Preacher – Season 2, Episode 10: “Dirty Little Secret”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 10: “Dirty Little Secret”
Directed by Steph Green
Written by Mary Laws

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Puzzle Piece” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Backdoors” – click here
Pic 1We see two people together, having sex after meeting in a bar. The guy says he has something to do for his father, a “promise” he made. So after they’re done, he says he loves her. Plus, she can’t ever tell anyone.
Because his name’s Jesus Christ. His twelve boys are looking for him. And some of them don’t look too happy that their saviour’s been shacking up with a woman. “Its been real,” the lord says as he leaves.
Present day, Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) and Jesse (Dominic Cooper) sit together at the bar. Talking about classified information held by the Grail. Rather than listen, the preacher tries laying a beating on him. He tries using Genesis, too. To no avail. But this German’s the last dude a sadistic beating’s gonna work on.
Pic 1AStarr’s certainly not adverse to playing the game, though. He wants to aid Jesse, of course in return for something, I’m sure. But first, he’s got to convince the preacher. They put a bag over his head and take him away in one of those white vans.
Back at the apartment, Tulip (Ruth Negga) ain’t feeling so hot. She continually has horrific dreams. At the same time, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) has ladies in bed with Denis (Ronald Guttman) to try making up for all those birthdays he missed, “about to play Twister.” Quite the situation over there. And Lara (Julie Ann Emery), she’s still poking around, looking for her gun. Just an excuse for her to get closer to Tulip, in any way possible. Made easier by the fact our girl’s head is a mess currently.
Lara a.k.a Jenny: “Its how I likeem: all elbowsn Adams apples.”
At the Grail HQ, Jesse gets introduced to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope himself, both sitting in Starr’s office waiting for him. WAITING. For HIM. That’s called power. Scary fucking power. They tell him of a “traitorous cabal of angels jealous of Gods authority” are rebelling. Mutiny in Heaven. Well, so says the Archbishop. Pope believes he’s done with this place. He’s moved on to create a better world, a new spaces. Two mentalists with competing, maniacal theories of where God’s ran off. Then the Pope makes mention of “the boy” who’s the only one who can lead them. But Starr cuts him off before too long. Quick use of Genesis gets the answer, that this boy is the Messiah.
Pic 2So the Jesus opener is leading into an idea of a bloodline, running from Christ onward. A royal lineage, of sorts. The mother with whom Jesus lay before he died is beaten to death. To keep things nice and secretive. Back then, a man named Thaddeus (Dean J. West) looked after the literal blood of Christ, aiding to preserve the child’s life so as to carry on the family of Christ for centuries and centuries.
Problems elsewhere once Cassidy finds Denis is getting a bit too into the whole vampire thing. He runs off the girls they’re out on the town with, he can’t control all his urges. Hilarious, in a dark sense, because the way Cassidy talks to Denis is similar to how a father might talk to his young son about his burgeoning adolescent sexual feelings. Only this is a whole lot creepier.
Lara’s slipped up, mentioning that Tulip spoke of Dallas. Only our girl can’t remember that. Things are fine right now, though I wonder if the Grail operative is going to do something drastic. Then Tulip starts pushing. Luckily for Lara she’s quickly called Hoover (Malcolm Barrett). He poses as the abusive boyfriend from her past, which ends with the two women kicking the shit out of him in the hallway. Nice cover. Further bonding them together, keeping Tulip less aware of who she’s dealing with truly.
Meanwhile Jesse’s being taken all over the place by Starr and the Grail. Bag over his head, unaware of where they are at any given moment. Trippy. They’ve gone to see “the Christ Child,” the figurehead of the Grail, the Messiah. He lives in a simple room, a crucifix on the wall, candles lit nearby as he writes silently. The preacher kneels in front of him, proclaiming that he feels Genesis was given to him so he could help find God.
One problem. This descendant of Christ is a sort of surely inbred, mentally challenged infant, he draws puppies and pisses all over himself. A genuinely horrifying scene.
Herr Starr: “We call him Humperdoo
Pic 3This all ends up with Jesse disillusioned in his quest for God. What we see is that Starr is also disillusioned. But he sees hope in the preacher, in the power of Genesis. He’s got his own ways of doing things, yet that’s the endgame: “Why go on looking for God when you can just be him?” Blasphemy, or semantics? Jesse and Starr are on either side of that question. The former’s not too happy with the suggestion. Only he’s running out of options in his search. We’ll see how far he gets as the Grail manipulates him from behind the scenes.
Fucking great episode! Lot of dark things swirling around, becoming less campy than they were and feeling more dangerous. Really love the writing in this series; not to mention the fantastic directing, as well. “Backdoors” is next week. Really amped for it.

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Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 11: “The Leopard”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 11: “The Leopard”
Directed by Michael Morris
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Treasure” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “You Will Be Gutted” – click here
Pic 1Craig (Ben Robson) and Renn (Christina Ochoa) are off gambling, having fun together like before; before he left her for dead to OD in a bathroom by herself. Not sure if that’s something someone can ever get past, though she did get him back pretty damn good. Either way, they’re having a ball. For now.
Back at the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) is flat off his ass busy. Then Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) shows up, he’s got something for him: a picture of Deran surfing a wave. He found it while packing, heading out for “one last shot” at a competition. The picture’s from the last competition Deran won. They remember younger days, perhaps in many ways better times. The two kiss, and then Adrian heads off. These two are so sweet together, man. I want Deran to fully embrace his own life, his sexuality, and it’d be great to see the two of them last.
Hard to when things are going so sour. Baz (Scott Speedman) is looking through a bunch of Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin) belongings from storage. In a suitcase he finds fake IDs for her, a bunch of things. Including a file marked BLACKWELL, evidently containing police photographs of marks on a young Barry’s barely teenage body, bruises and strap marks all over the back. Like walking back into the past, into a nightmare.
Great juxtaposed pictures, from the better times in Deran’s life to Baz and the darkest moments of his own. Impressive, emotional visual that sort of weaves through the opening ten minutes here.
What’s more interesting? Last time Smurf was at Barry’s place, she left a bug. She hears everything he and Lucy (Carolina Guerra) are saying, about her, about Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Marco (Joseph Julian Soria); all of it.


