With another bloody murder, “The Best You’ll Feel All Day” finds Hightown at a crossroads, and the direction it takes could define the show’s future.
This recap of Hightown season 1, episode 5, “The Best You’ll Feel All Day”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
If comments on this site and the recent news of its renewal are anything to go by, Hightown is better than I’ve been giving it credit for – although I suppose “better” is a relative term. It is, at least, more appealing to fans than I thought given its distinctly unlikeable characters and already-solved mystery, and I think one commenter here put the matter best: It’s really about where these characters end up.
Of course, caring about that one way or another is the obstacle. It’s difficult to root for Jackie and Ray, who are ostensibly the protagonists and the “heroes” in the sense that they’re trying to solve a murder arranged by a career criminal and committed by his network of acolytes. But it’s among those acolytes that I think the most compelling character resides: Junior, the in-over-his-head drug dealer who is, at least to my mind, the most relatable figure in the story.
I started to see this character-based argument more in Hightown episode 5, which opens with Jackie having fallen off the wagon – she spends virtually its entirety getting drunker and higher, thoroughly damaging her relationships in the meantime. Junior, even as her sponsor, seems pretty unsurprised to see her in such a state. In many ways, Ray is hungover too, not from alcohol but his unethical and potentially unlawful actions in the previous episode. He’s desperate to pick up Osito but can’t find the evidentiary grounds or the support to do it yet. Nobody’s playing ball.
At the prison, meanwhile, Frankie is using the AA cover to meet with Junior and Osito in person; he tasks them with taking care of Krista and Jackie, making the former look like an overdose, which would go mostly unremarked upon. Junior is able to argue that Jackie should be left alone, but the bad news is that Osito thinks it’s him who should be the one to kill Krista.
I should mention that Ray spends most of “The Best You’ll Feel All Day” trying to woo Renee, taking her to an open-air screening of Dirty Dancing with little Frankie in tow. Renee has ulterior motives, of course, but is this really what Papa Frankie had in mind? It goes beyond sexual manipulation at this point and feels a lot like a legitimate but really bland and ill-advised romance. I’m not convinced by any of it.
Also weird: Krista gets murdered, which isn’t strange in itself, but after being advised by Frankie to make the death look like an OD, and despite gearing Junior up throughout most of Hightown episode 5 to facilitate this, Osito wades in at the last minute and batters her to death. This doesn’t make sense to me, since it’s kind of contrary to not only Frankie’s plan but Junior’s characterization and Osito’s stated way of doing things. Is he getting worried about how Frankie might react to another failure? Either way, it isn’t exactly clear and doesn’t really sit right.
The rest of Hightown is going to be determined by the fallout from this murder. We know Jackie is going to take it personally, and one assumes that she’s going to see her spending the episode getting high and partying as a personal failure to protect Krista after spending several episodes trying to track her down. That makes sense to me, and if that’s the direction we go in I think it’ll justify Jackie’s relapse here in “The Best You’ll Feel All Day”. Ray will, one assumes, be more determined to bring in Osito than ever, which hopefully means he won’t spend all his time dating Renee. If you ask me, we’re at a crossroads. Either we see our self-serving leads begin along a path of redemption since their inattentiveness has resulted in another death, or they continue to circle the same drain. I know which outcome I’m hoping for.
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