Monday, April 2, 2018

REVIEW: 'Mary Kills People' - Mary and Des' Latest Job Has a Big Impact on Ben in 'Ride or Die'

Lifetime's Mary Kills People - Episode 2.04 "Ride or Die"

Naomi comes close to telling Jess her mother's secret when the two are forced together as a punishment for the party. Unable to resist helping a dying man despite the consequences, Mary is almost caught in the act but is saved by none other than Ben.

When Des first got out of prison, he went to Mary and told her there was a clear moral line he wasn't willing to cross in doing this job with her. He did time for her to help cover up the crimes they committed. Both are completely committed to this work. They believe they are doing the morally just thing by helping those who want to die with peace and dignity. It's a service they provide for the terminally ill. There has always been a clarity to that for them. They are both committed to this profession for different reasons. This season has explored a split between the two. They had moral objections to the way the other was conducting business. They had a difference in opinion on how to deal with their Olivia problem. She was a serious threat to their business and their families. They care about each other but they couldn't stand to be around each other because of the striking differences in their judgment. They were both perfectly capable of doing this job by themselves. Mary was doing it for months while Des was in prison. He didn't appreciate that. He didn't think Mary would risk being caught so soon after he went to prison for her. And now, the show has given Des a story where he proves to be a real support system for a young man dying of cancer. He sees it as more than just a job where he gets paid as soon as he kills someone. He sees the beauty and honor in connecting with these patients and helping them live their final days to the fullest. That's the greatest gift he gives to Joshua in his brief interactions with him. It's the job at its simplest. It's the two of them providing a service they believe in and their patients appreciate. "Ride or Die" is all about bringing Mary and Des back together after the events of the previous episode where they were forced to cross that moral line that Des drew.

It's also notable that Des was the one who actually killed Travis. It was a complicated situation because it was Mary and Des betraying Ben. The way the show has included Ben in this season's story has been a little awkward and forced. He just happened to be the detective undercover investigating Olivia and Travis. There is a reasonable explanation of him going after their shady business dealings after realizing everything that Grady was running in this corner of the world. But it also always felt like a convenient way to get him back into Mary's orbit. She believes she can always trust him. He believes he can trust her too. And yet, the two continually prove to the other that they live two complete separate lives that contradict one another. There is a spark of passion between them. But Ben is a detective and Mary kills people. He was investigating her for murder. Now, he's caught up in this new conspiracy that saw Mary desperately try not to be a killer. She doesn't want to kill innocent people. She believes she could just hide Travis away so that Olivia could never find him. And yet, she made a promise on her kids' lives. In order for that to mean something, she has to ensure that Travis could never be an ongoing threat to her and her family. She was fine letting him flee the country and never return. She was willing to hand over all the money she had saved up from this job. Then, Des took that choice from her by killing him. It's a clear crossing of the moral line. He once again has to articulate that point to her. The line no longer exists. It's not just blurry and out-of-focus. It has been completely obliterated because Mary put him into a position where he believed he had to kill a perfectly healthy man.

That action truly wrecks Des. He spirals because of it. It does get him and Mary back on stable footing with an appreciation for one another. But it also threatens his sobriety at a time when he really needs to remain calm and collected. He needs to keep his life together. He can't afford another slip up and return to prison. He just got back to his life. He's dreaming big again. He wants to open up his death retreat with Annie to do this job in a semi-legal way. He would still be lying to the world about the true nature of the business. But he believes the facade of a hospice would provide ample coverage for him to never have to worry about all the complications that have come up from doing this job in secret. He is able to walk into people's lives and make a significant impact. Des is only pulled out of this spiral because he is forced to spend time with Joshua. It's not really explained how Joshua knows exactly where Des lives. That feels like it could be a huge liability to give out that information. These patients probably shouldn't know where Mary and Des live. Otherwise, they could show up at the most inconvenient time. That's not what happens here though. Joshua appears right when Des needs to focus on the idealistic portion of this job. He needs to remember why he does this in the first place. He wasn't ready to kill Joshua yet because he still had some more living to do. Here, he helps him achieve these dreams and be confident with his actions. Joshua kisses the girl he's been crushing on for his entire life. It's a sweet moment that proves that Des is invested in other people's lives. He's also there to take care of Joshua when he immediately gets sick. It's in that moment where he needs to work with Mary again because he destroyed all the containers of pentobarbital in a fit of rage after killing Travis.