Speaking of Pope, he and Amy (Jennifer Landon) are closer, but they’ve each got issues. She laments her mistakes, the situation of her son that she put him in. And strangely enough, in a weird irony, Pope’s the one giving her moral support. While his own morality is a topsy, turvy sea of shit.
Things between J (Finn Cole) and Nicky (Molly Gordon) are changing. She and Craig are officially not together. But that doesn’t necessarily mean these two are falling into a relationship, though it looks more possible now. J has other things to worry about, grandma’s rushing around rambling about cash, so he helps her dig up a box in the yard with a nice few stacks. She tells him about Baz ripping her off, too. Scared to see how she’ll manipulate her grandson here, if she’s going to find out his part in it.
Marco finds Craig in a pile of naked women, they were supposed to meet. He’s got keys for Craig, to take a car for him, bring it to another location. Drugs, he assumes. Until Marco leaves and Craig hears someone, muffled, calling from the trunk. Oh, fucking great! The Cody boys have got themselves in some bullshit again.
At the house, Baz comes over to talk to Smurf. He admits to stealing it, straight up. Even gives J a share before he heads out for the day. Baz is trying to cut a deal with her, to keep the family together. Essentially it’s a take the deal or not-type situation, except for the fact she doesn’t have much else left to lose, does she? What’s Baz really trying to do here?
Oh, and Pope, he’s following Catherine’s cop friend Patrick (Dorian Missick). Hope he ain’t thinking what I think he’s thinking…
Pic 2Not knowing what to do Craig takes the guy in the trunk to Deran’s bar. When they tie the guy down to take off his gag, the young guy tells them: “Youre dead.” Seems he’s got an important father. The gruesome behaviour he describes, sounds like a cartel sort of man.
There are big moves happening in the family. Baz has long had power of attorney over the family’s ultimate finances. Now, Smurf’s handing that over to J; he holds that power from here on. This could turn ugly. And I’m not totally convinced that she isn’t playing it that way.
Pope confronts Patrick at a restaurant, blaming him for putting too much stress on Catherine. Of course the cop believes Baz killed her, and he already knows that Smurf had her oldest son torch Catherine’s parents and their house. Pope is playing a dangerous game. Afraid he might be going a bit far off the rails.
Baz meets with his dad down at the scrapyard where he works. Pops is sober three months, working again obviously. His son shows him one of those Polaroids. Then he’s told about Smurf having him worked over with a pipe brutally back in the day. Deserved it, though. No happy reunion in this family’s future.
We see that the kid Marco took, Alejandro (Gustavo Gomez), has a dad who’s a cop. Likely a dirty one, by the sounds of what we’ve heard so far. A particularly nasty one, too. Simultaneously, Renn shows up; perfect timing! She’s there to get money she floated Craig for their trip to Vegas. “Baller” shit went down, apparently. Private plane, all that jazz. At the same time, Deran isn’t happy with his newer life being infringed upon by their family and their madness. This leads to arguments over him not being able to have anything individual, it’s always a Deran-Craig thing, from surfing to the bar to all their criminal idiocy. Deran says once he’s fully bought the bar, he’s out. Finito.
Pic 3Then they discover Alejandro escaped in the time they took to yell at each other. Good job, lads! They’re able to chase him down. In the process Deran takes a rusty nail to the leg, before Craig lays a beat down on him. But Alejandro says it’s only because he believes he’ll be killed in the process of him getting handed over. He’s afraid for his life. The plot thickens.
Pope brings the new information on Catherine, via Patrick, to his mother. He boils over with anger, screaming at Smurf that she didn’t talk to the cops. He’s so angry he could nearly kill her. It’s almost as if he wants to, then when he grabs hold of her he breaks down in tears. A tortured fucking soul.
Baz makes a call to the Sheriff’s Department. Is he about to drop a bomb(/a dime)?
Elsewhere, Pope meets with Amy. He asks if “forgiveness is possible” and says he’s done something horrible. He reveals that he killed a woman he loved. HOLY FUCK! This horrifies Amy rightly. This will only serve to alienate Pope further, and I can’t blame her for her reaction one bit. Also can’t believe he said that to her.
Later that night, Craig and Deran hand the kid over with Marco to the people waiting. Alejandro’s dragged away pleading. The Codys get a fat envelope of cash, for their morality. Before they can leave a woman returns to pistol whip Marco. Far cry from the family just thieving, not hurting others.
And on her way home, Smurf gets pulled over by the cops. You guessed it, they’ve got her surrounded. Back at her house, Baz walks in. Getting a beer from the fridge. Like he owns the place. Maybe he does now. We’ll see.
Pic 4Fuck, there’s so much happening at once, and the major bit is what will happen to Smurf next? Baz has really put her in a corner. I worry she’ll come out swinging harder than he expects, harder than he can parry. Who knows.
“You Will Be Gutted” is the penultimate Season 2 episode. Great to know already we’ve got a Season 3 coming. Bring it, baby!

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 9: “Puzzle Piece”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 9: “Puzzle Piece”
Directed by Michael Dowse
Written by Craig Rosenberg

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Holes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Dirty Little Secret” – click here
Pic 1We see a young Jesse Custer, watching a pistol put to his father’s head. The boy says he “prayed for this.” He feels he did that to his dad. In present day, the memories still remain with Jesse (Dominic Cooper). Deep, dark.
He’s online looking for sightings of God on YouTube. Various videos, all varieties of nutjobs certainly. Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) says that Denis (Ronald Guttman) is feeling better, turning around; did he give him the bite? Seems the vamp and the preacher at odds, in more ways than one. And Tulip (Ruth Negga), she’s still taking bullets to the chest with the bulletproof vest on, making cash hand over fist. Also not getting any rest, either. She isn’t well. So Jesse uses Genesis to put her out for a while. This doesn’t exactly thrill Cassidy, who couldn’t get him to use it to save his son. Yikes, that’ll drive a bad wedge between the two of them.
Jesse: “Without God, theres no structure, no order.”
Meanwhile, Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) is filled in on the situation at the apartment by Hoover (Malcolm Barrett) and Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery). But he’s not so interested. Merely ordering the two Grail operatives to “kill them all.” He has better places to be.
Pic 1A (1)Now there’s a Grail SWAT team headed directly for the apartment, locked, loaded, and loving Jesus Christ! Amen. They head in, equipped with night vision and assault rifles, the whole nine yards. Inside they come across Cassidy, attacking a group of them. Another one shoots Denis. Jesse kicks the shit out of him, then orders him using Genesis: “Kill your friends.” As they stab the vampire, he takes them out one by one. Unable to stop himself. Before the preacher can get answers from the last remaining man, vampire Denis attacks, sucking him dry of blood.
Cut to Herr Starr’s date, sitting in an empty restaurant with a woman he doesn’t particularly take a liking to, mostly sitting through listening to her talk. Once he’s had enough he makes her take off her shirt, then tuck a stick of butter under her chin. He asks how long she can hold her breath. However, this is all interrupted. Assume he’s heard of how things are going at the apartment building.
We hear about someone, or something, called Brad. Instead of getting killed, Lara makes sure she and Hoover stick around. Between Brad and corralling prostitutes for his “rape fantasy” they’re set. They’re sent to get things prepared. Although if they fuck up again, the murder tarp will be waiting in Herr Starr’s office.
After the sleep of Genesis, Tulip wakes to the carnage in the apartment. We see the police, all kinds of people are there. They’re being ordered around by Jesse and Genesis. And y’know, this is great, in a way. They’ve got protection, for now. Only thing is that the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) will be drawn more and more as he uses it without much thought.
Pic 2Starr is educating himself more on the preacher, watching the surveillance footage of him. As well as digging into the man’s past, from his boyhood right up to before he left Annville. I wonder if he’ll come up with something to use against Jesse, something that might hurt bad.
At the apartment, Denis is happy to be alive. Forever. He’s nursing dad back to health, but also discovering that the “suns bad” and there are other drawbacks to being a vampire. He’s not really adverse to drinking blood, though. At the same time Jesse’s trying to get through to Tulip as she’s falling apart in front of his eyes. She doesn’t like that he used Genesis on her, something she previously said wouldn’t sit well with her, being forced to do something, out of her control.
Tulip winds up going to the other apartment, asking Lara if she can borrow a gun. So the woman, in her disguise, hands one over. No questions asked, though fairly helpful in tone. Because a “guns not gonna stop Brad.” Oh, man, I can’t wait to figure out what Brad is. Something fucking bad, I know that.
Things are tense at the apartment. Doesn’t help Denis throws on a record at full volume, refusing to turn it down even with dad scolding. Just as a massive man in an Obama mask shows up outside. He attacks a cop, sending a bunch of others to the officer’s aid. Tulip also shoots a guy in the apartment, believing he had a gun; he doesn’t.
None of it matters with B.R.A.D (Battle-Ready Remote Operated Aerial Drone) on the way. Back at HQ, Herr Starr gets the fantasy he wasn’t exactly looking for – three professionals show up, indeed, to wreck him. Instead of the other way around. He takes the time bent over to figure out his “missing puzzle piece.” After getting fucked with a boring look on his face, he calls Lara up to call off the use of B.R.A.D. Just barely averting the destruction of Jesse and his friends. The drone hits Harry Connick Jr’s house instead.
Pic 3Fantastic fucking episode! Loving the inclusion of the Grail more, Herr Starr is terrifying. After this episode I’m especially unsettled by him, which I didn’t think was any more possible.
Moreover, I’m highly interested in the last scene, as Starr sits down next to Jesse on a bar stool. Ready for a chat, just the two of them. Might just be the eerie German’s got answers about God. Hmm.
Pic 4

