This Quarry review contains spoilers.
Quarry Season 1, Episode 2
You’d never know Quarry only had seven episodes to tell its story considering how indulgent this latest installment was with Mac’s brooding self-pity and eventual acquiescence to the Broker’s employment offer. Fortunately, the female characters got a little more attention this week, highlighting their emotional depth, but aside from a satisfyingly gruesome botched weapons deal, “Figure Four” offered as much distraction as it did useful exposition.
And it was exposition really, even when there wasn’t much dialogue. The audio tapes Joni and Mac exchanged while he was deployed, for example, were a firm reminder of how much love was destroyed by Joni’s indiscretion. Likewise, the destruction of the mattress was a particularly effective non-verbal message, and although Joni never spoke her suspicions aloud, she must know who was responsible for her lover’s death. Jodi Balfour excelled at communicating Joni’s trepidation, guilt, fear, and sense of self-preservation this week at times without saying a word.
Meanwhile, Nikki Amuka-Bird brought a real strength to her performance as Ruth, the widow of Mac’s fellow solider, Arthur. Whether dealing with Mac’s offer of money during his impromptu visit or handling a busy diner including the customer who later rifled through her house looking for the 30 grand her late husband hid away somewhere, Ruth is a paragon of resilience, holding her family together during a time of sudden single parenthood and forced school integration.
But again, as much as the added depth is appreciated, the extra time spent on character development, setting, and back story wouldn’t have been as bothersome if Mac hadn’t frittered away so many hours drunk, listening to records instead of actively seeking the lost money or the man with one leg. Despite Buddy’s reassurances and the Broker’s crediting his account upon jobs completed, Mac doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to do anything. Even his tryst with the barmaid, while understandable given Joni’s betrayal, seemed like a distraction at best.
Even the highlight of the episode – the botched gun trade – was tainted by the feeling that Mac’s new employer isn’t quite as organized and beneficent as he would have us believe. Was it Buddy’s ego or the Broker’s frugality that forced the issue of the lower price paid for the weapons? The massacre at the warehouse could have been avoided, and while viewers no doubt enjoyed seeing the nail-filled bat being put to use, the real danger Mac and Buddy were in seems at odds with the careful nature of the Broker.
Much more meticulous are the cops investigating not only the dead gangster with the sock down his throat but also the adulterer who was crushed under his car. It won’t be long before they’re either on Mac’s trail or Joni’s. What exactly is the Broker’s contingency plan for his new recruit’s trail of bodies? Maybe there shouldn’t be an expectation of criminal organization in organized crime, but the boss seems awfully casual as he watches wrestling and hands out hazard pay to Buddy and Mac.
The drama is certainly compelling in Quarry, of that there’s no doubt. The characters, the acting, the music, the atmosphere – all top notch. But the story needs to lay off the bourbon and drink some coffee. Although the henchman searching Ruth’s house and the knock on Joni’s door at the end of the episode add spice to the mystery, the chaotic nature of the villainy combined with the careful pace of the story’s unfolding elicits some disorientation. It’s only episode two, though, so hopefully patience will be rewarded.