"Money Plays," the second episode of the new CBS drama "Vegas," highlights why TV fans need an actor like Dennis Quaid in a weekly series. Playing real-life lawman Ralph Lamb, Quaid combines a cowboy sensibility with a thirst for justice. In the opening scenes, for instance, Lamb stops a would-be jewel thief by simply waiting outside the door with a broom handle.
Michael Chiklis and his Vincent Savino character also came into sharp focus in the second episode. Savino, who refers to Lamb as the Lone Ranger, is still stinging from the betrayal of the Savoy's credit manager, Bob Perrin (Kai Lennox). The credit manager is being held under suspicion of murder, and Savino encourages the employees in the Savoy's count room to leave and never look back if they were involved in any way.
After a few tense moments, three employees -- including a trusted count room manager -- take his advice and head for the door.
A new count room manager, Mia Rizzo (Sarah Jones), is sent down from Chicago. Savino and Mia go back a long ways, but he's not happy that she can get her way by calling her well-connected father back in the Windy City. Savino and Mia are soon arguing over the blackjack tables and changing the rules about a dealer hitting on a soft 17.
Meanwhile, the body of craps dealer Wes Sutcliffe is discovered in his home. Lamb and his brother Frank (Jason O'Mara) dig deeper into his house and find a safe loaded with cash. Gloria, Wes' girlfriend, said he was trying to raise enough money to save her ranch. Ralph and Frank think his death is the work of a crew who purchased a list of safe owners.
Perrin gets a plea-bargain with the District Attorney's office, offering details about Savino and the Chicago mob in exchange for a lighter sentence. Savino actually wants Perrin to go free so he can choose the time and place of his execution.
The Chicago mob sends Nicholas Cota to Vegas to deal with Perrin. The former credit manager is about to meet a grisly death in the bathroom, but Dixon Lamb (Taylor Handley), Ralph's son, shows up to talk to Cota before he can complete the job. A frustrated Savino takes matters -- and a sledgehammer -- into his own hands to control how Perrin is going to die.
The break in the case comes when Ralph sees a photo of the bowline hitch that the killer used to restrain Sutcliffe. Lamb needs to find a man skilled enough to tie that kind of knot, and he finds him in the form of Gloria's old boyfriend.
Before the closing credits, Lamb discovers stacks of Savoy casino chips inside the house. This is a message from Savino to Ralph that despite his protests, the sheriff's department has been bought and paid for by the mob.