UK TV review: Show Me a Hero, Episode 3
Disturbing mob rage9
Josh Slater-Williams | On 31, Aug 2015
Already seen Episode 3? Read on at the bottom for spoilers.
This week’s Show Me a Hero opens with a moment of levity before heading back into the brawl, as a montage shows Nick’s repeated failure to get fellow Democrat politicians in the state to even take his calls. Oscar Isaac’s line delivery and physical gestures in this sequence are gold, and makes one wish the actor ends up in another comedy soon – a little of Llewyn Davis definitely seeps into the performance. Isaac aside, the quick-cut nature of the scene is also key to its success, and director Paul Haggis and his editors get across a lot of this great episode’s power through some potent, smart cutting.
One such example comes within minutes of Nick’s grimacing, coffee-spilling comedy routine. We’re now in September 1988 and Mary Dorman (Catherine Keener) is being interviewed in her home regarding her profile as one of the now most avid protestors of the mayor’s plans. Keener’s so far doing strong, subtle work, both playing against type and retaining some distinct mannerisms of her usual screen persona. Mary staunchly says to the journalist that the resistance to the housing isn’t about race, that “it’s an economic issue”. She’s currently one of the people who’ve been persuaded, hook line and sinker, by Vice Mayor Spallone’s (Alfred Molina) very carefully selected set of photographs that emphasise only the worst parts of the existing project housing. Mary ends her interview with the following line: “I just think you shouldn’t take people with one lifestyle and put them smack in the middle of a place with a different lifestyle.”
Who should Haggis then cut to but Carmen Febles (Ilfenesh Hadera)? She’s relocated home twice within just three episodes, catching a bus and looking longingly out the window at a young boy walking with a guardian. Yonkers is comparatively easier for her to make a living in than the Dominican Republic, but the weight of having her child away from her is taking its toll, especially when the boy’s father back there is seemingly trying to take him away.
The other notably biting cut between storylines also comes in the episode’s first half. With her husband dead and baby now born, Doreen (Natalie Paul) is in an office, desperately trying to arrange an actual home for her new family. “With the baby, you’re on our priority wait list,” she’s told, and she’s adamant that returning to her parents in New Jersey is not an option. “You don’t have anything?” she pleads. “Not in Yonkers,” says the gentleman. And then cut to Nick and Nay (Carla Quevedo) walking up porch steps to a house in the city. Nay asks who lives here. Nick says nobody and that it’s “been on the market forever”. Ouch.
Show Me a Hero is available to watch online in the UK on Google Play, blinkbox, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.
Spoilers and further consideration
– The Bush/Quayle billboard slathered in graffiti to the side of Carmen as she makes a phone call to the Dominican Republic is a nice, visually engaging period detail for a show that actually doesn’t seem all that interested in making its period details really stand out. Maybe it’s an intentional thing, given how some of its pressing issues are still so relevant today. Or maybe they just spent too much of the budget on props for Alfred Molina to stick in his mouth.
– Spallone will now be running as the Republican candidate in the next Yonkers election for mayor. In fairness, he’s a lot less terrifying than the current Republican candidates for President now.
– The direction in this episode (and the last one) is strong, the best Haggis has done in his career to date. But still, another Springsteen montage?
– As mentioned in the last two write-ups, these reviews are written with no foreshadowing or research into where exactly these real-life events actually lead to. This is particularly relevant, as Episode 3’s final scene returns to the in media res opening that began the first episode with Nick in the cemetery, some noticeably different shot perspectives, and a reveal that the sight that caught Nick off-guard was an apparent vision of what we infer to be his father. One shot that does stay the same in this revisit is the unsettling hold on the abandoned pager in the car, as several attempts at contact from 911 come through. It seems pretty clear that we’re going to come back to this cemetery scenario again, especially since when it actually takes place is still up in the air.
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