The Player “Pilot” Review (Season 1, Episode 1) [Series Debut]

The Player

I don’t claim to understand card games and I have never spent any time gambling so the world of The Player (at least in those terms) is a little foreign to me. But one thing was made clear in the pilot episode of the new NBC series: the house always wins – or to be more specific – Mr. Johnson always wins.

If it is to be understood from the explanations throughout the episode, Alex Kane is a former top graduate of Quantico and spy chaser-rogue assassin (of sorts), who ends up being a security specialist in Las Vegas. Why Las Vegas, I don’t really know (or maybe I missed something), but it fits with the overall storyline of “the house, the pit boss and the dealer”. That entity needs “the player” to make it all come together.

It is clear from the beginning that Alex is more than capable of thinking outside the box and can make moves that almost – at times – seem superhuman (how about that Tarzan swing into the Raqib’s suite to save their lives or the dirt bike takedown inside that abandoned warehouse!). But, is he a bad guy pretending to be a good guy or a good guy just thinking like a bad guy?

His ex-wife Ginny (who is much more than a friend with benefits) seems to think that if he does good, he is good; but then her life is cut short (or so it seems – more on that shortly), forcing Alex to get even more involved in the organization run by the mysterious Mr. Johnson (the pit boss) and Cassandra King (the dealer), who have access to literally everything. I’d love to learn how they came to have that kind of access despite the explanation the duo gave to Alex in the middle of the episode.

Alex is tasked with attempting to save the life of Shada Raqib, the teenage daughter of a high-powered government official in Las Vegas for some kind of summit meeting (if I understood the gist of the storyline, that is). With assists from Cassandra – and even some low-tech resources (namely the homeless of Las Vegas), Alex rescues the girl but does not catch the man who killed his ex-wife. I’m sure that will be one of the season-long story arcs, Alex hunting down Tomas Edribali, who killed his wife (or did he?)

The end of the episode certainly made him (and the viewing audience) question what really happened to Ginny. You see Ginny has a tattoo on her ring finger that she kept hidden with her wedding ring (even after she and Alex divorced). When Alex visited the morgue to return Ginny’s ring (that was found lying on the floor in her house in the aftermath of her murder), he discovered there is no tattoo on the dead body. To matters worse, he learned that an FBI agent (perhaps Mr. Johnson in disguise much like what he did to get Alex out of Las Vegas Police Department custody) brought her body in.

What does that mean? Is Ginny really alive? What roles do Mr. Johnson and Cassandra play in her supposed death? How did Ginny and Cassandra know each other in light of that photo seen at the end of the episode? What kind of revenge is Alex going to get on Mr. Johnson since he has already put those pieces together? What did you think of the debut episode? Please share your thoughts below.

The next new episode of the debut season of ‘The Player” will air on NBC on Thursday, October 1 at 10/9c.

Philip Winchester as Alex Kane
Charity Wakefield as Cassandra King
Damon Gupton as Det. Cal Brown
Wesley Snipes as Mr. Johnson

Guest stars:
Daisy Betts as Dr. Ginny Lee
Carlos Rota as Mr. Raqib
Haaz Sleiman as Fahed
Jade Bender as Shada Raqib
Dion Mucciacito as Tomas Edribali
Nitya Vidyasagar as Medina Raqib
Urman Ally as the decoy
Isiah Adams as the homeless guy