Trust Episode 9 Review: White Car in a Snowstorm
FX's Trust rushes through its penultimate episode without letting its big moments land.
This Trust review contains spoilers.
Trust Episode 9
Trust always leaves me feeling shortchanged. For some reason, the impressive cast and arresting visuals can never lift the series up from being just a passible retelling of arguably the most famous kidnapping case of all-time. With all of the mob intrigue, exotic locations, and eccentric, inherently dramatic relationships at the heart of this story, you would think that Trust would be able to transcend being merely good, not great, but a real lack of urgency and something meaningful to say plagues the series, this penultimate episode included.
“White Car in a Snowstorm” finally resolves Paul’s kidnapping, but it feels more like a limp across the finish line than some weighty climax. It’s not like there’s anything in the episode that is glaringly awful, but every scene just feels like it could have been better, more affecting or moving if small tweaks were made. For instance, when Primo learns that Paul’s ear had not been delivered due to a postal strike, the break in at the postal service would have been a great area to exhibit some of the black comedy that has largely been missing since episode two, another setback for our hapless kidnappers that’s glossed over instead of mined for some needed laughs.
Even the episode’s strongest scenes could have been explored more emotionally or given more time to develop. Brendan Fraser and Hilary Swank are fantastic together, and their scenes in the car, particularly the cold open when Chase ashamedly admits that he has a son, are electric but sadly we waste more time on areas like Penelope and Bullimore than giving these two more real estate to play. When Gail calls Chase one of the finest men she’s ever known, it feels so random and unearned, like we barely watched these two get to know each other. Maybe more intimate moments like these car scenes would have helped.
Elsewhere, as Paul fights infection and waits to see whether his ear gambit will pay off, his brief interaction with Leonardo acts as a fantastic bookend to last week’s better-than-average installment. Last week worked so well mostly because it was a story with a beginning, middle, and end, but also because we don’t know the fates of these secondary characters who are dealing with dangerous life and death situations. I know that Paul survives his kidnapping, but the fate of young Francesco is up in the air, and it felt like a real poignant moment seeing Leonardo realize that his son was acting on Paul’s request and not on some newly burgeoning cruelty.
Hilary Swank is finally given something of substance to do, visiting Sutton Place and her ex-husband to confirm that the ear that was delivered indeed belongs to her son. Unfortunately, like both the scenes praised above, the interactions feel too short, not given enough space to breathe and make an impact. Getty passes the buck to his son, and Paul II acts just as selfish as his father, telling his ex that if he were to take Getty’s loan and be indebted to his father, that he’ll just end up dying like his brother George. He values his own life and winning his battle with his father more than his son’s. It takes one final visit to an old family friend who’s able to get Gail in touch with the president to finally get Getty to have a change of heart. An offscreen deal between Nixon and Getty encourages Getty to end the international fiasco and lend the money to his son, no strings attached, to pay the ransom. It takes business and the assurance of more money for Getty to do what’s right and he even complains that his son didn’t even try to negotiate. It all happens in a matter of minutes and it would have been far more interesting had the deal that Getty made with Nixon had been explored, or if Paul II or Gail called Getty out on his shitty priorities and timing.
The actual exchange of the money, with the white suitcases, clothes, and car in the snow storm is perhaps the real climactic moment of the episode, but as I’ve mentioned countless times already, the proper time isn’t dedicated to the scene to allow the drama to grow to a fever pitch. Stefan shows his face and gives his name to assure that they won’t kill Paul, and when Primo learns about this fact, you expect for him to into a rage, but maybe we’re saving the end of that story for next week. Same goes for Primo’s showdown with Salvatore when Salvatore insists that they still kill Paul. For weeks, Primo has been angling to displace his out of touch uncle, but here he just calmly, elegantly relays the old adage that you never kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Primo has been one of Trust’s best characters, so hopefully his story is given a proper epic conclusion next week.
Finally, Paul and his mother’s reunion, while beautifully shot on snowy coastline cliffs lacks the emotional catharsis I was expecting. With all the use of the sepia-toned flashbacks and old family footage in other areas throughout the season, I would have thought some of that stylish flair would have been used to make this moment feel bigger and more heartfelt, but it’s just as anti-climactic as the money drop was. For the whole season to be leading to this reunion, just to have a brief teary hug felt like a huge letdown.
Perhaps I’m just being as greedy as Getty. Trust is steady and serviceable, but I’m just expecting something richer. These final moments should be landing harder, instead they feel inconsequential, which makes you wonder why you devoted all of this time to following this story in the first place. Trust offered all of the drama and colorful characters in the world, but still has come off as a little cheap.