Coyote Review: Michael Chiklis Stars in Confusing Border Patrol Drama

All through the primary episode of “Coyote,” I saved ready for a second which may shock me. Absolutely, I believed, this swashbuckling story of a not too long ago retired Border Patrol agent (Michael Chiklis) has extra to supply than bursts of violence and primary platitudes about proper and improper. Absolutely, I hoped, there is likely to be completely different layers to this collection than meets the attention. And but by the tip of 4 episodes, no such second got here. Created by Michael Carnes, Josh Gilbert and showrunner David Graziano, “Coyote” units itself up as an incisive character drama a few man who stumbles right into a life and loss of life state of affairs that forces his black and white worldview to turn out to be grey. As a substitute, it comes off as a self-serious Western fantasy that’s extra involved with stunning its viewers than making any sense.

The collection — which premiered Jan. 7 on CBS All Access after initially being made for Paramount Community — stars govt producer Chiklis as Ben, a Border Patrol agent who retires within the pilot, a lot to his personal frustration. It’s unclear why Ben is retiring, since he appears to like and perceive his job greater than most anything in his life, however retire he does. Quickly sufficient, although, he finds himself thrust right into a excessive stakes escape from a harmful Mexican cartel after a terrified lady (Emy Mena) climbs into his backseat and begs for assist.

As we study in sporadic flashbacks, Ben was hardly essentially the most compassionate officer whereas on responsibility. In actual fact, as we study in a single significantly upsetting journey down reminiscence lane, Ben is susceptible to capturing first and asking questions later to no actual consequence. He’s not often thought concerning the folks he arrests as three-dimensional figures; he apparently by no means even discovered various scattered phrases in Spanish all through his 32-year profession. Within the case of Maria, nevertheless, Ben acknowledges that she’s about the identical age as his daughter, thus activating some latent paternal intuition deep down. The collection frames his willingness to assist her as a compassionate turning level in his life, however fails to seek out a lot of curiosity therein. It barely fleshes out Maria’s character, nor that of Silvia (Adriana Paz), a Mexican native who sees one thing particular in Ben that “Coyote” assumes the audiences will perceive with out giving any tangible causes.

As performed by Chiklis, a veteran actor of flawed TV authority figures, Ben’s not often greater than a blowhard who sees himself because the one true arbiter of justice. Perhaps that appeals to some viewers, however to this one, watching Ben cost via each scene with righteous fists on the prepared rapidly turns into exhausting. No quantity of sweeping shoreline pictures — and there are lots, due to director Michelle Maclaren’s eager eye — can distract from the truth that this man simply isn’t sensible or fascinating sufficient to observe to hell and again, as “Coyote” in any other case requires. 

It doesn’t assist that the present’s construction is simply as complicated as its protagonist. It opens with an in media res flash ahead to a random cartel altercation and Ben footslogging away from the border wall via the desert earlier than chopping again “5 days later.” It then takes an episode and a half to achieve that second, earlier than the present upends its personal premise and throws Ben headlong into the insular politics of the cartel, headed up by its personal cliché of a ruthless chief (performed by Juan Pablo Roba). It’s one factor to indicate how rapidly the bottom can shift beneath Ben’s ft, and fairly one other for the collection to consistently rewrite its personal priorities.

To be blunt: a present that asks its viewers to hook up with a rogue Border Patrol agent with literal blood on his arms must work more durable than this one does to justify its premise. Because it stands, “Coyote” simply feels prefer it was written by Ben himself whereas bored in retirement and itching for one thing extra superior to do than eat cereal alone and depart House Depot parking heaps with out arresting anybody. It is sensible why he would see himself as essentially the most fascinating individual in his personal story, however truly watching it unfold makes it troublesome to agree.

“Coyote” premieres January 7 on CBS All Entry. 

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