Quarry’s finale could pave the way for a truly epic second season
Helen Archer | On 18, Feb 2017Reading time: 4 mins
Warning: This contains spoilers. Not seen Quarry? Catch up with our spoiler-free look at the first four episodes of Quarry.
By the final episode of Quarry, the eight part series created by Graham Gordy and Michael D. Fuller, everything is tied up neatly – perhaps a little too neatly. Circling right back to the opening shot, in which our hero Mac Conway (Logan Marshall-Green) emerges from the Mississippi River and staggers over to shoot a man dead, the full context of that kill is filled in. But the last few minutes of the season go further, allowing us privileged knowledge which is kept from Conway, and which may well pave the way to a second season.
The final episode deals with the much-referred-to massacre at Quan Thang, a mission gone drastically wrong. Killing an entire village of fishermen, women, and children, while under the command of a corrupt and seemingly psychotic captain, was not what Mac and the ill-fated Arthur (Jamie Hector) signed up for, although they were given little choice but to annihilate the peaceful community. It is the memory of this that resulted in everything which was to come upon the vets’ arrival home – their inability to get jobs, to re-assimilate into civilian life, their susceptibility to the mysterious ‘Broker’ as killers-for-hire, Arthur’s death, and Mac’s PTSD, which would exhibit itself more and more startlingly as the weeks went on, until he was pointing a loaded rifle at his worried wife Joni (Jodi Balfour), before running naked into the street, taking cover behind cars outside his suburban home, hallucinating enemies from the battlefields of Vietnam.
The man Mac killed at the start of the programme turns out to be the commanding officer who forced his platoon into the murder of the Quan Thang innocents, and with his death, Mac feels a chapter has been closed. What the viewer soon discovers – that Peter Mullan’s Broker was actually the man behind the massacre, which secured him fertile and lucrative poppy fields – demonstrates that Mac has been a puppet for much longer than he can begin to imagine, and that the Broker is well and truly pulling his strings. That Mac can’t rid the drug of warfare from his veins, opting out of a safe-yet-square pool salesman’s job in order to keep working for the man who has, unbeknownst to him, ruined him for life, is the Broker’s final victory.
The subplots have been just as involving – if not more so. The tentative romance between one of the Broker’s men, Moses (Mustafa Shakir), and Arthur’s widow, Ruth (Nikki Amuka-Bird), was conflicted in nature – as Moses schooled Ruth’s angry and confused son Marcus on ways to survive as a black man, he ultimately betrayed the grieving family by taking off with their money. Meanwhile, Damon Herriman’s vulnerable gay gangster Buddy has provided both humour and vulnerability – a tough killer who always seemed on the brink of some sort of drug-induced existential breakdown, his proclivity for young men ultimately put him at more risk than the constant, brutal gun battles which were all part of a day’s work.
The performances, across the board, have been flawless. But the real stars of the show are cinematographer Pepe Avila del Pino and director Greg Yaitanes, who have created an immaculate deep southern aesthetic, conjuring up a Memphis of 1972 in all its sweaty detail, lingering on both the beauty and the violence, the lawlessness and the romance of the place. The action is set to a constant background of TV and radio reports of the troubled era, from the terrible events of the Munich Olympics to the racist pushback of the integration of the Tennessee schools – all against the backdrop of an election campaign in which Nixon would prevail.
Aptly, the first season ends with a shot of Mac attempting to swim across the Mississippi River, honouring a bet which was made in a less complicated time. Whether we will find out if he makes it to the other side – something many men before him have tried and failed to do – remains to be seen. If Quarry isn’t recommissioned, it can hold its head high as a standalone, one-off series. If it does continue, it has gone above and beyond to lay the groundwork for a long-term story arc that could be truly epic.
Quarry Season 1 is available to watch on-demand through Sky Box Sets until Friday 10th March. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription. The contract-free service includes access to a range of Sky channels, from Sky Atlantic (The Young Pope) and Sky 1 (Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash) to FOX UK (The Walking Dead, Legion, 24: Legacy). A 7-day free trial is available for new subscribers.