The Realest Goddamned Place On Earth
Mike Valentine is a gambling addict from Florida. Although he has relocated to Philadelphia, Mike dreads going back. Gambling snatched everything he held dear – his job, his life, and all the money he earned. A year after losing it all, Mike is paying back the debts he owes to Moss Yenkov, a criminal, by working for him and collecting debts.
Mike is an ex-cop and knows how to twist men, and he isn’t averse to violence either. Moss’ attractive girlfriend Delly is upset with him. She has grown aloof and disillusioned with the lifestyle where Moss does not care enough for her to buy Delly new things.
On her birthday night, she gets upset over Moss giving her “another” stolen necklace. As a result, Mike is tasked with taking her home safely. The two have a wild night of their own, where they also have sex. Delly proposes to flee to Florida with Mike, who turns bitter and vows to never go back. The next morning, Delly takes the new BMW Moss brought her to a beach in Florida. Mike is tasked with finding her and retrieving her. 50k off the debt Mike owes if he finds her – another hundred on if he fails. A deal is set between them.
Mike steals someone’s gun from the airport and steps back into the city that destroyed him. Well, he wasn’t wrong about that notion as Mike falls into controversy the first day he is back. While reminiscing about the time he spent with his family as a child on the beach, he finds a lady screaming for help in the ocean. He tries to warn the lifeguard and others but dives in himself. Mike saves her but she turns around and says he “violated her”. Others around him start making videos so Mike dives once again to find the girl’s top but is bizarrely attacked by a shark.
Mike wakes up in the hospital finding his sister Patsy by him. Mike’s incident has become national news – but portraying him in a very negative light. Moss has caught wind of the news and chillingly warns Mike that he knows where his family lives. Mike prints out a fake business card pretending to be an Independent Insurance Consultant and heads to the police station where Officer Andy Boon recognizes Mike’s surname as that of Captain Valentine, who recruited him.
Mike’s father was the Captain of the precinct but Andy refuses to give out more information. It’s here we meet Patsy’s family – husband Deacon and daughter Tyler. Patsy warns Mike to be careful as she knows he is lying about his insurance story. It turns out that Mike’s father, Sonny, was not an honest cop. He used to smuggle goods but Sonny now owns a small bar near lakeside. Mike pays him a visit to ask about Delly but Sonny stells him he can’t help. It turns out that the gun Mike stole belonged to Deputy Sheriff Ketcher from Durham County, who is visiting with his family.
Andy calls Mike and tells him that he has found Delly, as a favour to Sonny. He too asks Mike to get his insurance story. Mike finds out that Delly has sold her car and bought a new Lexus. In the BMW, he finds a citation which has an address.
Iris is Mike’s ex-wife and a detective in the Philly police. She calls him about a murder she is investigating, as the dead man is Gil Franco, the same person we saw Mike threatening in the opening minutes as he owed money to Moss.
Iris asks if Mike knows anything more but he is hesitant. He calls Moss about Gil, where we learn that Moss and Mike had a deal where none of the gamblers he approaches would get hurt. Moss gets nervous talking about it over the phone so Mike senses the opportunity to clear his debt completely and threatens him against ever touching Mike’s family.
Mike finds Delly and follows her to a cabin in the woods. She is with a man and as he follows, he’s alerted when he hears gunshots from inside. Mike finds Delly dead on the bed and he leaves with her purse before the police arrive. As it turns out, an officer has been watching Mike at Sonny’s behest.
In the purse, Mike finds the same gold coin that we saw a younger Mike finding in a dead fish. What is it about? He calls Moss to get Delly’s passcode but when Andy goes to inspect the cabin, he finds that nothing is awry. Delly’s body is not there anymore. The woman who owns the cabin says he can identify the man who was there last night so Sonny comes clean to Mike about having him followed. However, he denies any involvement with Delly’s murder.
Mike sees on news the same man who went inside with Delly last night. He is an ambulance driver and is in the ICU. He collided with a car while driving it and the man stole the ambulance.
Mike cannot get Delly out of his head, and the recurring flashes of his memory of her indicate he was deeply in love. Iris calls Mike the next morning and suspects he is involved with Moss’ business in Florida. Andy takes Mike’s sketch to Sonny and asks him about the shooting at Salt-Air Bungalows. Sonny knows the police don’t have anything actionable on Mike, but Andy warns Sonny that he has “looked the other way” too much for him. Now though, he’s approaching the breaking point.
Mike pretends to be an officer from Highway Safety and meets news anchor Kaitlin Fox. He wants the footage from where the ambulance was stolen and she agrees to trade the exclusive story about it. While this is going on, Andy goes to the cabin looking for any sort of evidence, where he finds a drop of blood.
Sonny warns Mike about the police looking at him for the bungalow shooting. Sonny asks Mike to leave as he says Mike has no compass; he doesn’t know what is right and wrong. Mike learns from Sonny that the scene was cleaned up but since Mike did not find the body in the video Kaitlin sent, he concludes it was a professional job. Mike informs Moss but in reality, actually suspects him. While on the phone, Mike gets a shock. The episode ends with him finding Delly lying on his bed when he comes back.
The Episode Review
Episode 1 of Florida Man is a pacey opening chapter in Mike Valentine’s complicated story. Edgar Ramirez seems set to pull off a gambling man who wants to win everything, even if it costs him everything. The rather long episode 1 has solidly laid out how the plot will unfold.
These days, it us quite important to bring many dimensions to storytelling. Hence, the two conniving tales in Philly and Florida will hopefully keep the boat afloat. The latter is definitely the more interesting tale so far as the makers look to present the story with a dash of absurdness. We are in for some exciting drama!