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Mob City, Ep. 1.03 and 1.04, “Red Light” and “His Banana Majesty”: Crazy Place to Die

Mob City, Ep. 1.03 and 1.04, “Red Light” and “His Banana Majesty”: Crazy Place to Die

Mob City S01E03-4 promo pic 1

Mob City, Season 1, Episode 3, “Red Light”
Written by Michael Sloane
Directed by Frank Darabont

Mob City, Season 1, Episode 4, “His Banana Majesty”
Written by David J. Schow
Directed by Guy Ferland
Airs Wednesdays at 9 pm(ET) on TNT

Mob City made a big, bold first impression with its two episode premiere, giving the rest of the season a lot to live up too. Fortunately, “Red Light” and “His Banana Majesty” highlight all the things that made the first two installments so entertaining, so fabulous, and so undeniably good.

“Red Light” is the most overtly brutal and violent of the first three episodes but most of this is handled rather elegantly. For example, the dazzling carousel shootout scene towards the end of the episode is over the top and maybe even a little silly and macabre, but it fits the dark comedy often found in certain noir pieces, especially those by writers like James Ellroy.

This episode gives us more of a background on those photographs that Hecky (Simon Pegg) was using to blackmail Bugsy Siegel (Ed Burns) and the mob. We also get a good sense of just how involved Joe’s (Jon Bernthal) ex-wife Jasmine (Alexa Davalos) is. There’s a lot going on and there are a lot of characters that filter in and out, but Mob City handles the multiple stories and perspectives beautifully.

Every character gets the chance to become fully realized; the writers have allowed room for their characters to grow and really, that’s what makes Mob City work so well. The show never allows itself to fall into noir clichés because it has a lot of story to tell and a lot of interesting people telling it. Mob City has a number of attributes, chief among them the beautiful stylistic choices made by the directors and the moody, combustible energy that was established early in the pilot.

A lot of that tone is achieved by the performances from these deeply talented actors. Bernthal has an on-the-edge attitude that matches the show perfectly. Watching him shift from strong arming a suspect to scrambling to protect himself and Jasmine is fascinating. Much like the show, you’re not sure where he’s going to go next. Robert Knepper as Rothman also has a standout scene early in “Red Light”, as he is interrogated by Teague.

Where “Red Light” focuses more on trying to unearth lies, “His Banana Majesty” does face a few issues. They aren’t the kind of issues that can ruin the show by any means and they don’t really pop up until towards the end, but they are noticeable. It’s just a bit more hectic and the first three episodes of Mob City benefited from going slow, taking their time in developing the story and characters. With the introduction of an internal riff in Siegel’s business we get an interesting story possibility, but it’s not exactly handled well.

Even with the few issues in “His Banana Majesty”, Mob City still stands tall as an exciting, exceptionally produced and acted show.

Tressa Eckermann