Warning! Spoilers for The Deuce below!
The story so far: The first episode of the season caught viewers up with what the characters are doing while the last episode introduced potential storylines for the season. Larry Brown is contemplating his career options, while Candy continues to try to further her’s. Both are finding things a little more difficult than expected. Lori and Harvey are recognized for their hard work while Vincent and Abby seem to be struggling to stay together as they grow further apart.
There are so many characters on The Deuce that sometimes even the ones involved in major plot points run the risk of being forgotten. Chris Alston (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) has been an integral part of a story that can potentially have the greatest impact on the show. During the season premiere, Gene Goldman approached Alston to let him know that newly elected Mayor Koch wants to clean up Times Square. The homicide detective has been hesitant to work with the mayor’s office despite Goldman’s repeated attempts to convince him.
Gilliard performances have been great this season. Alston has shown a mixture of distrust and hesitation towards the Mayor’s office mixed with his natural inclination to help the city he lives in. Gilliard effortlessly glides between all the contrasting emotions, verbally sparring with Goldman effectively then explaining to his former partner Flanagan the importance of being a good policeman.This trend continues in the third episode as it is becoming clearer the city will no longer be turning a blind eye to the sex trade. Alston looks unimpressed by the news and calmly explains why the new plan to solve the problem means little to him. Gilliard’s performance is exceptional as he plays Alston as someone who is listening to what is happening – and may even agree that there is a issue – but at the same time will not fall for the same rhetoric. He never comes off as combative or foolish and it seems like Alston genuinely feels he is doing all he can to help New York.
The stars of episode three are C.C and Lori. The two have a great dynamic that continues as the two are separated for the first time since their chance encounter in the series premiere. Once again, the acting is spot on as Emily Meade does a great job. Lori has always had an air of quiet rebellion about her and over the course of one episode, viewers see just how independent she is. Lori is surprised, happy, anxious, and defiant when she experiences her first taste of freedom in years and Meade plays her role perfectly.
C.C. also continues along the same character arc. Since he was first introduced, C.C . has been played by Gary Carr with a supreme confidence that is only matched by his hostile insecurity. The episode’s cold open is a humorous scene with Lori. As the episode progresses, it becomes more frightening until the conclusion when it is unclear what C.C. will do. C.C. is an almost comical character, but Carr has turned him into a very frightening one.It seems like it would not be a complete episode of The Deuce without Candy being on the verge of something great before receiving an emotional gut punch. This happens yet again in an incredibly powerful scene that Maggie Gyllenhaal magnificently plays. Gyllenhaal goes from surprise, to resignation, to disgust with herself, to an almost odd sense of pride. It is as amazing as it is sad to watch.
There is nothing on television like The Deuce. Not content to just provide strong characters and stories, the show also deals with topical issues naturally despite its decades old setting. HBO has a plenty of strong shows in its lineup, and The Deuce sits comfortably beside them.
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