Mobster Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) reshuffles the political deck during "The Real Thing," the latest installment of "Vegas." This is a solid episode for the period drama and one that shows another aspect of the Sheriff Lamb/Vincent Savino relationship.
Though Savino contributed to his campaign, Mayor Bennett (Michael O'Neill) issues a new ordinance requiring local auditors to oversee all the casino count rooms. To regain control, Savino backs George Grady (Gil Bellows), Bennett's opponent in the upcoming election.
Grady lacks the money and skills to become a real contender, but Savino hopes to change his political future. A new suit and some coaching from Savino's wife Laura (Vinessa Shaw) work wonders for Grady's confidence and chances.
The Chicago mobster also has a problem with counterfeit chips at the Savoy. It turns out that Dr. Howard Frankel has been making forgeries using dental cement, a substance that creates a realistic chip. This type of forgery first appeared in Monte Carlo, but it has now cropped up in Vegas.
Sheriff Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid) and his brother Jack (Jason O'Mara) investigate the case and learn Dr. Frankel had a fairly large gambling debt. Jimmy the Polack (P.J. Marino), the dentist's bookie, said Frankel paid his debt recently, almost as if he came into a lot of money. Someone caught on to what he was doing, though, because the dentist turns up dead on his office floor.
Ralph and Jack find another murder victim at a medical supply warehouse. Because a license is needed to purchase the cement, a thief killed the warehouse guard and simply stole what he needed.
Volunteering to check accounting records with Mia Rizzo (Sarah Jones) at the Savoy, Jack helps determine that a cashier named Holly (Mekenna Melvin) was helping Frankel with his scheme. Holly thought it was a mutually beneficial situation, but her boyfriend Jesse (Alex Nesic) wanted one last big score. When the dentist refused, Jesse killed him.
Lamb and Savino learn the truth about Jesse almost at the same time. In a face-to-face confrontation outside of Jesse's trailer, Ralph and Vincent take each other's measure. Savino points out the similarities between himself and the sheriff. The only difference between the two, Savino says, is that Lamb hides behind a "tin star."
"The Real Thing" demonstrates how Sheriff Lamb and Savino really are two sides of the same coin. Both men go straight for the truth and dispense justice in their own way. In this episode, the Chicago mobster even shows how he sometimes has to rely on Lamb to get things done.
This installment also is a great look back at the political climate of 1960. The famous debate between John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon emphasized the growing influence of television in politics. Savino leverages that power by placing stolen televisions in nearly every business in Vegas. During the debate, Savino also cuts off the TV transmission before Mayor Bennett gets a chance to speak before the cameras.