'Escape at Dannemora': A dangerous love triangle between Tilly, Sweat, and Matt and how upcoming episodes could play out
The question here is, how far would Patricia Arquette's Tilly - trapped in a dead town, and a dead marriage - go just to feel some moiety of fulfillment through sex?
Ben Stiller-directed prison break thriller, 'Escape at Dannemora,' premiered on Showtime on Sunday, but despite the story being based on the real-life incident of Clinton Correctional Facility, the one strand which stood out in the episode was the gritty sex scene between its two character - Joyce 'Tilly' Mitchell and David Sweat.
Playing the role of Tilly is Oscar-winner actress Patricia Arquette - completely unrecognizable as the demure but crafty in-charge of the prison's tailor shop - where Paul Dano's character, Sweat, works.
The two, along with fellow inmate and tailor shop worker Richard Matt (Benicio del Toro), hatch the most meticulous prison escape plan ever, which they surprisingly successfully execute. And if you could blanket all of that into a story, it sounds somewhat like a sinister love triangle turned prison break, and which brings us to the most important question - how do they pan the idea out in the upcoming episodes of 'Escape at Dannemora'?
The official Wikipedia entry of the prison escape incident describes it as: "On June 6, 2015, when two inmates, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were discovered missing during a 5:17 a.m. bed check at the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility. Matt was serving 25 years to life and Sweat was serving life without parole, both for murder. Nearly three weeks later, Matt was found at Malone, New York, where he was shot and killed; two days after that, Sweat was shot and taken into custody. The manhunt and investigation was said to cost about $23 million."
And to help them break their way through thick prison walls, was this one particular married woman - aka Tilly - who was every bit a part of the plan, wherein they spent months digging out a tunnel using tools from contractors that Tilly would get them using her associations with other inmates, only to be returned to their toolboxes afterwards.
As dramatic and crafted for a sensational Hollywood project as the incident sounds, it was real, and as Arquette believes, portraying it in the most realistic manner was the only way to go about the budding love-triangle and eventual hatching of escape plans.
So far, with just the premiere episode out, we have seen Tilly - who is married to Lyle Mitchell (Eric Lange) - extremely dissatisfied by the lack of any leftover charm in her marriage. She definitely isn't a looker - not in the conventional sense of the term - but she knows how to satisfy her urges, and thus ends up engaging in sexual encounters with prison inmates. The most life-changing one of them being those with both Sweat and Matt.
“I think at first I was like, oh, these guys conned and charmed this lady,” Arquette told the Daily Beast, reminiscing about her thoughts when she first came across the incident when it was happening.
But the more she delved in the character of Tilly, she analyzed her as a person - what Tilly's perception of the scenario was, how she must have gone about it, and also how she had expected the consequences to turn out.
The infamous real-life Tilly was labeled “Shaw-skank” by the tabloid back when the incident unfolded, but clearly, she was more than just a woman who was used by these two con-men to escape.
The question here is, how far would a woman trapped in a dead town, and a dead marriage go just to feel some moiety of fulfillment through sex? Maybe she did, whatever she did, just to get out of the shackles she was confined to. Working in a prison doesn't blind one to the life of inmates, so clearly Tilly knew what she was consciously getting into.
And it is quite possible that the upcoming episodes of 'Escape at Dannemora' will be able to project that very ulterior motive - apart from pure carnal urges - that Tilly's brain worked on as she decided to be a part of this devious plan that ended up with a $23 million manhunt.
“Here’s a normal woman, who’s kind of invisible, who has a kind of middle American mentality of the world around her,” Arquette told the outlet. “I think that there’s value in that personality.” And that comes out in the very first episode with her very workmanlike liaisons with the inmates - even the men she is having sex with on the down low, and the others she is coaxing simple favours out of, that in the long run will help the men involved in her love triangle, escape. But the question is, whether the show will delve in deeper to show how having sex with these two men impacts their behaviour towards her.
The pilot has already shown del Toro's character, Matt, warning his next-door cellmate Sweat that people are starting ot talk about the latter's 'clandestine', sexual encounters with the 50-something old tailor shop in-charge. And while there has been no sex scenes between Tilly and Matt yet, it will be interesting to see whether Sweat eventually finds out about it, and most importantly, how he takes it. Definitely, something to watch out for!
Arquette kind of explains the hows and whys of this distorted love triangle between her character and the escapee inmates, saying: “I kept saying we’re already trying to sell this crazy premise. The more we ground it in reality, people will feel like they can buy into it. The realer Tilly is, the more it will resonate as somebody, hopefully, that people will believe.”
So what it all comes down to is that while the two men thought they were conning a simple-minded, ordinary 50-year-old married woman for their selfish motives, she was using them back to ride out her thrills and urges - or whatever she could achieve as an escape from her lackluster life.
And when you think of it along those lines, the title of the show starts making all the more sense. It's not just about the escape from Dannemora; it is about Tilly framing her own little safe heaven of desires and urges, riding out her dreams and passions, and escaping into a dreamland of fulfillment 'at' Dannemora.
But it wasn't just using and abusing the latent codependency these three had on each other. As Arquette spilled to National Public Radio, "Tilly sort of as a woman who loves too much — that sort of love-addict personality. A part of her is being seen and loved by each of these different men. And I just thought that was interesting."
Of course, that was in the context of a writer's perspective, but it just opens up the scope for deeper indulging into this plot of the love triangle - something that 'Escape at Dannemora' is most probably going to showcase in the future episodes to come.