Monday, September 30, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Deuce' - Vincent and Frankie Celebrate Their Birthday Before Tragedy Occurs in 'They Can Never Go Home'

HBO's The Deuce - Episode 3.04 "They Can Never Go Home"

Lori returns to New York for an audition and runs into some familiar faces. While searching for actors for her new film, Candy speaks to her critics at a Women Against Pornography meeting. As things heat up with Jennifer, Alston takes a drastic step to deliver for Goldman. Melissa leaves the city. Abby grows closer to Pilar as her relationship with Vincent wanes. Vincent and Frankie celebrate an eventful birthday.

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 HBO's The Deuce.

"They Can Never Go Home" was written by Will Ralston and directed by James Franco

Many of these characters entered the Deuce with their eyes wide open. They came here looking for money hoping to avoid the tragic certainty that their fates could be reversed at any moment in time. They were in pursuit of prosperity. Many of them have succeeded in that endeavor for a long time. Vincent has been the manager of his own club for awhile now. He feels like a success. However, this world is constantly evolving. Sure, it never fundamentally changes. Alston and Goldman prove that change takes too long for the effects to be felt on the ground. They have the aspiration of cleaning up the Deuce. However, the neighborhood is more dangerous than ever before. The sex and drug trades are constantly shifting as well. The rise of pornography pushed much of the business inside. However, there are still women walking the streets picking up johns. The neighborhood hasn't changed too much since the start of the series. However, the profits are no longer the same as they once were. Everyone thinks they have to corrupt their morals just a little bit more in order to make it in the same way. Frankie is running a drug business on the side. He and Rudy are in a disagreement at the moment because Frankie is refusing to let the mobster in on some of his porn profits. That is the concern that comes up over and over again in this hour. And yet, it's the shadier business venture that ultimately leads to Frankie getting shot and bleeding to death at Club 366. That is such a devastating moment. It's one that certainly feels inevitable because Frankie has always been such an unsavory character. He too hasn't evolved much since the start of the series. He's fun and carefree but has always been reckless too. It was only a matter of time before some disgruntled associate shot him dead. That time is now. It just happens to take place on his birthday with Vincent trying to save him. His efforts are futile though. This once defining component of their lives is now gone forever. It's hardly the most devastating moment of this hour though. In fact, this season is increasingly pointing out just how unlikely it is that any of these characters will ever leave the Deuce fully. Vincent and Frankie understand that completely when they help Melissa pack so she can return home to Michigan with her father. It's not a homecoming because the details of her life in the Deuce will forever shape their relationship. There is the hope that things will be able to move past that. But it may always be a lingering concern. Meanwhile, Candy feels like a success story because she has created something for herself in this world. She is proud of the work she puts out. She has always been an independent spirit though. She carried all of the risk herself and reaps all of the rewards now. She and Abby believe they have a vital perspective to bring to the Women Against Pornography meeting. And yet, Candy's experience in this world isn't symbolic of the typical story. Yes, she is a success. She gets to do what she loves. She has always been painfully clear about what could happen. She has escaped the violence. Not everyone is lucky in that regard though. In fact, Candy may be oblivious to the true devastation happening in this community at the moment. This is a message she needs to hear. She may be doing things right. But she's one voice in a sea of competitors who don't care about the concerns of women. That's the world all of this takes place in. Feminism is trying to rise up and push back against the norms. However, Lori is made to feel like porn is the only thing she is actually good at. As such, she is willing to demean herself doing whatever in order to be as successful in this business for as long as possible. Her return to the Deuce only comes with the reminders that she will forever be seen as a whore and never more. She accepts that reality but that is brutal and tragic. She came to the city at the start of the series knowing exactly what she wanted. She achieved greatness in this career. However, she has replaced one pimp with another. She has also been made to feel as if her voice doesn't matter. That means she is no longer going to put up the fight. That's devastating. All of this is an incredible amount of tragedy as the series heads towards its conclusion. It's very effective as well. These are human stories where the audience has seen the people behind the stigmas attached to the world of porn. They aren't always right though. Nor are they always successful in the end. The truth is much more muddled with some fates being much more crystal clear than others. And sometimes those confrontations and deaths are what permeate throughout everything else.