Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer Travel Through TV: The Straits 1.06: "The Price"

“I know that you have shown me great kindness. And kindness must be repaid. But I believe that I have been loyal to your family, hmmm? And Mr. Eddie. Cooking, cleaning, dealing with mortally wounded.”

The sixth episode of “The Straits” saw resolution to some plots (Harry’s coma, Marou’s kidnapping) and the beginning of other plots. It was a good transitional episode in that sense. If you’ve read this blog much (all one or two of you), you know that my line for when I stop enjoying television/film is torture. Marou is being held by the bikies in this episode, and they certainly aren’t being kind, so this episode was a bit difficult to get through. Through it all, it’s been fascinating to watch Sissi take a leadership role in the family. While Harry has been incapacitated, Sissi has filled a similar role as being the sensible but tough when necessary Montebello. She occupies the same space between the extremely macho and violent Noel and the extremely pacifist Marou. I don’t really know where Gary fits on that spectrum. He’s just the screw up who occasionally gets something right to help the rest of the family – definitely not leadership material.

The episode opens with two guys we’ve never met before in a van in the rainforest. There had been some conversation about Aboriginal paintings and if they were authentic. They encounter a presumably Aboriginal teenager who says his vehicle has broken down and he needs a jack. One of the men opens the back of the van to grab a jack, and he casually asks about the authenticity of the paintings. Before the conversation can continue, some other young men approach with machine guns, and it’s clear that the whole thing was a set-up for a carjacking. As the two men stand in the rainforest with no vehicle and all of their belongings stolen, they wonder if they know anyone in Cairns.

In Cairns, the family is gathered around Harry’s hospital bed as he is starting to regain consciousness. A photo is sent to Noel’s cell phone, and Noel and Vince immediately leave the room. A few minutes later, Sissi follows, wanting to know what’s going on. Noel shows Sissi the photo, which is of a very bloody Marou. Sissi is horrified, but she pulls herself back together as quickly as she can. Noel tries calling Two Stroke, but he’s hung up on. Sissi decides to call, because Two Stroke might actually talk to her, and talk to her he does. He wants to meet up, but he wants Sissi to come alone. At the meeting, Two Stroke tells Sissi that he wants her and her family to decide how much money the return of Marou is worth. They need to make an offer, and the bikies will decide if they will return Marou. After the meeting, Noel and Sissi argue whether to try to find Marou on their own or pay off the bikies. Sissi wants to do the deal, but Noel worries this will encourage the bikies to kidnap other Montebellos. Vince has a compromise. Sissi should get the family’s liquid assets together in case the money is needed, while he and Noel will question Boydie and try to find Marou.

Marou himself is in pretty bad shape. First the bikies torture him to get more information about the Montebello family dealings, then they torture him even more just because they want to cause the family pain. As I’ve said, I hate, hate, hate torture on television (or in real life, for that matter), but I will say that it was less graphic than I’m used to seeing on American television. It’s most definitely implied in every scene with Marou what the Bikie torturer is about to do to him, but the camera always cuts away just before he actually does it. While the editing made the episode more tolerable to me than most torture episodes, there was one scene that especially upset me. The torturer asks Marou if he has any kids and talks about how great it is to be a parent . . . right before pouring a pitcher of boiling water right in Marou’s lap.

Sissi goes back to the office to gather the cash from Paddy’s house that she’s got stashed in the ceiling. Just as she’s about wrapping up, one of the guys from the opening scene walks in. It turns out that he’s Paddy’s nephew, Joel. Sissi has to tell him Paddy is dead (although she says it’s a fishing accident). Paddy seems to be devastated, although given that he and his friend seem kind of grafter-y, I’m not sure how sincere it is. Sissi seems quite taken with Joel, though. Later, while driving around on an errand related to saving Marou, Sissi sees Joel trying to hitchhike. She gives him the address of a hostel for which the owners are friendly with the Montebellos, and Joel seems grateful. He also seems quite taken with Sissi, although again, I doubt his sincerity.

Noel and Vince go to Boydie’s house, where a neighbor is outside doing some gardening. Vince feigns interest in the neighbor’s garden and manages to get the address of Boydie’s mother. They go to the address, and Boydie is walking up to the house. Vince and Noel grab him and ask him for information on Marou’s whereabouts. All Boydie can give him is the license plate number of a van involved in the abduction. They give the number to Sutherland to investigate. Meanwhile, Lola has been acting very strange. She has noticed Marou is missing and she is worried about them, but whenever another Montebello asks her where Marou is, she lies, saying he’s at a footie reunion or somesuch. I guess she doesn’t want the others to know that Marou was trying to talk to Boydie. She does, however, find Two Stroke’s address in Marou’s jacket pocket, although she doesn’t yet know how much she’ll need it.

As part of gathering the money needed to pay off the bikies, Eddie and Gary have to get some cocaine from a stash the Montebellos have buried on a remote island in the Torres Straits. Of course, since they’re Eddie and Gary, they have trouble finding the drugs. They identify the tree Eddie swears he buried it under (there’s a tin he left there), but they can’t find anything. After thinking it out a bit (shocker), they realized that one of Eddie’s “cousins” may have followed him and seen him bury the drugs. The problem is that this cousin runs with a rowdy and dangerous crowd. Gary calls Sissi and asks if they can abandon the hunt, but Sissi chews him out for not caring about Marou. This finally spurs Gary on to come up with a plan. They throw two flares into the house where the cousin and his posse are partying, and it smokes the guys out of the building. They get most of the drugs back, and when they arrive at the airport, Joseph gives an ultimatum that he really wants to go home this time. Gary finally acquiesces.

Working at the Croc farm together, Sissi finally ends up telling Lola that Marou has been kidnapped. Lola, being Lola, goes to extremes in not taking it well. She goes to Two Stroke’s house and kidnaps a boy from a car sitting outside of it. Meanwhile, Noel finally hears from Sutherland, who says that one potential location of the bikie vehicle is a chook farm just outside of town. Noel and Vice go there first, and they find a lot of empty buildings. Eventually they find the room where Marou was being tortured, but the bikies have moved Marou already. Noel is devastated by this, and back at the house, he tells Sissi to do the deal with the bikies. Lola then calls him to tell him about the kidnapping, and Noel meets up with her. They quickly establish that the kid in the back seat isn’t actually Two Stroke’s son but the son of a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

Gary and Joseph touch down at the airport. At first it looks like it is going to be an easy escape, but then they are approached by an officer with a drug-sniffing dog. The officer asks Gary and Joseph to stop, but Gary throws a tennis ball to distract the dog, and they run for it. Once safe, Joseph explores downtown Cairns before making a phone call home, and the sight seems to overwhelm him. Now that they’re all reunited, the Montebello siblings try to decide what to do next. Sissi says she is going to deliver the money to the bikies. She goes to the super skeevy motel where the bikies are hiding out, and Two Stroke says the money isn’t enough. They can’t have Noel riding around like nothing happened while their leader is dead.

We don’t know right away what Two Stroke’s extra condition for Marou’s release is, but we know Marou’s reaction. He protests at first, because it would mean not seeing his kids, but eventually he agrees. Then we see him turn himself in for blowing up the bikie headquarters, and he goes to jail. With their conditions met, the bikies drop Marou off by the side of a desolate road, and we eventually see him reunite with Sissi and Gary. The (non-jailed) siblings then go to see Harry. He’s sitting in a wheelchair now, and apparently he can talk a bit. He asks where Noel is, and Sissi tells him that Noel has “gone in.” Harry’s reply is a clear, “Fucked up. Price too high.” Which must leave Marou feeling like absolute shit.

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