Detective Harlee Santos is fierce. She is resilient and smart and strong enough to recognize all the ways she's screwed up and be willing to make the hard choices to try and make it right.
And when she fails, she picks herself up and tries again.
Harlee Santos is trying to be a better cop, a better person, and watching her struggle is both terrifying and heartbreaking because the odds of her winning this fight are slim. But I'm not about to bet against Harlee.
I found the four-month time jump at the start of Shades of Blue Season 3 Episode 1 both fitting and frustrating.
Watching weeks of Wozniak healing from a bullet wound would have been pretty boring, but I couldn't wait to see how Harlee survived bleeding out all over the green grass in upstate New York.
I know we got snippets of Stahl calling 911, but it wasn't enough to satisfy me, especially after the intense dramatic moments we were left with at the end of Shades of Blue Season 2 Episode 13.
Harlee is being haunted by all of her past actions, poor decisions, crimes, and by Agent Stahl, and I'm both hopeful and fearful that it's led to her outgrowing Wozniak's team.
That's if Woz can even bring his splintered team back together. With Tufo and Tess in uniform, Espada in a suit and urinal cakes taking over Woz's office, the future of the team appears iffy at best.
Sometimes you just can't get the band back together.
But not even a frightening brush with death can deter Wozniak from his revenge mission.
When I was on the lobby floor, I knew it. I knew it for sure and there was no peace in it, no bright light. It was just fear. Fear and loneliness. Paramedics told me that I was dead for two minutes.Wozniak
I love Woz almost as much as Harlee, but the nails have probably already been hammered into his coffin. He's made his choices and will continue down this road, even if it ends with him in prison or dead.
But Harlee wants a second chance at making things right, and that puts her and Woz on opposite sides.
It seems somewhat apropos to see Loman and Harlee come full circle. He's no longer the idealistic, guilt-ridden rookie. He's finally to a point where he's making and owning his own choices, and this time he's even making them for Harlee.
I'm sorry, Loman. No, I'm sorry for choosing for you. For deciding what kind of cop you were going to be before you had the chance to. I thought I knew better. I didn't. I'm sorry for dragging you into this.Harlee
If Harlee decides to break with Wozniak, I'm curious which team members will back her. Loman tops that list, but I have doubts about everyone else.
The trauma inflicted by Stahl continues to plague Harlee, and it cost a man his life. It's Just another crime Harlee will have to find a way to live with added to an ever-growing list.
At least now she has Nava to share with, and his assessment of Stahl was spot on.
Harlee: You never proposed a theory.
Nava: Where Stahl is?
Harlee: Why he saved my life?
Nava: If I had to guess, so you'd be in your bathroom four months later still fixated on him.
Harlee's daughter, Cristina, was nowhere in sight and not even mentioned. Perhaps she's still staying with her aunt. I can't say I minded her absence, not because I dislike the character but because at this point, there's really no room for her in this story.
This story is about Harlee and Wozniak at a crossroads that will more than likely tear them apart, no matter how much they care about one another.
Wozniak: You can't stand where you're standing and pretend it's high ground.
Harlee: I'm not standing, Woz. Okay, I'm underwater, I can't breathe. I can't even reach the surface.
Wozniak: Then let me make the decisions until you can figure out which way is up.
Harlee: I need to be able to close my eyes and not see the things that I've done.
I'm relieved that Harlee didn't turn Orlando over to Ramsay and the Intelligence Unit to be executed, and Woz took her decision better than I'd expected, even though he knows there will be consequences.
Woz knows what Ramsay is capable of because they live by the same code; the ends justify the means.
The moment I saw that Nava had sole possession of Orlando, I knew something bad was headed their way, but I still had hope that Harlee would come to their rescue.
Unfortunately, another vision of Stahl sent her down the rabbit hole. Much like she told Detective Cole earlier, those few minutes that caused her to be late will haunt her for the rest of her life.
But was that really Stahl following Harlee or just her PTSD playing with her mind? How will losing Nava affect Harlee's resolve to put her life back on track?
And how does it all lead to Harlee testifying in front of a panel about NYPD corruption, including her own?
Panel member: Detective Santos, do you consider yourself more of a police officer or a criminal?
Harlee: Honestly, depends on the day.
I'm so thrilled to have Shades of Blue Season 3 back. It has a different feel from most cop shows currently on the air. It has its own special rhythm and point of view, and that's exciting.
At the same time, I'm melancholy knowing that this is the show's last season. I am wholly invested in Harlee and Wozniak and hope that their stories wrap up in a way that's satisfying.
It will be 12 more episodes before I have my answers.
Need to catch up? You can watch Shades of Blue online here at TV Fanatic.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.