This Trust review contains spoilers.
Trust Episode 2
The Fraser-issance has arrived. Before Brendan Fraser popped up back on TV in Showtime’s The Affair, the once bankable leading man had all but disappeared from Hollywood. Assorted physical and emotional hurdles, highlighted in a stellar recent GQ profile on the actor, along with the whirlwind pace of media kept Fraser away for what felt like ages, but now he’s returned older, more distinguished and capable of using his old toolbox to steal scenes as a newly minted member of the Character Actor Club.
Fraser is simply the best part of “Lone Star,” the second installment of FX’s Trust. Sporting a ten-gallon hat and a silly Texas drawl, Fraser plays fixer Fletcher Chase, the man Getty sends to solve Paul’s kidnapping before the situation escalates. Fraser gives Chase a loud, distinctly American sense of confidence, and his accent and ability to frequently drop perfectly recited gospel scriptures into conversations somewhat allows for others to underestimate the man’s intelligence and skill. But Mr. Chase is good at what he does and his pockets are deep. We watch Chase wheel and deal his way across Rome, into a meeting with high-level mobsters, only to learn that no one has the Golden Hippie in their capture. It’s a lot of screen time dedicated to a dead end, but Chase’s journey is highlighted by his interviews with the police, shady restaurateurs, the twins, and Paul’s friend Marcello, where Fraser absolutely shines.
Another former A-lister that pops up on Trust this week is two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as Paul’s mother, Gail. Swank plays Gail as accommodating and supportive to a fault. As most mothers do, Gail fails to acknowledge that her son has flaws and weaknesses, mainly a drug addiction, and encouraged his devil may care attitude and independence despite the fact that he was only sixteen. Gail also lets a live-in boyfriend walk all over her and disrespect her children. When a concerned call to Paul II fails to get any respect or action, she dials up old man Getty.
Getty, of course, cannot be bothered by kidnappings. In the show’s already penchant style of black comedy, Getty learns of his grandson’s kidnapping from the paper. When he’s further alerted to it by the help, his only words are used to complain about the butter on the table. Later, Getty has the gall to suggest that had his son never showed him the magazine highlighting Paul’s drug habit, Paul would have received the money to pay off his debts and would never have been kidnapped. Anything to absolve the man from having to pay a ransom. The old miser isn’t concerned about his grandson’s safety, but he is concerned that one kidnapping could inspire others, something that would undoubtedly become costly for the penny saver, so he sends Chase to end the whole situation before it gets out of hand.
Chase is able to discern from the twins’ lack of concern, the placement of the ransom note, a ticket stub for a movie centered on a fake kidnapping, writings inspired by the film, and a sighting of Paul at a club on Saturday when the ransom note says that he was kidnapped on Thursday, that Paul likely had a hand in his own kidnapping. Gail fails to accept the evidence as fact, telling Chase that she knows her son and knows he’s not capable of this. Her protestations sound like any mothers’ and Chase leaves, but Gail then takes the investigation into her own hands. Somewhat predictably, the living statue seen throughout the first two episodes provides Gail with the play by play of Paul’s kidnapping, giving her all of the information she needs to go into Mother Bear mode. She instantly kicks her smug boyfriend to the curb and plugs back in the phone to take the kidnapper’s calls. We’ll likely see Gail in a character-focused episode ahead.
Danny Boyle fills this hour with his signature kinetic cameras and oft-kilter tone. The decision to allow Fraser’s Chase to break the fourth-wall is truly inspired, and the episode probably could have benefitted from more of it. It’s a strange device that works well with a narrator like Chase with a unique point of view. The montages of Rome dissected into three frames feel like films of the era, and showy angles, like situating the camera in Paul II’s car are signs we’re in the hands of an artist. However, the stellar direction can’t always overcome miscalculated writing. The press conference that Getty gives, where he defiantly asserts that he will not pay “a solitary cent” for his grandson, should be a series-standout but it’s undercut by a shoehorned, ham-fisted scene of Paul II watching from a bar.
Thankfully, Paul II nor the writers own “Lone Star.” That would be Fraser, and when his Fletcher Chase turns back to the camera a final time to tell us how “messed up” rich folks can have it, it barely matters that were being spoon-fed the series’ thesis, because Fraser is so entertaining delivering it. Glad to have him back.