"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Riches: Friday Night Lights

For the second episode in a row, Wayne spends most of the episode separated from the rest of his family, cleaning up the messes he got in at the end of the first season. In fact, this is pretty much where it left off last episode, with Wayne trying to figure out what to do with Hugh and Dale while also trying to figure out how to dispose of poor Pete. Meanwhile, Dahlia, Nina, and the kids try to steal a van but are caught by a stressed out man with a big gun and an itchy trigger finger.

What this sets up is, in a lot of ways, a "scam of the week" episode, something I saw a lot of last season. But I get the feeling this might be the last one I see for a while, mainly because the "big scam," which is Hugh's massive development deal, is going to swallow up not only the Malloys, but everyone around them.

Don't get me wrong; I liked the scam of the week. As I saw last year, the Malloys' cons had a sense of whimsy to go along with the criminality, and this one was no exception. It's Friday night, in Blunt, Texas... you know what that means: high school football! Take a stolen Escalade, a returning hero, a fake raffle, and a coughing Sam in a wheelchair and you've got yourself a classic Malloy con. Add to that the efforts of Nina, who volunteered to stay behind with the family's captors, Bob and Amber Day; she broke out one of her "medicinal" joints and was able to stroll out when her stoned kidnappers decided to have the wildest makeup sex ever.

It was all a lot of fun... but they were rusty, weren't they? It was that waitress... the one in the coffee shop that figured out that Cael stole money from the old lady. They were teetering a bit when the "hero" that they were raising money for -- a former star player who needed surgery -- actually decided to show up for the game. But then the waitress saw them at the game and all hell broke loose. Cael has proven in the past that he's not that sharp or careful (it's ironic that, very early in the series, I used to think he was the smartest one), but Dahlia should have known that everyone in a Texas town comes for the Friday night football game. The old Dahlia, pre-prison, would have remembered that, and never approved the plan to begin with. Buffer life has made her mind dull, and she knows it.

See, here's where things in the story break down for me: Wayne buries Pete, frees himself from Dale, fixes the RV, picks up Nina, and shows up just in the nick of time to save his family from getting pummeled by an angry mob. And he's able to quiet the crowd all by himself, with a fake (?) gun and an FBI badge. That's been an issue with this show from the beginning... the Malloys seem to be good at digging themselves out of the holes they dig for themselves. It's almost as if they're better at ass saving than at grifting.

Then, there was the "setup moment," the one that establishes the rest of the season: Wayne convinces everyone that if they're the Riches for a few more months, they'll score big at the end. I mean, they were home free for Mexico! But if they drove to Mexico, the show would be over. So back to Eden Falls they go. It just seemed to be just a bit neat and clean, almost like an episode that introduces a new cast member to a show.

Other interesting stuff:

Dale complaining about the blisters on his hands as he and Wayne dig deeper in that fresh grave in order to bury Pete. Dale's got to be one of the daintiest brutes ever seen on TV. He doesn't mind killing people, but a cut on his hand sends the moron into fits.

Interesting how Dahlia made those quick calculations to see how much the Days would need to be happy. And, despite the fact that they needed to get out of Blunt in a hurry -- and could use the money -- they still dropped the money off at the Days' house before bolting. They're the nicest criminals ever, those Malloys...

Poor Kimmie... she's Panco's most clueless employee. If she only knew what was in Wayne's trunk...

Judging by the conversation she had with Cael, DiDi's enthusiasm about going back to Eden Falls isn't going to be all about the money, is it? Oh, and, as I saw at the end of the episode, Wayne thinks he'll be able to "deal with Dale" and his desire to be partners in crime with the Malloys. But he doesn't realize who he has on his side.

It's taken two episodes to sort out last season's messes. But from here on out, the stakes escalate. The show needs to lighten up a bit, given the original idea behind it, but it's likely things are going to get darker before they get lighter.

No comments: