Quarry: A Mouthful of Splinters Review

Quarry finds its identity as the gears start turning on a complex and realistically flawed misadventure.

This Quarry review contains spoilers.

Quarry Season 1, Episode 3

The careful pacing of Quarry has become familiar now, and with the rich tapestry of 1970’s Memphis and the colorful cast of characters, audience trust has overtaken skepticism with regard to moving the story forward. Mostly, this acceptance comes from the return of the wooden-legged Suggs and the tenacity of Detective Olsen, both of whom move the plot along nicely. Together with the unusual story arc for Buddy and the terrifying abduction of Joni, this week’s episode felt much more complete than previous installments.

Have viewers perhaps become so accustomed to likable criminals on TV that they wonder regretfully why Buddy has lost the joy of his job? Surely all killers revel in the power and gore of taking out their enemies with no harm to their psyche, right? Not so with Buddy! Although he does have a lovely and perfectly brash mother who dutifully sews up his wounds, it’s somehow sad to see him regretful and self-destructive. And to hell with that guy in the club who pretended to have the flu and wouldn’t return his calls!

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His disillusionment is all the more stark when compared with the droll professionalism of the Broker and the gloriously-mustached Karl. It’s still disconcerting that the botched Suggs hit and the recent gun trade gone wrong could be allowed to happen, but with the search for Arthur’s 30 grand still proving fruitless, the mistakes become less puzzling and begin to appear more realistic in this far-from-perfect world.

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So, too, does the plodding but necessarily meticulous investigation of Tommy Olsen feel appropriately slow now that viewers have seen the glimmers of his suspicions. No doubt Mac is in Olsen’s crosshairs after hanging up on his request to come in for questioning, and the dominoes will surely start to fall, even though Mac had no choice given his need to erase the bloody message on his wall that would invite more scrutiny than he can afford.

And speaking of things Mac can’t afford, can he get any unluckier with his money woes? Obviously, Suggs just wants information on who put the hit on him, but kidnapping Joni for 20k doesn’t help Mac with his financial problems. Luckily, the Broker spots him the money, and Joni’s escape makes it unnecessary, but Suggs really knows how to add insult to injury.

So add Suggs to the list of competent but occasionally inept criminals in Quarry. Not searching Joni’s purse for the knife is a rookie mistake, but her captivity under his barely restrained lustful eye made it all the more triumphant — and again, more realistic — when she beat him to the boat. Regardless, Mac’s desire to have Suggs taken care of only makes sense given the fact that the Broker was contracted to cross him off by the mysterious client anyway.

But now Joni knows, and the revelation provides huge potential moving forward. Her guttural “Who are you?” as she begged Mac to let her retrieve items from their home before going on the lam was one of the best lines of the episode (excepting Buddy’s mom’s zingers). And Mac following that up with a visit to Karl for a vehicle switch and a gun certainly won’t dissuade Joni from believing Suggs’ accusations.

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The success of the episode boils down to that core idea of potential. Sure, the wheels are turning slowly, but they are moving. The pace relates nicely to the slow speed of life in the 70s as well as the easy-going nature of the Memphis blues scene. Quarry garnered early comparisons to Breaking Bad and Fargo, but this show grounds its unique culture in more realistic storytelling and has now established its identity as a show that unfolds in its own way and in its own sweet time to its ultimate credit.


4 out of 5