“The Four Hustlateers” takes its time to better explain some backstories and relationships.
This recap of Blindspotting season 1, episode 4, “The Four Hustlateers”, contains spoilers.
Nobody seems to know what “filler” means these days. All the time – Loki was the most recent example – people get irate about a show wasting an episode, having decided, for some reason, that pushing the plot forward is the only way to measure what and who a story is trying to be about. “The Four Hustlateers”, an obviously slower installment, could and probably will be accused of being filler. But that’s only if you consider developing backstories and relationships to be unimportant, and if you didn’t notice that this more contemplative episode occurs right on the back of Miles’ prison visitation being canceled. Without being able to unburden herself to the love of her life, the man who helps to raise her child and keep her grounded, Ashley feels more trapped than ever in an unchanging stasis where everything from her parenting to her hood credentials is being tested.
After hogging a lot of the limelight last week, Trish is nowhere to be seen in Blindspotting episode 4, and focus instead shifts to not just Ashley but Earl and Janelle, the former especially. He, too, feels trapped, but his bars are the terms of his parole, which mandate that he gets a job – even one he doesn’t want – or be thrown back in prison. He, like Ashley, eventually turns to the weed for inspiration, and he finds some – of a kind – during a cooking competition with Janelle that also allows them a tiny moment of physical connection.
I said “also” turns to the weed, since Ashley and Rainey attempt to smoke their problems away too. With an old pulley system set up between the houses to pass the blunt back and forth, there’s a lot of the past in these scenes, most of which are conversations about the titular “Four Hustlateers” and how much knowledge Rainey quietly had of their exploits. Blindspottting season 1, episode 4 cracks a window figuratively and indeed literally into a lot of lived-in history, and gets at the challenges of raising kids in an environment that seems determined to corrupt them.
But Rainey gives voice to the fact that Miles’ dedication to his lifestyle, and to the expectations of that environment, mean that he’s currently serving time which cutting a deal would have reduced. He put his loyalties to the culture ahead of his loyalties to his family. Should he have? Ashley doesn’t comment either way. But it’s clearly something she’s thinking about since, in his absence, she’s raising their son alone. He arrives back just in time – as it turns out, Reservoir Dogs wasn’t the nature documentary Ashley thought it was, and now he’s terrified of losing an ear.
So, no, Blindspotting season 1, episode 4 can’t exactly be called “filler”. Unless you’re given a chance to learn who these characters are, why would you care about what happens to them?