With only eight episodes to work with in the first season, there is a lot of pressure on Boss to both establish itself as a unique entity, and give us enough of a plot to carry into the second season (which looks to be ten episodes). The third episode, ‘Swallow’, was an episode full of hit or miss moments which touched on a lot of plot lines. I’m starting to wonder if Boss is taking on too much story wise at this point, because a lot of Friday’s episode felt like the writers were shoving the story along a bit to save time in the future. These scenes were sprinkled with some more funky sex and nudity, and overall, it was a highly mixed bag. The acting continues to be top-notch, but there were some noticeable swings and misses with the story.
At this point, I feel too much attention is being paid to the daughter, and not enough between the relationship of Kane and his wife. The show needs to set up Mrs. Kane as an independent, three-dimensional character now, because her role will be increasingly important if this show goes on for multiple seasons. It is simply necessary – once Kane’s mental state starts to visibly diminish, her dramatic role will grow exponentially important. But at this point, there is too much time being spent on the troubled daughter and her father angst, and not enough time painting Meredith as someone who exudes something besides a bitchy attitude. She simply mirrors the moral values of Tom, which only makes the daughter’s rebellious, anti-political-machine-family attitude a cheaply written parallel. Maybe it is the actress playing Emma (who could do a much better job hiding her English accent), or maybe its the vomit-worthy moments at the pulpit, where she’s delivered a number of poorly written and acted speeches to this point.
Which brings me to another weak point; the balance of monologues between characters is a bit disturbing. The three head politicians – Kane, Cullen and Zajac – have multiple speeches in each episode, long drawls about politics, history, the future, etc, etc… but the rest of the cast is left speaking in short dialogues, which leaves me feeling like I’m watching three lions in a roomful of mice. There is a lot of boistering and talking by these three men, but everyone else just gives a lot of looks into the distance, leaving us only their actions to speak on. If we could do a little more quiet moments with Cullen and Zajac (Kane gets plenty), and let the other players on the show talk a bit more, I think it would help the secondary characters feel more rounded, and not as flat when placed in scenes with the three men at war (Kitty’s interactions with Zajac are a great example of this: she spits out a few short, organized lines, watches him talk for awhile, gives him some curt answers, they do it, reset scene.)
Right now, the show is still painting in broad strokes, although it’s clear by the little cliffhanger of Miller’s phone call, the waste that brought on the sit-in and voting debacle will be playing a large role in the conclusion to this season. Many have wondered where the show is going to end its first eight hours, and at this point, only a few things seem clear. If I had to guess? The public sexuality between Kitty and Zajac will come to light eventually, which will cloud the primary looming at the end of the season. This, coupled with the piece Miller is working on, is going to cause all sorts of whirlwind drama in the last episode, which I’m thinking might end with the primary election, and a very public Lewy Body-afflicted moment by Kane on live television. I’m not sure how his wife or the rest of the ancillary cast will play into this, and at this point, many of them are tied up in their own problems, all of which don’t seem to have a clear resolution to be worked out in five hours. Things can go into left field at any point, however, so if I’m wrong, don’t blame me.
I think last night’s episode highlighted Boss’s early problems, rather than its strengths. The camera work was WAY too busy at times, and with all the time spent on shots of spinning chairs, eyeballs, and nipples, there wasn’t a lot going on visually. It sure looked important, but most of it felt gaudy and showboat-y. The episode was directed by Mario Van Peebles, and was a little disappointing – it felt a little too much like Peebles was trying to imitate the filming style Sant used in the pilot, and it wasn’t very effective. A few other thoughts:
- again, multiple scenes with Kane and nude women. The writers are making an important point about these hallucinations, and the use of nudity suggests there is something being revealed about Kane in these scenes. Something to pay attention to moving forward. Even though it feels silly and exploitative, there is a reason he is talking to these women.
- The whole doctor abduction thing felt incredibly forced. Why wouldn’t Kane do this in the pilot, instead of now when it would raise suspicion? Kane is definitely a man who thinks a few chess moves ahead, and it felt very out-of-place he would just uproot the doctor like that now.
- In the lifelong effort of self-serving activities, Kane won’t wait four years for Zajac, because he knows those four years could turn out to be his last four years. A moment noticed by Ezra, and certainly something he was contemplating in his office later on. He’s the one to watch, not Kitty, when it comes to someone making a shady ass move. Kane’s obsession with people remembering your death, not your life, is another sign he’s trying to redefine his legacy at the last moment.
The politics game will continue Friday night with ‘Slip’, which will mark the halfway point of the first season. What did you think of ‘Swallow’? Leave a comment below!