Episode 4 of Black Bird starts in 1973 with a funeral. As dirt is dropped on the coffin, a young Larry is encouraged to join his father in the middle of the night. Fast forward a year and Larry’s childhood is juxtaposed by Jimmy Keene’s ties with his own dad, as they play football together.
Fast forward to the present and Jimmy begins rooting around Larry’s cell. Opening up a Penthouse magazine on the floor, stuffed under a pile of Hotrods and a loo roll, he finds numerous menacing pictures Larry has drawn; graphic, violent imagery.
When Jimmy heads back to his own cell, Carter is there waiting. Jimmy claims he doesn’t have his money, putting the guard in a tough spot given he’s in debt to powerful individuals. For now, Carter doesn’t pounce but it’s clear this is a precarious situation and a ticking timebomb.
There’s an eerie silence hanging over Springfield, “riot quiet” as Larry calls it. He’s convinced that something is going to go down and we soon see exactly what at dinner. The inmates go absolutely mental, helping themselves to food, hitting back against the guards and grabbing anything that moves.
Blood is spattered over the tables and walls, the entire prison is a complete mess, and as sirens scream out, all the inmates are forced into lockdown. Larry was right. He’s also on clean-up duty too, and organizes the other inmates to get the place sorted.
Jimmy jumps on the opportunity to ask Larry questions about his cleaning. Here, he learns that Larry used to work as a cleaner (which we already knew of course) but he did move to a place that specialized in medical supplies. He also grew up in cemeteries, claiming it was a “pretty nice way to grow up.” Back then he was digging graves and taking valuables from the deceased. The way Larry sees it, it’s a selfish act for the deceased to be buried with their own belongings when they could be using those to do good.
Larry’s father even encourages his son to slice off the deceased’s fingers to take their jewellery, showing absolutely no remorse or emotion toward his son.
Interestingly, Jimmy’s relationship with his father is certainly not the pretty picture we were led to believe at the start of the episode. Between fights involving his mum and dad and being left on his own, Jimmy and Larry’s childhood is a fascinating juxtaposition of fortunes.
When Jimmy’s father left home, his mother ended up with a new man; an abusive guy called Glen who used to beat her and the kids. Jimmy decided to hit back, getting himself bulked up and taking karate classes. Larry points out that the real pain here is that Jimmy’s mother seemed to love Glen more than Jimmy.
Larry also shares some of his truths too, including how he soaks a rag in starter fluid and has that stuffed away in a Mason jar in his van. If you use this on an individual, it knocks them out in seconds. Apparently Larry does this so “they” stop hitting him. And by they, he means girls. It’s almost a confession but it doesn’t seem like enough to really nail Larry.
During visitation, Larry is visited by Gary where he asks about the girl they picked up in California. Apparently she left the next day, and the girl’s name is Sharon. Gary changes the subject to the police sniffing around. He warns that Larry is in their sights and they won’t stop until he’s put down. Larry though seems to be pretty confident that he’s going to get out.
The Episode Review
What’s particularly interesting about this episode of Black Bird, is just how Jimmy and Larry’s past lives have been framed. It’s absolutely fascinating to see how Jimmy’s troubled childhood almost parallels what Larry went through, but the pair have very different ways of framing that. In a twisted, morbid sort of way, Larry was closer to his own father than Jimmy.
This works well to frame this whole incident in a different light, with Larry offering up some useful words of wisdom to our protagonist. Not only that but we’re almost led to believe he’s a good guy… until his confession late on about drugging girls. Whether he actually did do this or not is still up for debate but the chat at the end about the hitchhiker they picked up seems to be a glaring clue that the two brothers could well be in this together.
Black Bird has been a really solid watch and there are definite shades of Mindhunter in the way this series has been put together. It’s a shame this is on Apple with a limited viewership because it really deserves to be watched by a bigger audience. For those who are watching though, the ending leaves everything open for next week’s follow-up.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|