Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Review and Episodes 1-3 Recap – This Gritty, Authentic Crime Saga is Full of Potential

By Adam Lock
Published: January 13, 2023 (Last updated: March 11, 2024)
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Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Review and Episodes 1-3 Recap
Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 (Credit - Paramount+)


Jeremy Renner is your standard leading-man material in this dark, violent crime saga, while co-creator Taylor Sheridan presented the brutality of prison life and organized crime in shocking detail. Yet this series works best when it focuses on the human element underneath all this brutal chaos.

There’s no denying the fact that Taylor Sheridan is a prolific writer and possibly one of the most prominent figures in the current American TV landscape. Surprisingly, the co-creator of Mayor of Kingstown, and real-life cowboy, only really started his writing career in his forties though and he’s now clearly making up for lost time. In 2023 alone, Sheridan is either overseeing or heavily involved in six stand-alone TV shows, ranging from returning favorites (Yellowstone) to continuations (Tulsa King and 1923), all the way to straight-up new, original shows (Lioness and Land Man). Mayor of Kingstown falls into the category of returning TV, with Jeremy Renner back in Season 2 with an assortment of fancy suits to play the de facto Mayor, Mike McLusky, in this gritty crime series from Paramount+.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Review and Plot Summary

The second season picks up right where we left the first one, with the local community of Kingstown in total disarray after the deadly prison riots witnessed in the season one finale. The riots caused untold chaos, with many inmates and prison guards dead or unaccounted for in the opening episode. The prison itself is uninhabitable, so the criminals are currently living in a makeshift campsite instead. Most of the gang leaders are either dead or missing and presumed dead, meaning that a fight for new leadership is underway, leading to further death and destruction.

As the first few installments continually reiterate, if there is a disorder on the inside, then that will eventually spill over into the outside world as well. The brutal killings taking place on the inside are mirrored on the outside, with many drive-by shootings. And these massacres are starting to hit innocent bystanders too.

Here’s where Mike enters the fray, our mediator and impartial advocate must restore peace by pleasing both sides of this war. You have the edgy, trigger-happy gang members, represented by the Crips boss Bunny (Tobi Bamtefa), on one side.

Then there are the bitter, vengeful lawmakers on the other side, who are eager for retribution after their fellow colleagues were either viciously killed or raped during the riots.

This rivalry leads to an unfathomable boiling pot of tension that looks set to erupt in the early episodes as both sides of this battle fight fire with fire, focusing on the mantra of an eye for an eye. It all rests on Mike’s shoulders to reinstate peace and bring balance to this precarious ecosystem.

Sheridan does a great job of highlighting the intricacies of gang warfare and criminal infrastructure. It is evidently a delicate system that is currently in absolute anarchy, leading to further instability.

Is Mayor of Kingstown season 2 any good?

The second season takes time to readjust, concentrating on the aftermath of the riots in painstaking detail. The aesthetics, like in the first season, are purposefully ugly and murky, adding to the overall atmosphere of the series.

While Mayor of Kingstown feels authentic and adult in nature, like a modern-day The Wire. The violence and bloodshed on display are grim, yet a necessary evil considering the type of authentic story Sheridan is trying to tell. The series doesn’t pull any punches, and it most certainly doesn’t hold back whatsoever, highlighting the harsh realities of American gang culture and a seemingly realistic criminal underworld.

Sheridan wastes no time at all in ratcheting up the tension and builds impressive momentum early on. Mike formulates a plan to bring stability back to the town that is utter madness in itself, which is sure to cause endless conflict in future installments.

But there is also space to explore a human quality within all this criminality. One scene, in particular, stands out in episode two, which will pull on your heartstrings. The creative team explores the highs and lows of a life of crime yet finds the time to focus on the emotional consequences as well.

