Warning! Spoilers for The Deuce ahead!
The story so far: Lori faces a crossroads in her life and talks to Candy in order to figure out her next move. For her part, Candy is still trying to get her latest movie filmed. She finds more financing, but it comes with a heavy price. Vincent’s life is falling down around him. As The Deuce heads towards its final episode, the stakes in everyone’s lives seems to have risen.
After three seasons and fifteen in show years, The Deuce has come to an end. Each episode of the third season has hammered home the finality of this season. History has shown that closing out a series is no easy feat, however. Will the HBO drama go out strong or will it tarnish its legacy with a poor finale?
The Deuce has always been a show that lived in the moment. It’s characters were resigned to the situations they were in. There was no point in thinking about tomorrow when you are not even sure if you will make it past today. The final episode sees many characters examining their lives and thinking about the future.
The series finale is a very cathartic episode. People who have somehow managed to survive their very difficult lives have finally stopped to look ahead. Candy finally sheds some insight into her philosophy about life. For years she has refused the help of certain people while also loudly proclaiming it’s “just sex”. It was obviously a defense mechanism and it seemed clear why.
Candy has to make a major decision regarding her relationship with Hank. In doing so, she also discusses her fears and rationales. It is one of the most poignant moments of the entire series made all the more impressive by the work of Maggie Gyllenhaal. She exudes the power and pride of her character. Later, in a conversation with Harvey, she is incredulous and frustrated. It is a role packed with emotions that Gyllenhaal is able to pull off flawlessly.
Vincent Martino has also been one of the most important characters on the show. James Franco has played the character (and his twin brother Frankie) with a street smart sensibility. The third season has seen Vinnie’s life crumble around him. Everyone close to him has left him in one fashion or another.
Vinnie shines in ‘Finish It’. He is the one person on the show who has tried to look ahead. In the finale, it seems that he has found peace with himself. Franco does a great job of playing a character who is wistful about his life. There is no regret in Vinnie’s life and Franco uses gestures and glances to show how Vinnie feels about his past. It is a wonderful performance that sometimes get overshadowed since Franco is such a natural at the part.
The writing still keeps up the level of tension that has lingered the entire season. A simple scene like a person laying in bed or wagging a finger is enough to make the viewers cringe with what is about to happen. Mixed with the tension is the sadness that always follows these characters. Alston and Lori have particularly gut-wrenching moments.
As a series finale, the episode is excellent. The most important thing about ending a story is closure. This does not necessarily mean the character’s story is over. It is about delivering a satisfying conclusion to their arc in the plot. What makes The Deuce so impressive is it was not a single character study or one story. It was about a way of life; the show went over a unique period in time that defined lust and sex and used an ensemble cast to tell the tale.
The Deuce should go down as one of the best shows in television history. It took a hard look at the rise and fall of the Golden Age of pornography. The show did a tremendous job of showing how it affected all aspects of American life. It is a shame that there are so many viewing options in today’s world. The Deuce is must see television that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.