“Ken Fry” doesn’t do much to advance One Dollar’s overarching plot, but it does focus on a more compelling and charismatic character.
The “Ken Fry” of the title is better known as Walmart (Sturgill Simpson), so-called because the corporation muscled him and his father out of their general store business. Now he nicks furniture and bits of tat from suburban gardens and flogs them dirt-cheap at a makeshift emporium. He’s also the focal character of most of One Dollar’s second, better episode, which is no bad thing. Singer-songwriter Simpson is making his acting debut here, and he’s immediately the most charismatic and interesting thing about a show that still doesn’t seem be going anywhere in a hurry.
Last week’s sadsack protagonist Garrett Drimmer (Philip Ettinger) is still around and still looking like he’s liable to burst into tears at any moment, but at least in “Ken Fry” he has a good reason. His boss at the steel mill used a company truck to meddle with the local murder scene so that his place of business wouldn’t be shut down for too long, and it’s Garrett’s job to dump the thing now that the police are on the lookout for it. On the journey he runs into a cop that needs gas, and ends up giving him a lift in the offending vehicle. This delays him enough that he ruins his relationship with the local babysitter, but he eventually gets the truck where it needs to be, although for some reason he dopily pockets an incriminating security camera that I’m sure will be a decision he comes to regret.
Walmart has a similar truck, but his is full of stolen goods, so there’s a funny sequence of him denying the cops entry, attempting to find storage for the loot, eventually swapping the thing, and finally, smugly granting the police a look-see. This guy’s so likeable I almost didn’t want him to give that suspicious dollar bill away, but eventually he did, to Carol (Deirdre O’Connell), a local school teacher. Hopefully we still get to see more of his entrepreneurial spirit beyond “Ken Fry”, which ended ominously on a shot of seven work gloves dripping with blood, all nailed to a tree. I keep forgetting that One Dollar is actually about murders.
Jake (Nathaniel Martello-White), the local insomniac PI, hasn’t forgotten though. He spent most of “Ken Fry” annoying the local police by hanging around the station, but he made time for a late-night/early-morning visit to a nice-looking bakery owner he has evidently taken a shine to. This guy’s charismatic too, and is thus far the show’s main tether to the central mystery, although pretty uptown girl Dannie (Kirrilee Berger) is conducting an investigation of her own. Admittedly she’s trying to track down Garrett because she was attracted to his chivalrous spirit, having witnessed him assaulting her pompous well-off boyfriend, but still. She accidentally became his babysitter this week, which was a funny, if rather contrived scene.
I must admit that I liked One Dollar a lot more this week, and even though I still have no idea where it’s going, I’m a lot more interested in finding out after “Ken Fry”. It still isn’t great television, but it’s certainly intriguing enough to keep me watching – although I suppose it’s my job to do so. Your mileage may vary.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.