The killer of Bugsy Siegel has been a mystery for years and as far as I’m concerned it still is. He was shot up through the picture window of his girlfriend’s place. A bullet through his cheek pushed his eye out of its socket. A million myths and legends were born to explain that eye. People said it was an old Sicilian message, that he was being watched. Who are these people? I want to know where they live. Bugsy Siegel was supposedly killed because he set his sights too high when he was masterminding the big Vegas grab. Meyer Lansky’s daughter wrote that Siegel was killed because he disrespected Lucky Luciano. Mob City blows those theories out of the water. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Primordial fears, everybody’s got them. Some people are afraid of premature burial, some of being stuck in an elevator. Being handcuffed to a cast-iron radiator, that’s mine. I don’t know why. I was never actually handcuffed to one, but it scares me. I wrote a play about it. Three lead actresses quit because it gave them nightmares and it was a comedy and they were the playing the handcuffer not the handcuffee. I miss those old-style radiators. Mob City’s “Oxpecker” episode opens with Joe Teague handcuffed to a radiator by Sid Rothman. Rothman is an expert. He wants to know where the L.A. Cops are hiding a stoolie, Carl Steckler (Gordon Clapp), who can finger him as a triggerman on a routine restaurant job. This rat fuck used to work for Mickey Cohen. Rothman doesn’t forgive that. He knows exactly what to target.
I’m sorry Jon Bernthal. I know this show is supposed to be about Teague, but when I watch it, Mob City is a show about Sid Rothman (Robert Knepper). He unravels layer after layer of more and more interesting character traits. He plays the violin, has an intimate knowledge of the art of comedy and is very forward thinking, for the 1940s about civil rights. Whodathunk? Certainly not the opposing factors in the LA turf war that’s spilled onto Central Avenue. Ned Stax (Milo Ventimiglio) brokers a meet Cohen and Varga to stem what Bunny (Ernie Hudson) promises will be a race war where no one’s going to make any money.
Money flows like blood in forties LA. Everybody’s either on the take or on the make and willing to give til it hurts. William H. Parker (Neal McDonough) wants to clean all that up. Cops should be clean. Dirty cops should be washed out. He’s got the Mayor on his side and all the promises he can swallow. Mob City promises to be the long road to justice for Mickey Cohen Mickey Cohen (Jeremy Luke). The road was long and winding because of all the cops with their hands out looking the other way. Mickey has a revelation, that he really should have had last week. He sees a red light in a darkroom and remembers where he saw one before. In Jasmine Fontaine’s bathroom. When he first saw it, what did he think it was for? You think Mickey Cohen might have spent too much time in the red light districts? Maybe they burned out his retinas.
Tere’s a lot of the deep red on tap in the concluding two episodes of Mob City. Besides the blood bath that happens when they clip the stoolpigeon’s wings, you’d think Teague would at least wipe the blood off his nose once. Just once. I spent half the second episode blowing my nose in sympathy. Teague is one rumpled suit next to his old army buddy Stax and his ex-wife Jasmine Fontaine. Let’s not even talk about what he looks like next to Benny Siegel (Ed Burns) Teague’s bloody nose stands out like a sore thumb through most social settings. And he’s socializing with people who got bent noses to begin with. But even they have better suits.
Teague gets around without a lot of niceties. It’s scary. He came back from the war with a party in his head and he wakes up at night strangling phantoms. Only it’s usually Jasmine that takes it on the chin for him. Jasmine doesn’t mind that Joe’s got blood all over his face and a black and blue down the side of his ribs. It’s probably a turn on. But Joe, there are a lot of things that TV shows assume that just don’t play out in real life, he just got the shit kicked out of him and now Jasmine wants to get it on? And he’s got to carry her and everything. But Joe and Jasmine manage to get through the night without killing each other.
Not that there’s any shortage on people who want to kill either Joe or Jasmine. Or any shortage on people that Joe would kill for Jasmine. Yeah, he killed Hecky Nash (Simon Pegg), but it was for Jasmine. Teague was thinking ahead. A little prick like that was going to get his woman killed. He’d kill a thousand guys to protect her. That looked like it scared her. Oh, but I have say, the look Bernthal gives Alexa Davalos, who plays Fontaine, at the end of the second round of face-slapping floored me. It was a combination “I deserved that” and “really?” that just got me to giggling. Teague can really take a licking and keep on ticking. By the end of the final episode, “Stay Down,” he’s taken more onscreen damage than any actor since Marlon Brando in One Eyed Jacks.
Alright, I don’t think I really spoiled anything here. So now I will. Teague shot Benny Siegel? I really wasn’t expecting that. It’s no problem, really, I mean, nobody really knows who actually shot Siegel, so it’s good enough explanation. But isn’t there something a little Forest Gump about it? You’ll have to tell me, I really don’t know, I have never seen Gump, I’m just assuming. So Teague walks off the screen and into mob history. It’s an interesting twist. I think someone tried to put it around at the time that a jealous boyfriend shot Benny Siegel. It didn’t stick then and it doesn’t stick now.
All in all it was a satisfying end to a good first season. Mob City leaves us with Teague in the cross-hairs. The mob doesn’t know it’s him they’re looking for, but they know they’re looking for something. I hope it gets picked up. The end run against Mickey Cohen made for a good game. And it beat the point spread.
Oh and oxpecker doesn’t mean what you want it to mean. It’s not a schlong the size of an oxe and it’s not oxyclean for the nuts.
Den of Geek Rating: Oxypecker 3.5 Out of 5 Stars, Stay Down 4 out of 4 Stars