Warning! Spoilers for The Deuce below!
The story so far: It is 1977, pornography and disco are all the rage, and life has changed on The Deuce. Girls no longer have to work the streets for money since movies and peep shows have provided new and potentially more profitable avenues. Vince Martino now owns multiple parlors and a disco. Candy has become a force in the porn industry in front of and behind the camera. The pimps are becoming increasingly insecure while females are being given more opportunities. Some things never change though as Frankie Martino is still causing problems for his twin brother.
Six years had passed since the stunning conclusion to season one and the season two premiere of The Deuce reintroduced its cast. David Simon’s show is always character driven, but the previous episode was more so than most since much time was spent catching the audience up with what everyone was now doing. There were definitely strong hints what direction the show will be headed this season, but overall it was more about getting reacquainted.
‘There’s an Art to This’ goes in the opposite direction and focuses on the stories that will be told. The Deuce does this through a great mix of checking in on the current lives of its characters while also cleverly using callbacks to the previous season. The most ingenious callback to the first season is in the cold open. Larry Brown waits at a bus stop in a scene that is eerily familiar. When he meets a young girl named Brenda who is new to the Big Apple, viewers know exactly what is about to happen. The entire opening is reminiscent of six years previous, but the brilliant payoff shows how much things have changed. The exchange also sets off a string of events that effects many characters.
Larry and Brenda are also featured in important moments of foreshadowing. Brenda is a fresh face off the bus that Lori sees as a threat. After six years working on the Deuce, Lori feels like she has paid her dues and has earned her place. Her fear of Brenda is similar to the worries the pimps had about pornography. The character is incredibly well written and her development is a mix of past experiences and current changes along with an uncertainty about the future.
Larry on the other hand, seems to know exactly what will be happening. After six years of refusing to admit it, Larry seems to have come to grips with the fact the pornography is not just a passing fad. In one of the episode’s many highlights, Larry explains why he has come to a life altering decision. His exchange with Candy is one of the best of The Deuce’s entire run.
Candy continues her crusade to bring change to pornography. True to character, what she is pushing for is not industry wide and continues to be a more personal evolution that the character has been about since she was first introduced. As is usually the case, Harvey is there to help her out and Candy gets some good advice. However, life continues to pimp slap Candy in the face.The episode is centered around setting up storylines for the season, but the acting remains tremendous. The commitment that Gyllenhaal brings to her role is amazing to watch. Candy lives a life that most are unable to relate to, but her personality and reactions are all painfully real. Franco continues to do a great job of playing two different characters while Gbenga Akinnagbe shows vulnerability and hidden insecurity.
The Deuce is the most consistent television show on the air. The actors constantly give great performances while the interweaving stories are always engaging. If you only watch one show on Sunday night’s, then The Deuce should be it.