They say that blood is thicker than water. But if you spill enough of it, does it even matter? That’s a question almost all the characters in the gritty suspense drama “Rogue,” premiering Wednesday, April 3, on DirecTV, need to ask themselves.
The 10-episode series stars Thandie Newton (“Mission: Impossible 2,” “Crash”) as Grace Travis, an undercover cop deep inside the family business of Jimmy Laszlo (Marton Csokas, “The Debt,”?”Alice In Wonderland”): a business down by the docks (wink, wink).
After the death of her young son in a suspicious drive-by shooting, Grace has found herself alienated from her own family and reluctantly joins forces with Jimmy, a man who may very well have had something to do with her son’s murder. Without the permission of her bosses in the police department, she has gone back under cover in order to discover the guilty party.
She has, as they say, “gone rogue.” It’s destroying her marriage, her family and her career. It’s also destroying her ability to decipher right from wrong.
But as part of the Laszlo clan, wrong is just business as usual. Both Grace and Jimmy not only struggle with who they are, they also struggle with who they hope to be. They cross the line — morally, emotionally, sexually — with devastating consequences for themselves and those around them. It’s a Greek tragedy set in Oakland, Calif., though the series was shot in Vancouver in 2012.
And surrounding them are some of the most intriguing sociopaths to come across the small screen in ages. Best example: Jimmy’s daughter-in-law, Cathy, played by Victoria native Leah Gibson, and her husband, Alec (Joshua Sasse). They are the feel-good couple of the year, assuming “feel-good” means treacherous, conniving, evil, dangerous and sexual. (As you might expect from cable TV, clothing is occasionally optional.)
“Cathy is like the woman who is so connected to her mothering instinct and to her instinct as wife that she perceives and assesses what he needs and is two steps ahead in giving that to him,” Gibson tells Zap2it. “Even if that means sort of playing a different role for him because that’s what will feel good for him. … She is very much the matriarch that she would do anything for her family and what’s important to her.”
She is also the queen of the molten stare — a manipulative, simmering woman who seems capable of anything.
“To me, I think that the show is a good exploration of personal motivation and how we can justify our own actions and how we do that for just about anything to save who is close to us and to uphold the values that are dear to us,” says Gibson.
For his part, Alec is one of Jimmy’s two sons, who are both eager for his approval and capable of any extreme to try and further the family’s stronghold.
“He’s a checkerboard of both unpredictability and volatility next to unwavering loyalty and compassion,” says Sasse. “His whole life he’s idolized his father, and I think like most sons he wants nothing more than to please him. But Alec represents everything his father used to be, and as a consequence he is relentlessly rejected by him because Jimmy wants to move in a new direction, and Alec reminds him of the past. It’s this struggle that’s the source of Alec’s pain.”
And when Alec’s in pain, you can rest assured heads will roll. Or a Chinese restaurant will explode. Or you’ll get shot. Or you’ll be locked in a shipping container. But he’s also a devoted family man who is just looking to take care of his own. Together, he and Cathy own every scene they’re in.
“Putting aside the electric sexual chemistry, these are both two people who are very power-hungry, and obviously that ambition is prevalent in their relationship,” says Sasse. “But they also have a 4-year-old daughter, Ruby, who’s the absolute apple of their eye. So what you’re seeing is a real mix between people who are a couple willing to sacrifice a lot to reach their goals but are unwavering towards their devotion to each other and to Ruby.”
But their ultimate motivations are played pretty close to the vest. The one thing that is certain is that they’re dangerous.
“Aside from the sex, it is a pretty gruesome show at times,” says Gibson, “and to me it is a way to expressing the dire straits these characters are in, the brutality, the emotional significance of being in these terrible situations. It’s not alluded to, the edge is there to kind of jolt the audience into the brutality of what they are seeing emotionally.”
And trust us, going “Rogue” gets addictive.