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 10: “Treasure”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 10: “Treasure”
Directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka
Written by T.J. Brady & Rasheed Newson

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Custody” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Leopard” – click here
Pic 1J (Finn Cole) finds grandma Smurf (Ellen Barkin) in his bed, drinking. She’s worried about who robbed her storage unit. Naturally, the kid’s nervous. He helped uncle Baz (Scott Speedman) break in, though he wasn’t the one who told him about it; Barry did that all on his own.
Speaking of him, he’s checking out the haul from Smurf’s safes. Quite the goddamn loot, too. From jewellery to stacks of bills, it’s impressive. This is one time Baz is truly off on his own. He and the other lads are in two different directions. While he’s robbing his adopted mom, Craig (Ben Robson) is heading up the next actual job. He’s still dragging Nicky (Molly Gordon) around while doing shady shit. They’ve got it all planned. But I keep seeing her winding up in handcuffs. Meanwhile, Renn (Christina Ochoa) turns up again, warning the young lady about Craig not being “worth the ride.” She’d know, she nearly died after overdosing and being left in the bathroom to die by him. My only fear, that I know is justified, is that Nicky won’t figure that out before it’s too late.
Pic 2At the bar, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) goes to see Deran (Jake Weary) before they’re supposed to get going on their end of the job’s preparations. He’s not happy, he doesn’t like that Marco (Joseph Julian Soria) and Nicky both – outsiders – are part of the job. And these are genuine, smart concerns.
The younger brother doesn’t see it as anything more than simple risk. He also believes they “owe” Craig. But, if you look at the dude’s track record he’s a junkie, one who’s caused the gang a good deal of nonsense. Remember the first we really saw a lot of Craig he got himself shot? Yeah.
J goes to see Baz, worrying about the Smurf trouble. Knowing he went back on his own after the kid was gone. Baz suddenly plays the family card, after usually keeping J at arm’s length. Now he’s ready to trust him. Hope the kid is up to the task. Playing in the rough game his uncles do is dangerous shit.
Then there’s Smurf, going off the deep end. She has a cattle prod, pumping the storage locker attendant full of voltage to get answers about what happened during the robbery. She discovers it was indeed Baz, that he was alone. She also shows the guy a picture of J, but he didn’t see him there. “Thank you,” Smurf says before heading back to the car. Where little Lena Roo (Aamya Deva Keroles) sits with headphones on. Lord, what a piece of work.
The Cody gang are now pirates. Heading out to jack a boat. Craig leads them on the job, acting more responsible than we’ve ever seen him. He isn’t exactly the hard, heavy handed leader that we see in his mother. I guess he’s trying, at least. He wants to be taken seriously by his brothers, to prove to Smurf he isn’t useless, either.
And Smurf, she’s plotting the next step in her conflict with Baz. The father, as usual, isn’t around to take care of his daughter. He’s actually watching the place. He heads inside after Smurf leaves, to find the gun stashed in the fridge. Shit, man. He’s really escalating this little war. Would he go so far as to implicate Smurf in something, or perhaps turn in evidence to drop the law on her? Whoooa, if so.
Out on the open sea, Craig plays his role as member of the staff. Pouring drinks, being polite and tending to the newly married couple celebrating. All is well. On the boat he rented under a fake ID, Nicky is practising her lines, then she calls out to the response of the US Coast Guard. A nice distraction while there’s trouble on the ocean elsewhere. Craig’s setting everything in motion, throwing lines over the side and heading down below to cut off the boat’s communications, the rest of the sabotage required.
Pic 3All the while Baz is taking a walk out to a hill in the middle of nowhere. Looks very familiar. Maybe like the place where Javi was shot in the head, buried. Is he going to dig up the body? Seems to have brought the right gear – a shovel, a suit to keep from getting anything on him. Oh, my. Baz… this is fucking intense, dude. He digs the body out, puts a bullet in the head with the gun from the fridge, then covers it all back up. Not what I expected exactly. Still wild.
Simultaneously Smurf is at his place, searching for anything at all. She looks everything, top to bottom. Wonder if she’ll come across anything. Barry was dumb enough to let himself be seen at the storage unit. What else did he forget?
The ship is stopping, just like Craig planned. Out on the smaller boat, Nicky fumbles around acting innocently dumb for the Coast Guard who are towing her back. Then we’ve got the rest of the boys, Sea-Dooing to the ship. They’ve even got clear, creepy masks! They zip tie the crew, Pope controls the captain and the bridge, as Deran looks after the crowd with Marco, using his Spanish speaking skills. Then Craig is used as a decoy, getting his face and ribs beat in by Pope and Marco; the latter seeming to pile on more than agreed.
Nevertheless, the job goes over after the money, the jewellery, everything’s collected. When one woman will not give over her ring, Marco cuts the finger off with the ring intact. Fuck, that is horrifying. This went from a robbery to a bit of torture. Craig seems fine with it. Glad they’ve got shit done. I only wonder how far the Cody gang is willing to go morally. Doesn’t sit well with Pope afterwards, though. Of all people!
Pic 4What’s with Baz spending up cash? He’s bought a car, a house for him and Lucy (Carolina Guerra). Well, the house is a place for him to stash all his earnings. As well as the massive haul from Smurf’s storage unit. Although I’m not sure if Lucy’s down. It semi-impresses, and also freaks her out, I think.
And J, my lord, J! He’s become such a jaded part of the gang. When Smurf asks if there were any problems on the latest job, he dumps the ring finger out on the table. Then watches her throw it down the garbage disposal with some bleach. Also, he took a picture of the loot on his phone. Yikes. Not a good idea, bro.
Later he goes to see an old friend, his previous neighbour Dina (Karen Malina White). They’re having a bit of dinner together, for old time’s sake; something they’ve been doing lately, apparently.  Then he goes to her bathroom. Under the sink, in a secret stash he hides some jewellery. Where there’s already several stacks of cash. Hmm. Maybe the kid’s planning not to be part of the Cody shit show much longer.
Celebrating at the bar, J gets closer to Nicky while Craig rails coke, Pope goes home for an early night, and Deran swipes around on Tinder until he finds a guy to fuck. All’s good in the land of the Codys. Although Pope isn’t actually gone home. He’s off to see Amy (Jennifer Landon), having grim visions of making love to her mixed with killing Catherine. He isn’t doing so hot after all. And J, he runs into uncle Deran giving a blowjob this time rather than getting one; no animosity anymore, since he’s come out of the closet. Oh, and Craig’s trying to get a second chance from Renn. A very tenuous, rocky one, but a second chance nonetheless.
Not to mention he asks Renn on a trip to Vegas. Maybe he’s turning a leaf. Or maybe he’s just finding other ways to be irresponsible.
Pic 5Now, Baz tells Lucy he wants to leave with her. Go to Mexico, move in her with her, her son, Lena. A happy little life, away from the family, and away from Smurf.
Goddamn. Is this the ultimate plan? To get Smurf put away, then take off down south of the border? Might be a good plan, if I didn’t think she was slippery enough to get out of it all unscathed. There’s no telling to what lengths she’ll go in order to save herself. And Baz might’ve been adopted by her, taken in from a terrible family.
But remember: he ain’t real family.
Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 12.19.31 AMWow, this was another intense slice of Animal Kingdom! A couple real interesting developments happening, from Nicky and J, as well as J and Deran sort of getting closer and less fist-to-fist, plus Pope’s mental state and now Baz v. Smurf. SO MUCH GOING DOWN. It’s unreal. Great Season 2, can’t wait to see how it closes out. We already know Season 3 is a go, that leaves me excited for how we’re going to head into a third outing. I’m feeling there’ll be a very suspenseful, suspicious, paranoid third season if things continue this route.
“The Leopard” is next week. Can hardly wait!

