Okay, that’s it. Violence on television has gone too far.
Two episodes ago on the Starz show Power, a couple of bad guys gunned down Tommy Egan’s vintage Mustang.
Just shot it. Pumped it full of lead. Long after it was unquesaionably dead, they kept firing. It was one of those deals where the investigating cops must have looked at it and said, “That many bullets, it’s personal. Someone must have really hated this car.”
It was hard to watch. It was bad.
Now it’s true that the bad guys supposedly were trying to shoot Tommy (Joseph Sikora), whom they thought was driving the Mustang at the time. And yeah, I admit they had more history with Tommy than with his car.
But if you looked at the corpse, bullet holes were sprayed all across the hood and the trunk. Not even really stupid bad guys would think the driver of a car — any car, really — would be under the hood or in the trunk.
No, a good lawyer could make a strong case that Tommy was not the only intended victim here.
More to the point, no one can deny that the Mustang was the quintessential innocent victim. This car had never hurt anybody or any thing. From what we could see, Tommy never so much as scraped the wheel on the curb while he was parallel parking.
Now it’s true that Power is a dangerous show for actors. They get whacked all the time, mostly from gunfire. One of the four main characters was plugged at the end of last season. A teenage girl was gunned down to teach her father a lesson. 50 Cent’s character was gunned down, and Fitty is one of the producers of the show. You’d think that would have bought him a little immunity.
I’ve been okay with that violence, because it fits the world of the show — the same way violence was consistent with the world of The Sopranos or Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead. And let’s face it, a lot of the people who have gotten erased in these shows are, in the words of the oft-employed epitaph, “folks who needed killing.”
Tommy Egan’s Mustang did not.
To his credit, Tommy took it as well as can be expected, although that may have been partly attributable to the fact that he had been smart enough not to be driving the car when the assault occurred and thus he was still above ground to mourn.
Speaking of mourning, the car itself was a beauty, glistening bright blue. It seemed to be a bit hybridized, and there has been debate over whether it was a ’67 or a ’69. Personally, I’m rooting for ’67, since by ’69 the ‘Stang was getting a little bloated, but either way it was a classic.
Oddly enough, we never got any backstory on whether it had special significance for Tommy. Almost immediately after its death he went out and seemed on the brink of buying a vintage Plymouth, so he may simply have liked classic cars.
Still, a vintage Mustang, or even the less iconic contemporary Mustang, adds depth, color and intrigue to any story. Okay, it took product placement to a new level on The Blacklist when Ryan Eggold’s Tom Keen pitched it during commercials, but it has also had higher dramatic functions.
Just last week on USA’s Suits, Harvey Specter’s 1967 Mustang triggered Katherine Heigl’s Samantha Wheeler to relive two significant flashpoints from her earlier life.
Vintage Mustangs have been regular figures on TV for years, perhaps most memorably on the original Charlie’s Angels, but also on shows as diverse as Beverly Hills 90210 and Alcatraz.
Mary Tyler Moore drove two of them on her show, and it should be noted that neither took a single bullet.
Okay, Spenser For Hire did wreck one Mustang, just as Clint Eastwood dinged his ’65 classic twice in the movie Trouble With the Curve.
But the real Mustang point in Trouble With the Curve is that this cranky old guy was driving one in the first place, because it told us something about him, just like Katherine Heigl’s Mustang stories fleshed out some details on her.
Tommy Egan’s Mustang could have done that, too, except that its life was cut tragically short, so we never knew what it could have become.
Stop the violence. It’s time.
(Author’s note: On the Power episode that aired Jan. 26, 2020, Tommy found that his old friend Ghost had restored his bullet-riddled Mustang. Or, perhaps, bought him a replacement. This did not signal a reduction in the general level of violence on Power, but it was good news for the Mustang.)