Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star
Season 1, Episode 3: “Comfort of Strangers”
Directed by Alice Troughton
Written by Rowan Joffe
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Kid” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Jack” – click here
Briefly, we witness Whitey (Oliver Coopersmith) beating someone’s head in with a rock. Just no telling who that someone is, not yet.
And so we jump back to the night before, with Chief Jim Worth (Tim Roth) falling down the bottle again after his sobriety. Can’t blame him, he’s had most his family taken from him brutally. Later he’s heading to look for Anna (Abigail Lawrie), only she’s not there. He also looks like he had a… rough night. Constable Nick McGillen (Ryan Kennedy) gets a punch in the nose for not knowing what’s happened.
Skip back to when Anna ran out into the road, where she found Whitey in his truck. They drive a while, he asks questions. She can’t reach her dad on the phone, then she wonders if her dad hasn’t slipped into his old habits, asking Whitey to drop her at a bar in town. However, he decides not to stop, which frightens her.
Constable Denise Minahik (Sarah Podemski) is trying to help the Chief, whereas Nick’s pissed, believing a two minute piss wasn’t long enough for anyone to take the girl. Nobody knows she left willingly. Neither, obviously, do they know where she was headed. Soon, though, dad finds the back way his daughter slipped outside. They check at the hospital, in case Anna went to see her mother Angela (Genevieve O’Reilly). But she isn’t there. We see more between husband and wife, that he’s like two husbands to her, a different man named “Jack” at times.
She’s in the truck with Whitey, who’s at least turned around and headed in the right direction. He takes her to the bar and lucky for everyone, he lets her out. Across the way are Frank Keane (Ian Puleston-Davies) and Johnny (Stephen Walters), keeping an eye on things. They’re still after that cigarette butt.
Inside the bar, Anna finds dad throwing back shots, she’s disgusted by the sight. Rather than talk to him she leaves him be to wallow. Later that day, Jim finishes talking to his wife, then Denise asks him about the previous night, him being at the bar, texts from Anna. He gets flashes of what might’ve happened.
Then we go back a few hours. 5 AM, after drinking, sex with a woman on the rez, a bit of blow. He remembers nothing. The woman is Jaclyn Letendre (Michelle Thrush), she’d asked him for help last night, which he doesn’t remember either. Worse still, a couple of the men from the rez walk in to find him there. Doesn’t sit well. Nothing serious happens, he’s just dropped off outside the reserve. That’s how he ended up with no shoes before getting back in the morning, looking haggard.
All this comes back to Jim by 8 AM. We cut back to just past 2 AM. Out of the bar storms Anna, worried for her dad. She talks more with Whitey. They bond over alcoholic parents: “We can‘t trust them.” Afterwards, they’re in the truck again, as Frank and his lads follow close behind. Christ, this is tense, no?
In the morning, she’s still missing. Jim’s answering what little he can about his wild night out while trying to corral help for the search. At least Denise has his back, much as she can, understanding well enough that he’s experienced a brutal tragedy, only natural he’d be a bit off. She simply doesn’t understand exactly how far off the man is, or can get, or WILL get eventually.
Back earlier in the truck, Whitey talks more of his alcoholic mother, she’s in a home, taken care of well, so he says. Hard to tell what’s a lie and what isn’t with this fella. Looks like they’re headed out in the woods someplace. Anna gets a bit sick, so they pull over. She gets out for a walk and they head into the darkness of the trees beyond.
Speaking of the woods, in the light of day Chief Worth and the police are looking for volunteers to help search for his missing daughter. The oil workers don’t care; Randy (Lynda Boyd) offers to help round up some people. This gets Elizabeth Bradshaw (Christina Hendricks) involved. Although she gets resistance from the eerie Louis Gagnon (Christopher Heyerdahl) who’s only concerned with business. “Anything else is a complication,” he tells her.
Whitey and Anna end up out on a walk until morning. They go out onto a dam by the river, laughing, running around together. Sadly she has no idea the guy she’s with killed her little brother, nearly her mother, too. One of those Greek tragedy-style moments.
Later, Denise has to school the new Chief on “respect” and “history” re: the Elders on the rez, who come down to block off the bridge onto their land. Denise goes to talk with them; her estranged father is Jacob (Ray G. Thunderchild), Chief Minahik of the Musqwa tribe. They shame his character by bringing out Jaclyn, in front of everyone. They’ve also got his gun, looks fucking BAD.
Note: As a non-Native, I can’t comment on the authenticity of anything. What I’d like to note is that I find the dichotomy of the word “Chief” in this context, as Jacob laments his daughter’s lost touch with their culture in a way, so he believes, and calls this alcoholic, drug addled man Chief instead. Found that compelling. Hope to see more of the people on the reserve, as well as Denise.
Out at the dam, Whitey and Anna keep talking. She reveals a rather cynical perspective on life. Whitey doesn’t end up hurting her, he pretends to accidentally knock her bag into the water, along with the cig butt. Simultaneously, Frank and the lads are off in the distance with a sniper rifle aimed towards the girl. Whitey actually tries keeping her from jumping to her death. Then, in the background, police sirens.
As they come, Anna slips, and Whitey grabs her back from the fall. Jim rushes in to find his daughter safe, though she’s pissed. And again, Whitey tries avoiding eye contact, he doesn’t want the man to see him. There’s something there, more mysterious than a criminal trying to stay out of the cop’s eye. Doesn’t help that it all ends up on the front page of the local newspaper.
Oh, that rock from the beginning? It was beating Johnny’s head in. Bye, bye.
This was a wild episode, pulling another trick like the first one. Switching the tension on from the start, letting us sweat. Until revealing it all in the end. Great storytelling so far, interesting characters that keep me wanting more after each episode is done.
“Jack” is next. We’ll find out more about that second persona hiding in Jim.