Sunday, July 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'Claws' - Desna, Mac and Melba Try to Pay Back the Chinese Triad in 'What Is Happening to America'

TNT's Claws - Episode 3.08 "What Is Happening to America"

The crew makes elaborate plans to pay back the casino's debts only to learn that they're nowhere near being out of the woods.

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.

"What Is Happening to America" was written by Doug Stockstill and directed by Carrie Preston

This episode does a significantly better job in making everything seem a whole lot more cohesive. Sure, Ann is off on her own adventure until the very end when Desna delivers the news that Arlene has been killed. Plus, Polly is also getting into even more trouble with Joe as they plot to kill Governor Patel. But for the most part, the stakes of this hour rally around Desna, Mac and Melba needing to come up with three million dollars in order to appease their Chinese criminal overlords. It's a task that they are willing and able to complete because they target the white nationalist who has disrupted Jenn and Bryce's lives. Now, it absolutely feels like the show is making a blunt point in sharing that these main characters may be rednecks and wannabe gangsters but they aren't white nationalists. They may support corrupt politicians and benefit from Republican views on the world. But they aren't compromising their values in that specific way. Of course, it also feels very random while not bringing a whole lot of depth to the actual proceedings. Desna and her crew needed a target to raise this kind of money. They simply couldn't just rob the casino again. Instead, they needed some outside source that was wealthy and easy to rob from. Mac and Melba are onboard because they too have grand ambitions for how to care for future generations. It should sting when Mac details his past experiences of being told to go back to where he came from. This is his country even though he's not associated with any kind of official Native American tribe. The show tries for nuance in this situation. But mostly, it's just a big adventure that goes wildly awry at the very end. It ultimately leads to Mac's death. That too should be a significant moment because of how much time the season has invested in him. And yet, this is the way that the series normally dispatches with its antagonists. Killing them off is often the simplest way to prove that the threat from them is over. Sure, the tension is still high for Desna. She may give the Professor the money he asks for. But now, she also has to kill Melba in order to ensure that she won't be a problem for the Triad any longer. She may be able to outsource that job to someone who is more capable of pulling it off. The final moments of her walking through the casino show that a lot of death has surrounded her life over the last few years. Again, that shows how often the narrative resorts to this very specific plot device in order to increase the stakes of its storytelling. It can be a nice and neat way to resolve things like it is here with any lingering concerns about Governor Patel and his corrupt deal with the casino. That even brings Polly and Joe closer together with Polly embracing the darkest impulses within herself. That's bound to be very dangerous. But it's still alienating. So is the information that Dean still has so much love for Virginia. He hires a woman to essentially pretend to be her. It's not sexual at the moment. It just shows how much he wants her as a part of his life. That mostly just proves that he hasn't been lured too far away from the core family he has always known. He is simply lashing out but will likely come back safely to Desna and Virginia. He doesn't know about what has happened to Mac though. That could disrupt all of this in the same way that it does for Ann learning about Arlene's death. Now, the reveal that they were actually married doesn't totally work. Nor does Desna lying about what actually happened to Arlene. But the raw emotion coming from Ann is very powerful and devastating. She deserves more justice but may not be able to count on her crew for support at this moment in time. She may always fear that Desna is just manipulating her to achieve her own goals.