Sunday, July 2, 2017

REVIEW: 'Claws' - Bryce Pursues a New Lead While Polly Returns to Her Former Life in 'Fallout'

TNT's Claws - Episode 1.04 "Fallout"

Haunted by recent events with Roller, Desna is doubly desperate to get out from under Uncle Daddy's thumb. Bryce drifts deeper into the Dixie Mafia, which Jennifer isn't happy about. Polly reunites with her former gold-digging "friend." Dr. Ken finds himself in a world of trouble.

Okay Claws, we need to have a serious conversation about Roller. Was the creative team just so infatuated with Jack Kesy's work in the pilot that they needed to have him return as a series regular despite killing off Roller at the end of it? If so, why? He was a one-note and broad character in the premiere and he continues to be that way now as he is haunting Desna. What is the purpose of it all? Because right now, it just feels incredibly boring, cliche and problematic. It was very manipulative of the show to convince the audience at the end of last week's episode that Roller was still alive somehow. I even noted that it seemed impossible and that the show would be straining its credibility if it actually followed through on that twist. But the alternative to that isn't much better. Now, Desna is just hallucinating him wherever she goes. He's traumatizing her in her dreams as well as in her actual life. Yes, it illustrates to the audience just how much all of this secret-keeping is affecting her. But this is just a lame way to depict that. It makes the show seem less original as a result. Plus, it's just completely random. It's not telling the audience anything new about the situation. He pops up and continues to be Roller. It's a nuisance that Desna has to put up with. But he's not really being that confrontational with her. Of course, it will likely build to that point which will cause Desna to make a mistake in her cover-up. But again, that is lazy and uninspired. As such, I like the show a little less for pulling out this plot contrivance.

Perhaps why that development is so forced and unnecessary is because things are more than capable of being compelling and intense to watch as they already are. Desna and Virginia are already trapped in an increasingly complicated web of lies. Their cover-up really hasn't been that great so far. They've made mistakes which have had lethal repercussions. They do enjoy a good performance. But now, their actions carry life-or-death consequences to them. They are the ones closely affected by what happened to Roller. So now, Uncle Daddy is able to just show up at the salon with someone he suspects was involved in Roller's death. It's a brutal moment that once again shows how erratic and dangerous Uncle Daddy can be. Virginia never believed Uncle Daddy and his cop friend would ever find a credible lead based on the information she gave them. And yet, her lie stemmed from a product that was found at the pharmacy. So of course, a connection to Roller could be established. So now, all five of the ladies have to watch as Uncle Daddy kills an innocent man. He kills him even though Virginia is telling him that he's not guilty of killing Roller. It's simply the latest display of the kind of power that Uncle Daddy lords over the people in his life. They may dream of one day getting out from underneath him. But that's looking less and less likely over time because Uncle Daddy will do anything to maintain the status quo.

It's a little frustrating that the show spends a bit more time on a man's reaction to this horrifying display of violence than the women's. Of course, Bryce has to deal with more because he helps with the dismemberment and disposal of the body. That seems to be the action that truly breaks him. He becomes dangerous and erratic by the end of this hour as well. Jennifer is pleading with Uncle Daddy not to give him the same responsibilities that Roller had because Bryce simply can't handle it. He falls apart by helping cut a body apart. He can't stomach it in the same way that Uncle Daddy can. Uncle Daddy can eat his supper and watch it happen while Bryce vomits as soon as a massive amount of blood sprays up on him. He's so distraught afterwards that he can barely function as a human being. That could be a pointed statement that the show is trying to make. Men fall apart and can't function after something traumatizing like this occurs while women always have to keep things together and be strong. Desna and Virginia couldn't have this reaction after Roller died. They needed to cover-up their crime so that they could get away with it. Yes, the trauma is affecting them in other ways. But that's just not all that exciting like I've stated above.

