Episode 3 of American Gigolo begins off the back of that grim discovery from Detective Sunday last week. Both Guy and Olga are dead, killed in cold blood.
The flashbacks to 1993 work to flesh out more of Olga and Julian’s ties, which we officially open on after that gnarly recap. The latter is trusted to drive Olga around, despite only being 15.
Their complicated relationship is tough to pin down; she’s not a mother but acts motherly, giving Julian what he missed from his own mum; she’s not a boss as Julian is treated differently to her employees; she’s also not a dear friend, given their history.
Julian takes these conflictions to Olga’s funeral, which is attended by a nonchalant Isabelle and a charismatic Lorenzo. While Isabelle and Lorenzo trade names for Olga, form pimp to mama, Isabelle eventually settles on “fuck you Olga”, tipping alcohol on her coffin.
Detective Sunday is also there too, far off from the others, but catches up with Julian. She believes he’s involved in what happened to Olga. When Sunday asks where he was that night, Julian claims to be out waking alone…which obviously doesn’t help his case. Still, Sunday believes him at face value and implores Julian to pick up his phone when she rings next.
Julian heads up to see Mr Banks, his old teacher, to get more details. It certainly brings back memories of the past, specifically that of Lisa Beck. This young woman was someone Julian was romantically involved with and now that Olga is dead, he suspects it could be linked.
Meanwhile, Michelle is still worried about Colin but while Richard huffs and tells her he’ll be found, Michelle takes the initiative and heads out to meet with Chris. In exchange for finding Colin, she agrees to keep Elizabeth safe. With this in mind, he hands over a credit card statement which confirms a nearby motel room she’s charged – and could well be hiding out at.
Unfortunately, Panish (Richard’s right-hand man) gets there first and he ends up wrestling with Elizabeth. Unfortunately, he ends up knocking her against the cabinet, opening a massive gash across her skull. Elizabeth is dead. Realizing what he’s done, Panish flees. When Colin returns, he finds Elizabeth’s lifeless body and decides to flee too, scrambling down the steps and out into the streets… and to another motel.
When Michelle finally shows up, Colin is gone but Elizabeth is still dead on the floor. She brings this news back to her husband and his men, where she admits to cleaning the room and packing everything up. We know who’s responsible, but it’s spun that Colin is the guilty party here, and getting the authorities involved is a bad look. Michelle admits that the motel owner also knows she was the last one there, and as such he’s “taken care of.”
However, Sunday and the other officers catch wind of Elizabeth’s death and an investigation is launched. Panish pays off both Chris and the motel owner, deciding to try and keep the peace, along with being forced to hand over the security footage too.
As for Julian, he’s very clearly on a different wavelength to both Lorenzo and Isabelle. His past is full of demons; horrifying, grotesque images that dance across his mind. We’ve seen some of it over the past episodes, and there’s a really interesting chat here, with Julian telling Lorenzo that he sees the familiar suit jacket as a costume. Julian is very clearly trying to distance himself from the male escort gig he’s been involved with for so long.
When Detective Sunday shows up to see Michelle, she realizes the woman isn’t one of her husband’s paid-for officers. Instead, she begins asking about Julian and her ties with him.
Michelle admits to using Julian twice, pointing out that she took him along to parties and they snapped pictures together but it was nothing serious. She played the part of them being tourists together. It still doesn’t explain (to Sunday at least) how his picture ended up in the motel room, but we, as the audience, do. Through flashbacks we see that the ties Julian and Michelle have run deeper than simple lust.
When Sunday rings Julian, asking him these very questions, he admits that Michelle is just a client. It’s all too much for him though and he hangs up on Sunday. He ends up smoking the cocaine Lorenzo left earlier in the episode and, tellingly, gets dressed in that suit he’s been putting off all chapter long. Sometimes you can’t escape your past, and as Julian gets in his car and drives off, the camera pans out to show he’s being watched.
The Episode Review
American Gigolo has been a fascinating character study; a deep dive into a broken man struggling to reassemble the pieces of his life back together. Jon Bernthal is one hell of an actor and he manages to slip into this role so effortlessly. You can really see the confliction and pain with every scene and it’s testament to the man’s ability that he manages to pull it off so well.
The sprinkling of flashbacks across the episode also helps to explore more of the past as well, with the subplot involving Michelle and Richard Stratton very clearly linked to everything that’s going on. It’s clear Julian is being watched and it seems a bullseye has been pinned on his back that could prove to be fatal in the episodes ahead, especially if the proverbial archer is primed and ready to shoot.
With beautiful cinematography and a good musical score too, Showtime’s latest series is a bit of a slow burn, but an enticing one all the same.
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