Commission could have been the one thing that could have kept him safe.

Having Cole slink off on that ferry may have been realistic, but it was also a lackluster sendoff. 

Harlee's testimony also fell flat. 

I’m done with coverups and I’m done with lies and I’m done being afraid. Mr. Chairman, why would I admit to this if I wasn’t telling the truth?


The audio they had on Ramsey didn't sound all that damning. It didn't seem strong enough to put Ramsey away without Cole's testimony to back it up. 

Harlee's testimony was meant to be shocking and cathartic as she bared her soul to the Commission to take down Ramsey with her, but it came across as a rehash of everything we already knew. 

I understand that this was Harlee's penance for past sins, but it wasn't all that exciting to watch, perhaps because we were shown in flash-forwards that this was the inevitable result. 

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I admit that Harlee's talk with Cristina was touching, especially when she said she felt as though 16 years had gone by in a blink. 

Thankfully, she's shared enough with Cristina that she's not the naive girl we met on Shades of Blue Season 1. She now knows her mother's no saint and that the world isn't black and white. 

And after helping to put an end to Stahl's reign of terror permanently, she knows what it takes to survive. 

Wozniak: How’s our girl?
Harlee: Clutch. I’ve got to say, she was clutch. Didn’t hesitate, knew exactly what to do.
Wozniak: Wonder where she learned that from.

One of the highlights was when Tess crashed her patrol car and let the cartel take Enrique Ortiz. 

Tess has had such a difficult time of it. Like she told Enrique, she's had limited choices during desperate times which is what made turning over the cartel lord's son on her own seem plausible. 

But as much as it seemed possible, I kept thinking that Tess wouldn't do that! 

Sure enough, she didn't, and hearing that was Woz's plan all along was the best reveal of the finale. 

Woz Takes Care of His Family - Shades of Blue Season 3 Episode 10

Now I hope that Tess is smart enough to squirrel that money away and not use it all at once because paying off her mortgage or her other debt would be a giant red flag to IAB. 

Ramsey going to prison was anticlimactic, and Wozniak showing up in prison garb to kill him on the prison transport was ludicrous. 

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I have no doubt the cartel wanted Ramsey dead and would have killed him once inside the prison, but how will the bus driver and prison guard explain how Ramsey ended up strangled to death on their bus? He was a high profile prisoner. There's no way his murder goes down without somebody having to answer for it. 

But the most memorable parts of this finale, as are the best parts of the entire series, were the scenes between Harlee and Wozniak. 

Wozniak: You were my second chance. You were a gift.
Harlee: I wasn’t always such a gift.
Wozniak: You were.
Harlee: God, I love you.
Wozniak: That’s always been your worst quality.

After losing Annie, protecting Harlee and Cristina filled a void for Woz. In some ways, they saved him.

Harlee didn't have to ask him to take care of Cristina. As Woz told Tess earlier, "That's how family works. We take care of one another."

Seeing Annie kiss her father's cheek as he watched after Cristina was perhaps my favorite moment of all. 

I have no doubt that Woz would have fallen on his sword for Harlee if she'd given him the opening but that wasn't what she wanted. 

Wozniak was right in that she could have used her PTSD as a defense. She could have done that from the very beginning, but she taught Loman the art of the coverup a little too well. Her guilt in having done that probably played into her determination to take a plea. 

In some ways, it felt like Stahl had gotten into Harlee's head as she kept insisting how broken she was and how this was her one chance to make things right. 

I always expected that Wozniak would end up having to answer for his sins, while Harlee would get to move on, but the opposite occurred. 

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Woz got the bullet removed from his back and the rest of his crew back together as Tufo and Tess got their detective shields back. Their careers will continue while Harlee spends time behind bars. 

But this finale left us with a lot of unanswered questions.

What was Harlee's plea deal? How long will she remain behind bars? 

Did the Deputy Commissioner of Internal Affairs go down with Ramsey or was she able to cover her ass, and what does that mean for Verco?

After his conversation with the cartel's frontman, did Wozniak make a deal with them? Is he now their new contact in the NYPD or did he extricate himself from it entirely?

And we never got a reconciliation or even conversation between Wozniak and his son, Nate, a scene I was anxiously anticipating.

Behind Bars - Shades of Blue Season 3 Episode 10

In the end, Harlee Santos torched her career and put herself behind bars to save her crew and take down the corrupt Intelligence Unit. 

I'm not saying there wasn't a certain amount of elegance to that conclusion; it just wasn't the white-knuckled, thrilling end to Shades of Blue that I'd hoped to see.

If you're already missing Harlee, Wozniak and the rest of the crew, start it all again from the beginning and watch Shades of Blue online here at TV Fanatic.

By Virtue Fall Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (24 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Shades of Blue Season 3 Episode 10 Quotes

He’s on a cold tray in a moldy basement and you’ve got all your tomorrows lined up.


Wozniak: How’s our girl?
Harlee: Clutch. I’ve got to say, she was clutch. Didn’t hesitate, knew exactly what to do.
Wozniak: Wonder where she learned that from.