Warning! Spoilers for The Deuce below!
The story so far: Lori wants to be free of C.C. but is also frightened of him. She and Kiki seem to have come up with a plan that will satisfy all involved parties. Larry Brown seems to have been bitten by the acting bug. Vincent and Abby are trying to keep their relationship together but outside factors may be the determining factor. Frankie finds out he is not the business owner type while Candy still pushes forward wit her idea.
The entire second season of The Deuce has been an amazing experience with strong characters and multiple engrossing storylines. There have also been stand out performances over the course of the first four episodes. Still, the show has lacked that one breakout monologue that will stop the viewer in their tracks. ‘All You’ll Be Eating Is Cannibals’ fixes this by not having one head turning performance but four.The one weak spot of The Decue’s second season has been the returning Ashley’s story. There has been nothing wrong with Jamie Neumann’s portrayal of the former prostitute. The issue lies in the story itself. While it makes sense that Ashley would want to return to New York and help girls who are forced into her former line of work, it just has been uninteresting watching it play out.
The fifth episode of The Deuce confirms that Neumann has not been the problem. Previous episodes of the season have shown that Ashley is understandably not looking forward to a meeting with C.C. When she finally does have the inevitable confrontation with her former pimp, the two have an exchange that will be a highlight of the television year.
Neumann and Gary Carr play beautifully off each other in a powerful scene that adds to the terrifying presence of C.C. while also bringing dignity to Ashley’s character. It is a great moment that not only shows off the acting chops of both Neumann and Carr, but also shows that the tide may be turning for the arguably the biggest villain of the second season.Though he is not present in the scene, C.C. also plays a big role in one of the episode’s other big moments. Since going out to Los Angeles and winning an award, Lori has made it clear that she is ready to strike out on her own. The only problem is she has not made that clear to C.C. Lori has a short but emotional outburst in the episode explaining to Candy why it is not simple to move on with her life. Emily Meade has consistently been a highlight of The Deuce since it debuted and here she gives a stellar performance.
Overshadowed by the other performances is James Franco’s excellent work in the dual role of twins Frankie and Vincent. Frankie is mainly in the episode for comic relief (though he does make some decisions that will have long term ramifications) while Vincent gives a great speech to Abby explaining how things operate on the Deuce.
The episode’s finale is one of the most powerful in the show’s short history. One of the biggest stories has been about the growth of Candy and this season in particular has focused on her attempts to get her movie shot. The excellent writing has been bolstered by a magnificent performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal. The closing seconds of the episode will bring tears to many eyes.
The second season of The Deuce has been a lesson on how to make compelling television. The story, acting, and directing have all been top notch. Just when it looked like the show could not do anything better, it proceeds to top itself with a number of award worthy performances. The Deuce is the best show on television today.