'Escape at Dannemora': Episode 2 finally offers glimpses of Richard Matt's conning skills that aided infamous prison break

Benicio del Toro's Richard Matt is no longer just a prison inmate with a passion for the arts and painting; his manipulative skills come through with the new episode of the show.

                            'Escape at Dannemora': Episode 2 finally offers glimpses of Richard Matt's conning skills that aided infamous prison break

The hundreds of speculative theories about Showtime's latest prison drama from Ben Stiller, 'Escape at Dannemora,' have been answered a fair bit with the release of its second episode that aired Sunday. For one, we know the show - even though pacing out quite slow - is gradually exposing the sinister side of inmate Richard Matt, a character and plot both based on the real-life incident of the 2015 Clinton Correctional Facility prison break in New York.

The real-life Matt was serving a life sentence in prison for murder, but the premiere episode of 'Escape at Dannemora' only explored the artistic side of the inmate, with his passion and enthusiasm for painting being laid down throughout the episode.

That was something that made viewers question how an art connoisseur of such high regard could ever be convicted of murder. But what the pilot also established was Matt's potential at, sort of, running the facility. And, with the second episode, it became clearer just why he had such a firm grasp on other people - both prison staff and inmates alike.

Episode two brought out the manipulative con-man in Matt, especially in terms of his manipulation of Tilly - aka Joyce Mitchell - the 50 plus female in charge of the prison's tailor shop where both Matt, and his prison break sidekick, David Sweat, worked.


Matt - played by Benicio del Toro on the show - clearly has one dream, and one motive; that is to escape from the prison and be a free man riding around the town. And for that, he uses the first and foremost art a con-man must master - manipulation. It becomes clear Matt's elaborate prison escape plan revolves mostly around his abilities to manipulate pretty much anyone and everyone. And, to ensure he has the strongest leverage, he starts with Tilly - played by Patricia Arquette.

Episode two very skillfully slides in Tilly's bad week for Matt to take advantage of. As the pilot had already shown, Tilly - although a married mother - uses prison inmates to satisfy her sexual urges. And, safe to say, the inmates also use her to have their backs scratched - especially Matt and Sweat (played by Paul Dano). So, naturally, when an "anonymous" letter mentioning how she takes Sweat into the back room a couple of times a week surfaces, and Sweat loses his job at the tailor shop, Matt arrives to the lady's rescue.

The all high and noble Matt, held in such high esteem by the other inmates, even resorts to acting as a secret messenger between Tilly and Sweat, just to get her on his side. And, after helping her out, he takes it a step further - both by gifting her a painting of her dogs and by that gesture's eventual outcome - rather crass back-room sex between the two of them. And, having conned her by providing her just about everything she needed to help make her week better, Matt lays down his ulterior motive very craftily.

'Escape at Dannemora': Benicio del Toro as Matt (L), Patricia Arquette as Tilly (M), and Paul Dano as David Sweat (R)
'Escape at Dannemora': Benicio del Toro as Matt (L), Patricia Arquette as Tilly (M), and Paul Dano as David Sweat (R)

He tells Tilly he would like to paint more, especially create paintings of her dogs, and the one thing he needs the most for that is a hacksaw blade. The simple-minded and possibly naive Tilly doesn't even question the scenario of a gruesome murderer for an inmate asking her for a tool that could aid his escape. Snippets of the following episode show she gives it to him happily - thereby only emphasizing just how captivating Matt's techniques of manipulation are.

So, you see, 'Escape at Dannemora' seems to be actually paying heed to fans' anticipation about the evolution of the all high and mighty Matt, from well-regarded prison inmate to the man who was shot by authorities after managing to run away from the facility.

We weren't entirely wrong in speculating that the second episode of the show, would divulge more of Matt's sinister side rather than glorify him as the art enthusiast like the pilot had. This raises expectations about what episode three might have in store!

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