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 8: “Holes”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 8: “Holes”
Directed by Maja Vrvilo
Written by Mark Stegemann

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Pig” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, ” Puzzle Piece” – click here
Pic 1What are things like in Hell? Eugene (Ian Colletti) is buffed up a bit, using the time to work out. He’s got a TRACY tattoo across his back. He’s like one of those tough guys you see in a prison movies, a veteran of the block. He and Hitler (Noah Taylor) aren’t as buddy-buddy as they were before. But y’know, shit happens. Here, you aren’t allowed to be nice, either. Not to anybody. It’s Hell, for fuck sakes!
Ah, hell is changing Eugene. Not totally, but it’s changing him. The guy who doesn’t deserve to be there has now become indoctrinated into the life. A familiar story, paralleled well here through Eugene’s days in Hell. He’s just playing the game, though. Go along to get along.
Pic 1AFlashback to 1946, as Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) looks over tiny newborn Denis in the hospital. His boy. In present day, Denis (Ronald Guttman) is old, on death’s door. He hates his father, even more now that he won’t be granting his son eternal life. Flat out refusing. Because he knows the pain of being immortal. Living forever isn’t so great when you’ve also got to deal with lost love, unrequited love, mistakes, failures, deaths, so on. It’ll get ugly.
Poor Tulip (Ruth Negga) isn’t doing so hot, either. She’s having nightmares about the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) attacking her. But, of course, she pretends she’s fine, always strong to the point of stubbornness.
What about Jesse (Dominic Cooper)? He’s still chasing God. Looking for clues anywhere possible. All the while he’s being watched by Hoover (Malcolm Barrett) and Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery) from the Grail. The priest is trying to get the fake God video blown up, examined; hoping to get a serial number off the gun.
Down in Hell, the inmates are almost back in their own “personal” little Hells. Apparently they’ve also discovered someone isn’t supposed to be there. Somebody “doesnt belong in Hell.” Eugene almost raises his hand when they’re asked, but doesn’t; Hitler notices. Thus begins an investigation. A bunch of inmates plead their case to each other, as the higher-ups figure it all out. Love the little touches in Hell – you get a basketball hoop, but a half deflated basketball. When Hitler asks Eugene about his story, he sees the kid doesn’t belong, he can tell. This ain’t gonna be good.
Pic 2Cassidy starts asking Tulip about his immortality, wondering if she ever wanted to live forever. Trying to see other opinions. She gives us the typical “nothing to be afraid of” line. To which Cassidy replies: “Things still hurt.” Everything from that unrequited love to the sun, can’t even go enjoy the beach anymore. The pain of immortality comes through in this scene, by way of Joseph Gilgun’s powerful, quiet acting.
At the video shop, Jesse doesn’t luck out on a serial number – no identifying marks, the number’s scratched off. Nothing to go on, no closer to God than before. So the preacher goes over the footage with the guys at the shop himself. He spots a reflection of a face. Hmm.
Eugene gets tossed into a worse part of Hell, into an extrapolator. A deep, dark hole. It’s there he’s transported back to that moment with Tracy Loach (Gianna LePera) before she’s about to blow her face off. He talks her out of it, putting the gun away. She calms down. Then he goes for a kiss. Instead of rejection, this time she accepts it, they embrace. Then they sing “Closing Time” by Semisonic together, so happy.
Well, until Jesse shows up. Or, God as Tracy calls him. She’s promised herself to him. Oh, lord. This is a real thumb in the eye to Eugene. He’s also worries that she’s calling the preacher God. This drives him mad, watching the two of them nearly fuck in front of him. Forcing Eugene to pick up the gun, to blow his face off.
Pic 3Tulip just about runs into the Grail operatives, after knocking on the apartment door next to Denis’ place. She’s trying to fix the bullet holes from the Saint. Well, she does run into them. Just not as themselves. Close call. Tulip and Lara actually bond for a second there, too.
The video shop lads come up with nothing. The face Jesse thought he saw is just a coffee pot. And so there’s nothing to help from here. The stress is starting to show. If only he noticed the PROPERTY OF GRAIL INDUSTRIES stamp on the DVD, might put him on the path to discovering the company, the men in white with whom he previously tangled.
At the apartment, papa Cassidy’s made a decision. Finally. He can’t handle watching his son die, so awfully. Not when he’s got a way to alleviate it, despite what’ll come with that later. Will he bite? Or will he kill?
Pic 4Man, this was a heavy episode. Loving these bits of the story with Cassidy, fleshing out the concept of what it would be for a vampire to be immortal, living amongst humans. Never thought of one having a child. So cool! Love this series. Preacher gets better with age. “Puzzle Piece” is next week. I have a feeling there’ll be some coming together, as per the name. Maybe a genuine piece of the puzzle will come to Jesse, or somebody else.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 9: “Custody”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 9: “Custody”
Directed by Gary B. Goldman
Written by Etan Frankel

