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A New Season of Escapism has Arrived with 'Shooter'
June 21, 2018  | By David Hinckley

Season Three’s opening episode of the USA conspiracy drama Shooter packs in all the action fans missed at the end of Season 2. 

Shooter, whose new season premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. ET, lost two episodes at the end of Season 2 when star Ryan Phillippe, who plays former Marine ace sniper Bob Lee Swagger, broke his leg. 

There’s some mild irony here since Phillippe’s real-life broken leg seems like a hangnail next to the injuries Bob Lee is constantly enduring. 

He starts the new season mostly dead, imprisoned in the uncompassionate hands of his long-time sniper rival, the cold-blooded Solotov (Josh Stewart). 

Unless Bob Lee coughs up the location of the invaluable ledger detailing the workings of the Atlas Corporation, a shadowy and evil “deep state” operation, Solotov vows he will kill Bob Lee’s wife and daughter. 

Happily, wife Julie Swagger (Shantel VanSanten) isn’t just trembling in a locked room somewhere waiting for a knight to rescue her. 

She’s grabbed her own gun and teamed up with Isaac Johnson (Omar Epps) to find Bob Lee before Solotov kills him, which is what Solotov is best at. 

The Julie/Isaac team is fascinating because it carries the “alliance of convenience” principle to an extreme. 

Isaac was Bob Lee’s commander when they were both in the Marines. They were pals. So when Isaac, now in the Secret Service, asked Bob Lee to do some routine prep work for a presidential inauguration, Bob Lee said sure, glad to help a friend. 

In retrospect, that was not a good decision. He soon found himself on the FBI’s most wanted list after being framed for an incident that happened during the Inauguration ceremonies. As he has attempted to correct that misunderstanding, he has been harassed, hounded, assaulted and kidnapped. And that’s even before factoring in the threats against Julie and their daughter.

Along the way, his old pal Isaac has often been less than helpful. 

Season 3 starts with a significant reset, though the mysterious Atlas remains at the heart of the story and Bob Lee remains a rare beacon of justice in a world full of conspiracies. 

Some of the reset involves Agent Nadine Memphis (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), an FBI investigator who started out trying to track down Bob Lee. Then she gradually became one of the few law enforcement people who thought he just might be, hmmm, innocent.  

Nadine also has a history with Isaac, and that too plays a role in the potential major realignment of the good and bad guys. 

Shooter,which is based on the novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter and loosely follows the 2007 Mark Wahlberg film also titled Shooter, isn’t the most profound drama on TV these days. 

Even the Atlas plot, which dovetails in some loose way with our current real-life talk of a “deep state,” doesn’t really explore the concept beyond suggesting that if there is such an outfit, the people running it are not admirable. 

No, Shooter aspires to not much more than action escapism, and by that measure, it holds up well. It’s another contemporary variation on the old-style Western, really, and the truth is that contrary to widespread popular belief, the Western never really died. It just got fresh horses. 

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