Sunday, October 17, 2021

REVIEW: 'Hightown' - Jackie Is Eager to Prove Herself While Ray Faces the Ramifications of His Toxic Actions in 'Great White'

Starz's Hightown - Episode 2.01 "Great White"

Jackie is white-hot to prove herself as a cop and avenge the death of her best friend, Junior. Frankie teams up with his cousin while Ray's off the force because of Renee. There's a new deadly drug in town, Great White.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Starz's Hightown.

"Great White" was written by Rebecca Cutter and directed by Rachel Morrison

It's not good enough for Jackie to maintain her sobriety. She has to confront the systemic issues that have created a widespread addiction and marketplace for drugs throughout the country. It's something she needs to do. She is compelled to do so. She can't sit idly by. She has to act. That compulsion has always been evident within her. It has gotten her into so much trouble because she embarks on these pursuits with near reckless abandon. Is she capable of doing things thoughtfully and by the book? That remains a huge questions. It's why she and Ray could ultimately be seen as kindred spirits. They were dogged in their approaches. They hold near personal vendettas against the criminals they are targeting. That has only grown. Junior is dead. Ray has been suspended from the force. Frankie and his cousin Jorge have been released from prison. They need to double down on their efforts. It may be the off season in Provincetown but drugs are still easily accessible. Alan can detail all the good the task force has already done. He has informants who complain about the hours they have to drive in order to get their supply. That's because they broke a supply chain. That's clearly forming back up though. Frankie and Jorge are already planning that. Sure, they may not trust the people they are doing business with. It's not built on a lifelong relationship. A new generation is taking over. That's startling. It can be just as brutal and vicious too. This season starts with yet another murder. In fact, three teenagers are killed after overdosing on a potent new drug. It's tragic. It risks exposure that the criminals can't afford on their organization. Jackie is determined to put them beyond bars. And now, she has convinced enough people to let her join the task force full time. Her success and expertise is enough to craft a convincing argument. However, her sobriety is still tenuous. One moment she is in a meeting talking about how grateful she is to have 50 days sober. And then, the action cuts to her buying drugs off a known dealer at a Halloween party. She isn't using. That perception is still concerning. It's at the forefront of her mind. The audience should perpetually be worried about her. She has a teammate in Babcock. She knows how to operate within this male-dominated system. They can work together and produce results that can't be disputed. And yet, everyone is dealing with the fallout of Ray sleeping with Renee. He was willing to make his case by any mean's necessary. He could justify all this toxic behavior because of the good he believed he was doing. He is a cop no matter what. That title isn't gone just because of the scandal and his subsequent suspension. But he is removed from the force because this fits into a pattern of behavior. Jackie doesn't know that history. She still supports Ray. It mostly just means he no longer has the identity that has been so crucial to his development. He is a cop. That has never been questioned. His actions carry consequences though. He has to reckon with that. He is still addicted to sex. That's obvious. All of this may foreshadow a similar downfall for Jackie because she too embraces such reckless actions. She wants to do good. She has to be completely secure in herself in order to offer that help to others. She still deflects whenever someone in the program wonders if she has found a sponsor. She isn't working the steps. No one is really holding her accountable. She may cross the same lines that Ray did. That too highlights the limitations of only seeing someone's worth through their gender. Jackie makes the case that it would earn good will for her to join the task force and work with Babcock. That visibility is necessary. It's just as important to trust the people carrying out this important work. Yes, they can make progress as a team. Alan is ultimately held responsible for everything because he's in charge. Patterns may very well repeat if people don't see the warning signs that led to disaster with Ray. Jackie doesn't even really see the problems with Ray's behavior. Keeping him included in the narrative is just as precarious as his life may forever be entangled with Renee's. That's personal far beyond the broad ramifications and destruction of the drug trade. The show aspires to go both broad and specific with these storytelling impulses. It can be overly formulaic at times. And yet, it still does a solid job in depicting the desperate nature of those on these opposing sides after so many years in this crisis.