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Grace” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Treasure” – click here
Pic 1Oh, the Cody lads are at it again! Having a bit of extreme sports-style fun, racing Sea-Doos together. Well, at least J (Finn Cole), Deran (Jake Weary), Pope (Shawn Hatosy), and Craig (Ben Robson) are having a laugh together. They’re actually scouting out the boat where Craig got the job, their next target for the upcoming job. Baz (Scott Speedman) isn’t around, though. The boys aren’t entirely pleased. At least Deran isn’t, Pope is fairly sure their adopted bro isn’t going to be down for the job. Not with the way his life’s been lately. Troubling things beginning to come to light.
Then there’s Nicky (Molly Gordon), she’s out looking at guns in a shop. As in serious fucking guns. You know who she’s starting to act and sound like? Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Only she’s not as smart as the older woman yet, she isn’t as experienced. This might either be her corruption, or her total downfall. I worry and wonder.
Pic 1AThe gang gets together talking over the job, Baz doesn’t take the thing hugely serious knowing Craig is behind the brains. But the dude’s got things covered, he’s trying to pull his weight in the family to prove he’s not a total fuck up. The crowd’s a bit bigger than they’re used to, though the man with the plan has an idea: he’ll get the shit kicked out of them to control people. Lucky for one of his brothers. Except for the fact Baz is out. Neither are the rest happy with the fact Nicky’s supposedly part of the job. Risky shit.
Suddenly Pope is willing to defend Smurf, saying she might’ve taken Catherine out for him, to protect them all. Not knowing the truth, Baz insists on not letting her “get away” with all she’s done. He wants Pope with him. Reluctantly, the adopted brother agrees. Knowing in his heart what he’s done. What Smurf had him do, what they conspired to do together.
Deran isn’t ready to accept Nicky working with them. He also isn’t sure they can pull the job without Baz, the only one of the group who can speak Spanish. Other than that they’ve got no one to trust who speaks the language. Deran knows a guy from juvenile detention who might fit the bill.
Oh, and Baz? He’s readying to pull a job on his own: ripping off Smurf.
Speaking of the big boss lady, she’s assuring Pope there is no heat coming for Baz. Per a “cop friend” she says. The look in Pope’s eyes, you can just see how confused and tortured and twisted up he is inside. He gives mom a hug, but there’s this vacant look that shows the guilt, bottled up down in the darkness of his gut. It’s powerful. She enjoys the hug, the first in a long time. She doesn’t recognise what she’s done to him over the years. She made a monster.
Pic 2The boys go to mom to get their money laundered. Deran would rather not, Craig wants to get the job done, one way or another. Meanwhile, Baz is trying to keep at least one person on his side, as he picks J up to help him with his shit.
Craig tells Nicky a story about 8-years old, pulling his first job with dear ole mom. Afterwards they went to Toys-R-Us with a $1K wad. Jesus fucking christ, no wonder he’s absolutely messed up. His life’s been a goddamn mess. Smurf’s truly and wholly corrupted her family, just about from day one. Later, he and Deran go meet Rafael (Scotty Tovar) for a hopeful Spanish connection. Their lives are on completely different paths now. “You see me turn into that guy put a bullet in my head,” says Deran. It was a hot minute ago he was talking about getting out of the life of a thief.
Baz takes J with him to the storage unit; yeah, that one. Doesn’t the kid already know this is where grandma has a space? He reluctantly helps his possible father cut a way through to the safes inside. Tons of money just sitting there, waiting for the taking. Baz uses this opportunity to make sure the kid knows: “Smurfs needs you, not the other way around. Remember that.”
What about Pope? He’s headed to the sheriff’s station. Almost as if he’s about to turn himself in. Then he goes to see Amy (Jennifer Landon). Calling himself a coward. He tells her he worries about his family falling apart, that he’s not strong enough to keep it from happening. And that it’s all his fault. Part of that’s true.
Pic 3Smurf gets a call and has to run out. Down at an apartment building in town she’s found Jake (Jack Conley). She gets the jump on his ass, Tasering him in the shower. Ouch. Bad enough getting the shock, really rough to get it while totally wet. More than that she makes him choose a knee, before popping a bullet into the other one. No more running, Jakey.
Pope gets an upfront view of Amy’s life, her mistakes, her failures. This is why he’s fallen in love with her, he sees the warts and all view. He equates what he’s done with what she did, and they’re not on the same level. Not in the slightest. When he’s willingly murdered; not in self defence, but out of self preservation in the most selfish sense. Amy made a mistake that forever altered her life for the worse, one she’s dealing with and accepting every waking moment.
Deran and Craig are trying to get their buddy Marco (J.J. Soria) to help them on the boat job. They need their Spanish connection. He’s not so willing, not anymore. These aren’t the old days. So the Cody boys pump liquor into him to get their answer. Relying on them agreeing to help him move some drugs. Uh oh. That ain’t their wheelhouse. Could mean bigger heat, bigger trouble than they’re used to with robberies. Also equals bigger consequences.
Now Baz has himself a shadow, as J follows him after their storage unit job. I can’t tell if he’s going to tell grandma. She’s just discovering the theft of every single bit of her stash. Baz is ready to hit her where it hurts, deep. A civil war amongst the gang. Gonna get nasty.
COVERAnother excellent episode in Season 2. Recently, TNT confirmed they’re giving Animal Kingdom a Season 3, so we’ll see plenty more of the Codys, what drives them, where they’re headed. So much more. And there’s still plenty of deviousness left in these last episodes of this season. It’ll get wilder yet.

Preacher – Season 2, Episode 7: “Pig”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 2, Episode 7: “Pig”
Directed by Wayne Yip
Written by Olivia Dufault

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Sokosha” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Holes” – click here
Pic 1Fittingly, we open on a pig. In Vietnam. A man and his wife bicker in a small hut over cooking. The woman starts screaming, calling her husband over, as they gawk in horror.
Cut to Herr Starr (Pip Torrens), a one-eyed man in a crisp white suit. He’s led into the jungle to the hut we saw the previous night. People speaking of “a miracle.” The pig is floating, like a helium-filled balloon. And while others rejoice, Starr’s not enthused. “Shit,” he mutters to himself. Is this God’s power loose? Or something else entirely?
Oh, we’ll see.
Pic 1ANew Orleans is a mess, as people lie drunk in the streets. Piled onto carts driven around by people taking them to safety. We head to the last jazz club in New Orleans, where we find Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), and Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga). The vamp suggests they “have some fun” rather than constantly searching for God, especially after their latest troubles.
So where do they go? A place called the hurt Locker. Where they have some… unconventional fun. Cassidy plays Tulip’s boyfriend, and the vamp steps in to get shot with a gun. Bulletproof vest and all. Afterwards, our preacher pops by playing his part in their little grift. When the lady talks a good game, this puts Cassidy up against their biggest gun. Something that would make Dirty Harry wince.
When he takes a bullet, through and through, he dies. Or at least that’s how they play it off for the unsuspecting audience. Before they give him a juice box of blood. But that kiss Tulip laid on him? Yikes. It hit the lad hard, neither did it sit quite right with Jesse.
Tulip: “Oh, Im sorry, I didnt realise this was Ladies Night. Now I gotta bunch amoney, and you got a bunch aguns. So why dont yall stop beina bunch abitches and shoot my boyfriend?”
Cassidy, and his son Denis (Ronald Guttman), have a talk at the bar. Turns out the old man’s dying. He thinks the vampire is a selfish dad. It’ll be fixed if he can live forever. Something the absentee father will not do. Wholly refuses, angry even.
Back to Starr. He’s investigating people praying to the pig. We see a flashback to 2004, hearing a bit of his tortured past as he’s interviewed for a position with the ominous group Grail; a 2000-year-old group. Part of anti-terrorism unit, a military man. He has obsession with “absolute order” and discipline, he’s a really fun guy. All this leads to some sort of fascist religious militant group. Scary shit.
Pic 2Tulip is having nightmares, flashes of the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) holding her by the throat, a sky of raining bloody fingers like “french fries” as she later describes. Her encounter with the cowboy’s left her scarred, emotionally, mentally. He haunts her inescapably. She’s such a tough woman that it’s scary when something scares her this much. Makes me uncomfortable.
And Cassidy? He winds up being taken to the morgue, drunk, half shot up, assumed dead. Stuck in a drawer.
Back to Starr, and his pierced nipples with a chain linking them, in ’04. A hopeful Grail recruit. He’s put through an obstacle course, made to throw a medicine ball against a wall repeatedly. Later, all the recruits are made to wrestle with a tough young man. Starr steps in, jerks off as his opponent chokes him, distracting long enough to kick the living shit out of him. On to the “art of seduction” and that yields more interesting stuff from Starr, whose direct and brutal response to a woman is straight to the threats. He’s also not adverse to having jumper cables and a battery connected to his bare testicles. The man is perfectly psychopathic, in every way.
He’s welcomed into the fold at Grail happily. Although Starr’s not too interested in their talk of Christ, until the Grail’s main man Saltonstall (Fredric Lehne) tells him Christ is alive and well, guarded by this militant group. Preparing for the apocalypse. Oh, mercy. Well, this explains them sending him out to investigate stuff like the floating pig, et cetera. He takes care of “false prophets” and their narratives, in order to ensure belief in Jesus Christ. The Grail’s killed people like Abraham Lincoln throughout history, all for their agenda. Starr takes over after he tosses Saltonstall to his death from a balcony. Makes sense, he’s not the order taking-type.
Pic 3Jesse speaks with a Doomsday preacher (John Ales) on the corner of a street, giving out his thoughts on scripture. Our preacher asks him about the end of the world, something of which he’s been thinking a lot lately.
At the hospital, Cassidy’ s turned loose finally after being discovered in the morgue’s drawers. He’s also thinking of things, like life and death. When you’re immortal, death isn’t exactly something you think of much, or even know about after so long. Sad to see him worried for Denis.
The most worrying? Tulip returns to the bar, she puts on a vest. But she doesn’t see just any man pulling the trigger of the gun on her. She sees the Saint of Killers staring her down. And yet she still gets up. Tough as nails, asking for more like a fucked up Oliver Twist.
What is more frightening than who we are and what we done?”
Pic 4In Vietnam, Herr Starr has killed the whole village to conceal the existence of the pig, as well as the pig itself. Where’s he off to next? Well, he’s gotten word about Jesse Custer. Meanwhile, the pig story, the village, it’s all explained in a natural sounding way. To cover up a massacre. Plus, that massacre is headed the preacher’s way soon.
Pic 5Fun episode. It builds on Tulip’s latest troubles, Jesse and his relentless search for God, his obsessions, and now we’re introduced to Herr Starr, a nasty, brutish man who’s also fun in a creepy kinda way. “Holes” is next. Wonder how things will go from here. Curious to see how things go for Cassidy, too. He’s losing Denis, he’s in love with Tulip. Christ. Sticky situations, all around.

