In last weeks thrill-filled episode;
Wade became Sheriff in about the worst possible way when his predecessor was beheaded by an old bear trap. He’s elbow deep in his Oxy problem too, so, this is going to go wonderfully.
Lady Ray woke from her Big Foster induced coma, and played Nice Little Old Lady for everyone but Big. In the matter of her son, she has his number, and he is briefly tempered out of sheer blind fear of her.
And Asa began his own campaign against the coal folks. Thus far he’s using their own tactics against them, spying on them with their own drones, which they had used to spy on the clan. This, as we’ll see, is just the start of Asa’s reign of terror.
Speaking of the little blonde maniac, we open on his adding B&E to his long lost of pending criminal charges as he sneaks into a work yard, and steals acid from one of several tanks full of them. Ooooh here it goes …
Osbourne, who Asa is waging his war against, has shown Haylie the drone footage Asa took of his family. He’s wigging out, as Haylie hilarious calls him a little girl, and suggests he grow a pair and just deal. He rightly accuses the Farrell, and Haylie shows her own wild underestimation of the Clan by suggesting they’re just too dumb to manage the feat. She insults the entire town while she’s there, because Haylie is as Haylie does.
Osbourne thinks this might be valid; they both agree whoever did spy on him is smart, and Haylie rises to the challenge.
Up the hill, Lil Foster bounds from his cabin and skips over for breakfast with Big and the crew. He gleefully announces that Gwen finally agreed to marry him and while the crowd is generally happy for him, Big has to dig in and undermine everything.He needles about why Gwen would accept Lil now and Lil, still a big giant kid, takes rightful umbrage and storms off, threatening to stop visiting with Big at all since he’s such a miserable old shit. Big, sensing he’s losing an ally (not a son) calls him back and offers congratulations, but makes sure to twist the knife about not wanting to see Lil get hurt. Aassssholleeeeee.
Breece turns up for his first day in his button shirt and khakis, but in the first clue his job is a sham, the receptionist has no idea she’s expecting a new coworker today. Oh, Breece.
Haylie isn’t even there to greet him and he has to sit and wait for her. Oh, Breece.
Speaking of my favourite viper, she’s dropping off a condolence gift basket of snacks, pretzels, chips, at Wade’s new office and rightly remarks on Wade’s slaying of his dress uniform. Wade, grieving and (almost certainly) high is even more subdued than normal. He’s heavily unpacking into his new office space and is in No Damn Mood. He’s been at the Sheriff’s funeral that morning, you see, while Haylie is all business, hard-selling how well she hopes they can work together now he’s the Sheriff.
Wade ‘You could have just said that with so much less words, couldn’t you? I mean like, here’s a basket of shit, do what I tell ya’’
God, I love him. I’m not even sure if Wade’s high, or just as angry as we’ve ever seen him, as he calmly and in that lovely soft way of speaking he has … blames Haylie and the coal folk for the Sheriff’s death. He’s … not entirely wrong. His own flaws as a human also pushed the Sheriff to go so hard on the issue of stolen machinery. But, damn. Haylie diplomats her way out of the door, though there’s a second when it looks like Wade hit a nerve. As we see in season 2, he may well have. Haylie was never a total monster.
Up the hill, Asa turns up to argue with Gwen over her decision to marry Lil. She calls out his ego over his role in her decisions, so Asa decides to go for the neck.He apologises for leaving more sincerely than ever … adds it’s because he had no idea how badly he screwed her up. And while Gwen just got done calling out this exact behaviour, he’s not entirely wrong. Watching it back, it becomes more clear that Gwen just avoided her feelings over Asa after he left. She just never dealt with it. If he’d never come back she’d probably have been fine and would have married Lil for the right reasons at the right time. But, Asa did come back, and now she has all this unresolved stuff to deal with.
She’s not ‘screwed up’ per say, so, shut up Asa. Neither is she okay, and her decisions definitely are not coming from all the right places. But, she can’t admit that she goes low, and says how she used to miss making love to Asa; now she’s back and they’ve been together, and it’s not that great. Lil is better. Asa is mature enough to just roll his eyes at her total lack of maturity, and leave with a jab about how maybe they’ll see each other on her wedding night. Oh, you two.
Wade unpacks the care package from Haylie and she is just so brazen and has left a bottle of pills in basket for him. And he slips them in his pocket.
After the credits, Asa has taken himself off to drink at the Farrell Barn Bar. Big appears, intending to drink, and wonders why Asa would be so driven this early in the day. Asa toasts Lady Ray’s tenure and good health, and they angrily clink glasses. Big has the genius idea they have a knife-throwing competition.
Lil and Gwen meet with Lady Ray to secure her blessings for the wedding. She asks why they want to wed, and Lil talks about dreaming of it every day for 10 years. The length of time is noted, and Lady Ray asks Gwen why it’s taken so long. Gwen stutters about her mind being clouded by past events, and lets Lady Ray give her the out of claiming that was their lost baby. It probably was, but also, it was Asa a lil bit.
