An ominous cast falls over The Deuce as the body count rises and the tension mounts in “Nobody Has to Get Hurt”.
This recap of The Deuce Season 2, Episode 8, “Nobody Has to Get Hurt”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
In “Nobody Has to Get Hurt”, The Deuce opens, much like it closed last week, with Vincent suspended on a trip wire across the mob action he hopes to escape. Instead of being shot at again, he is helping his associates threaten a low-level thug, Marty, for information on the drive-by shooting. Vincent assures Rudy and Black Frankie that scaring their rival is enough, though if he believes it, who knows. Maybe he’s just tired of all the bloodshed. He’s on the wrong show for that, unfortunately. When an episode starts at this level, chances are by episode’s end, someone will meet an untimely ending. It’s only a matter of who.
Ashley is looking prime for the body bag position as she pushes her activism to the extreme, alienating even Dave. While Dave wants the long game that he believes will bring about true change, Ashley lives for the now, sending girls out of town on the sly, the same way Abby once saved her. Like so many of the men on this show, Dave is at a cross-purpose with women because he can be. His idealism, though probably more practical, lacks impact. He cuts ties with Ashley and by extent, Abby. Similarly, Goldman plans to replace the Deuce with legitimate storefronts, a solid idea in print, but a harder one in execution.
Vincent attempts to read Kant, I assume because he wants to connect with Abby. What is intriguing about this is that if you boil down one of Kant’s prime theories, it essentially says that the outcomes of an act are irrelevant. Morality lies in the act itself. The Deuce is built on immoral acts, and often, the outcomes are irrelevant, or at least short-lived. We are a broken people, it seems to argue. We damage ourselves and each other in thousands of ways. Even as Vincent visits his father, hoping for insight on getting Abby to settle down, his father has to remind him of the family he already has that he has left behind. As for his twin, it seems Frankie might be our victim when he notes he can’t picture himself growing old after a random fling with an older woman.
Despite the gunfire that ended last week’s episode, it isn’t any of the mob men that meet an end. In fact, Matty the Horse and Rudy decide to Wonder Twin Powers activate in their support of Red Hot, including buying Lori from C.C. After everything he’s put her through, he signs away his prized girl for $15,000. Lori has been my pick for dead girl walking all season and after C.C.’s ominous promise of a final goodbye gift, it seems I might be right. Instead, he punishes her sexually in a scene that is hard to watch even for a show that makes a habit of such scenes. The pimps, across the board, are falling out of vogue. Larry has become more interested in his acting career (and a social reformist in ****, one of the few comic moments in “Nobody Has to Get Hurt”), and Rodney and C.C. are both down to a single girl. This isn’t something to mourn, this passing of the pimps running the women. And this episode, like last week’s, makes it difficult to mourn the man who dies.
C.C., who has often seemed the most violent of the pimps, meets his end when he goes to shake down Frankie for more money from Lori’s performance in Red Hot. All season Bobby has teetered on the edge of violence, struggling with his home and professional lives. He senses the danger on the rise, sending away witnesses and temporarily closing the brothel to play backup to Frankie. A few tense moments with C.C. flipping his lighter while demanding cash, and Bobby stabs the pimp, though it is up to Frankie to finish the job. Much as the scene seems to escalate quickly, the pacing of the zippo with C.C.’s rapid-fire dialogue segueing to the attacks and ending with Black Frankie’s observation that they “murdered the ****” out of C.C. hits just the right pitch. The episode provides a rare payoff in the death of one of its villains shortly after we’ve seen him at his most vicious.
Next week brings a close to Season 2 of The Deuce. I suspect we aren’t quite done with the death toll for this season. Who will make it out?
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.