After a week’s hiatus we’re back as Hightown (which has already been renewed for a second season of course) bows out with an open ending and lots of unanswered questions. At the heart of this though are our two protagonists who, as we see from this episode, haven’t really learned anything or grown as characters across this season.
The season 1 finale of Hightown begins with a flashback to the past as Jackie and Junior sit together drinking and discussing his baby. As they celebrate with cheers and exclamations of “#blessed”, the echoed voices cut us back to the present as Jackie looks over the dead body of Junior and struggles not to feel emotional.
Unable to hold it together, Jackie heads home and wallows in grief. As a way of getting over her pain, she heads back to the bar and decides to get up to old tricks, drinking with a girl there.
It’s been 2 days since Junior’s death and Ray struggles to get a grip as he desperately tries to find Osito. The results come back from the lab too, confirming that Junior died from an overdose but Ray refuses to believe this. Instead, he turns his attention to Kathleen and takes her in for questioning. Eventually she breaks and manages to give Ray some crucial intel to go on moving forward.
Renee visits Frankie in prison and admits she’s not sure how long she can continue this charade for. Eventually she agrees to continue for him, just as Frankie brandishes a ring and asks her to marry him. Although she says yes, it’s very clear she regrets this as she starts crying in the car.
With Jackie’s court date coming up, Jackie continues her downward spiral and drinks herself into oblivion. In the morning she attends Junior’s funeral where Ray happens to be in attendance too and questionably further toward the front as well. After the service, Jackie is approached by Donna who shouts at her and forces our troubled protagonist to leave.
Outside, she runs into Ray who agrees to let her tag along for his upcoming raid. In the morning, Ray briefs the group and they head over to Wayne’s house, busting down the door and looking for the poison. Although they fail to find it, they do find weapons without warrants. Outside, Jackie notices Osito arrive in her car but as she fumbles with her gun, he shoots at her and she winds up in hospital.
Because of this, Osito will almost certainly be looking at jail time for firing at a police officer. With Osito done for now, Ray turns his attention to Frankie and visits him in prison. Despite antagonizing him and admitting that Osito will reveal everything when he’s awake, Frankie remains cool and calm.
“She tastes like spring rain, isn’t that right Ray?” He chuckles as Ray’s entire complexion changes. He immediately stops smiling as he realizes Renee has been playing him all this time.
Things take a turn for the worst when Ray is called into the station and news of his affair with Renee is made public. Only, Renee has clearly spun what happened and concocted a story that sees Ray allegedly forcing her to perform sexual favours. Given she was a witness on the case this certainly doesn’t look good.
All charges against Frankie are dropped because of this and Ray is suspended without pay. Juxtaposing this bad fate, Jackie learns that her case has been dropped by the DA, thanks in part to Alan’s intervention.
When she arrives to thank him at the station, she learns Frankie has been released. It’s here she visits Ray and learns the truth about what happened.
Alan meanwhile visits Osito and offers him a deal while Renee arrives to greet Frankie as he’s released from prison. Jackie however, watches from afar. As the episode closes out, a bus leaves town as Aileen tells her sister that things are about to change.
The Review Write-Up
As Hightown bows out its first season it’s clear that Jackie and Ray have learned nothing from their actions and the lack of closure does little to alleviate that either. Jackie in particular has gone from a girl obsessed with drinking and having sex to mask her pain… to a girl obsessed with drinking and having sex to mask her pain.
This character arc (or lack thereof) really hurts the integrity of the show which is a shame because now that Frankie is free from prison, there’s certainly some promise for the second season. I’d imagine we’ll see a lot more of Frankie next time around too and he’ll undoubtedly be going after Ray and Jackie for messing with his operation.
Having said all that, Hightown bows out its first season indifferently and despite some nice bits of drama dotted through the hour, does little to shake off the issues this has been plagued with since the opening chapter. Can the second season improve on what we’ve seen here? Given the low bar that’s been set so far, that’s definitely a possibility.