Amazon Prime TV review: Boss Season 2
Andrew Jones | On 03, Jul 2014
Tom Kane, the mayor of Chicago, is not a good man. He is not an honest man. He is not a healthy man.
When Starz’s Boss debuted its first season in 2011, the reaction was minimal; a small cable channel making a quiet and heavy drama about crime, corruption and politics with a ticking time-bomb of death wasn’t something people wanted to watch, despite having Kelsey Grammer as the Boss of Chicago. The opening episode, directed by series producer Gus Van Sant, was too subtle in its own ways, too relaxed to ever garner a strong audience.
Throughout its first season, the show told some interesting stories as Kane found someone to run as governor against the man who really wants to see his reign over – and inadvertently created a monster. There was murder, adultery and horrifying depths of corruption from all sides of every argument (and also that one member of the press who knows what is going on but can never find the break in their story). Season 1 did some good things, but never truly broke out; between a shortened run of 8 episodes and writing that was not as confident as required, its biggest saving grace was that Grammer put everything into the role of a man diagnosed with Lewy bodies (a degenerative neurological disorder) and got a Golden Globe out of it.
In Season 2, things have changed. With Kane’s closest adviser, Ezra Stone, dead, Kane’s visions of Stone talking to him only bring up the slow decline of his mental state as his brain begins to decay. His other aide, Kitty, has moved on, gotten herself pregnant and is looking to see Tom burn. Kane’s daughter, caught in a drug raid in the first season, is now under house arrest undergoing rehab, while Kane’s wife remains cold and distant. His new employees are adjusting to life, as he purposefully snatches an assistant from his rival, Alderman, to twist a political blade, while young upstart Ian Todd (Jonathan Groff) tries to make his wide-eyed, innocent way in the murky waters – and soon finds himself deep within the Kane legacy.
Boss remains dark and quiet, with rallying speeches briefly showing Grammer’s anger and vicious bite. His performance is stone-cold brilliant. As Tom Kane looks on the last run of his life, he wants the Chicago he was too busy playing the political game to create. He has all the power and crushes all who try to stop him. It is a simple premise, one that almost doesn’t work, but the people who go up against Tom Kane, and the battles they face, are fascinating.
A lot of the same stories and beats seem to have turned up in House of Cards, but while that show goes for the audacious and the extreme, Boss is considerably lower key, the indie movie to Netflix’s CGI blockbuster. As fun as House of Cards is, Boss’ drama, writing, performances and characters are much more enthralling – and Season 2 nails what Season 1 tried.
Alas, this is the final season as well as the second, and while the last few episodes do some solid wrapping up, Boss never hits all the finale-esque elements that you’d want from a show all about setting up the darkest payoffs for the good/bad guy. Even so, Boss Season 2 is a great piece of work, aesthetically and dramatically. With a full order of 10 episodes, the series tells a strong story – a continuation and a new, fresh breath at the same time. Boss is a show that most will never even know existed, a blip on the map, but if you spend time with it, you will discover a painfully underrated gem.
Where can I buy or rent Boss Season 2 online in the UK?
Season 1 of Boss is also available to stream on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Season 1 and Season 2 are both available on Google Play.