Of all the characters Boss brought in for season 2, after Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) cleaned house, Mona Fredricks (Sanaa Lathan) always seemed the likely candidate to be squashed under Kane’s political machine. Like Kane said, Mona’s idealism and naïveté were initially an attraction, but soon the harsh realities of keeping Chicago afloat meant that sacrifices had to be made. And who better to take the brunt of that then the folks in Lennox Gardens and their only real champion?
It was a sacrifice born of desperation, one that shows – to Mona and Meredith (Connie Nielsen), especially – just how self-serving the mayor’s intentions have always been. With Chicago’s budgetary concerns threatening the arrival of an emergency management team, Kane’s staff scrambles to cut expenditures wherever they can find them, but it’s merely a band-aid over a mortal wound. So, through a concerted effort, that sees him make nice with Alderman Ross (James Vincent Meredith) and the soon-to-be former Governor Cullen (Francis Guinan), he secures a deal that would effectively abandon the Lennox Gardens redevelopment program in favor of building a casino and shopping center.
Once more, Kane sees his grip on the city of Chicago tighten – just as it appeared to slip out of his hands. And he manages to do it with a sort of “we’re all in this together” speech to Ross, pulling on the alderman’s sense of neighborhood pride, and unwillingness to let others – or “outsiders,” as Kane calls them – come in and take over their city. The two may have been in a grudge match for years, but it was their battle, and no one is going to just step in and leave either without a sense of victory; better to work together to oust the interlopers than lose the ability to play altogether.
So Kane does what he had promised Mona he’d never do, and blindsides her with a press conference, personally thanking her and detailing not only the casino and the revenue the city would reap from it, but also Cullen’s involvement and post-governorship appointment. Kane plays it all with no hint of regret, and even takes Mona’s castigation in stride.
But the move is even more sweeping than just keeping the emergency management team at bay. In addition to aligning himself with Ross and Cullen, Kane’s managed to do away with McGantry – a move that perhaps could have felt more significant considering the personal nature of the feud between the two men – and obliterate Walsh’s (Amy Morton) chance at becoming governor. Conversely, the death of Tina (Rebecca Spence) felt oddly personal, and even a step too far, even for Kane. Given the comments made to Kane in his office, coupled with the utter confidence in Walsh of her own victory, the outing of the senator’s sexuality was expected, but the added callousness of killing Tina to get it all done came as something of a surprise.
In all, Kane’s grand machinations felt more in tune with the show’s themes than the finale of season 1, and were it not for the more personal arcs still to be wrapped up, ‘Clinch’ would have served as a quality season finale. But, far-reaching as Kane’s play may have been, he still left a few foes left standing.
Doyle (John Hoogenakker), who’s been colluding with Zajac (Jeff Hephner) against the mayor, winds up looking like the biggest patsy in Kane’s bag after leveling the indictments against McGantry. It doesn’t take him long to figure out just what role he played in securing the land for the casino, and, as we see with his bringing Kitty (Kathleen Robertson) into the fold, Doyle may be out for blood.
Whatever it is that Doyle’s planning on doing, he’s right in directing his interest at Kitty. At the moment, she’s in possession of some seriously damaging evidence against Kane. Not only has Sam (Troy Garity) granted her knowledge of the mayor’s disease, but also she’s aware that Kane was involved in the deaths Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan), and now Tina. There’s been a subtle shift in Kitty that sets up some question about what her next move will be. She’s been burned before and likely not looking to suffer through something like that again, so she may revert to the Kitty we know as a means by which she can protect herself. Then there’s her move with Patty (Kallie Miller) the intern. Sure, it would have been the magic bullet that put Zajac down for good, but Kitty considered the consequences, and the long term scrutiny the young woman would have to endure – were said bullet to be fired. It’s an interesting position in which Kitty finds herself – one where unpleasant associations are certainly at the forefront.
On one hand, Miller is ready to go for Kane’s jugular – which has been his mission since the series started – and with Kitty on the record, any move he makes would certainly be damaging. On the other hand, Zajac’s all but measuring for curtains in Springfield, and granting him knowledge of Kane’s affliction might be enough to get him out from under the mayor’s boot. Still, it’s what we don’t know about Doyle’s plan that may influence Kitty the most.
With Kane’s grand move happening in the penultimate episode, the question of what the season finale has in store becomes more interesting. The mayor may have made friends out of two of his biggest enemies, but slighted his wife and Mona in the process. Meredith has proven herself adept at the political game, so a reprisal from either would not be too terribly unexpected.
Boss concludes season 2 next Friday with ‘True Enough’ @9pm on Starz.