Top of the Lake – China Girl: Season Finale

BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 6
Directed by Ariel Kleiman
Written by Jane Campion & Gerard Lee

* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
Pic 1Robin (Elisabeth Moss) and Pyke (Ewen Leslie) have gotten much, much closer. Very intimate. Then Dt. Sgt. Griffin gets a call from Mary’s (Alice Englert) cell. Nobody says anything, voices yelling in the background. This freaks the parents out, not to mention they’ve been drinking so it’s not easy to think. Then Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) calls to tell her about the shooting at Silk 41. It’s all a bit much. They head out as quick as possible to the scene. No information’s available readily. One thing’s for sure: Mary is alive at least.
But the situation’s dire. Brett (Lincoln Vickery) has gone off his fucking rocker. No wonder he kept telling people to watch the news. At Silk 41, Miranda and Robin check the place out. Dang (Ling Cooper Tang) tells the police what happened, or at least bits and pieces. Cops are crawling all over, looking for evidence. Puss (David Dencik) is nowhere to be found, though there’s footage showing him leaving, without Mary like a coward. The footage also shows Dang’s partner shot. Except his body’s missing. They passed it on their way to the brothel, moved to a bench on the street after the fact. Now the hunt for Brett and his hostage begins.
Pic 1AMother Robin is worried. And still quite drunk. Her medical examiner friend poetically helps to give her hope, that Mary will be okay: “As youre my Queen, I am your servant, I tell you, she is not going to die.” Just a touch of hope.
Pyke goes to see Julia (Nicole Kidman) to tell her about the hostage situation. The parents are distraught, each worried for their girl and what could happen next. This springs them into action. Although there’s not much they’re able to do, it’s up to the police at this point. There’s also bit of information Julia doesn’t know, either. She hasn’t discovered the full extent of what Puss has been doing to Mary, pimping her out, shocked to hear the words “sex worker” linked to her daughter on the news.
The police are still trying to track down the room connected to the brothel, the one on the security camera where the Thai girls are being kept. Meanwhile, Julia and Pyke plead to the girls at school that may have information, anything useful at all. One of them tells the parents about Stasi Cafe, a place they used to go, where she met Puss.
The cops head to the beach where they suspect Brett might have gone, possibly hiding in plain sight. Robin and Miranda go out in plain clothes while Adrian (Clayton Jacobson) and the others wait in a surveillance vehicle. So many people on the beach in Sydney, it’s like a fleshy needle in the haystack. They find a case of beer from a photo of the beach spotted. Underneath is Brett, buried in sand. Before Miranda draws her weapon properly, he shoots her. Then Robin puts a gun to his head, demanding to know where he’s hidden her daughter.
Pic 2
Mary wakes up. She’s in her basement. She goes upstairs to the surprise of Julia, saying she isn’t able to stay long. Won’t let her mom call the police, either. Won’t talk. I worry for them, their relationship. No telling what Mary’s going to do from one minute to the next.
Either way – off she goes on her own again. And she took her passport.
At the hospital, Robin goes in to see Miranda, lying in bed unable to speak or do anything, unable to breathe on her own. Such a tragic way for this to have gone. Our detective sergeant blames herself, taking it all on her shoulders. However, she told Constable Hilmarson to draw her gun, Miranda didn’t listen, she hesitated. It’s a tough thing to accept, but true.
In the back of Stasi Cafe, Robin finds Puss hiding out. She slices him across the chest with a knife for pimping her daughter. Then he goes on a rant about Cinnamon, saying he did nothing, that his partners were the ones who put her in the suitcase. Things change with his faux masculinity, chauvinist bullshit when Robin puts a gun to his head. She sets him straight about a few things, like the fact Mary isn’t in love with Puss, she’s afraid. And the look on the man’s face afterwards is worth a million dollars; his ego shattered like fragile glass.
Pic 3They’ve tracked down the surrogate apartment, stashed away in some building. Inside is left a DVD marked PLAY ME. Simultaneously at the airport, Mary and the Thai girls with their big bellies are heading elsewhere, away from Sydney, away from the brothel. Not away from Puss, though. He’s pulled another greasy trick again, corralling all the girls toward the plane like he’s walking dogs, the misogynistic garbage that he is; nor does he offer Mary any apologies for how he treated her during the shooting. He slaps her across the face, prompting her to anger. She decides not to follow them, staying behind.
The DVD shows Puss talking about “vaginas” and “the West” exploiting Asian women. Exactly what he does. He talks like a cult leader in his thick German accent. This is why he shot the little movie, to put on a little show and tell the surrogate parents he’s flown away to Thailand, to a small village. Sadly the law is not on the side of the parents. The law says so, and the police’s hands are tied.
One good thing? Pyke and Julia have picked Mary up from the airport. She’s safe and sound, though you can still see Robin feels for the Thai girls swept away by that hideous, misogynist pimp under the guise of being their saviour. Sad, in many ways, not least of which is the fact those women, those girls, they believe in Puss.
Robin goes to see Mary. She also makes a bit of peace with Julia, if not tenuous. She also sees more of the fragility of relationships, how they’re messy; Pyke and Julia continue floating around one another despite all their troubles. No room for her, apparently. But the relationship that matters is the one involving her daughter. She takes pride in watching an old birthday of Mary as a little girl, seeing her grow up via video, better late than never. So all else pales in comparison when Robin’s discovered a ray of sunshine in the gloom of the world.
Plus a knock comes on the door for her as she sits alone in the evening. Is it Pyke? Is it Mary? Who knows.
Pic 4God, I love this series! I’d love to see another run, honestly. Maybe they could do another if Campion and Lee figure out a way to tell a last chapter in Robin Griffin’s story. We’ll see if there’s interest. Personally, I would dig it. Wouldn’t mind seeing her try tracking Puss down in Thailand or wherever they’re actually going.
For now, we have two fascinating seasons. This one went darker, more devious than the first, as well as extended that bit of Al Parker that came out in the final episode of Season 1 and put a cap on that plot very well. Cracking stuff.

