If you would like to read my review of the last season, click here.
Synopsis: Times Square, 1977. After his early successes managing the Hi-Hat and French Parlor, Vincent is now proprietor of a new mob-backed disco, Club 366, while his girlfriend Abby has brought the nascent punk-rock culture into the Hi-Hat. Vincent’s twin brother, Frankie, remains a problem, “borrowing” money from Show Land, the sex emporium he manages, to pay off his debts. Candy, now a “triple threat” as a porn actress, producer and director, is looking to make more artful, ambitious adult films, over the objections of her collaborator, Harvey. C.C. pulls a con on Bernie Wolf, the director of a porn film starring Lori, to get her more money. Hoping to launch a more upscale gay nightclub, Paul looks to sever mob ties from his current bar. Alston, now a homicide detective, is approached by Gene Goldman, a civil servant appointed by Mayor Koch to clean up Times Square. (HBO)
Writers: David Simon and George Pelecanos
Director: Alex Hall
Running Time: 59mins
Airs: Sundays at 9pm on HBO Canada (Canada)/HBO (United States)
So we are back for a new season. If there was one negative about last season, it would be that it had to juggle way too many characters which left its two biggest names, James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, more or less buried under everything else going on. At least this episode is already an improvement over most of Season 1 as it gave Franco and Gyllenhaal, as Vincent/Frankie Martino and Candy respectively, more of a chance to shine as it mostly focused on them.
It’s been 5 years since Season 1 and Candy has now become more of a household name in the adult film industry and was now considered a triple threat, actor, director, and producer, but she was getting bored of acting. The episode started with her going to a disco ran by Vincent and backed by Pipolo. It should not come as much of a surprise to hear that Frankie is still a deadbeat, seeing that he had to steal from the sex emporium where he worked to pay off his debts. The remainder of the episode saw Vincent looking for Frankie as everyone else was looking for the money. Meanwhile, Abby was busy running the Hi-Hat for Vincent and adding her own flare.
The pimps were still being pimpy. Lori’s fame has gotten to C.C.’s head but he was still in control although that control was slipping. Darlene was still trying to continue her education, getting a GED certificate. Candy was becoming a more ambitious filmmaker which wasn’t sitting well with Wasserman as he believed that her perspective was alienating male audiences. During a shoot, C.C. pulled an elaborate con on the director to try to squeeze more money out of him.
Alston was now a homicide detective investigating the homicide of a tourist. Once there, he was approached by a man named Gene Goldman (Luke Kirby), a civil servant appointed by Mayor Koch to clean up Times Square. This wasn’t the first time that the local government has attempted this so Alston was skeptical. While investigating the case, Alston reacquainted himself with his old beat.
Paul was looking to distance himself from the mob in order to build a more upscale gay nightclub. Frankie resurfaced at the disco to reveal that he stole the money to buy a ring for his new floozy wife but he had every intention to work hard and pay it back. Vincent was not supportive of their union at first, however because of Abby, he came around and decided to forgive Frakie’s debt.
The episode ended with Vincent and Abby making love, intercut with Candy watching her latest movie.
Overall, this was a great episode that focused on the two (or three) main characters of the series and they were compelling to watch here.. Despite the time jump, things mostly stayed the same with Vincent stressing about Frankie and Candy taking her ambition to the next level. It will definitely be interesting to see where it goes. It’s unlikely that Frankie will live straight now and that Candy will still face some opposition. Meanwhile, the pimps are losing control but hopefully something bad won’t happen as a result. Alston’s on an island for now but we’ll see if this new mayor could really clean things up. This season is off to a great start.