Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star
Season 1, Episode 8: “This Be the Verse”
Directed by Grant Harvey
Written by Tom Butterworth & Chris Hurford
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Exposure” – click here
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “Fortunate Boy” – click here
Jim Worth a.k.a Jack Devlin (Tim Roth) is out back of Randy’s (Lynda Boyd) place. He’s found Frank (Ian Puleston-Davies). Asking why his son had to be killed, getting nothing in the way of concrete answers. At least until Jack puts a gun to Randy, threatening to kill her. Then they’re all interrupted by a blast out front. The bikers have set the Chief’s car on fire for his knocking over of the bikes. Willingly, Jim lays himself on the sidewalk to get a “shit kicking.” What I often forget is how, underneath all the morbid plot is a darkly hilarious show, too.
At home, Angela (Genevieve O’Reilly) can’t find Anna (Abigail Lawrie), she’s not in her room. Likely she’s with Whitey (Oliver Coopersmith). There’s a note on her door, telling mom she’s gone, someplace safe. Because you can be guaran-damn-teed the Worth house isn’t safe, not with dad drawing all kinds of madness down upon his family, as well as Little Big Bear as a whole, as if the town needed anything else to worry about with North Stream Oil’s cloud hanging over their heads.
Elizabeth (Christina Hendricks) is taking Jaclyn (Michelle Thrush) to Calgary, wanting to help her get “justice.” At least a bit, anyways. The two women are from vastly different places, different backgrounds. Although when the Native woman asks her white, tenuous friend is she’s “for reals,” Liz replies she most certainly is, but Jaclyn doesn’t buy it yet. North Stream Oil’s already poisoned her land, white people have fucked Indigenous tribes over in Canada for centuries. This becomes an overall conversation about colonisation, its repercussions in the modern world.
Poor ole Jim, he takes the brunt of Jack’s nastiness. Such an interesting situation, a Jekyll and Hyde dichotomy in an alcoholic/addict. Partly Jim’s fault, yes. On the other side is a disease, a sickness that’s killing him, also putting those around him in that line of fire. Angela goes to see him at the hotel, noticing the beating he’s recently taken. We watch her get angry at him, then just recently, and likely again, she’s plying him with alcohol in order to get her other husband Jack to do the horrible things she wants done. I feel bad for her. I also blame her, partly.
Over the phone, Gagnon (Christopher Heyerdahl) is threatening Elizabeth. He mentions many intimate details about her personal life, her family. He speaks of a “nasty intersection” near her home in Toronto, that perhaps her ex-husband, her daughter might come across it soon unless Liz turns Jaclyn over to him. She tries warning her ex, to no avail. Worse still, Jackie’s starting to go into fentanyl withdrawals. Beginning to feel Liz’s ethics will give out again.
And what about Whitey? He’s pining away for Anna, who’s on her way to the airport, trying to get away from Little Big Bear, her father, even her mother. Angela’s searching for her, too. She goes to Whitey, seeing the girl’s not there, either. Both of them worry for her, so the young man offers to help and look.
Anna keeps encountering one of the bikers on the road in his truck. He’s creepy; images of porno magazines plastered all over the inside of the cab. She sees the truck pulled over at one point, trying to avoid it. Feels dangerous. Then he pops out of the woods, casually threatening her. Luckily, Angela and Whitey show up in time. Mom threatens the biker with a shotgun, putting it in his balls, then his chest. She makes him promise to leave teenage girls alone. BAD ASS MAMA!
Out behind Randy’s Roadhouse, Liz calls Gagnon to let him know Jaclyn is there buying drugs. The head of security tells her to leave the woman, walk away. Will she? At the last minute she calls her ex, telling him to leave, untraceable. She makes the decision to run with Jaclyn, as Gagnon watches them leave.
When Jim gets home he’s got Whitey in his face, not letting him in. The kid steps quite far over the line. When dad starts beating on him, he accidentally elbows his daughter in the face. Sending her and Whitey off together. Oh, my. Accidental, entirely, but awful for them all. Drives mom mad, as well. Finally, though, Angela admits her part in unleashing Jack Devil, their own Mr. Hyde.
This is right about when Liz turns up at the Worth house, Jaclyn in tow, Gagnon on their trail. What a turn of events! Like a comedy of errors, except wrapped up in a violent genre tale. The irony of Jaclyn being brought to the house of the man who slept with her in an alcoholic, drugged fugue is too much. But such is the way when a psychotic Frenchman is after you, no?
Gagnon and his silenced pistol take out the power at the Worths’ place. Inside, Angela guards with a shotgun. Totally suspenseful, tension-filled sequence throughout the darkened halls and bedrooms. Out of the dark, the Frenchman comes, disarming the wife. He then stares down the barrel of Jaclyn’s handgun, losing part of his hand for his effort. From behind, Liz plants a knife in his back before Angela finishes him off with a shotgun blast. I especially love Gagnon’s last line to Liz, sort of an unintended, timely insult before three women have finished him off. Fuck you, patriarchy. I’m with the nasty women!
Gagnon: “You‘re a nasty woman”
In a cabin, Whitey and Anna stow away together. This is when he reveals to her the picture of him, her father, his mother together in that family photograph. The truth comes out. No telling how it’ll fracture things even further.
At the cemetery, Frank takes shots at Jim who’s drinking by his son’s grave. A perfect fitting, if not grim irony in the setting. He doesn’t kill the Chief, both of them taking fire. Sending Frank into a random house, causing a scene. The London gangster doesn’t get far, Jim finds him in the driveway, wanting to know the full story. He’s gotta keep the guy alive to figure it out.
That’s a story for next time. Good Jesus, I love this series. If you don’t, fine. The rest of us are strapped in, ready to roll. Characters are solid, some strong female characters specifically, and performed well by strong actresses. Roth and O’Reilly are two phenoms together, a perfect fictional married couple.
“Fortunate Boy” comes next, and it’s our penultimate Season 1 episode. Get ready.