Sunday, January 27, 2019

REVIEW: 'Black Monday' - Dawn Fights for What's Hers While Mocking Mo's Crazy Plan in '364'

Showtime's Black Monday - Episode 1.02 "364"

A Hollywood screenwriter shadows Mo at the office as Mo and Dawn fight over her desire to be made a partner. Keith plays a prank on Blair.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Showtime's Black Monday.

"364" was written by Jessi Klein and directed by Charles Stone III

The series premiere of Black Monday was very interested in setting up its looming premise that would explain what happened during the worst day for the stock market. It was also primarily interested in establishing Mo and Blair as the lead characters with wildly differently personalities. As such, it was unclear what the exact show was underneath all of that. This episode barely mentions the ongoing drama with the Georgina Jean Company at all. Mo explains to his traders the crazy plan he concocted in order to make this run for the company. Dawn is the only person who rightfully calls him out for just how stupid it is with the million ways in which it could have gone wrong. It's still going to go wrong eventually. The audience is already operating with that information. As such, it's difficult to be on Mo's side in all of this as he props himself up as this genius of Wall Street. He doesn't see himself as the outsider trying to break into this traditionally white world. Instead, he's the one coming in to change the game with everyone else having to mimic his success. That makes him such a pompous and arrogant character. He can be amusing because of the various line readings that he does to take down any specific character who gets in his way. But he's still a guy hopelessly pining after a girl who shows no interest in him. This episode makes it clear that Dawn is the most empathetic character in this world. She's the one who is just trying to do her job. She is tired of all the shit that she has to put up with amongst her co-workers. Mo wants to have the pride of firing anyone before they can quit on him. And yet, that's just not the case when it comes to Dawn. She knows her worth and won't back down when it comes to confronting Mo. They are locked in a battle for control here. It has nothing to do with the overall narrative of the season. It just shades in the relationship that the two of them have. It becomes clear that they did date once or have sex every once in awhile. And yet, that's not the aspect of their relationship that Dawn wishes to revisit anytime soon. Of course, it's still a melodramatic reveal because her husband finds out about it simply because the other traders recorded a message on her mixtape just to sneak it into Mo's office to avoid the screenwriter learning what's actually going on. The screenwriter character is very much a stock trope. There really is no reason for that story to exist except for the show to say that it is fundamentally aware of this time period and calling attention to that fact. It is riffing on this very specific genre with the hindsight that comes from looking back on how extreme this world was in the 1980s. But it's only really funny when Dawn is taken aback by the idea that the guy is hiding behind a lamp just to listen in on the extreme conversation that she is having with Mo. It's an argument that still works in her favor though. She gains more power in the firm which is bound to remain just as important moving forward in this story. Meanwhile, Blair's first day on the job sees him being pranked by his co-workers which causes this whole trading dysfunction in the first place. Plus, the show is a little unclear when it comes to his personality and what he is willing to do in this environment. He is too naive and wholesome at the moment even though the final beat shows that he has values and is willing to deceive in order to take down a person he doesn't like very much. It also just concludes with the passing of his tie pin to some cleaning lady who is now wearing it as an earring. That just means the audience has to remain interested in that ongoing mystery even though it's not the most exciting aspect of the show at the moment.