Warning! Spoilers for The Deuce ahead!
The story so far: Frankie Martino delivers a final message to his family in a way only he can. Vince makes a dangerous decision. Lori’s life continues to get more difficult as she faces new obstacles and dangers. Candy’s reunion with her son goes as expected. Paul tries to make amends as he deals with loss. After an incident involving Black Frankie, Mike decides to get tested.
There has always been an undercurrent of profound sadness on The Deuce. On a show that is focused on the lives of pimps, hookers, and porn stars, this is to be expected. Still, the show has managed to deliver some emotional gut punches over the course of its two plus seasons. The HBO drama is about more than feeling pity for people who have to do things they would rather not do for a living. The first season was a brutal look at Candy’s life, for example.
As the series its heads towards its final episode, it only makes sense there would be a deeper attachment to the cast. The story has taken place over the course of fifteen years. This has given viewers a chance to watch how characters have grown and changed. This is one of the greatest strengths of The Deuce. These are not just actors telling a story that lasts each season. There is a sense of genuine growth as things progress.
This is also what makes ‘This Trust Thing’ possibly the saddest episode of the series yet. Death is not new to The Deuce. From the shocking death of Thunder Thighs in season one to the “he had it coming to him” demise of C.C. in season two, the show has never shied away from killing off its most important characters. In that aspect, the final season has been no different. What has changed is each death is a reminder of how close the show is coming to the end.
It sounds selfish on the surface. In a way it is; The Deuce is one of the best shows on television. Nonetheless, there has always been a specific story to tell. The show was always meant to end after three seasons. This was not going to be another show that ran on for years longer than necessary. The impending end serves to reinforce that many times things do not end well for people. Not everyone has an epiphany that changes their outlook on life. Some people stay the same until the very end.
The sadness the episode will make viewers feel is also an indication of how strong the writing is. Since his introduction in the first season, each time Frankie has walked the streets alone has been filled with tension. It was also clear from the beginning of The Deuce someone was going to contract AIDS. Despite the fact the show is doing what is expected, there is never a sense of boredom. This is a classic case of the journey being more important that the destination. More often that not, the end result has not been in question. It has been about the stories along the way that have made the show so engaging. It is also what makes the show so gloomy.
The Deuce continues to be filled with strong performances. Maggie Gyllenhaal does a tremendous job in the sixth episode. All season, Candy has been working on her newest movie. She has had an idea for the story she wants to tell but has only had a vague notion as to how she wants to tell it. When she finally forms an idea of what she wants to do, she excitedly tells Harvey. Gyllenhaal does a great job of conveying the victory and satisfaction of the moment. These are powerful moments that are always great to watch.
As David Simon’s show nears the end, it continues to deliver. The strong storytelling of The Deuce has been especially stellar this season. It is not as much about stories reaching their natural ends as it is about the inescapable cycle of abuse that some people are forced to live. With only two episodes left, emotions are running high for everyone involved with The Deuce.