As cameras roll on Red Hot, some characters embrace their new roles.
Men are so high maintenance. One little rat on the stairs of the guerilla-style shooting for Red Hot and the high paid wolf is running for his hotel. There is so much to love about this scene in “We’re All Beasts”: Lori’s walk down the streets, Candy’s on the fly use of local colour to ensure clear sidewalks, and her smirk at said rat. She wants an urban fairy tale, she’s got one. And pretty soon her leading man’s antics land him replaced by Larry. What is intriguing about Larry’s approach to the wolf is that it relies heavily on his skills as a pimp–control, submission, and presence. Bonus points for Larry paying Darlene to run lines with him. He did teach her well the value of time and money. C.C. seems less pleased that Lori is now making time on film with Larry, but since C.C. always seems less than pleased, it may just be business as usual. Lori’s desire to flee C.C. becomes more evident in this episode, especially after Candy talks with her about her early days on the Deuce, calling into question a time when she was a bit more innocent. Maybe this Red Riding Hood is ready to fight off her own troublesome wolf.
Undoubtedly, the Red Hot scenes are the best part of “We’re All Beasts”, particularly with Vince serving as a producer. First week on the job and he’s already having growing pains when he fires his own wife and stirs up new investors. The new investors, unfortunately, don’t come as easily as he might have hoped. After hijacking a left shoe only truck, he is no closer to getting the money Candy needs to finish her masterpiece. But some auspicious timing which has the cops arrest Larry mid-scene sells Rudy on investing. Which it turns out they will need because Robert Rodriguez style filmmaking costs money, even if you step in at the last minute to play naughty grandma, now naughty Aunt Sue. The film ends with what appears to be a woman’s fantasy, just as Candy intended.
I’ve been critical of the men on The Deuce in the past because I found them to be the least interesting part of the show. However, having Frankie as a producer and Larry as a budding thespian has made both of these characters come alive. Even the botched robbery played well within the context of the episode, instead of stunting the pacing, as sometimes happens.
In sharp contrast to the filmmakers, we see Abby and Ashley try to move forward with their plans to protect the women through housing and less public scorn. Vincent watches her plead for the girls at a tenant’s council of the building where they are housing the women. Abby asks the tenants to stop calling the police on the girls because it eats up precious time booking them all. Moreover, only the girls are punished, never the johns. This is probably one of the more crucial themes of this show–how women are held accountable for the crimes of men.
It’s clear from his slumped demeanour throughout the episode that Vincent’s lost more than he originally thought when Abby walked out. His attempt at awkward mentoring for Joey, Bobby’s troublemaking son, doesn’t necessarily help his state of mind. To get her back, he makes the best attempt he can muster at a grand gesture in telling her the truth about how he gets his money and where it goes. She admits that she probably knew on some level. As penance, he offers her a cut of the money to use for her cause. She reluctantly takes it. Like with Candy’s film, dirty money can change someone’s fortune. Just don’t think too hard about where it came from.
The gesture is enough, it seems, reuniting Abby and Vincent. He takes her to the opening of Paul’s supper club, all dressed up. Meanwhile, Ashley gives the gift of escape to another girl, not just with health care and a safe space, but an actual bus ticket. Hopefully, she will make it out.
Having Goldman, the city’s golden boy for change, hook up with a random man in a bathhouse troubles me. On one hand, the idea of a closeted man hiding for his career’s sake during this period certainly rings true. On the other, it just seems like a cliche. Everyone on The Deuce is telling their own tales, be they fictional or real life. I suppose this is just one more storyteller.
Amber is a doctoral candidate in Language, Diversity, and Literacy at Texas Tech. She holds an MA in Literature and History and a BFA in Theatre. A Texas-based mother of two, she is an Associate Professor of English and History at Howard College.