Do you know what I really like about Sterling? Another show, another time, and he’d be the protagonist. I mean he’s often not wrong, he’s incredibly clever, he’s pretty much the prototypical white dude who is cranky but somehow has a heart of gold. The reason he such a great antagonist for the team is that he can genuinely almost outthink them, genuinely almost beat them. And he’s alone on his own. It’s not just that he can outthink Nate sometimes, its that he’s prepared to deal with all five of them and again, in another show he would win.
I can almost hear his fourth wall breaking frustration most of the time. “I’m supposed to be the good guy! I work hard, I follow the law, sure sometimes I bend it but it’s always in the service of greater justice.” He is exactly the protagonist in every extraordinary white dude crime show on TV today. And yet because he stumbled into this weird, amazing, found family criminals as good guys story, it turns out he has to somewhat lose at every turn. Not enough to put him in real danger. Not enough to make him actually fail. Just enough that I think it’s clear to him somewhere in the recesses of his brain, that he’s not the protagonist of the show. And it drives him absolutely bonkers.