Top of the Lake – China Girl: Episode 5

BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 5
Directed by Jane Campion
Written by Campion & Gerard Lee

* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 6, click here.
Pic 1Puss (David Dencik) comes to take Mary (Alice Englert) from Robin’s (Elisabeth Moss) place in the night. At the same time we see a surreal dream Robin has, of holding two tiny babies in her palms as she puts on a shirt, answering the door. She wakes, but the image sticks in her mind, as it does in ours. She has to break the news about their daughter leaving when Pyke (Ewen Leslie) gets there with food for breakfast. Poor dad is gonna snap soon enough. I’m surprised he hasn’t yet, he’s a good man; better than I.
Now they’ve figured out what’s going on, that Puss is prostituting Mary. Or trying to, anyways. Nearly too much for Pyke to bear. He and Robin have one another in the whole ordeal, even if Julia (Nicole Kidman) isn’t aware or into their closeness. Meanwhile, Robin’s trying her best as detective sergeant to properly put a case on the pimp, for Mary’s sake, for Cinnamon’s sake, for the sake of all the girls under his ’employ’ and those who might/will be in the future.
At least they’ve got Brett (Lincoln Vickery), he’s the only man who genuinely seems to care about the deceased China girl. He’s identifying specific marks for the police on the girl’s body, to prove it’s her, as well as to prove how well he knew her. He describes “a small gold cross” she wore constantly and some specific moles, among other specific details. Afterwards, Robin comes up against the creepy cop who wants to bed her, he’s insistent. We also see the casual misogyny of some men, as another detective says there’s “yes nos” when it comes to women; an example of the male gender not understanding that no means fucking no, full stop. Such good writing because it brings out that misogyny so many men don’t even understand is hateful towards women, erasing a woman’s right to make decisions for herself.
Pic 1ABrett is going absolutely crazy. He’s hallucinating Cinnamon, so much so he introduces his mother to her while clearly there’s not a soul there with him. That’s shocking, in such a sad way.
Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie) is having troubles, worrying about her baby. Not getting much sympathy from her supposed mentor. This puts the big lady on a warpath, no time for anyone’s bullshit. She questions a woman about Cinnamon, revealing that she was a “sex worker” who’s wound up dead. Then the constable trips out, scared for her baby and making a scene. This puts the two women at odds once more, Robin and Miranda both butting heads.
Nobody ever seems to ask about Robin’s story. So she reveals a bit of herself to the constable: she’s been pregnant 4 times, 3 of those miscarriages. Through it all they become honest with one another. Miranda reveals she isn’t having the baby, right now she’s wearing a fake stomach. Shit, I didn’t expect that. We see that the whole emotional bit for the constable involves the fact she had problems getting pregnant. She went through IVF, and worried the baby in Cinnamon’s belly was her surrogate daughter until it was revealed the fetus was a boy.
Robin: “I will haunt you
The psyche of Brett is further crumbling, worse by the hour. He’s back with his friends around the table again at the coffee shop. He’s still acting like Cinnamon is alive. Not just that, he’s filming everything. Telling people it’ll be “on the news.” This sort of freaks me out. Could Brett have done something to Cinnamon? Or is he merely having a psychological break after her death?
Pic 2Miranda: “Fuck love, its a disease. People die from it.”
Despite all the shit, Mary is still in love with Puss. She seems intent on being a part of that whole lifestyle at the brothel, like she actually believes it’ll be good to be a prostitute. At the same time she’s noticing things around Silk 41, how they operate. I wonder what happens when Dang (Ling Cooper Tang) feels she’s too much a liability.
One of the girls is leaving, going to Thailand. Puss and Dang’s partner take her to go. I wonder if she’s really going, or if it’s the same way Cinnamon was leaving with a suitcase. Mary wonders, too. The rift beginning to wedge between her and the pimp, finally. I hope it’s soon enough.
Pixie, the woman from the doctor’s office where Miranda had her freak out, isn’t answering her door. Everyone is outside waiting. So they bust inside, only to find her lying in bed, stone dead. Apparent suicide. A letter left to Miranda, involving people who’ve lost touch with surrogates. Devastating, yet this will hopefully help with the police investigation, and surely very worried couples.
Pic 3Coming home, Robin finds Puss waiting for her. To apologise, he says. She’s of course got her back up immediately. Then he asks about Cinnamon, the case. He tries deflecting onto someone else, to make himself seem innocent. Except he reeks of guilt. “You should do your job,” he says. Also the girl is Thai, which I suspected but did’t know for sure. Goes to show you the label of China girl is a slight racism, in how white people just assume Asian is Chinese, or sometimes Japanese.
Julia (Nicole Kidman) isn’t overly happy to know Pyke (Ewen Leslie) is having Robin over for dinner. Nor that the birth mother’s been seeing the daughter a bit as of late. The adoptive mother gets her back up. The so-called feminist doesn’t care to know anything about Robin’s story, about what happened to make her give up her child. Luckily, the detective sergeant can laugh things off. She and Pyke have a nice little bit of wine, cheese, grapes, they talk about his past. She even gets a look at Mary’s room, the place she grew up. A touching, heavy moment. Giving her a window into her daughter’s mind, her identity. And also a pregnancy test lying on the dresser: negative. Dad worries her daughter isn’t being safe, Robin worries she’s invading her daughter’s privacy.
Pic 4Looks like Puss is trying to make himself a movie, making a set look like the jungles in Thailand. He directs women and a bunch of screeching babies, shooting with the camera himself and not letting Mary or her friend help, bossing them around. Everything he does, he’s a woman hater; misogynistic, through and through.
Meanwhile, Robin and Pyke are trying to get talking with Mary. They see the pimp waiting for her outside school like a creep. Finally, dad loses his cool, confronting the man, who pumps out his idiotic rhetoric while Pyke professes the fatherly love he has for his girl. Honestly? Broke me a bit. Ewen Leslie is a damn fine actor, man!
Together later, Pyke and Robin fall into bed. Finally. He treats her with tenderness, as opposed to so many other men in her life, almost every one of them. Across the city, Brett continues hallucinating Cinnamon. Then he heads out on the bus, telling more people to watch the news tonight. I’m starting to really worry about this dude.
At Silk 41, Brett walks in with his gun drawn. Heading for Puss. The cowardly pimp pushes Mary in front of him, heading into an elevator. Just as the young man shoots at him.
Pic 5Holy fuck. Will Mary take the bullet? If so, will she die? Oh. My. Laaawd. I’ve not been this twisted up by a cliffhanger in ages. What a powerful moment, a scary one that nearly stopped my heart.

