Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
I wasn’t a massive fan of Hightown when it dropped last year. Unlikable characters, formulaic action and a drab story combined to make a bitter summer cocktail best tipped down the sink. But it’s amazing what a bit of sugar, spice and all things nice can do to that metaphorical cocktail. Season 2 is certainly better than the first, but it’s still tinged with the same bitter after-taste.
Despite its improvements, Hightown still has massive flaws, especially with some of the characters and their complete unlikability. Despite that, this is far more competent and enjoyable series this time around.
Season 2 picks up with shortly after the events the first time around. Jackie is 50 days sober and working two jobs to keep herself busy. Following Ray’s dismissal for his sex issues, Alan steps up as Sergeant, complete with a swanky new office. These good vibes are soon shattered though when news of Frankie’s cousin, Jorge, is released from prison.
Unlike Frankie (who is now shacked up with Renee and Frankie Jr. living the good life), Jorge is a loose cannon. He’s erratic, hot-headed and almost certainly going to cause trouble. With new drugs rocking up on the Cape, Charmaine steps up in Osito’s place (who is currently in prison himself) and becomes the new go-to girl for Frankie to work with.
With Ray struggling and Jackie teamed up with new love interest Leslie, this second season brings new dynamics for our characters to work with. For the most part, it all ticks over pretty well, with lots of interesting and shocking twists along the way. There are several brutal deaths, a couple of falls from grace and an ending that hints at a much darker third season – if this is renewed.
At the time of writing, Starz hasn’t made a decision over this one, which does sour the conclusion to this twisty-turny crime drama. Not only that, some of the character choices echo back to the issues season 1 had.
Jackie, for example, has a questionable lapse of judgment on more than one occasion. She’s also pervy, sports an addictive personality and remains completely self-centered. Despite some promise early on, old habits die hard and the longer this series goes on, the more she slips up, making it hard to root for her.
Ray meanwhile, remains slimy and unlikable right the way through the show. There’s nothing in season 2 that changes that. Likewise, Renee – despite showing glimmers of growth – remains the opportunistic mistress we’ve known her to be. In fact, the only person here that’s actually likable is Alan, and even he has his own flaws and issues.
There is some new blood here too that get the short end of the stick too. Janelle, the prison councilor, has an awful arc. She begins as a strong and powerful lady who won’t take any crap from the inmates. By the end she’s shacked up with Osito and absolutely fine with his criminal misdemeanors.
The story itself is interesting enough to stick with, and this season does a good job bringing that to the forefront. It’s a just a pity that it comes coupled with unlikable characters at the forefront of this one. Hightown Season 2 is a definite improvement over the first but still slips into old habits. If you can go in expecting a rocky road with a fair share of highs and lows, you should find enough to like here.
Verdict - 6/10