'City on a Hill' Season 3 Episode 1 Review: Gutsy and solid, Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge's crime drama off to intense start
Contains spoilers for 'City on a Hill' Season 3 Episode 1 'Gods and Monsters'
Sam Fender's Play God set the tone in the season premiere of 'City on a Hill' that saw a crooked FBI agent and an honest Assistant District Attorney go about their bit cleaning up the gritty streets of 90s Boston. They were gods alright, and while Fender's album Seven Going Under was all about coming out unscathed in the face of adversity, vaulting over trials and tribulations, director Michael Cuesta brought in two gods to Boston to do just what the lyrics suggested. Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) and Jackie Rohr (Aldis Hodge) were the messiahs. They weren't perfect, but they had the power to change. And they did, with contrasting ramifications not just to the city, but also to their personalities.
Two seasons later, the gods have crumbled. They were the Nebuchadnezzars with the heads of gold but were done for once the feet of mingled iron and clay gave way. In Season 3, the duo is smarting. Rohr is struggling to make ends meet. He's pouring drinks in a bar, cleaning up vomit, and also manages to chug a beer and guzzle some whiskey while at it. His "escape money" after quitting the FBI before being disgracefully thrown out is running out fast, and after some good-old-fashioned bollocking from wife Jenny (Jill Hennessy), he finds a gig that may not really be what it actually advertises.
The perks are perfect. $2000 in cash per week leaves Jackie flush with money after getting a job from his old mentor Sinclair Dryden (Corbin Bernsen) to manage security and watch over his gorgeous wife, Letitia Dryden (Joanne Kelly), and step-daughter Victoria (Caroline Willman). There are sparks between Letitia and Jackie suggesting the early red flag that the woman and the family are actually dangerous. There's shady written all over the woman and her husband whose introduction sees him having sex with a passed-out and drugged teen.
Ward's got some domestic issues to take care of after his father Franklin (Ernie Hudson) is shown to have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He rushes to Brooklyn amid the heat he faces slogging for his promotion. His wife Siobhan Quays (Lauren E Banks) is now at the ACLU and takes on a massive construction company after a mess it finds itself embroiled in. For Jenny, it's bad memories as she struggles to come to terms with her abusive father's torrid memories and runs into a familiar face in Father Doyle (Mark Ryder) who is on a sabbatical from preaching.
Director Christoph Schrewe's done his homework. The screenplay by Jorge Zamacona is brought to life in a typical 'City on a Hill' style. The crisp writing, the subtle pop culture references, the reliability, the music, and the attention to detail — the bedrocks of the show's success are on full display. This season is all about giving the key characters their own challenges, some that may see them be gods or some that turn them into monsters. For Rohr and Ward, it's the familiar question of how dirty they can get their hands to be where they want to be.
It's too early to jump to conclusions based on yet another fantastic slow-burner of a season opener. But what it does do, is lay the groundwork for seven more weeks of intense drama at the heart of Boston — one that may change the lives of these characters forever.
'City on a Hill' Season 3 airs Sundays at 10 pm ET on Showtime. Viewers can also tune in on Saturdays to watch the episodes early on streaming.