Sunday, August 12, 2018

REVIEW: 'Claws' - Multiple Deaths Occur During Desna and Ruval's Sham Wedding in 'Breezy'

TNT's Claws - Episode 2.10 "Breezy"

As a hurricane bears down on Palmetto, a steely Desna proceeds with the plans for her wedding day, keen for the opportunity to settle all scores. Opposing forces converge at a lavish golf resort, each determined to prevail against the others, but will Desna and crew survive the storm?

This season of Claws was building to a deadly conclusion. That was inevitable since the premiere. The threats from Zlata and Ruval were too severe and intense to be resolved in any other way. If they were to survive this season, then they would have always remained ongoing threats for Desna as she continues to climb the ladder into organized crime. And so, their deaths aren't completely shocking. It was what was expected from this finale. With the introduction of a hurricane during the wedding as well, it only increased the stakes of this hour. Of course, there was also the question of if the choice would be removed from the main characters. Would Desna or someone else have to kill Ruval and Zlata? Or would they die because of the natural disaster? The second option would take it out of Desna's control. As such, she could remain pure in her mind that she still has a code and isn't a vicious criminal like Zlata and Ruval who use murder in order to intimidate the world into respecting them. It's a big deal when Zlata hands Desna the chemical that she can use to kill Ruval. This wasn't the plan that Desna had agreed to. She was willing to sign over all of Ruval's businesses to Zlata in exchange for her killing him. And now, Zlata is continuing to exert her own control over Desna. She doesn't see them as sister-friends like she continues to insist. She's still just using her to get what she wants. She wants to make Desna feel this agony. It removes Zlata from the situation enough so that she doesn't have to get her hands dirty to get a hand on these properties. Of course, she's still more than comfortable killing people in order to get what she wants. But she wishes to further compromise Desna in that way to ensure that any outcome of this wedding ultimately goes in her favor. No matter who ends up dead, Zlata believes she can use it to her advantage. That makes her such a slimy individual. The true surprise of her story is who ultimately kills her. That is the most shocking moment of this finale that is bound to have some serious repercussions moving forward.

A week ago when Desna was comforting Polly in the hospital, she came to the realization that she was a criminal who enjoyed this lifestyle. She believes she has been underestimated for too long and can run this business better than so many people who are currently in positions of power. That idea was first established when she learned that Ruval had more properties than Zlata was aware of. As such, it was reasonable to suspect that Desna would give Zlata what she was expecting while still being able to take control of a vast fortune as soon as Ruval was dead. That still left the uncertainty of Ruval's death too. Moreover, "Breezy" teases the audience that things aren't going to go as planned for Desna. Now, I have never been a fan of in media res openings. They are simply a cheap way to build tension and suspense. The hour starts with the big moment of uncertainty only to then flash back and tell the story of how the characters got into that position. But the audience should have been expecting something unexpected to happen at the wedding because it has been teased a lot over the last few episodes. Zlata and Ruval were plotting to kill Desna. Desna was figuring out why she was so important to the Russians and Haitians. Desna teamed up with Zlata to betray Ruval. It was a lot of back-and-forth. But it was still a bunch of planning for this fake wedding in the hopes of obtaining new assets and eliminating threats to their survival. As such, it was expected for the plans to go awry because that allows the audience to still be surprised by the outcome. It's just a bit random that the twist belongs to Olga telling Ruval what's about to happen out of spite for discovering that Desna and Roller have started up their sexual relationship again. Sure, it's unexpected. But the show hasn't really been consistent with how Olga feels about Roller. She even confesses what she did afterwards because she feels guilty about it.

But the twist still allows such a violent confrontation between Desna and Ruval. Desna was unable to enjoy any aspect of this wedding. She just wanted to remain focused on the mission. She had to be aware of everything at all times because she didn't want to be the one who was found dead. Of course, the show also just races past the reveal that Desna is now working with Arlene in order to take down both Zlata and Ruval. Arlene gives her a drug that will simply knock Ruval out instead of killing him. Moreover, Desna is now wearing a wire. She and her crew turned on Ken so viciously after learning he was the snitch who compromised their lives together. But now, they are finding sympathy for him once more. Polly is able to forgive him and go back to being in love with him. And now, Desna is the one turning on her boss in the hopes of creating a better future for herself. It just means she has to be very careful about what's recorded on the wire because she doesn't want any of her friends or family to incriminate themselves. That's a constant worry for her. She's all alone in the suite with Ruval who is expecting to enjoy their honeymoon before killing Desna to get the license to the clinic. Desna is pushing for him to drink the drugs. But he is warned and that leads to a fight to the death between them. The show makes a point in saying that Desna chooses to attack Ruval. She intends to kill him in that moment. She may still be able to say that she was justified in that response because she was afraid for her life. If she didn't stab him twice, then he was going to kill her. But that's still a choice she makes. She stabs him and pushes him over the balcony to his death below. She has now killed someone. Again, she may not see herself as a murderer moving forward. But this is still a significant moment for her. It has the potential of compromising her deal with Arlene and the police. But that's also the furthest thing from her mind at the moment.