It’s these devastating moments that stick out from the rest, providing the right amount of leverage for a good old-fashioned revenge thriller to prevail.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 1 Recap

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 (Credit – Paramount+)

The prison riot in question ended with many deaths and countless criminal investigations, but we start by focusing on one particular prison guard’s mental well-being. Captain Kareem Moore (Michael Beach) is found shivering and whimpering in his basement, still traumatized after the events that he witnessed and the assault he endured during the riots.

Next, Kareem is interviewed in the hopes of returning to work. He denies accusations of being raped at the riots and is cleared for duty. Obviously, Kareem wants retribution and he is allowed back into the chaos to seek that revenge.

The prison itself is in absolute anarchy. The inmates are left living in a makeshift camp, out in the elements. More fights and stabbings take place as the gangs vie for overall control once again. Many gang leaders have been killed during the riots and the criminal world is in a state of flux.

To make matters worse, crime is on the rise on the outside as well. A drug dealer’s cook house is raided by Robert Sawyer (Hamish Allan-Headley) and his SWAT team, angering Crip boss Bunny (Tobi Bamtefa). Elsewhere, drive-by shootings are becoming a common occurrence.

We are soon reacquainted with Mike McLusky (Jeremy Renner) and his array of fine suits. The ‘Mayor’ gifts Iris (Emma Laird) with her own private boat for the week, while he tries to deal with the carnage that has been unleashed upon his town. He is summoned to a crime scene and witnesses the results of yet another gang shooting. Mike understands that this mayhem will not end until a new leader is chosen.

Mike meets with Crips leader Bunny, who is hiding out on the rooftop of one of his businesses. He’s paranoid about being assassinated in a drive-by shooting and prefers the safety of his rooftop instead, quipping that they’d need a helicopter to kill him.

Bunny is angry that one of his cook houses has been raided. Mike explains that the police were tipped off and had to respond. Bunny is also enraged by all the inmates that died during the riot. Mike counters that, 33 guards were killed and countless others were raped and beaten. It was a bloody affair with casualties on both sides, which goes some way to highlight the brutality of this war. Mike advises Bunny to stop cooking or moving drugs for the time being, but Bunny doesn’t look like he’s standing down any time soon.

It’s a busy day for Mike, next he meets with the detectives. He’s informed that the inmates are detoxing hard in their little tent community. They don’t have any phones, drugs or yard to blow off steam in.

Bunny elaborated earlier, explaining how the guards were stopping any messages get in or out of the prison, which was also the same for the drugs and the money too. Moreover, the prisoners can’t anoint a new leader, because all of the best candidates are now dead.

It’s a real nightmare situation that the guards are only exacerbating. Mike pleads with the detectives to ease off on Bunny, they need the Crips in control and on side.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 1 Ending Explained

On top of all this madness, Mike is told that Milo may have escaped. There are 300 bodies to identify and yet no-one has seen or heard from the Russian mobster yet. Mike heads to the coroners to meet with Evelyn Foley. He needs an alert putting out if Milo has escaped. It’s absolute chaos there too. Evelyn is dealing with 197 deaths and 724 individual crime investigations. She doesn’t want to intensify this disaster with talk of Milo’s escape, but Mike needs her to act fast, a deadly criminal may be out in the open.

While Mike has a hectic day, Kareem re-enters the prison and beats his perpetrators to death. Mike’s mother Miriam (Dianne West) is mugged in broad daylight, but refuses to press charges. And Mike’s brother Kyle (Taylor Handley) starts a new job out on the open waters, up state.

Worried about Milo’s prison break, Mike has Iris placed in a safe house. He wants her to start a new life, with a new identity, but she is saddened to be losing Mike in the process. Whilst under a voluntary house arrest, Iris overhears the others talking about Milo’s escape. She demands to be let outside for some fresh air and of course, she heads straight to Mike’s offices. The episode ends with the two being reunited. Iris asks Mike if Milo has definitely escaped. He is unsure, but in his heart, he believes that it is true. They are all in serious danger now.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 2 Recap

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 2 (Credit – Paramount+)

The second installment starts with more death and bloodshed as the aftermath of the prison riots only intensifies further. Mike and Iris hide out on their boat while shots echo throughout the town. Iris needs a new safe house after running away from her last place.

