After Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen received pretty significant critical and popular acclaim last year, follow-up series Chameleon: High Rollers had some pretty big shoes to fill. Though the thematic connection between the two is tangential at best, the quality is certainly consistent.
High Rollers is a wild story which, at times, can be difficult to follow. But host Trevor Aaronson (clearly cognizant of this) patiently guides listeners through the equally bonkers worlds of Vegas hustlers and FBI undercover operatives — and explains how they come to collide.
Everyone here is out for themselves, and though no “hero” emerges the story centers on egotistical anti-hero Emile Bouari, who unwittingly becomes the target of bumbling FBI agents out for a scalp to take back to head office.
If this podcast was turned into a movie, it would be a funny one; hapless bozos would abound launching get-rich-quick schemes and making ham-fisted attempts at money laundering. Yet, in reality it’s a shocking tale of some mostly well-meaning idiots who get framed-up by the authorities as a dangerous criminal gang.
Why does it happen? Well, Aaronson certainly believes that Lebanese-born Emile’s ethnicity plays more than a peripheral role. Plus a strange love triangle causes Bouari to make a high profile enemy with connections in high places.
High Rollers ultimately turns into a searing critique of the years-long incompetence of the problematic FBI office in Las Vegas. By extension, there is an open suggestion that FBI stitch ups of this kind could be more prolific than any of us realize.
It is also about bravado, the hustle, and the idea that — as Aaronson points out — everyone is “playing a role.” Lots of food for thought.