Desna is still expected to go straight to Zlata to tell her what happened and promptly sign over all of Ruval's properties. That happens so quickly. Zlata wants her hands on these properties while Desna wants these vicious individuals out of her life. Of course, there is still an additional complication of Matilde showing up and proving herself not to be the frail old woman that she has always seemed. And yet, Zlata is able to quickly kill her. As such, the threat from the Haitians is immediately wiped out. Zlata and Desna will no longer have to deal with them because their leaders have been killed. Now, Desna just needs to sign this paperwork to be free. And yet, Zlata betrays her by pointing a gun at her as well. Again, this betrayal isn't all that surprising. Zlata was always capable of doing this. Everyone knew that the moment she killed her sister in the premiere. The only uncertainty of this moment was who was going to show up to kill Zlata to protect Desna. There were several options. Roller and Polly could get there in time after discovering what Olga did. Uncle Daddy and Clint could finally prove necessary and an actual component of this crazy complicated story. Instead, it's the most surprising and shocking outcome that occurs. It's actually Dean in the doorway with a gun who has killed Zlata to protect his sister. That's such an unexpected moment. It ensures that Dean crosses a line here as well. Just like Desna, he too is a killer. He may also believe it was in self-defense. In that moment, Desna is still trying to protect her brother. She is going to be lying to the police about who killed Zlata. But they may not even care that much because they still have all of her illegal businesses. That may be enough to satisfy them. Dean will just have to make sure he never talks about what he did to anyone. He already knows that. He believes he's smart in that regard. And yet, this action is bound to carry consequences. It may bring Dean and Desna closer together. But it also runs the risk of tearing them apart because of the guilt and brutality of it all.

Dean killing Zlata is the most shocking and unexpected moment of this finale. After that, the show sets up a little bit of how the lives for these characters go on. Jenn and Bryce move their family to Tampa. Ann is out of the criminal game altogether. Polly checks back into the hospital after sneaking out to attend the wedding. And Desna proves her strength to Uncle Daddy by taking over as the boss of the entire operation. She has Roller's support as well. It may just be her and Virginia as the last two standing from the crew. But they also feel like celebrating after discovering that Ruval left a casino in Desna's name. As such, it's a business that wasn't swept up by the police. The salon was lost because Zlata owned it. Desna's dream of being the owner of a successful nail salon may be done. And yet, she is still excited about the prospect of being rich from a casino. And then, the season closes with the cliffhanger of a motorcycle pulling up with the intention of shooting Desna only for Virginia to push her out of the way and get shot herself. That too is a surprising moment. It justifies this entire finale being narrated by Virginia from the future. That seemed like an unnecessary stylistic flourish throughout this entire hour. Virginia has been an important character. And yet, she hasn't been all that integrated into the plot of Desna, Zlata and Ruval working to kill each other. As such, it's awkward continually hearing her thoughts about what happened during the wedding. But the final moment proves that she makes such a huge sacrifice for Desna. It proves how much she actually loves her. She is willing to die in order to protect her. That's special and significant. It shows how much she has grown over the course of the series. And it's also the show leaving things uncertain for the audience regarding if they just killed off one of the leads. It's certainly possible. It would be fascinating to see how Virginia's death shakes up Desna and Dean. But it also wouldn't be surprising if Virginia survives a gunshot to the head because there isn't a whole lot of blood coming out of her in that final moment either.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Breezy" was written by Eliot Laurence and directed by Dale Stern.
  • Roller immediately becomes distrustful of Uncle Daddy to the point of betraying him to work for Desna because he gets the suspicion that Uncle Daddy actually killed his father instead of it being some rival gang. The show does confirm to the audience that this is true and that Uncle Daddy had his reasons. But it's also choosing to keep that explanation a secret for right now. It's mostly just to propel the story forward in the next season.
  • It's weird how the show wants the audience to see Lillian as a reason to be very worried and concerned about Polly's mental stability while also seeing Juanita as a way to move the plot forward. This is the second time that Juanita has appeared as a hallucination to Uncle Daddy. Once again, it's presented as her almost being a ghost who knows things about the future. She's telling Uncle Daddy he can't kill himself now because he's needed in whatever the next fight is going to be.
  • Lillian appearing as Polly checks back into the hospital at the end of the season is also a very enticing moment for fans of Carrie Preston pulling double duty on the show. She was so fantastic in last week's episode that it's understandable why the show doesn't want her to have fixed all of her issues with her sister just yet. Lillian's presence will allow Polly to continue analyzing why she feels compelled to lie and pretend to be other people all the time.
  • Bryce really doesn't have any time for Roller's theory that Uncle Daddy actually killed their father. He is mostly just choosing to believe that Uncle Daddy did a good job raising them. Plus, he's about to get out of this life and start his own dream once more. As such, he's not looking for a new excuse to bring him back into all of the drama - even though it's bound to eventually happen.
  • TNT has already renewed Claws for a third season. It has proven to be such a success for the network too. The show truly found itself this season and was proud of the various ways that it was telling its stories. It chose to present things in such fantastic ways while still offering a clear and concise commentary on a larger issue. It was so great and makes me very excited to see what ridiculous things will happen in another season.