Sunday, July 21, 2019

REVIEW: 'Claws' - A New Antagonist Makes a Brutal Entrance That Stuns Desna, Mac and Melba in 'Chicken P***y'

TNT's Claws - Episode 3.07 "Chicken P***y"

While Desna works to get Dean away from Mac and Melba, Ann gets the crew deeper into trouble.

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 TNT's Claws.

"Chicken P***y" was written by Sigrid Gilmer and directed by Jamie Travis

It was just revealed that Mac and Melba weren't the true masterminds behind the money laundering and corruption at the casino. Instead, it was the Chinese triad who were truly pulling the strings. Mac and Melba have gotten so close to Dean because they figure they can use him in order to make their escape from this tenuous and terrifying business relationship. They can use the winnings from the mahjong tournament and the savings from their deal with Governor Patel in order to escape to their island and build their school for Native American children. That's what they want. The show is finally making that clear. This season has struggled because it was hard to take Mac and Melba seriously as the core threats to Desna and her crew. They didn't seem like they had the capabilities to actually earn the life-or-death stakes that are always present in the narrative. Sure, there were moments where that was heavily teased. The season has established that Joe should certainly be taken seriously as a threat. Polly can curb his murderous impulses for the moment in order to save her friend. And yet, it appears that the season has just been building up to this moment in which the true danger finally presents itself. The show just chooses to do so by embracing a horrendous and troubling stereotype that really runs the risk of alienating a significant portion of the audience. This season has just not been cohesive in the slightest. That is apparent even when Desna is running around trying to keep Ann safe after her brother outs Patel as being a corrupt governor during their debate. She is busy doing that but only truly interacts with Mac, Melba, Polly, Arlene and Ann. Meanwhile, Jenn and Bryce are off getting into a fight with a crowd of white nationalists and interrupting Virginia and EJ's first actual date. Those plot points are completely tangential to the true scope and stakes of the season. The same is also true of Ken becoming a drug dealer and Toby forcing Uncle Daddy to choose between him and Brenda. The show just hasn't presented the audience with a reason to care about those characters in this specific narrative because they are so far removed from the actions that ultimately lead to Arlene's shocking death. Now, Arlene was a detective whose life was on the line every day when she went to work. And yet, her relationship with Ann has always been the core thing that defined both of them even though it has been a very tertiary concern to the overall show. The series wanted the audience to be invested in them and see them as one of the few stable couples of the series. Their bond just wasn't as present as it was with Desna and Roller as well as Jenn and Bryce. That was Arlene's only true purpose on the show as well. So now, it seems as if she is killed off just to signal that the stakes are increasing as the season heads to its brutal conclusion. It comes with the introduction of a newcomer whom Mac and Melba know to fear immediately. Their lives as well as Desna's could be on the line next. They may not be able to achieve the dreams they have long sought out. But again, it's difficult to understand why anyone should still be invested in that. Right now, it feels like the characters are all making their lives even more dramatic because of just how selfish and destructive they have always been. It's no longer fun. Sure, it's a delight to see Dean perform again as part of Polly's boys. It helps remind everyone that he has a life outside of the casino. Mac and Melba don't have their hooks in too deep. But it's also artificial drama with no true understanding of how to properly tell the story to make it land in an effective way. The whole gubernatorial debate feels very stiff and forced in an unnatural way. It's as if the show wanted to get to that foregone conclusion without putting in the legwork to make it feel as if Ann's brother had no other choice. He hasn't been important. He's just a plot point to force everything else into motion. It just comes at the expense of LGBTQ+ visibility because yet another couple doesn't get to enjoy a happy ending. Ann was worried about the future and health of her baby. And now, she won't have her partner and may be entirely justified to turn against Desna in vitriol as a result. That just seems like a weak tradeoff though.