Meanwhile, Mary is trying to control the chaos. That's the aspect of this job that she seems to enjoy much more than the idealistic nature of helping people die when they want to. Everyone keeps telling her that throughout the story this season. She is so reluctant to Des' death retreat idea because she enjoys the system as it currently is. She only agrees to it now because she knows that Des crossed a significant line for her once more. She cherishes that connection and knows that she needs to do better by him. She needs to be supportive of him and trust his judgment. She is a visionary who can see the purpose of all of this. But she never really focuses on the potential consequences of her actions and the collateral damage involved. Des went to jail and there's now an investigation at the hospital regarding Betty's death. She was closely associated with both of those events. And now, the police are following her once more. Ben couldn't build a sustainable case against her last season. She was always able to outsmart him. Now, he believes to have the upper hand once more. She was able to kidnap Travis away from him. That led to his death. Ben doesn't know that. He just believes he's on the run and no one will be able to provide a statement to assist his investigation into Olivia. Mary believes she can smooth everything over with Ben. That doesn't work. She knows that people are following her when she goes to help Joshua die. Des is still able to create enough of a ruse so that they distract the police while they carry out this act. But Ben still eventually catches up to them and catches them right as Joshua dies. It's a significant turning point for the show that can't be undone.

It's such a monumental moment for Ben to actually witness Mary killing someone. They're both incapable of stopping it as well. By the time Ben arrives Joshua has already consumed the drugs. Mary mixed him up the cocktail. He said his goodbyes to his parents. He was able to die the way he wanted to. He went out happy that he got to live surrounded by people who understand his choice. He was grateful of the service Mary and Des provided. His parents wanted him to wait another day. But the time was right now. He found his peace. Mary and Des killing him now also ensures that Ben is there to witness it. This family is allowed their moment of peace. Ben doesn't storm into the room to rip Joshua from his mother's arms to try to resuscitate him. He understands completely what has just occurred. Mary and Des only bought enough time to get this job done. It was a situation where they had just enough time to complete it. Everything was already in place for this work. But Ben could still arrest them for what they have just done. Instead, he lets them go. That's a crucial moment as well. He has always had such a tortured connection with Mary. He feels this attraction to her that he wants to act on. And yet, he always sees her as one of the bad people who he joined the force to stop. It's all so complicated right now. He lets them go. That's an action that largely happens offscreen. But the ramifications of it are deeply felt later on. It proves that Mary has a potential ally on the police now. Ben could always protect her no matter what the situation becomes. That could be so important for her business. But it's also still wrapped up in their romantic feelings for one another. It's twisted because they have sex here. It's a way for Mary to maintain control over this relationship while still ensuring she gets exactly what she wants in the end.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Ride or Die" was written by Morwyn Brebner and directed by Norma Bailey.
  • The show really calls attention to the fact that the snow globe Mary brought home from Mexico for her youngest daughter wound up in the pool following Jess and Naomi's party. They are the ones responsible for cleaning the house up before Kevin returns from his work trip. But that's hardly the only punishment the two of them face as well. Plus, the snow globe still works though it also teases something more going on there as well.
  • So, Jess and Naomi have to spend the day working with Nicole. It's always so much fun whenever Charlotte Sullivan pops up on this show. She believed she was willing to partner with Mary on her business but couldn't stomach it after tagging along to meet a patient and kill her. But now, she's a strong support system for Jess as she tells her that everything Mary does is to protect her. It may feel alienating now but it does have a purpose.
  • Naomi is really struggling over whether or not to tell Jess what she knows about Mary. She can see that Jess is going through her teenage rebellion. She doesn't trust her mother. This news would completely destroy that relationship - at least from Naomi's perspective. It's not something either of them can understand right now. But Naomi still hasn't told her. Nor does she throw the flash drive into the fire. So, this remains an ongoing concern.
  • The threat from Olivia has been a huge story this season. She's the new big bad who presents a danger to everything Mary loves in this world. It would seem that their business is over with now because Mary really did kill Travis. There is no reason for Olivia to reach out to Mary again. And yet, it's inevitable that she will. It will probably be Ben's fault as well because he is clearly investigating Olivia and demanding answers for everything she does in this business.
  • It's been very nice to see these ongoing stories with patients this season. Joshua's impact on Des was significant. And now, Brendan's dynamic with Mary is moving closer to the inevitable tragedy. She has been there for him every step of the way. She has seen him fight to live and lose his energy during chemo. She is now making the speech about death being a choice and a celebration. He wants to go out on top which is bound to lead to such a memorable performance sometime soon.