Tuesday, September 1, 2015

REVIEW: 'Public Morals' - Terry Makes a Promise While the Patton Mob Family is Introduced in 'Family Is Family'

TNT's Public Morals - Episode 1.02 "Family Is Family"

Muldoon is tasked by his aunt to find the person behind his uncle's murder. When Joe Patton discovers who killed Mr. O, he demands answers. Patton's son, Rusty, attempts to clean up the mess. Officer Sean O'Bannon starts a romance with Deirdre.

The use of Mr. O's murder as the core narrative thread for the season could have gone any number of ways in "Family Is Family." Everyone is just now learning about the death. It forces all of them into action which is a lot more interesting to watch than the largely broad and boring premiere. Mr. O's murder is the inciting incident for the season. That one act determines the lines and what everyone wants. The season could have kept it a mystery of who killed him. It is, after all, a show centered around a division of the NYPD. It doesn't go in that direction though. Mr. O's killer is unmasked in this episode which presents several interesting complications for the series.

Rusty Patton, the son of the head of the Irish Mob in Hell's Kitchen, is the man who put six bullets into Mr. O's chest and dumped his body in the river. He is a character the audience didn't meet in the premiere. He debuts in the very first scene of this episode buying a new untraceable weapon - and giving a chance for Neal McDonough to experiment with guns just like he did on his season of FX's Justified. Rusty fits into this world well. This episode has to set up the hierarchy of the mob and how they effect this neighborhood. Rusty's father, Joe (Brian Dennehy), built the empire and the relationships with the other crime elements and the police. Joe's brother, Tommy (Fredric Lehne), is caught between the two as they argue over what's best for the operation moving forward. Joe now enjoys a life of luxury outside the neighborhood. Rusty is more connected to what's going on but is much more volatile and just getting back from a seven year prison stint. Tommy is loyal to both but will probably be faced with a choice sometime in the future.

That structure is easy to appreciate in this episode. It gives definite answers while making sure the solution to this problem keeps things as complicated as the mystery would have been. Joe doesn't support what his son did to Mr. O. But now, he was to live with the consequences of those actions in a time where he just wants to keep things running smoothly without any fuss. Rusty sees it as helping his father retain control over the neighborhood. Rusty wants to sit in the chair and run things. But everyone is keen to point out that he is not ready for such responsibility yet. That could very well be the case given the amount of people he has killed so far in his short screen time.

Revealing the killer so soon could be very problematic though because of the main characters' profession. The show has made a conscious effort to fully staff the Plain Clothes division. There are so many people in that unit. Some don't even have personalities or a purpose yet. They all run the risk of coming across as bad at their jobs the longer they don't figure out that Rusty was the one who killed Mr. O. Joe was able to learn the truth within a few hours. Rusty and Tommy are then able to start cleaning up the mess to avoid facing any kind of criminal charges. Terry and his fellow officers are on the case. Mr. O's death has effected them. But they are slow to investigate in comparison to the mob elements. They make sure that Mr. O's people aren't stupid enough to start a gang war. Then the people in the division largely go off to do their own things.

Instead of investigating, Terry spreads himself out with multiple engagements. He has to sit down with his wife and family for dinner - which leads to yet another discussion about possibly moving away from the neighborhood. He then has to comfort his grieving aunt and promise to find Mr. O's killer for her. Elsewhere, Charlie and Petey Mac are testing Shea out to see if they can truly trust him in the unit. Terry has to check in with them to see what they think of the kid. That then ends with Shea having sex with one of the girls from the gambling room in the bathroom. Terry also had to make sure that his cousin wasn't the one who killed Mr. O - despite his frequent threats of doing it in the premiere. That then manifests in Sean spending the day getting drunk, starting fistfights and eventually having sex with Deirdre. Terry eventually gets around to touching base with the lead investigator on his uncle's case. But by the time they agree to go visit a hooker who could be a witness, Rusty has already found her and unloaded a gun into her chest. The balance between the mob and the police is off. That will need to be rectified quickly moving forward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Family Is Family" was written by Edward Burns and directed by Edward Burns.
  • Thank goodness there was no update on Charlie's new relationship with the hooker. That was just such an odd and random story in the premiere. It's unnecessary to the narrative. He is a much more interesting character when he's interacting with his fellow officers.
  • The show should learn quickly that it doesn't need to give Terry's family something to do in each episode. Family is an important part about the character. Those bonds fuel his actions. But that didn't need to then pop up in a discussion about whether or not the children should be at Mr. O's funeral.
  • If Duffy is no longer crashing at his sister's place by the time she gets back from day drinking with Sean, then where is he? It didn't seem like she had enough time to fully toss him out of the apartment.
  • It sure did take a long time for Suzy to pack her things and leave the city. She spent all day doing so but only took one suitcase. That's why Rusty was able to get to her.
  • Speaking of Suzy, shouldn't Rusty be more concerned about leaving her body on the sidewalk? All the previous bodies have been taken elsewhere. Why does he want to leave her there at the crime scene for the police to find?