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TV Review: Steven Seagal: Lawman – “Firearms of Fury”

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There’s a gene for masochism. There has to be. How else can we explain why the people of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana persist in breaking the law? Scientists have yet to scale the double helix in the detail necessary to reveal the hidden pores of these masochistic desires. The white coats stand aloof, shrugging shoulders in a gesture of undiscovered knowledge. The answer they murmur is no. Yet we see, week after week, a populace intent upon injuring the status of the law, bringing upon themselves a heavy dose of ironclad justice.

But that in-itself isn’t overly masochistic. Individuals are sometimes coerced into criminality. Be it an impulse born of poverty or exploitation, a range of determinants foist upon the good and the decent a life formed solely by illegal pursuits.

Where an unambiguous self-hate becomes manifest is when we consider he who is the harbinger of justice in this equation. Most parishes in Louisiana have sheriffs made of bone and blood – numerous flesh creatures ambulating through time and space. These are men and women whose lives are fraught with imperfection. They are professionals who defecate between patrols, entertain lusty thoughts about co-workers, and cry at forgotten memories just remembered.

Jefferson Parish, on the other hand, has to contend with a force so utterly perfect as to make us laugh outrageously at the actions of criminals and wrongdoers. At the core of their law troop stands Steven Seagal. Yes, that’s right: Steven Seagal, deputy sheriff.

To break the law in Jefferson Parish cannot be anything other than a purposeful attempt to satisfy deep psychological neuroses. The kid who steals twenty packs of Doritos from the local convenience store is seeking to damage himself, for he enters a state of guaranteed failure as soon as his act finds reality. It may be the inability to feel genuine emotion in this epoch of rampant simulacra. Or the redundancy of a survival instinct no longer needed in order to live. Either way, little Tommy’s getting busted – and he might get a forceful Seagalian boot in the backside for his trouble.

Tonight’s masochists are all hoodlums with guns. After several seconds of introductory Seagalian fervour, we catch Seagal and co charging through the city on their way to a gun-related incident. An eight-foot wolf has threatened a greengrocer – a vicious scene happening far from Seagal’s corporeal presence. The report confirms that the wolf yelled nasty words like “I will give you a right shootin’” and “Gimme that turnip” at the frightened grocer. Eventually Seagal’s brigade encounters the wolf trying to make a getaway in his jeep. But the beast is too slow, and to worsen his predicament, Seagal finds a firearm in the backseat. No amount of baying can deactivate Seagal’s furious stare – that is the lesson offered the wolf.

This episode, the fourth of the series, continues an examination initiated by Seagal in episode one. Then he participated in various games of shooting practice, propelling swarms of bullets at the heads of matches, startling everyone around him with his godly accuracy, while simultaneously propounding assorted Zen-gunfire maxims.

But this time the ‘guns are fun’ ethos of episode one has morphed into something else. Here we witness a complete inversion. The rich colours of burly blokes slapping ninety bullets into paper cut-outs amid laughter and good cheer is now a dank monochrome pit of pain and loss. Seagal races over tarmac to reach a man shot in the back. The report delineates the happening: on the corner stands a young chap, happily bullet-less, when suddenly up pulls a car driven by Biff Tannen, shotgun protruding through the window, and click – in a split second the chap standing on the corner is transformed into a victim. It’s this sort of brutality that summons profanity to the lips of Seagal. As the medics wrangle with the wound, Seagal shouts down at him, “It’s a dirty motherfucker shoots you in the back, ya hear me?”

I’m sure he did hear him. Bullet or no bullet, to ignore the words of Steven Seagal is a grave mistake that not even the ruffians of Jefferson Parish would dare commit.

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