The latest crime drama from Starz got off to a pretty average start last week and episode 2 does the show no favours in terms of its slower character work and questionable plotting. While the show does well to build up an ensemble of characters that could be involved in Sherry’s murder, Hightown makes it difficult to actually empathise and rally behind any of them.
Episode 2 of Hightown begins with Jackie continuing rehab, chatting up one of the women and getting hot and heavy with her in the hallway. Afterwards, Jackie riles up the other women in the group by telling them that going sober is easy. Bethany and her end up at blows though thanks to Jackie’s attitude, something that sees her back in a meeting with her therapist while Bethany is kicked out the program.
That evening, Jackie sees the picture of Krista up on the wall and realizes that her necklace is the same one found on the dead body. Intent on getting answers, she deceives the receptionist and manages to check the computer where she finds the discharge notes for Krista along with her emergency contact details.
Meanwhile, Ray continues his investigation and heads down to the docks to try and get answers. Those answers bring him back to the station where he runs through details surrounding Renee, heading up to see her while she’s in the middle of a field trip with a group of kids. He asks her to go undercover for him and begrudgingly she agrees.
Junior delivers a speech to a group of inmates about being an alcoholic. Within attendance is Frankie, who approaches Junior after his motivational rally and discusses their arrangement. He tells Frankie he’s done and mentions “the bodies” but the inmate simply shrugs off his suggestion, telling Junior his influence stretches beyond prison and as far as he’s concerned, he’s far from free.
While Krista heads back home to her Mum and suffers another rejection, Jackie also returns home and learns she may lose her job for her drink driving and nearly killing someone. However she incredulously exclaims that because she’s the “only woman and person of colour” in the force then they can’t fire her, prompting her and her Father to come to blows over political points of view. Her landlord Fred arrives soon after for the rent and she kicks off, writing a cheque and throwing it at him.
Renee meets with her contact Osito but thanks to one of their own going undercover with her, he bails and decides not to proceed. However, it’s enough to impress Ray and he invites her to dinner, which she decides against. Instead, Ray follows her back to the strip bar where he sees Osito’s car parked outside. Inside, Osito asks for a private dance but after presses her on who the contact was. For now, she manages to deflect this questioning.
After a sober night at the bar, Jackie wakes up next to a girl she’s brought home and begins researching leads, going on to read news articles online and bagging herself a lift up to see one of Sherry’s friends called Lisa. Once there, she learns Krista was staying there for a while but before she can get many more answers, Lisa’s boyfriend starts asking questions prompting her to bolt. Jackie heads up to speak to Junior at the docks instead and reveals what she’s found out so far. She suspects Krista was killed and as they talk, Junior invites her onto the deck to talk more, which is where the episode ends.
Hightown is a simple murder mystery show and has the ingredients to be a relatively enjoyable watch. The problem unfortunately comes from the two central characters who make it incredibly difficult to warm to either of them. Jackie is arrogant, self-centred and selfish. Ray is cocky, brash and mixes business with pleasure which certainly isn’t going to end well. It’s certainly not enough to rally behind either of these players and seeing Jackie completely destroy everything around her just doesn’t make for compelling TV, despite how realistic this is in the case of drug addicts.
As HBO’s Euphoria has shown last year, you can still create a destructive character with likable traits but Jackie just doesn’t have this. Her line about not being fired because she’s “the only woman in the force” shows how self-centred she is and so far at least, she’s showing absolutely no remorse after nearly killing someone in her car. Hopefully this icy facade starts to thaw soon and we see some real emotion and genuine likability but right now it’s difficult to know if and when this will arrive.
The mystery surrounding the “why” element of Sherry’s death just isn’t enough to make for compelling viewing and regardless of who is involved, it seems likely that Frankie is the ringleader from prison, especially Junior’s line regarding “the bodies”. Hopefully this one picks up soon but for now, episode 2 bows out with another mediocre chunk of drama.
Published: 24 May 2020 at 11:27pm on TheReviewGeek.com