Either way, Gwen is ready to marry her good, honest man now. Poor Lil.
In the Bar Barn, Asa and Big play a drinking game, throwing gigantic knives at a target and drinking for every missed throw. So, basically darts. There’s a nice vibe going, a little tension but they’re actually sort of ribbing and joking with each other. It should be noted, Joe Anderson appears to be able to throw a knife unnervingly well.
This episode was so much fun the first time around. Now we know about Big and Asa, this is about the only time Big and Asa ever seemed to get along and there’s a certain poignancy to it all.
There’s a moment when it’s almost like they’re getting on too well for Big, so he backs up some and starts mentioning Lil and Gwen to wind Asa up. Big’s great at low key shit-talking, but Asa manages to pull off an absolutely deadly on target shot before the switch up.
For all Big’s apparently friendliness, when Asa goes to get the knives from the target, Big juuuust misses killing the younger Farrell with the last knife he ‘forgot’ he had to throw. It’s not just a threat, but a nice show of his own deadly skills. Asa glowers. This whole episode could be boiled down to me just sighing ‘Oh, you two!’.
Down in town, Hasil has gone to see Sally-Ann in town and apologise for … you know, being arrested just for existing? She lists the reasons they won’t work, the geography, their races — which makes much more sense when we meet her asshole big brother.
Hasil has carved Sally-Ann a bear from a block of wood, and she’s touched by the beautiful work he’s put in. He dodges a police car, and half explains that neither his people or hers are okay with him hanging around town. This seems to flip a switch for Sally-Ann, so she kisses him and suggests somewhere they can go and be.
Up the hill, it’s dark now. Asa is asking what happened to the funny, big, strong, vital Big Foster from his youth, now reduced to just a big drunk. Season 2 Big would have a nice moment of introspection here, but season 1 just defensively argues about how he’s loyal to the clan. Again, knowing what we do about this pair, this scene is all sorts of sad. Asa is in his cups, though and decides they’re going to go and do some mayhem and he wants Big’s help.
Sally-Ann has taken Hasil to her aunt’s old house. It stands empty since the lady died and Sally-Ann comes to read. She calls the house simple, to Hasil’s delight when he’s used to, very literally, like, the ground.
Hasil doesn’t wait long before stripping entirely nude but Sally-Ann is very into it because this is Hasil, and she is a living, breathing, human woman with eyes and a healthy libido. The chemistry between Kyle Gallner and Christina Jackson is totally insane. They fall into bed together.
Meanwhile, Asa and Big are at another coal miner’s yard to do some mischief. Asa winds up face to face with an armed security guard, but it’s not long before Big comes and saves the day. They steal the keys to some earth-movers and if you’re not still, and always angry Asa left the show then you didn’t pay close enough attention to this episode.
Asa, by the by, knows exactly how to steer and handle an earth-mover, as evidenced by him using one to totally destroy the trailer cabins they use as temporary offices on work sites.
Apparently not quite getting the point of their visit, Big childishly uses his digger to drop earth and soil over Asa, and for a glorious second they start actually fighting and grappling via the earth movers. Asa smack’s Big’s digger with his, so Big uses the claw thing to actually try and crush Asa to death inside his drovers cabin. He gives Asa juuuust enough time to escape before wrecking the entire machine, finding the entire thing hilarious. But Asa is … a leetle vexed.
Again, though, they’re nicely drunk and actually getting on and guys … My heart. Asa deals with Big’s remaining earth-mover by jamming the accelerator so it crashes into a tank of gasoline and blows to smithereens. Big and Asa share a drink but the truck fails at the last second. Their disappointment is palpable, and Big blames Asa; then with a suddenness, the explosion happens and the men literally dance a jig of glee and I wish it could have been this way forever.
A little later, Asa points out how much fun this was, mentioning that Big really needs to stop trying to kill Asa. Big agrees to stop if Asa stops trying to take what’s his. Asa, of course, isn’t doing any of that, but Big is Big. He’s also one of those up and down drunks, and his mood has turned entirely, and he storms off.
Hasil and Sally-Ann cuddle in their makeshift bed and though the mood is, you know, all good, she’s quietly sad. When she sees the time she freaks out, and rushes to get dressed and leave.
Up the hill Gwen is tending to Lady Ray, who is probing more about Gwen’s upcoming nuptials. Lady Ray smiles her way through calling Gwen a bloody terrible liar, which, preach Lady Ray. Preach. Lady Ray talks up how Lil is great and secure and safe, but …you know, also Asa exists. And he’s a lot more exciting and could do a lot more for Gwen than offer stable security. Lady Ray knows, she knows Gwen truly loves Asa. Gwen comes clean that she does indeed love him, really love him. She’s afraid he’ll leave her again and do it all to her again. She hates herself for how she feels but … there it is.