Out of options of his own, Mike drives her to his brother’s house in the middle of the night. Both Iris and Mike are hiding from escaped Russian mobster Milo, but at that moment, as they ask Kyle for help, they realize that they cannot hide forever.

Kyle is less than happy about Mike’s latest request. It’s the early hours of the morning and the chaos wakes Mike’s mother Miriam and Kyle’s wife Tracy. Sensing tension in the family home, Iris tries to bolt, but Mike stops her from leaving in a forceful manner.

Kyle agrees to babysit Iris for a couple of hours, while Mike sorts out this entire mess once and for all. Kyle worries that those that are after Iris will turn up on his doorstep, but Mike thinks it’s already an inevitability no matter how they spin this. It’s a sad situation, Mike’s entire family are now in imminent danger, although he may have just quickened up the process somewhat.

Mike turns up at yet another crime scene, as another drive-by shoot-out takes place in the neighborhood. The detectives comment on how this shooting feels different from the rest, with innocent bystanders caught up in the mayhem. One police officer is even seen hurling up, after witnessing all the bloody violence.

Mike and Ian find a discarded weapon and follow a trail of blood. They soon discover a victim hiding behind the bins, still alive. He won’t elaborate on what has transpired exactly but admits that this massacre was just further retaliation tactics. They see it as an eye for an eye kind of fight, and Mike thinks everyone will lose in these types of situations. Again, the lack of leadership inside the prison system means that there is no order on the outside either.

Bunny agrees that this bedlam is getting out of hand. He has an intense argument with Mike back on his trusty rooftop palace. Bunny is honest with Mike; he didn’t give the order and blames the prison guards instead. They are killing inmates and then dumping the bodies, this could have provoked criminals on the outside to fight back.

Mike wants an end to all this violence and asks Bunny to organize a truce. Bunny thinks whatever happens on the outside needs to be reiterated inside prison as well. The Crips leader wants Mike to act as a mediator in these negotiations. Mike has a light-bulb moment, he asks Bunny to give him three hours, and to trust him, he has a plan.

The series starts to build some momentum here, as Mike brings his own fiendish plan together. He contacts Evelyn and lays out his scheme to her and the audience. He wants the four gang leaders arrested and placed in prison, but on new charges. Then they can pick new leaders on the inside to restore balance.

Once they have restored peace, the criminals will be released – it’s as easy as that. Evelyn thinks it is utter madness but agrees to Mike’s plans. He meets with Kareem next and relays the plan to the new prison boss too.

Leaders of both sides of this war meet up to hear Mike’s master plan. Kareem is joined by Robert, who starts to frisk the gang leaders. The rivals are evidently antagonistic toward one another at first, but Mike keeps the peace. He is about to explain his plan when Evelyn arrives, sporting a bulletproof vest.

Then police cars pull up with their sirens blaring. It seems the gang members have been conned. Mike tells them to remain calm, and he explains the situation. They are being placed under arrest, with new charges. Once they have restored peace they will be freed again. This means peace for everyone, with Mike wanting the guards to behave themselves as well.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 2 Ending Explained

Before the episode draws to a close, Mike pays Iris a visit and finds she has done a runner. Then we cut to Kyle’s day job. He hates his new partner, who never plays by the book. The partner irresponsibly pulls over a driver. He heads over without running the plates and is shot dead by the driver.

Kyle shoots the driver and then erratically destroys the rest of the car with further gunfire. In his panicked state, he calls in the tragedy, desperate for backup and medical attention, but he can’t recall his location. Then he hears a baby cooing in the backseat. It is a truly heart-wrenching scene that seemingly comes out of nowhere.

Next, Iris wanders the streets at night. She enters a church building and finds Milo hiding out in a back room. She tells the Russian mobster that she has nowhere to go, no home to call her own. Milo accepts her back with open arms and they embrace.

