Episode 9 of American Rust begins this finale with Billy on the verge of being released back into general population. Not even a week has passed, which makes this situation all the more serious. The inmates are lusting for blood, and Billy is essentially lamb to the slaughter.
Meanwhile, Henry has a heart to heart with Lee. She’s had trouble fitting in everywhere she’s gone so now she’s returned home, properly, determined to take care of Henry. “Why is that so wrong?” She asks. Interestingly, Henry actually answers this before with a story about Lee’s mother and how she lost herself staying in Buell.
Del Harris waits for Jackson after work and takes him out for a drink. After quoting a line about being rotten (a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet) he shakes up Jackson, mentioning “ripping up the cancer and tearing the whole thing out.” This is, again, another reference that links to Jackson’s part to play in all this, given he’s been working with Bobby Jesus all this time.
The music in this series has regularly been the stand-out component and the next scene exemplifies why. Mysterious, tense and creepy, it works beautifully to set the scene as Del Harris crosses state lines and sneaks into Bobby’s house. The only trouble is, Bobby was prepared for his. Bobby chokes him out, only to receive a fatal gunshot from Del for his troubles. When Jackson turns up, Del shoots him too and stages the crime scene to make it look like the pair killed each other. Only, he didn’t bank on there being an old lady there too, who shoots Del with a shotgun. He hits back and kills her but it poses a real problem for him. Del now has three bodies and he’s forced to try and stage the whole scene to make himself invisible.
With the deed done, Del returns home to Grace, who helps remove all the fragments of bullets from his shoulder. Despite his questionable methods, Grace reassures Del and tells him he’s one of the guys who’s bringing good into the world.
Back with Billy, he’s released back into prison from solitary confinement. Before he leaves, he tells the guard to leave a message for Lee “I kept my promise.” He says. Of course, this is a direct reference to him covering for Isaac and taking his secret to the grave.
Predictably, the minute he steps into the main hall, he’s beaten down. Billy is taken into hospital and is in a rough way. Broken ribs, multiple cuts and bruises, along with an induced medical coma to try and get his brain swelling down. Grace arrives to check on her son, despairing over what’s happened to him., as Billy’s life hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile, news of the triple homicide breaks. While the station is abuzz with news of this, Del shows up and finds Virgil Poe in his office. He apologizes, in a round about way, before mentioning Grace’s mess up with burning her house down. She’s left a gym bag in the tool shed holding pictures of Billy, which were originally hanging up on the wall in her trailer. Virgil figures out this was staged but hes going to keep hold of this for “rough times ahead.”
Henry, realizing that Lee may be trapped in this town and forced to look after him, pops numerous pills and heads out into the garden. When Lee finds out, she races down after noticing the empty packets to find him slumped to the side in his chair. Now, given this is the last we see of him this season, it’s unknown whether he actually survive or not.
When he leaves, detectives from Pittsburgh show up. They begin questioning Del Harris about his old buddy, Chuck Castellanos. Del lies though, claiming the last time he saw the guy was just before he left Pittsburgh. However, their conversation is interrupted by Isaac showing up in town.
He heads over to the station and shows Del Harris the wrench used in the killing. Del narrows his gaze and tells him to leave, never show the wrench to anyone.
The Episode Review
So it seems like Del Harris has decided to lean in fully to the lies and deceit he’s concocted to Cover his own tracks. I’m sure he didn’t expect Isaac to rock back up in town, which has undoubtedly left him a lot to think about. Before we find a resolution to this though, the scene cuts to black. But is there enough here to warrant a second season?
Well, yes and no. On the one hand, the murder is done and the case solved. The only thing left to do here is put the pieces together and see if Del Harris meets his own reckoning for his questionable deeds across the season.
At the same time, we’re left with lots of unresolved questions. What will happen to Del regarding the Castellanos case? Will the triple homicide be linked back to him? And will Billy actually survive his injuries? His loyalty to Isaac and Lee is ultimately Billy’s own undoing here, and perhaps this could be interpreted as a cautionary tale that sometimes you need to look out for yourself first rather than taking the fall for someone else.
Then again, the tale could also be interpreted as an example of loyalty; Billy was loyal until the end and in that respect, he’s arguably the best friend you could have. In a round about way of course.
It’s an interesting dilemma and one that leads nicely to Henry and Lee. Henry, realizing that Lee could be stuck looking after him and not aspire to move beyond her means, decides to kill himself with those pills. Is he really dead though? We’re left with big question marks over whether he’s really kicked the bucket or just unconscious. However, his moving speech earlier in the season is enough to heavily imply the former.
His suicide – while selfish for those who are left to mourn him – is ultimately an act of mercy on his part, allowing Lee an out to move away from Buell, given Henry is the only thing keeping her there. But yet, with Isaac returning, does that still hold the same significance?
There’s undoubtedly some tantalizing possibilities for season 2 and to be honest, the only way this show could possibly go for a renewal is with another key character being killed. Speaking of killing, since Virgil has evidence that could be used to incriminate Grace, will Del hit out and kill him too?
Lots of questions, lots of answers and lots of scenarios for season 2; American Rust has been a slow burn but a pretty enjoyable watch overall despite some blips along the way.
So what do you guys think? Would you like this one to return for season 2? Let us know in the comments below!