Sunday, October 24, 2021

REVIEW: 'Hightown' - Sobriety Doesn't Change Jackie and Ray's Behavior as Frankie and Jorge Rebuild in 'Girl Power'

Starz's Hightown - Episode 2.02 "Girl Power"

Jackie's new partner Leslie matches her ambition perfectly as their relationship deepens on and off the force. Frankie and Jorge continue moving ahead but Charmaine, their New York connection, is a wild card.

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 next episode of Starz's Hightown.

"Girl Power" was written by Scott Wolven & Tim Walsh and directed by Rachel Morrison

It's easy for Jackie and Ray to blame all of their problems and past behavior on their addictions. They repeatedly made bad decisions because they craved drugs and alcohol. In sobriety, they won't make the same mistakes. They recognize the damage they've done to others as a result of being high and drunk. They know it's a tragic spiral that only leads to more depravity. In order to truly make any progress, they have to get sober. They have to make new and better choices. The addictions may have only freed them from feeling bad about the decisions they always wanted to make. Those impulses still reside within them though. Ray isn't tethered to anything at the moment. His whole life was devoted to being a cop. And now, he has been forced off the job. People even want to say that he was treated unfairly. His behavior couldn't be tolerated. The state was right to fire him. He still has the potential to land on his feet. It's just sad and depressing due to the high he was continually chasing as a sergeant. He had a great deal of authority. And now, he's sadly mixing drinks behind a bar. That's not his job for too long. Construction work isn't fulfilling either. It's just a sad melancholy that consumes him. He yearns for Renee while knowing just how dangerous that is. His path inevitably leads back to her as she fears that she is pregnant with his baby. That too lingers on the edges of the narrative. Right now, it's simply important to note that Ray ends up back in her neighborhood the moment he starts drinking again. That's how strong this desire is. It isn't healthy. It cost him so much. He still chases it because it's the only objective that has value in his mind. It's wrong and toxic. He yearns for it anyway. Drinking again gives him the ability to act on it. He catches himself before anything too drastic happens. It's still completely disruptive to his life. He is a broken man desperately pursuing the wrong thing time and time again. That desire drives him even when new healthy opportunities present themselves as well. Similarly, Jackie has a pattern of sleeping with people who will complicate her life. She is driven to fix her community. She wants to rid this place of its opioid addiction. She believes she can be of service in that way. She has quickly risen in the ranks. She has become important in this new environment. She is exactly where she wants to be. She is maintaining her sobriety as well. Sure, she is choosing to ignore meetings in order to strengthen these new relationships. She may be treating her sobriety too casually at the moment. She recognizes that she was wrong in the past and has done so many bad things. She hopes she can counterbalance the scale by helping her community through the task force. She and Leslie make significant progress here. Of course, the task force is still largely catching up on all the crimes that have already happened. Frankie and Jorge are being proactive in trying to protect themselves from any more of the consequences that could doom their operation. They are hoping to get their footing back in this community. They are building things back up. They are succeeding at that. The task force is in flux as everyone feels they have to prove something to earn their trust and respect. Part of that is because of Ray. It's also just insight into how these people aren't trusted to wield authority in the ways that they should given their positions. A healthy amount of skepticism and a critical eye is warranted in this situation. They are right to look solely at the Cuevas operation. That is at the root of so many problems in this community. They take the victory. They celebrate. But mishaps still occur. Jackie and Leslie sleep together. They quickly found a connection with one another. They could talk as colleagues openly and honestly. They didn't have to present as something else to the other people on the job. They could simply be themselves. That's freeing. It's immediately seen in a romantic context though. That's how Jackie projects her desires no matter what. This may ultimately disrupt the earnest and strong partnership they were developing on the job. It's a complication that should leave the audience feeling concerned. These are the people trusted with addressing this epidemic. They may be too dysfunctional to make any true progress. That's shocking and disappointing while trying to highlight the human cost of all of this along the way. That's disruptive while searingly stating the obvious about the complexity of police investigations and those who carry them out. Not every mistake may be costly in the end. However, plenty of bad decisions occur that should send up numerous red flags about the capacity to handle this investigation.