Love is hard. Poor Gwen. They talk up how Lil has retained his gentleness, in spite of Big trying to beat it out of him. He’s a good boy. Lady Ray says, if Gwen hurts him — which is the implied risk of marrying him for the wrong reasons — that will break him. And, she’s right. It does.
Sally-Ann arrives home, and her douchebag asshole brother is there, and this scene is so fucked up. He’s angry she’s late, and then lets her know someone saw her with ‘a white boy’. Sally-Ann says the man who saw them must have been mistaken, and that’s enough for her to get away safely. The tension is palpable and terrifying.
In the morning, Haylie angrily calls Osbourne to rant about the trashed work yard. He suggests calling the Sheriff; she wants to handle it herself. Oooooh she maaad.
Up the hill, a fantastically hungover Big emerges to greet his court, including Lil and Gwen. He needles at them about taking their wedding vows today, but having apparently decided to rise above, they just head off before he can get going. Big lingers and tells the remaining cousins about his adventures with Asa the night before. He actually talks fondly about it, calmly declaring he’s off to go be sick. Thanks, Big! In his absence, the two very stupid seeming cousins have them an idea! Oh this will go well.
Wade wakes from an Oxy sleep to discover Caleb missing. It is … night again, so, okay. Guess nothing of consequence happened at all in the last 12 hours or so.
Wade frantically searches the house, but Caleb is gone. He rushes out and gets in the car, and goes driving around. It’s wet and rainy and for a small town with such picturesque views in every line of sight, it is a dark and sinister place at nighttime. Wade finds Caleb, apparently unharmed, sitting at a bus stop and seeming a little out of it. Caleb says his mother woke him to wait for the bus, and Wade realises his boy is sleepwalking. He gently wakes him, and tells Caleb they just went out for fresh air before carrying the boy back to the car. Rough scene. I would have easily have tagged this show as having the kid go missing when I first saw it.
We see Osbourne is having more than a little bit of security added to his home, at cost. Nice try, bud, but this is Asa. You’re already doomed.
Wade arrives at One World with the gift basket. While he waits for Haylie, he spots Breece and they have an awkward conversation about Breece’s new job, which is, basically, nothing. They take dick-measuring type jabs at each other and it’s … just sad. They probably got on really well, once.
Wade goes to see Haylie to return the basket as it’s against policy to keep it. He tries to drop it and leave, and she pointedly asks if he took anything from it. He admits to eating a pack of cookies. Haylie mentions the incident at the work yard, and less than subtly drops hints about knowing about his Oxy problem.
Wade has shifted full time into No Damn Mood. He calls out her intellectual snobbery, and points out she has no idea what she’s messing with up on the mountain.
He leaves her on that, and she immediately checks the pill bottle he’s left clearly in sight. She counts the pills and they are all there, and she is furious about it. God, she’s evil. So evil. I love it.
Somewhere at another work yard, the very stupid Farrell cousins from earlier are going to blow up their own tractors. They do not succeed. They leave under gunfire, with no destruction having taken place, and a few fresh, new flesh wounds for their trouble.
Back to the more capable clan members, Asa is back up at the Osbourne house and is enacting the next purely insane stage of his plan. That acid he stole earlier is going right into the Osbourne water pipes. Upstairs, we see Osbourne wash his entire face in the acid tainted water and we fade out on his squeals of pain. Outside in the dark, Asa listens. I think he might be grinning.
So far, my favourite thing about watching this back is seeing just how much of his father’s son Asa actually was. It’s clearly part of why Big resents him. He’s everything Big wanted to be, and can’t, because he’s just not as canny or capable. He’s also just … in many ways, Big’s ‘best son’, as he so often likes to label his children. He’s not as bogged down by emotions and self doubt as the still very immature Lil; he’s smarter and more capable than Big could ever have been.
And, he left. He went away.
I’m also loving how much harder Haylie was in season 1. Wishing the security guard who failed to stop Asa and Big would just die, planting drugs for Wade, her obvious and blatant using of Breece and his vulnerabilities. She’s so hard and driven and all for The Mission. But, even by the time she backdates Ledda’s insurance in season 2, it’s such a huge turn for her. Season 1 Haylie would never have done that, not without something to gain from it. Interestingly, it’s this exact episode, when she is perhaps her most ruthless, that the seed is planted for later. Wade blames her for the Sheriff, and there’s a streak of truth in his words. Later, the same thing happens to Breece and it’s really only Haylie who can take the blame for that. The effect on her is huge.
One of the great shames about how ‘missed’ this show was by more audiences and critics is these moments. The character growth and development is so rich and full. Everyone goes through their own journeys, and the changes to their personalities are consistent, organic.
Tune in next week to see what hell Asa rains down next!
Ged Ged Yah.