“Everybody’s Got A Cousin in Miami” finds Hightown at its most engaging and tragic, as the penultimate episode claims more victims of themselves.
This recap of Hightown season 1, episode 7 recap, “Everybody’s Got a Cousin in Miami”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
I’ve been saying for weeks now that Junior is, in many ways, the moral center of Hightown, and in its penultimate episode, “Everybody’s Got A Cousin In Miami”, it proves my point. He’s a fundamentally good, decent young man who has consistently made bad decisions, due to both his addictions and his fear – of relapsing, of his family being hurt, of proving himself inadequate as a partner and father once again. It’s clear now that the point of this show’s mystery was never to uncover or even avenge the deaths of first Sherry and then Krista. It wasn’t even to see the supposed good guys triumph over string-pulling drug kingpin Frankie. The tension is in whether these people can outrun their own worst impulses. In Hightown episode 7, it turns out Junior can’t.
But it takes a while to get there. The episode largely follows two parallel threads; in the first, Jackie teams up with Ray to look for Junior, while Osito and Kizzle follow Frankie’s instructions to kill Junior and get him out of the way. Frankie’s closing the loop; Ray’s snitch is killed in prison, Krista and Sherry are both already dead, and Junior represents the last real threat against Frankie’s operation – and thus the last chance for Ray to be able to him down. The young, misguided addict, now using drugs again and thoroughly traumatized by his role in Krista’s death, is integral to everyone. But what nobody counted on was that he’s integral, in some small way, to Osito.
It’s hard to tell what Osito sees in Junior, but he sees something – perhaps a version of himself who turned out slightly differently, who wasn’t forced to become “a soldier” so early in life. Perhaps he sees the innate goodness in Junior, even as it’s repeatedly tamped down by the heinous acts he keeps participating in. Even strung-out, when Jackie tracks Junior to his motel room right before Osito and Kizzle arrive, his first instinct is to protect her. She might not like how he does it, but she recognizes it for what it is. And so does Osito.
This is probably why, when Osito and Kizzle walk Junior deep into the woods, Osito shoots Kizzle in the head. He might make Junior cut off his head and hands and help bury him, forcing even more trauma on his buckled shoulders, but that seems a fair trade for essentially faking Junior’s death to protect him. Since as far as Frankie knows he’s dead, as long as Junior stays out of town, both he and Osito will be safe from reprisal. “Everybody’s Got a Cousin in Miami” is a reference to Junior’s proposed new life. Osito even sees him off at the station.
You can tell there’s something off in their strained goodbye scene; Hightown episode 7 isn’t coy about it. But it isn’t until Jackie and Ray follow a lead to the bus that Junior is supposedly on that we figure out what it is. Junior never left. Instead, he went into the station bathroom and overdosed on heroin, which we learn in the final, lingering shot of the episode. Torn apart by grief, he felt so undeserving enough of the new life that he was being offered that he unceremoniously ended the one he already had. If the show’s mystery was indeed whether these characters could outrun the worst of themselves, you can consider it solved.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.