Then, in the final moments of the second chapter, the gang leaders arrive at the prison camp. Crowds gather to welcome the new inmates, but they fall silent as soon as Bunny exits the vehicle. The inmates didn’t see this twist coming, although they don’t seem best pleased by their new arrivals either.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 3 Recap

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 3 (Credit – Paramount+)

The third episode opens with Russian mobster Milo checking up on Iris. She’s finally returned to him, looking for a new home and presumably new work. It isn’t long before Iris is back in her old line of work. In the meantime, Mike is worried sick and can’t seem to find her wherever he looks. He’s fully aware that if Iris ends up in the wrong hands, she’ll either end up dead or wish that she was.

Adding to Mike’s worries, the police department decided to raid Bunny’s grandmother’s home. Mike needs Bunny on his side, but Ian and the gang seem intent on destroying any and all of his bonds.

Mike drives to the police station to confront Ian and Stevie in person, unafraid to kick-up a fuss outside their building. He demands that they stop raiding Bunny’s places, they need Bunny on their side after all. Ian defends the Force, stating that they had no choice and were very respectful during the raid. Mike couldn’t care less; he knows the ramifications of this incident.

Back in tent city, Bunny urges his followers to relax and entrust in Mike’s plans. Speaking of the devil, Mike arrives to talk with Bunny about the latest arrangements. He assures Bunny that he is working on his master plan, but asks what he can do for him in the meantime.

Bunny asks for the guards to turn away for “Five at Five”. He wants to initiate his first plan on the inside, to regain some control. Mike makes sure that the guards are all up to date on this scheme.

As usual, Mike is having a rather hectic day. He meets with his brother Kyle, who has been suspended after the previous episode’s shoot-out. Kyle was suspended without pay and subsequently quit, but he still needs work.

Ian urges him to be patient as the paperwork gathers momentum, yet he needs to keep busy. He asks Mike for any jobs and his brother asks him to search for Iris. Kyle may be desperate, but he refuses this one particular job regardless.

Mike continues his hunt for Iris on his own, catching up with one of Milo’s associates, Joseph. The criminal plays dumb, pretending to be unaware of Milo’s escape or Iris’ whereabouts. He’s of course working with the mobster and brings Iris back to her brothel life. She is given her own room and wages.

Iris befriends another prostitute called Tatiana, who passes her some pills to calm her nerves. Iris chose to return to Milo, but seems heartbroken to be back in this old lifestyle once again. Did she think he had changed?

Next, we see Tatiana luring Mike to the club. Tatiana mentions Iris’ name and Mike comes a-running. He slips through the club and climbs the stairs, looking for Iris, but he is suddenly knocked out and beaten by Joseph.

Mike suspects that Tatiana’s baby is Joseph’s, which riles the enemy up and Mike quickly pulls his usual moves to unarm his foe. He shoves the gun in Joseph’s face and orders him to pass on a message to Milo: ‘I know he’s out and I’m going to find him’.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 3 Ending Explained

Bunny’s plan is kicked into action and the guards all turn around as requested at 5 pm. The other leaders start to beat their enemies, asserting their dominance. Bunny watches as the leaders try to restore some order, but then Bunny himself is attacked. His friends notice and run to his aid.

Bunny defeats his attacker in brutal fashion and then exits the hut, dripping in blood. Mike arrives, with his own war wounds, after fighting Joseph. Bunny confronts Mike about his grandmother’s house raid.

Mike honestly states that he didn’t know about it, but it still makes him appear weak and out of touch. Bunny makes his demands, he wants to be out of prison in 48 hours or he’ll hit Mike where it hurts, implying that his family will be in danger.

Mike orders the guards to keep Bunny safe, but the pressure is on. Mike has two days to get Bunny back out on the streets or this violent world will soon be arriving on his doorstep.

What did you think of Mayor of Kingstown Season 2? Comment below.


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