Episode 1: “The Break”
Directed by T.J. Scott
Written by Allan Hawco; based on the novel by Lisa Moore.
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Old Wounds” – click here
We start in New Brunswick, in 1978. David Slaney (Allan Hawco) has been serving 15 years in Dorchester Penitentiary for smuggling. But now, the lad’s breaking out. He’s chased through the forest by a pack of dogs, helicopters circling overhead, sirens everywhere. And CCR is the soundtrack.
The roads are blocked. Everyone in law enforcement is on the lookout for Slaney. On a nearby road, a trucker – Rodd Murrin (Roger Cross) – pulls out from a roadblock, and Dave gets himself into the cab. But where’s he headed?
We also meet Dt. Roy Patterson (Paul Gross) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who’s a recovering alcoholic. He seems invested in the whole escape. Most people believe Dave is just a “stoner managed to bust out of prison.” But he’s a drug smuggler, and that makes him a priority. Patterson doesn’t exactly have a great relationship with his colleagues. His alcoholism has compromised his professional life, as it’s clearly done in his personal life.
Skip back to ’72, in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland. Dave and his main man Brian Hearn (Eric Johnson) are on a boat named the Evelyn & Shirley. They’ve decided on buying it. They’re in the throes of business, which is getting bigger and busier. While reluctant about their new, dangerous ventures Slaney goes along with what Brian’s suggesting. It’s a case of friendship leaking into business, but in a situation carrying many consequences.
“Are you a sheep, or are you a wolf?”
After his fugitive truck ride, Slaney goes to see his friend Celeste (Tamara Duarte). She’s giving him a place to crash while he’s “all over the TV.” It’s a place for him to relax, if only for a moment. Everybody’s pretty adamant in their consensus that Dave got a “raw deal” with his conviction. A curiously wonderful time for Caught to come around as an adaptation for television, seeing as how both the US and Canadian government are in the process of legalising/decriminalising marijuana at various levels. In a few years time, cases like Slaney’s will begin to fade, though never entirely you can be sure.
Note: Genuinely great filmmaking for TV here. Love the sequence where Slaney is cutting his hair while we simultaneously see Patterson looking over RCMP case files and other records.
David’s trying to get in contact with Hearn. Doesn’t take much to realise there’s bad blood between them. Highly possible his old pal’s the reason he went down. From Mexico, Brian gets in contact, and the two have a chat. It’s been over five years since they spoke; since Brian took off on Dave. Suspicions confirmed about the supposed best friend’s actions while Slaney got locked up in prison.
At the DEA office in Maine, Agent KC Williams (Enuka Okuma) is treated with a double dose of oppression, being a woman and black. She’s not treated with any respect, sent to get coffee when she’s been covering the case herself. Perfect time for her to meet Patterson, who’s gone to see her. The two of them have a drink – obviously Roy’s not sticking to being sober – and talk over the case, including information about Hearn. Patterson hopes that Slaney will lead them to the other half of their former operation who’s hiding away in Cancun. Instead, KC sees the Canadian detective as a walking case of self-destruction, of whom she wants no part. Oh, and trucker Rodd? He’s a buddy of Patterson’s, keeping an eye on the fugitive. Hmm.
Meanwhile, Hearn asks Slaney to go to Montreal, where he’ll pick up some money, then after that he has to get to Mexico. Sketchy, right? Certainly not going to be easy for Dave, being a wanted fugitive and all.
Flashback to some time ago. David is trying to make a life with Jennifer Baker (Charlotte Sullivan) and her daughter Crystal. He’s trying to be serious, however, he’s mixed up with the smuggling, which Jenn saw as getting scarily serious. She gave him an ultimatum rather than accept her man’s marriage proposal.
KC deals with more shit. Her boss is taking credit for everything she does, and insults her by making a parallel between her and a “pig sniffing out a truffle.” She gets sexually harassed, demeaned with misogyny+racism, and on top of it all her career suffers the entire time, too. Can’t wait to see Ms. Williams get hers, I’ll tell you that.
Things in Mexico aren’t what you’d call paradise. Brian is paranoid and he can’t trust anybody, so when his friend Cyril Carter (Greg Bryk) brings over a young woman, Ada (Tori Anderson), he isn’t welcoming around the house. He doesn’t want people he doesn’t know kicking around. Not when there’s DEA circling, as well as Slaney out on his fugitive run.
Financially, things aren’t great in Mexico, either. Yeah, they’re definitely not hurting. But Cyril and Brian have invested in a hotel that’s perpetually under construction, and that means no money coming in. Although they do have the cops under their thumb, for a price. And Mr. Hearn, he’s a dangerous man. Dave doesn’t appear a violent man. Brian, on the other hand, is willing to do whatever’s necessary in the drug business. Even if that means murder to prevent people talking any more to the feds, or threatening the lives of his subordinates families. Ruthless.
Slaney is, naturally, paranoid in his own right. He’s also been in prison for a handful of years, so being on the outside is a mess. Things go bad when Celeste and another girl call the cops for a reward. Dave only gets away because of Rodd, who takes him to a car on the highway driven by Dt. Patterson. The cop drives him off, and we’re seeing now that Roy is playing a far different role in this entire situation than we previously thought. It’s “all for show” to get at Hearn. Nevertheless, it’s not a sanctioned, legal operation, just some “crazed, whacked out” plan of Patterson’s to get his career back on track. Yikes, what madness! Roy’s manipulated the smuggler, knowing Slaney would want revenge. Let’s hope it goes well, for the both of them. If only they die out of lack of cooperation first.
A fantastic opening episode to this adaptation of Lisa Moore’s novel. For those who’ve read it, this will be a treat to see adapted into episodes, and for those who’ve not read it, it’ll be a great introduction to Lisa and her writing, even if it’s being written by others in this format. I can’t help but boast – I already love this pilot episode, it’s just even better because Lisa is supervising my Master’s thesis at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and I believe she’s one of Canada’s best talents in literature currently. Add to that the talents of Hawco, Gross, Johnson, Okuma, Bryk, and the rest of the cast, and Caught‘s going to be exciting to watch! As I said, it’s a perfect time, socially, for this smuggling story to come to us, while witnessing the law change before our eyes.
“Old Wounds” is next.