Monday, November 12, 2007

"Drag queens are the worst.": Brotherhood

Episodes like this are pretty much the reason I watch Brotherhood and stick with it through the long, stultifyingly dull hours that often clog up the show's midseason. Brotherhood is a tragedy of inevitability and all of the storylines this season could lead only to this episode, where both Caffee brothers committed some pretty big sins and Colin was left to pick up the pieces of another situation.

My favorite storyline tonight, hands down, was Tommy's decision to go dirty in an attempt to win the election at any cost. I love when the show shows just how much like the underworld the world of politics can be (especially state politics). While it's not exactly the most original sentiment in the world, the show makes great work out of these sorts of stories. Tommy has been willing to do anything he can to hang on to his seat in the Legislature, and at some point, the lines between what was honorable and what was done just to get by started to blur. He completely crossed the line tonight when he seemingly played every dirty trick in the book to get the Hispanic vote (squared against him) suppressed. He went from going out and urging his supporters to vote to actively lying about how long the polls would be open and leaning on party chairs to close down those polls right at 9 p.m., regardless of who was in line. He even had his wife call prospective voters with misleading information about his opponent's stance on illegal immigration. Granted, he did all of this through surrogates (and almost certainly wasn't aware of what was being done on his behalf), but he seemed unconcerned with what he had done, and, indeed, almost happy that his underhanded tactics had worked. I don't know if the Tommy of the pilot would have done that, and the show's slow manipulation of this character into a position where he was fine with these sorts of things has been pretty masterful. Every single plotline in Tommy's storyline has moved him inevitably to this point, in an attempt to see what mattered more to him -- his job or his ethics. Now we know. (The one thing I could have done without was the last shot of someone throwing their "Re-elect Caffee" sign in the trash. Thanks for the heavyhanded symbolism, Brotherhood!)

Michael, meanwhile, couldn't go with Kath to the abortion clinic because he was with someone else, holding up a middle-aged couple (and I'll admit I didn't follow this storyline as closely -- I usually tune out the mob stuff). While I don't like the mob storylines on this show as a rule, I did find this one strong, largely because it showed Michael's seemingly growing distaste with his line of work. The guy he was working with was a real psycho, and when he roughed up the woman and later shot both her and her husband, Michael seemed disturbed. I hate shows where the criminals have hearts of gold, but Michael's beatdown in last season's finale probably gave him the sort of impetus he would need to change his entire world, and it seems he just might be slow in coming to that.

Colin and Kath going to the abortion clinic was also well-handled, in a mostly subdued manner. Television rarely makes abortion a background story, but this series portrayed it as almost another fact of life, to the point where Colin was trying to crack wise afterward. Kath's breakdown seemed to work, and I liked the idea that Michael couldn't be there. Obviously, he had other commitments, but he also seemed to have put the whole thing out of mind. Is this laying the ground for a Kath and Colin affair? Whatever keeps Brian F. O'Byrne around is fine by me.

Annabeth Gish floored me again with her work as Eileen, someone who seems to be trying to make up to her husband (or at least seems to be willing to play along with what he wants for appearances' sake). Eileen got to be the voice of reason in the whole ethics debate over the cold calls, and she got to do some great, silent acting (Gish is great at this sort of thing, and it reminds me of a nugget gleaned from the commentary track on the new Criterion edition of "Days of Heaven," where there's talk of how Terrence Malick always shoots several takes of his actors not doing dialogue, because he finds silent acting to often be better). Her final realization of her husband's mistress and who that mistress was was pretty terrific, and I loved the way she laughed and laughed, all the way into the elevator.

So now that everyone has betrayed their principles, where does that leave us in the final few episodes to come? Predictions for how this season shakes out?


sofa king said...

it is amazing to watch the changing characters of michael and tommy and eileen. hell, just about everyone. if i loved/hated you in season one, its now reversed. and i like the pace of this show. its like a slow burn...

i never do predictions, i just go where the show takes me.

but i haven't seen any ratings numbers for cable shows (do they even gather them?) is brotherhood strong enough to expect a third season? (i haven't read that it has been picked up.)

that might dictate what we see in the remaining eps. cliffhanger or closure.

does anyone know about cable ratings? showtime is on a roll lately. i hope brotherhood can continue.

Todd said...

I've heard nothing of a third season, but the ratings are up over season one (largely thanks to Dexter, I would think), so I'm guessing the show will get a year three. Then again, it's Showtime, so who knows?

sofa king said...

shows like brotherhood are why i cannot watch the sorkins of television. i don't know how others feel about the studio 60's of the tv world, but they don't ring true to me. people don't talk like that, all witty and snappish and full-of-shit all of the time, at least not in my world

brotherhood is all about the pauses, the "silent acting" that todd describes. the slow play. the nuance. eileen's laughter when tommy's hypocrisy is exposed.

my favorite scene of this ep was "fantasy" scene when michael shoots that smug psychopath contractor in the head in front of the hotel when that prick was fucking with him.

i love yelling "yeah!" at my tv. i'm simple like that.

i hope there is a third season.