Warning! Spoilers for The Deuce below!
The story so far: It seems like every relationship on the Deuce is fraught with problems. Vince seems to have found a picture perfect idyllic life for Abby and him, but she has different goals. Flanagan’s volatile affair reaches its logical conclusion and shows the type of person, friend, and cop Alston is. Candy is trying to figure out what to tell her son about her line of work. Lori is headed towards freedom – if C.C allows it. Plus, Bobby’s son, Irene, Shay, and Darlene have all see major impacts on the relationships in their lives.
The overarching story of ‘Nobody Has To Get Hurt’ is the relationship between C.C. and Lori. The two have been an inseparable unit since The Deuce premiered. Through fear, coercion, mental games, and outright physical violence, C.C has made it a point to let Lori know he will always be a part of her life. Still, there are moments where it appears that Lori is more than just another of C.C’s “girls.”
Episode seven examines both sides of this relationship. Since entering the porn industry, Lori has become a hot commodity. Winning an AFFA Erotica Award for part in a porno has only increased her stature in the business. Her role in Candy’s Red Hot, seems like it will make her even more in demand.
Lori, C.C, and Lori’s film agent, Kiki, already have a business arrangement, but in the last episode, Lori was presented with an offer that would require C.C. no longer being a part of her professional life. It is the break the young starlet has been looking for but also cannot take on her own. In the seventh episode, C.C is given an offer he cannot refuse.
This offer also affects the more personal side of the relationship between the two. There are subtle signs that C.C. is bothered by what has happened. From his initial hesitance to accept the offer to the spoken and unspoken nostalgia. C.C. seems to recognize that he and Lori had more than a pimp-prostitute relationship.
Of course, C.C. being the type of person he is, there is also mental abuse and vulgar displays of power. As The Deuce has shown, the most powerful weapon in every pimp’s arsenal is their ability to demean the young ladies that work for them. C.C. has been an incredibly frightening character during season two and is at his absolute worst during this episode.
Emily Meade has done a fantastic job this season as the prostitute turned porn star. She has done a great job of delicately walking the line between someone who is ready to move on with their life but who is barely brave enough to get out of bed. Her facial expressions have been particularly good and the range of emotions she shows in just her eyes is magnificent. Season two has seen C.C. try to mentally belittle her accomplishments and by the end of episode seven she looks shell shocked.
There is a sense of dread that is built in the cold opening of the episode that lasts up until its unexpected conclusion. For weeks now, The Deuce has had a darker undertone that seemed to culminate with the previous episode. If any, ‘Nobody Has To Get Hurt’ makes the feeling even more palatable. It initially seems obvious as to what is going to happen. The last scene is shocking and opens the doors for so many possibilities.
The Deuce has quietly become the best television show on today. It is so good that stand out performances from its ensemble cast and engaging stories can take a backseat for an episode or two, then will come back and push other stories to the background. There never seems to be anything good happening on the Deuce but on The Deuce everything is great.