THE DEUCE: EPISODE 6: WHY ME?
In this town, nothing’s dirty anymore. – Attorney
This was not your average Christmas episode of a television show, but if you expected it to be, I really have nothing to say to help you. It’s only October in 2017, but in 1970s New York City, the trees are out and the police are rounding up “prosts” all across the 14th Precinct.
In “Why Me,” Vincent Martino asks Rudy Pipolo how he became the chosen one to be the front for multiple operations, and also to manage a legitimate business at The Hi-Hat. Rudy says he’s trustworthy, when no one else is, comparing him to a parish priest at one point. While we know Vinny has his own problems, as I’ve written before, he’s as close to the moral compass of this show as we’re likely to get. The only exception is Chris Alston, who seems to be fairly upstanding, and he digs jazz, so he can’t be all bad.
Candy is off the street at the beginning of the hour and looking towards it again by the end of the episode. As much as she wants to work full time for (and more importantly to her, WITH) Harvey Wasserman, he simply doesn’t have that kind of opportunity available yet. The obscenity cases are being dismissed, as New York is going down a First Amendment road to explain pornography and pay-for-pleasure services.
It’s going to lead to an explosion in the adult film industry, which means Wasserman’s business is about to ignite in a big way.
The last thing Candy wants to do is return to turning tricks on the corner, but she might at least have to take Harvey up on the offer to work for his friend, a madam, who can ensure safety, cleanliness, and credibility in the clientele. She’s still bickering with her mother, even storming off mid-argument at one point, but her stress levels are reaching epic proportions. That said, she has a knack for the porn industry, and even brings Lori into the fold.
If you want to use a pimp’s woman, for anything, the man must be consulted and financially covered. C.C. made that fact clear when he busted into the shoot, demanded 200 dollars, plus 40 from the male actor in the scene for being with her. He was prepared to shut them down, because they needed a brunette, and Lori fit the bill after the regular had an emergency.
Similarly to C.C. and the movies, Larry Brown, Reggie Love, Rodney, and all the rest had to be talked into the massage parlor idea. Once they figured out how much profit there was to be made, it was time to offer up some ladies on a trial basis. We also now know Bobby Dwyer, Vinny, or no one else wielding any kind of authority at that establishment has any clue how it should work. When the women walk in and start pointing out all the problems, including thin walls, no lotion, and overly bright bulbs, Bobby seems dumbfounded.
Meanwhile, the 14th Precinct has orders from on high to keep every corner clean during the holiday season. No professionals walking the concrete, none on the asphalt, every single one of them heads to the wagon. And that’s what occurs, as Flannagan and Alston watch and wonder how it’s all working.
They also notice Lieutenant Sweeney walk into the new parlor, but they don’t hear what we hear. The police will be taking “our taste,” in the form of five hundred bucks a week. So, incase there was any doubt of the corruption of the boys in blue on The Deuce, those questions have been answered again.
Larry Brown proves he’s more reputable than most of the pimps, despite his reputation, which is another example of things not being as they seem, and about not believing what you hear. He’s a jerk, but he’s also a pimp. When he gives Darlene her “back pay” for the video fiasco, that’s something most of his colleagues wouldn’t have done. He hasn’t gotten violent with anyone, despite having opportunities to do so.
He’s just as scummy as the rest of the crew, but I’m more compelled by his actions and his form of pimp-morality than I am any of his pals.
He does suggest to Darlene, however, that they get into the movie business with her. She hated it the first time, and really doesn’t want to do it, and here again, C.C. probably belts her, but Larry just pleads his case. He may strong arm her in the end, but he’s behaving in a much more mature fashion at this juncture than some might expect.
As for Darlene, the episode ends with her sitting down on the bed in her room at the parlor, set to work. She hears the action in the adjoining room, looks to the walls, and sees items rustling as the sex gets a bit more aggressive. She then looks to the door, which means she looks into the camera in this case, and sighs. She has an expression of pure misery and disappointment on her face.
Is it possible that in this moment of solitude amidst hell, she realizes she should have stayed in North Carolina?
I wasn’t particularly invested in Rudy, Frankie, and Mike looking into the coin count from the various machines, nor in Rudy’s conflicts with other “allies” and bosses. It wasn’t poorly done, but it had no hook. Further, none of the Pipolo content has been interesting, and although it will end up going somewhere, right now it’s just a means to get us to the bar and get us to the massage parlor. Mike knowing “The Scorpion and the Frog” as Frankie didn’t was pretty great, though.
Abby and Vinny continue their strange relationship, this time enjoying Lou Reed and discussing the Velvet Underground after a night in bed. There’s chemistry between them on screen, and that’s a believable pairing. Also, Abby’s friendship with Paul was cool to see. He was honest with her about his arrest, and the two joked about Vincent, but that’s a duo that could be a lot of fun to spend time with when we’re not choking on the most prurient of content.
Harvey’s direction during the porn shoot may well have ruined porn for half the viewers of The Deuce. Anytime there’s a reminder of just how artificial the entire industry is, it shatters much of the appeal. I’m sure it didn’t affect many people, but anyone it did, that’s a good thing. Those inside that life largely despise it, whether it’s 1970 or 2017, and there’s so many smoke and mirror manipulations going on behind the scenes.
Sandra finally went out with Chris, and at the jazz club, Alston tells her he has a hell of a story for her. It’s the same one we saw last night, about police corruption, about the reasons behind the holiday collars, and about the problems no one knows about in New York City. What he tells her and what she writes will be fascinating, as we move down the stretch of the first season.
It wasn’t the best episode of the year, with too much mob content without adequate payoff, but it was still a good hour. It’s the most difficult watch on TV right now, but it’s exquisitely done. We’ll see soon enough whether Candy gets behind the camera anytime soon, whether Darlene steps in front of it again, and if the massage parlor ends up being the mistake we all expect it will be in the end.
I’m @JMartOutkick. I don’t want to be a source.