Mob City, Season 1, Episode 5, “Oxpecker”
Written by David Leslie Johnson
Directed by Guy Ferland
Mob City, Season 1, Episode 6, “Stay Down”
Written by Frank Darabont and David Leslie Johnson
Directed by Frank Darabont
Aired Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on TNT
Mob City has had much too short of a first season, only 6 episodes, but every minute of those episodes have been used wonderfully. In every respect, the show is, simply put, stunning. From episode one, Mob City has done many things right, from the atmosphere to the writing and finally to the casting choices. “Oxpecker”, the night’s first episode, does something very interesting. Anyone who’s familiar with mob history knows where Sigel and Cohen ended up (Sigel died bloody in his girlfriend’s living room and Cohen died in bed at 62), but Mob City doesn’t try to change their stories or rewrite what we know is coming for the sake of drama. Instead, it focuses on being a finely tuned example of modern noir, showing just how well it can be done. The series brilliantly takes the history of Sigel’s murder and retools it in a fascinating, insanely clever way.
“Stay Down” highlights one of the best aspects of the noir genre. Sometimes the “hero” doesn’t come out on top, he gets the hell beat out of him and he loses the girl that he gave everything up for. In the final moments of the finale, Teague might get Sigel but the look on his face shows the uncertainty of where he’s going to go from here. Both “Stay Down” and “Oxpecker” are filled with fabulous scenes like this. The safe house assassination at the beginning of “Oxpecker” is perfectly staged and both of Joe’s confessions to Jasmine (Alexa Davalos) are played to full effect. The best scene of the night, however, is found in the final ten minutes, as Siegel (Ed Burns) is brutally killed.
While it’s unclear if there will be a second season, both episodes tie up loose ends and open doors for new episodes, should they come. We’ve seen over and over again that Joe isn’t exactly the kind of man who comes out on top, so his murder of Sigel is certainly something that will come back to haunt him in more ways than one. And really, how safe is Jasmine in San Francisco? With the unstable Cohen (Jeremy Luke) now in power where will that take the story? There are many interesting ways for a season two of Mob City to go.
Over its six episodes, Mob City only had one slight bump, at the end of episode four, but it managed to recover from this quickly. At the end of this season the only real complaint this writer has is the criminal under-use of the very talented Neal McDonough, who plays Captain Parker. Even though he does get some great moments in “Stay Down”, viewers of Justified can attest to how brilliant he can be in supporting roles. If the show is to continue, he and the writers will hopefully get the chance to develop Parker further. That being said, the rest of the cast fares well. The final two episodes give Davalos a chance to shine as Jasmine and Robert Knepper only got better as the season progressed, especially in these final episodes. “Stay Down” also offered Milo Ventimiglia a chance to really stand out and show how his character could grow if the show were to continue.
In its overly truncated first season, Mob City has already established itself as a moody, atmospheric, exciting retelling of classic noir with much to offer, if given the chance. The first six episodes take their time and build to an exceptional finale, with “Oxpecker” and “Stay Down” wrapping up loose ends and giving the audience plenty to look forward too.