Of course, Bryce's psychotic break is going to affect Desna and Virginia as well. After all of this happens, he becomes obsessed with a conspiracy theory. He believes that Dr. Ken killed Roller. It's a completely ridiculous theory. Dr. Ken couldn't kill someone. He's broken up over every small detail. He shows up drunk at his ex-wife's engagement party because he's too hung up on his past. He struggles to move on in every aspect of his life. He's not a killer who could have no reaction to the death of his co-worker. And yet, Bryce truly believes in this theory. He believes it because he's not in the right headspace to have rational thoughts control his actions. So instead, he races to kidnap Dr. Ken to make him pay. He saw his uncle do it. And now, he's going to do things the exact same way by putting Dr. Ken in the trunk of his car. It's a sigh of relief for Desna and Virginia after they learn that Bryce doesn't think they are the guilty ones. And yet, they still need to control this situation. Bryce killing Dr. Ken would only have more consequences for them. It would ruin the entire drug operation and ensure that they never get out from underneath Uncle Daddy. Desna has the money to try to buy her freedom. But her life is still being defined by the crazy antics going on with the men in her world.

The most successful and engaging story of this episode has nothing to do with the main story regarding the cover-up of Roller's death. It's instead the subplot going on with Polly as she easily falls back into her old life as a con woman. One of her old marks happens to walk into the nail salon. So, she once again has to put on her fake persona as Heather, who married a rich husband who recently died. It's so easy for her to do so. The other woman don't encourage this slip back to her criminal ways. But they don't reveal her true self either. Instead, they largely just let it play out. Desna is concerned. But Polly is desperately trying to hold onto some semblance of a life. Since she was released from prison, things have been very difficult for her. She has a respectable job at the salon. It's just not enough for her to truly feel satisfied. It would be so easy for her to go back to conning people. That's why she was sent to prison. It could also afford her the life she wants to be living right now. And yet, her reality corrupts that from actually happening. She can't cover-up her ankle monitor for very long. She gets exposed and it seems like her entire world is crushing down on her. The only reason she is able to survive is because of Desna. Her friendship means so much. It's empowering and nurturing to watch. Polly is so broken right now. She wanted to go against the rest of the girls in order to get the life she wanted. It backfired on her and now she feels defeated. She doesn't know the truth about what's really going on with Desna and Virginia. And yet, that doesn't matter either. Desna is still there for her. Their friendship will continue. They will still support each other moving forward. Their lives may not be great right now. But they still need to hold onto the hope that one day things will get better for all of them. It may be a fantasy but it's what they desperately need to believe right now.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Fallout" was written by Janine Sherman Barrois and directed by Victoria Mahoney.
  • Desna has been fighting against adversity her entire life. She and Dean grew up in the foster care system where they were both abused. That must be very difficult. Dean still wants to hurt the foster parents who hurt him and Desna. All of this is important backstory for the characters. It shows that the two of them have always had to count on each other to survive.
  • In the middle of this episode, there is just a synchronized swimming performance. It's completely random. It's essentially just a showcase for Toby, the young man living with Uncle Daddy and his wife. It is a pretty entertaining sequence that puts him at the center of the story. But what's the point besides being colorful scenery decoration?
  • Dr. Ken obsessing over his ex-wife's new engagement has been a very one-note story for him. It continued to show just how anxious he is about everything in his life. And yet, it does serve a purpose as well. It makes it clear that both Bryce and Desna know where to find him when he becomes a suspect in Roller's murder investigation.
  • Not only is the detective looking into Roller's death present for a lot of Uncle Daddy's crime, he also commits them as well. As such, it's a little too easy to forget that he is a detective. He doesn't really abide by the same laws because he has been bought by Uncle Daddy. That shows how powerful Uncle Daddy's influence is in this community. But it's a little startling to see this character as a part of these events.
  • Jennifer and Bryce's children are going to be so traumatized over the course of this series. Bryce returns home covered in blood and standing over a stove burning a grilled cheese. The girls know its best to call their mother and go play in the other room. That makes them smart. But those images of their father not be okay could have a lingering impact on them.
  • And finally, Desna is investing more into the pharmacy in order to pay Uncle Daddy back as quickly as possible. If she followed his payment schedule, she'd be working for him for another year. She doesn't want that. So instead, she's stealing clients from another pharmacy in order to boost the numbers and earn the money quickly. It's a plan that will more than likely backfire on her because the competition is likely criminals as well.