The penultimate episode of The Deuce’s first season arrives with many unanswered questions. There are changes happening on the Deuce, and everyone from the Mafia to the police are involved. The only definite is that the business of sex is about to change and everyone’s going to be affected.
The Story so Far: After a number of agonizing setbacks, Candy finally breaks into the film business. Unfortunately, she ends up as part of the cast. She also learns from Harvey (David Krumholtz) that there is a long amount of unpaid time between movie shoots. In order to help her out during these lean times, Harvey tells Candy to call a female pimp. Vincent gets help from the 14th Precinct in starting his new massage parlor. The lower courts make a huge obscenity ruling in favor of the growing pornography business. Officer Alston has been working with Sandra to figure out what is going on while trying to convince her he is more than just a source.
Episode 7: “Au Reservoir”: There have been many stories to tell in the first season of The Deuce and recently we’ve been seeing more of Abby. From the first episode, it’s been clear that she is a strong willed young woman. As the season has progressed, she’s shown herself to be unafraid of speaking her mind to anyone. It makes sense that she’d be so strong willed, since the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation movements of the 60’s are still relatively fresh. Control is very important to Abby, and at times it has appeared that she cares more about being in control that doing what is right. This is more evident in Episode 7 than it ever has been. She essentially lies to, then embarrasses, Vince for no other reason than to prove some sort of point to her parents. In previous episodes her personality has been kind of grating. Most of that seems to come from her naïvety about the world in which she now exists. In this episode, though, she comes off as unlikeable. With such talented writing, it’s probably intentional to further establish Abby’s growing pains.
Control has been a huge theme of the initial season of The Deuce and no where is this more apparent than with the pimps. Since they have been banned from the Vincent’s new parlor, it’s no surprise that the pimps are now little more than drivers for their prostitutes. While it’s funny hearing Rodney and C.C defend Fantasia as a great movie, there’s a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. In previous episodes we’ve seen the pimps go to violent extremes to prove how far-reaching their control is. The self-awareness to their current situation can only lead to disastrous results.
Compounding matters is the fact that the pimps have already begun losing some measure of control. Since taking on Lori, C.C has had a strained relationship with Ashley. That situation gets even worse in this episode, but it’s too early to tell who’ll take the brunt of it. Reggie Love also has to deal with various issues he has little control over, including a drug overdose and a scam that was being run under his nose. He seems to be the most upset by this apparent lack of control, having violent run-ins with Vincent, one of his prostitutes, and Leon. On top of everything, dirty films are about to make their big debut — the seminal (pun intended) Deepthroat is on the horizon — and much like Candy, Lori has become enamored with this new business.
One of the other big stories of the season has been Candy’s quest to break into the film industry as something other than a performer. She has been close in many of the previous episodes, only to have her chance taken away from her in the wort ways possible. Once again, Candy spends this episode seemingly on the verge of becoming a part of the film making process. She still has many questions involving the business, but she also takes a more active role in the production part of her latest film. She has also developed a friendship with Harvey. Initially, Harvey was just an adult film director who was Candy’s way into the business. He now seems like he has a genuine interest in getting to know Candy and helping her out. It is hard to trust any character on The Deuce, however Harvey doesn’t seem to have any ulterior motives. At least not yet…
Maggie Gyllenhaal, as Candy, also delivers possibly the most meta line of season. After Harvey asks her how things are going with her new pimp, she tells him, with no emotion, that “it’s just sex.” In a show about pimps and prostitutes it is no surprise that characters view sex as little more than a means to an end. What makes the line more poignant is earlier in the episode Candy’s rendezvous with a cold-hearted john is immediately followed by a more caring tryst involving Paul. Candy’s line perfectly encapsulates The Deuce’s and the 1970’s overall feeling about sex.
After using the last episode to take a breather and deal solely with set up, The Deuce comes back strong in the second to last episode of the season. There have been many individual stories to tell, but the main themes of the show have been control and change. What will change and who will be in control are questions that won’t be answered until the season finale.
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