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‘Tokyo Vice’ Episode 7 Recap: “Sometimes They Disappear”

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“I do it despite the indifference,” says Jake Adelstein’s editor, Emi, “because somebody has to tell the truth. Someone has to build the wall of information, brick by brick, story by story, until the facts cannot be ignored, and then things have to change.” Ah, were we ever so young?

Perhaps Tokyo Vice’s greatest strength, as well as its greatest flaw, is its faith in journalism as a means of fighting corruption and criminality. It’s very hard, in the year of our Lord 2022, to look around and think that journalism has done much of anything with regards to fighting off the wolves at the door. If anything, the workaday venality and vice among the political class that journalism has exposed over the past six years has almost reached the level of white noise, easily tuned out. Always there are new horrors, and always those horrors are met with a shrug, a “wish there was something we could do, but….”

Yet there’s a chance, here on Tokyo Vice, that an enterprising reporter really can do some good. Why? Because there exists a sort of gentlemen’s agreement between the mob and the cops, in which crimes are swept under the rug in order to keep the peace. The more that any given mobster—like yakuza boss Tozawa—pushes the envelope in terms of his dealings with his fellow gangsters, the more opportunities there are for honest journalists like Jake and honest cops like Katagiri to pull the whole house of cards down, if indeed that is their goal.

In this episode, the bulk of the investigative work is conducted by Katagiri. The wizened old cop believes that the failed airport raid from the previous episode failed a little bit too neatly. After all, Jake got the tip-off that inspired the raid from yakuza boss Ishida, who would have no reason to lie about it—not if it meant weakening an enemy. This leads Katagiri to believe, correctly, that the cops simply searched in the wrong place.

So Katagiri sets up his counterpart on the vice squad, Miyamoto, in order to expose his wrongdoing. Katagiri claims that he has enough evidence stashed away to successfully prosecute Tozawa, leading Miyamoto to sneak into the evidence locker to look for the goods. Instead, he finds himself with an empty box in his hands, staring into a security camera capturing his every move. His oh-so-heroic arrest of a killer of women, which changed his fortunes after the failed raid, doesn’t mean shit now. He’s been outsmarted by another cop.

Miyamoto’s paymaster Tozawa fares little better. At a big birthday gala held in his honor, his illness gets the better of him, and he passes out. He winds up crying out the name of his mistress, Misaki, in front of his wife. The assembled dignitaries are, if not scandalized, at the very least embarrassed.

And where is Misaki at the moment? With Jake Adelstein, who’s turned on his full masculine wiles in order to pump her for information. (He’s already gotten laid in this episode, so I don’t think his interest in Misaki is necessarily sexual.) It takes the intervention of knife-wielding Tozawa goons, who nearly carve up the face of an old friend from Missouri whom Jake ran into earlier that day, to pull her away.

The final piece of the puzzle in this penultimate episode of the series is Samantha, who finds herself kicking against the pricks for most of the episode. Her fellow hostesses are reluctant to sign on to her dream of opening her own club. Her best friend Polina has gone missing after racking up a huge debt at a host club; the last we see of her, she’s rocking out to the Japanese version of Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me.” With Sato’s help, Samantha finds out where Polina has gone after a long search: She’s been dragged to Yoshino, where she will work off her debt. I don’t particularly like to think how.

After falling out with Sato, Samantha winds up outside Jake’s apartment, asking him for help. Can the enterprising gaijin reporter do something that the yakuza lieutenant couldn’t? It’s very much up in the air.

So, at this point, is Tokyo Vice. With only one episode in the season remaining, there are many loose ends to tie up. But beyond that, I think there’s a difficult task ahead for the finale: What is this show about, in the end? The yakuza? Hostess clubs? Journalism? The exploitation of women? The exploitation of the financially desperate? The disconnect between the placid surface of Japanese society and the herculean effort by cops and gangsters alike to keep it looking that way? The fate of individual characters in the face of all these larger forces, working against them day after day until somebody drops?

Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) writes about TV for Rolling Stone, Vulture, The New York Times, and anyplace that will have him, really. He and his family live on Long Island.

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