This The Deuce review contains spoilers.
The Deuce Episode 5
The mob really knows how to get things organized. Maybe that’s why they call it organized crime. “I know you’re working for the CIA,” the band War sang on its hit “Why Can’t We Be Friends.” “They wouldn’t have you in the Mafia.” They are not kidding. The CIA is in shambles when comes to organization compared to the volcano. Can you imagine the international house of intrigue getting someone street ready, much less taking the trade off the street?
Vincent Martino (James Franco) has to come to a decision on an offer he can refuse, but really shouldn’t. He’s done such a good job on the bar, fitting the waitresses into leggings that make cocktail dresses look like cocktail napkins but fill bar stools with paying customers. Vince decides that running the massage parlor isn’t his thing. He’s seen too much, first-hand, on what that kind of job does to people. He is very respectful and doesn’t think he has what it takes to keep a whore in line.
Everybody treats the girls badly on The Deuce. it’s a matter of degree. “You’re in pain, that means you gotta walk on your hands, bitch,” Larry says at one point. New in town and new all over Bernice gets traded to Rodney (Method Man) like she’s a baseball card. Candy, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who calls herself Elaine when she’s off the clock, gets beaten so badly on the job she’s not street or film-ready for a week, though the doc figures it barely rates a butterfly bandage. The still-recovering Bobby (Chris Bauer) knows he’d be better at it, or at least less life-threatening, than anyone he’s seen coming into his brother-in-law’s bar, and throws in his bid for the massage parlor gig.
Bobby gets off to a great start. He’s loyal to the union, which also bodes well for the sisterhood who will be kicking up to him. Tasked with fashioning a classy cat house with a high class VIP lounge, he draws up the blueprints, starts demolition and is already calculating sheet rock before the deal is done. He doesn’t see any downside. He’s not a bully, a pussy hound, or a pushover who’d get beat up by his own hooker, like some people we won’t mention. Rudy (Michael Rispoli) gives his assurance that the cops are taken care of, in spite of the ongoing Knapp Commission. What could go wrong?
Officer Alston (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.), wants to help a sister out, but not to the extent of ducking flying payoff envelopes. Sandra’s (Natalie Paul) piece on the sex trade for the Amsterdam News keeps getting slammed down because it’s not uplifting for the community, which is already being pushed down by Curtis Mayfield’s flawless falsetto. Reggie Love cuts a wide swath in midtown and for $40 an hour, he’d be glad to talk about it.
The Martino brothers are very open minded. They don’t care about color or sexual preference as long as it doesn’t hurt the bottom line. They can even see how it’s good for the bottom line. As far as we’ve come as a society as far as accepting diversity as commonplace, it’s got nothing on the seventies. The words may have been cruder but in the right circles, and some of the wrong circles, the understanding was deeper. Some of this is because the wounds were fresher after rights battles spilled out onto every day concrete.
Frankie Martino (James Franco) talks appreciatively about the dick dick dick dick dick sexual cornucopia gays get to enjoy and then Paul (Chris Coy) goes to see a movie in feel-around at the Park Miller Theater, $2 admission. He gets a blow job from a suited skin flick aficionado and gets busted for soliciting for a reach-around. Vincent sends his bail and a little attitude over to a precinct still smarting from Stonewall. The scene shows how far each side of the thin blue line accepts change differently. These are all manly guys who follow a macho code, but the Vincent only sees a kindred spirit and the commercial possibilities of forward thinking. Paul thrusts himself forward into little-known sex clubs where he learns he’s never alone with a crowd where there’s always room for one more.
Richard Price, who wrote the story for tonight’s episode, explored the New York City sex underground in his book Ladies Man. Kenny Becker squeezed himself out of a door to door sales job and into every positon available on the singles and desperate-for-love scene of the same time period The Deuce takes place. He winds up jerking quarters into a peep show booth as he hits rock bottom on the city’s perv rung. Tonight’s episode was sex-heavy compared with last week, but the sexiest scene is a solo endeavor made for two.
There’s an expression that says “old whores don’t fuck for fun,” but Candy is willing to give it a try. The professional in her is amused that any man would be worried if she came, but she gets that he’s not a trained seal ready to re-inflate on command, which we’ll probably see on porn sets. But that also reminds her that she has that kind of training. That ambiguity hits when she gets money for a cab from her boyfriend, a nice guy with little to hide. She understands that he is such a gentlemen but it hammers home the differences between their worlds. Why not go to a cocktail party at his boss’s place? Because she’d feel as out of place as that big ass fish necklace she wears.
With “What Kind of Bad,” The Deuce passes the halfway mark of the its first season. All the sets are staged for smooth-running rough trade that captures all angles.
“What Kind of Bad” was written by Will Ralston and Chris Yakaitis, and directed by Uta Briesewitz.Read the full Den of Geek NYCC Special Edition Magazine right here!