Episode 5 of American Rust begins with Del Harris on the hunt for Bobby. After finding a group of homeless people shacked up in an abandoned house, he grabs one among them – Karl – and demands answers. After threatening him with 10-15 years locked up, Karl opens up and spills thee truth that there’s a “Methadonist spot over on Hayland.” Only, he actually means Methodist.
Despite being thrown off the case, Del enlists the loyal services of Steve by his side to check out this church. It’s abandoned and he’s determined to find out the truth ahead of the police. Why? Well, he wants to clear Billy’s name and he’s only got 10 hours to do that before the boy needs to be brought in for questioning. Time is most certainly not on Del’s side.
Meanwhile, Lee rings Ale and tells him she’s going to need another semester away,just to help Henry settle in. She shows up at a law firm, intending to enlist the help of a lawyer, and learns that they can either help Isaac or Henry – not both. The interests of both parties are opposed so it’s a tricky position for Lee to be in.
While this is going on, Grace shows up at the dressmakers off the back of her unionizing issue. She approaches the boss and tells them 51% of the workforce are backing the idea of unionizing. He warns theme that doing this could backfire, especially when the boss claims he could move or shut the place down completely. At the same time though, these employees are obviously entitled to health benefits and paid leave – two things he doesn’t currently offer.
The trouble is, not everyone is enthused with the idea, as Grace soon finds out when she heads out into the parking lot later on in the day. She finds her car vandalized and with the tail-light smashed in with a bar.
While her world is turned upside down, so too is Billy’s. Virgil picks him up while he’s sleeping out in a tent and begins driving him up to Canada. Billy doesn’t want to skip town though, calling out Virgil for running away from his problems and not willing to go down the same road. This completely rubs him up the wrong way, and he eventually slams on the brakes, forcing Billy out onto the side of the road.
Meanwhile, Del Harris finds a couple of ODs (Melanie and Tom) that have fentanyl in their system. When they regain consciousness in hospital, Harris shows up to question Melanie. It turns out they had a new guy dealing them this time, over at a place called Palm Gardens. Apparently the man looked like Jesus Christ too, which is enough for Del to snatch onto and follow vehemently.
As Del and Steve show up at Palm Gardens, they learn from the manager that the man’s name is allegedly Bobby Jesus. He pays cash for the apartment but his whereabouts are – as of right now anyway – unknown.
With very little to go on, Del heads back to Billy’s, where he’s dropped off back home by Lee. Their time is up and Del prepares to take him in for questioning. Grace is there too, and she gives the boy a haircut, promising to do her best for him and help give him a good life when all of this is over.
Lee however, returns home and finds Ale is there already, waiting for her. She’s obviously taken aback by this and despite Henry and Ale getting along well, a message from Billy reading “Can’t meet, love you” throws Lee off her game.
Billy is dropped off at the police station by Del, who gives him some words of wisdom for how to handle himself inside. When Del Harris returns home though, a guy called Chuck is waiting for him. “I’m here to collect on that debt, my friend.” He says, as Del prepares for the worst.
The Episode Review
With the arrival of a new, shadowy presence in town, Del Harris looks like he’s out of options. Alongside his thin investigation trying to find Bobby Jesus and his ties to this whole case, are a whole bunch of subplots that aren’t really that interesting.
The Isaac subplot is almost completely irrelevant at this point (hence its exclusion from the recap) and the angst with Lee’s little love triangle doesn’t have much bearing on the story either. That’s before mentioning Grace and her unionizing issues, which all feel like they run parallel to the main story.
When the show actually focuses on its main mystery and begins to tighten everything up, American Rust is great and really shows what potential it has. Thee trouble is, this show is very clearly too long for the story its trying to tell. This could easily have been condensed down into a 4 or 5 episode romp, rather than dragged out to 9 like this show is.
Beyond Billy being taken into the police station and a couple of clues around Bobby’s whereabouts, there’s really not a lot else going on here in this episode worth getting excited about. Hopefully next week’s episode is an improvement.