Top of the Lake – China Girl: Episode 4

BBC Two’s Top of the Lake
China Girl: Episode 4
Directed by Ariel Kleiman
Written by Jane Campion & Gerard Lee

* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
Pic 1Although my personal feeling about prostitution is that it’s slavery, I feel bad for Brett (Lincoln Vickery). He clearly used her services, at the brothel Silk 41. But there was more of a relationship between him and Cinnamon, he obviously cared about her deeper than seeing her as an object like so many men do. Not excusing his use of a brothel, I still feel buying women is wrong, full-stop. It’s hard not to see Brett’s feelings as a positive, though. When so many of these young women indentured to pimps have nobody who care about them, whatsoever. Maybe his care will lead to justice eventually.
The Edwards family are together, Julia (Nicole Kidman) and her lover, Mary (Alice Englert), Pyke (Ewen Leslie) and the rest. It’s a dad and daughter dance, a big deal for Pyke who’s been looking forward to it a long while. Mary heads off to see Puss (David Dencik) beforehand. Not impressing her father in the least. The man’s still up in his room sulking, refusing to come out. In a depressed funk. Says he’s “ending it” between him and Mary. He’s a pastiche of tired philosophical cliche, telling his fiancee he’s “gazing into the abyss and Im going to keep gazing until the abyss gazes back.” Such an edgy, Nietzsche quoting pimp. Suddenly that she’s turning 18, Puss starts mentioning her becoming a prostitute. He keeps telling women about being victims, all the while victimising them. A nasty fucking piece of work.
Pic 1ARobin (Elisabeth Moss) is happily getting herself inked at a tattoo shop, she even has a big smile on her face. She seems almost happier today, after the business with Al Parker recently. She’s still dealing with that same nonsense at work, though. She doesn’t particularly like working with Constable Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie), she doesn’t like that Adrian (Clayton Jacobson) and the constable are having an affair, nor that Miranda runs to him behind her back, or that she smokes and drinks while pregnant. Not to mention Robin knows about the relationship between her and Liam. Of course this leads to judgement about her own motherhood, without anyone knowing the real story of her pregnancy, that she was raped by several men at a young age. Man, this police partnership is tense.
Things get much worse over at the dad and daughter celebration. Pyke gets word Mary’s bringing Puss. So, y’know, that’s not gonna be incredibly awkward. You can see the utter disdain in Pyke’s eyes for the man trying to marry his daughter. The stares could kill. Immediately the pimp starts working his class war madness on one of Mary’s young friends. Always looking to get one over on women. Then he barges his way into a dance with marry, pushing dad out, as well as getting far too sexual on the dance floor. This starts a whole scene as Puss prances around like an asshole. When he gets tossed, she goes chasing him. Heartbreaking to watch.
Brett contacts the police about the “China girl” case. He tells Robin and Miranda about Silk 41, the connection between him and Cinnamon, that they had more of a relationship than a service provider and a customer. He’s actually got pictures of her at home, genuine clothes on pictures and sweet mementos. What’s more is that closer and closer Robin comes to Puss, the man trying to marry her daughter. Mary is actually brought up, Brett’s seen her with the violent pimp. The whole thing is a scary mess, between the prostitution and the illegal surrogacy operation. Fuck me.
Pic 2We see Mary has been brainwashed by Puss, trying to get Dang (Ling Cooper Tang) to let her work at the brothel. The den mother tells her that the pimp is a “sick guy” and she knows better, she knows the life, the truth of it; rape can easily happen in those rooms. Meanwhile she and her white dude partner know exactly what happened to Cinnamon, having pushed that suitcase into the ocean themselves. An ugly place. Mary’s basically begging to work, not realising the brutality.
Dang: “Once you choose this, its forever. No going back.”
Robin hits the beach with Pyke, they’re meant to be waiting for Mary, though the girl might not show. I wonder if the two parents might get a bit close. Nevertheless, Mary does arrive with the Chinese girls. As does Puss, which doesn’t thrill dad. He wants to run, but Robin stops him; he then sees the tattoo she got, Mary’s name and date of birth. Very interesting moment. Might be the start of a connection between these two. Pyke is such a caring man, it’s evident in every scene he’s onscreen.
Thus also begins the duel of Robin and Puss. His slick, pimp charm doesn’t work on a woman like her. She’s seen too much to fall for that bullshit. Then he cuts right at her heart, bringing up what Mary told him about her rape. He talks openly to her about it, she tries her best not to tear his face off. After that he bites HER face, clamping down onto the nose. Holy shit! Yet again misogyny, male violence rears its head on our poor Detective Sergeant Griffin.
At the hospital, Robin tells Pyke about Puss, the brothel, that the Chinese girls are prostitutes under him. This freaks the father out completely. Rightfully so, their daughter’s hanging around with a dangerous man, one who conspired to drop a girl’s dead body in a suitcase to the bottom of the ocean. Who knows what else he’s capable of doing.
Pic 3Felicity and Mike, the surrogate couple, are moving from their home after putting time into a baby room, which they won’t need now. Strange: there’s two beds. Where exactly was the other child coming from? Well, they’ve got several illegal surrogates. To make sure they have themselves a family. Turns out the baby in Cinnamon’s belly doesn’t match the hopeful parents. And there’s a middle man in the process of the surrogacy. Someone is connecting all of this together in a nasty little web.
Over at the brothel, Mary still wants to sell herself even if Dang doesn’t want her to do it. Puss then encourages her to go to the street. Is she blinded totally by love? Will this help her realise that this pimp cares nothing about her, that he’s only looking for a way to make money? I hope so. He’s already starting to hit her in the face, saying this is no worse than what “the Johns will do” to her. Typical sleazy misogynist, acting as if he’s empowering women while stripping their power, their identity, turning them into nothing except skin on sale. Horrifying stuff at this point with Mary caught in the middle.
She misses her birthday dinner being put out on the streets by Puss to prostitute herself. While Pyke, Julia, her lover sit home reminiscing on better days, their girl is out trying to force herself to do disgusting things for men.
Instead she’s kicked from a John’s car. She calls Robin to pick her up, the only one who’ll likely not judge her or rant and rave in anger. In the car, Mary comes across a picture of Cinnamon. This begins leading our young lady in the right direction, starting to discover the truly vicious side of life in the brothel. Perhaps the beginning of her understanding about Puss. Let’s hope. Roundabout Robin tells her daughter what to start doing, how to get away from the violent pimp safely. Only problem there? Love. But it’s clear Mary wants to get away. She’s like a junkie, knowing it’s bad for her and yet stuck in the inescapable undertow of it all.
Pic 4What a whopper of an episode. So many things happened, and the story’s really opening up into its full potential after the past sort of comes full circle, in many ways. Plus, after the Al Parker chapter of Robin’s life closed, she has a sort of freedom of spirit that’s not been present in awhile. Problems arise when there’s so much at stake now, her daughter in the mix heavily.