Quarry: Coffee Blues Review

As racial tensions rise, new questions sneak their way into this enigmatic but powerful Quarry episode.

This Quarry review contains spoilers.

Quarry Season 1, Episode 5

The background and atmosphere have been key ingredients for Quarry’s success, and the potential for racial conflict has been hinted at before with mentions of forced integration and bussing sprinkled throughout earlier episodes. What role these tensions will play in the main storyline remains to be fully seen, but when combined with the distractions provided by the Broker this week, there’s a nagging feeling that something’s about to blow wide open.

On the one hand, perhaps it’s overly analytical to say that the trauma young Marcus experienced on the bus will lead to the discovery of his dead father’s hidden money, but on the other hand, consider this: would Joni have been babysitting if the attack on the bus hadn’t happened? And would the empty shaving kit have been pulled out of the closet for Ruth to see had Joni not been caught by Marcus finding it in the closet? Think about it.

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And then there’s the whisper of affection at the diner between Ruth and Moses, the Broker’s man set to watch her for hints of the whereabouts of her husband’s money. Moses mentioned in a previous episode that the assignment was getting to him, and although it’s unclear what such an attachment might yield, it will surely lead to some sort of discovery or leak of information about certain criminal enterprises. All because of the racist Memphis parents who don’t want black kids at their children’s schools!

How symbolic, then, that the Broker chooses to show Mac a good time at a gambling outfit set up in some old slave houses. But why? Mac knows as well as the audience that his boss is up to something, starting with when the poker player is provoked into threatening the Broker so that Mac is forced to spring to his defense. Then Mac is told to kill a fat gangster who’s minding the illegal operation but is pulled back as soon as he acquiesces, almost as though the Broker was just joking. What gives?

It would be easy to dismiss such mind games if it weren’t for the fact that the viewer then sees Karl following the fat-pants man, implying that he is indeed a target. When combined with Mac’s Vietnam flashbacks of a mysterious masked man, it becomes difficult to distinguish what’s real and what’s not. Was the Broker actually meeting with the Asian businessmen in the abandoned home filled with children’s items? Or was that all in Mac’s mind?

It all seems to be a fleeting dream when Mac finally reunites with the Broker in the morning to get coffee. Surely the boss didn’t disappear from Mac’s life for a month only to take him out for some fun in the middle of the night! Yet each time Mac spends any time at all with his boss, he gets a grand or two knocked off his debt. It’s like the Broker is wooing his protege.

Anything’s better than the $100 Mac’s real estate father gives him, but the gesture was charming in its own way whether it was meant as genuine assistance or pointed refusal. It’s admirable of Joni to want to help Mac get rid of his obligation to the Broker even if the passage of a month seems to indicate a curious lack of effort before this. But now that Mac has adopted the Broker’s habit of melting butter into his coffee, perhaps he’s warming up to the old guy.

All in all, it was a strange and puzzling Quarry episode that nevertheless didn’t fail to entertain. Whether Mac’s mental state is in question or the Broker is reeling him in on a hook, something is about to break. The fragile state of race relations in Memphis perfectly mirrors what is no doubt the calm before the storm in Mac’s life. Get those raincoats ready!

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4 out of 5