Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summer Travel Through TV: The Straits 1.05: "Epiphanies"

“I’m trying to make sense of a set of books that read like an Escher drawing, and I need to know why I’m giving you a hundred K.”

This episode wasn’t quite as action-packed as last week’s episode, but it certainly set up some interesting stories for next week. The Montebello kids (with occasional interference from Kitty) are trying to keep the family business running while Harry is in a coma, and for the most part, they are failing miserably. Noel, especially, is seeing his plans crater spectacularly. Marou isn’t fairing much better, though, even though his plan, on its face, seemed more reasonable and less likely to end in tragedy. Really, the only sensible person in this family is Sissi, and it’s a shame that Harry is the only person who has any real faith in her. Her brothers just see her as the annoying little sister who keeps quoting rules at them, and her mother sees her just as an obstacle to her golden boy, Noel. I’ll be curious to see if the events of this episode change Kitty’s mind on that one at all.

The episode opens at the funeral for Bonnie, the biker Harry killed using the jellyfish. All of the Montebellos except for Harry (for obvious reasons) and Sissi are in attendance. Sutherland and the new detective in town are watching from a distance, which tells me that the Montebello trouble with police aren’t over yet by a long shot. After a short while, the Montebellos decide they have sufficiently paid their respects and they can leave. On his way out, Noel has a bit of a confrontation with one of the bikers vying for leader of the gang, Two Stroke. Two Stroke swears that Noel is going to be killed. Marou is cornered by Boydie, a more peripheral member of the biker gang, in the bathroom. Boydie says there’s internal division within the gang, and if Marou helps back Tungsten, Two Stroke’s chief rival, it could end well for all of them. While the rest of the family was at the funeral, Sissi was at the hospital, where she had a bit of a confrontation with Natasha. She implies she knows about the affair, and she tells Natasha to leave.

Noel is desperately trying to prove his worth and keep the business going, so he drags Marou along on a visit to a potential new cooker/distributor named Ambrose. Ambrose is a mess who lives in a hovel and is surrounded by two strung out women. Overall, he seems pretty useless, but Noel insists on trying the arrangement anyway. Meanwhile, Gary and Lola are at the Montebello family croc farm. They are packaging up birds (presumably rare?) for smuggling. Lola tries to seduce Gary, going so far as to put her hand down his pants, but Gary rejects her at the last second. Embarassed, Lola tries to leave the croc farm. Unfortunately for her, there is a croc right in her path. I was kind of hoping she’d get bitten, but she manages to escape to her car. There’s a Montebello family breakfast meeting the next moring about the croc farm incident. They suspect the bikies are behind it, but Sissi wants to know why they would be. Noel implies he blew up their headquarters, and he shows her a picture of the dead assassin with the biker tattoo. Lola still appears shaken up by the whole incident.

Marou and Noel then proceed to each try and advance their own schemes for the family business. Marou meets with Boydie, who again tries to convince him to back Tungsten as head of the biker gang. Noel goes to PNG to meet with the Chinaman, who asks Noel if he feels the same way about trafficking as Harry did. After the conversation with the Chinaman, Noel tells kitty he needs money. Kitty, however, finds out from Natasha that Sissi is the only signatory on the family accounts per Harry’s instructions. Kitty is incensed by this, and she takes Noel to see Sissi. She takes the opportunity to belittle Sissi, telling her that she’s going to do nothing more than sign the checks she’s told to sign. Natasha tries to win Sissi over, saying they’re on the same side, but Sissi isn’t having it. There’s a gathering in Harry’s hospital room before Gary goes back to Zey Island. On the way out of the building, Marou expresses his surprise that Gary is going back to Zey. Gary tells him that Noel has asked him to pick up the Chinaman’s women, and needless to say, Marou is not thrilled.

When he arrives on Zey, Gary is pissed off to find that the truck he wrecked hasn’t been repaired. He was counting on it as part of the plan to transport the women. The main problem is that the wheels have been stolen. Unfortunately, the culprits are Bridget’s brothers. When Gary and Eddie confront them, they put up a fuss at first, but then they admit they put the wheels on their mother’s car. Gary decides to use the situation to his advantage, and he says he won’t tell their mother about the stolen wheels if they agree to let him date Bridget. Meanwhile, Eddie negotiates a deal with Bridget’s mother where Gary will buy the wheels back for $500 a piece. Later there’s a sweet scene where Gary and Bridget are walking to a party, and Gary says he wants to properly ask her mother if they can date.

There is the matter of the trafficked women still to deal with, though. Eddie and Gary go in a rather fancy boat to pick up the women, but when Gary finds out that they are twelve-year-old girls, not actually women, he says it’s no-go. The Raskols working for the Chinaman are understandably unhappy about this, and Gary makes a quick phone call to Noel for advice. Noel basically tells Gary to do his job and pick up the girls. Gary still says, “no,” however, and he and Eddie leave PNG amidst machine gunfire. Noel’s plans are just generally blowing up all over the place. Marou goes to collect the first payment from Ambrose, and of course Ambrose doesn’t have all the money. Marou had promised Noel he would “break legs” if necessary, so he beats up Ambrose and feels horrible about himself afterwards. Sissi and Marou have a meeting with Noel following these spectacular failure. All plans have to be cleared by Sissi now before any money will be released. She gives an awesome, badass speech when Noel protests. I’m glad to see her sticking up for herself. She even calls Natasha afterwards to ask for backup.

Lots of crazy things happen at the end of this episode. Perhaps spurred on by a phone conversation with his young daughter, Noel has a change of heart about the trafficking. He ends up framing Gunther for the job. He tells Gunther to go pick up the girls, then he calls the cops on him. Marou agrees to take a meeting with Boydie and Tungsten, but it backfires. The whole thing was a plot by the bikies to kidnap and torture Marou (the torture comes next week, and you all know how I feel about torture on television . . . I’m not looking forward to it). At the very end of the episode, Harry finally starts to wake up from his coma. Sissi is the one who is by his side when it happens, which seems appropriate to me.

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