'The Deuce' season 2 episode 5 review: The power and the price of saying NO
This week on 'The Deuce' CC finds a way to subdue Lori but it backfires, Candy gets her movie money and Shay echoes emotions that these three have been feeling for a while.
"Nothing that I have belongs to me"
HBO's 'The Deuce' last season told us a story about the birthplace of porn - money exchanging hands, how hookers ended up doing movies and the mobs went from gambling to adult films. This season has been a different story so far. The industry's arc is now at its peak, and after the latest episode, it definitely looks like it's coming down. But in both the seasons of this porn saga, one thing has remained consistent - the exploitation of women.
They are made to believe that they have a life much better than "women out there" like the streets are their cushion and their pimps their protectors - their golden cages. The mutiny has been going on for a while internally - in such secret that these women often don't even let themselves hear it. With Episode 5, the hill is finally ready to explode.
The episode starts on a traumatic note - Lori is in bed with CC naked and vulnerable so imagine the shock on her face as she gets whacked between her legs and the side of her face suddenly. There was no argument this time, just CC's jealousy. This is the second time that her character has exhibited such behavior simply because he sees Lori prosper - but he isn't the only one. The desperation is really starting to show with the men who used to be in charge.
The parlors came around, and so did feminist ideas and these women are starting to realize that that can "turn the tables whenever they want to." Gone are the days when Lori took orders from CC alone - she now asks for professionalism, she says exactly what she thinks and is learning to say no. The case is quite similar to another hooker who used to work for CC - Ashley.
They meet at the housing community, and CC acts like a monkey with old tricks. Once again, he tries to put Ashley down like he always had but this one time - for the first time, it doesn't work. He spits words at her, quite literally saying that her activism was a phase and that people never stray too far from who they are. Ashley from the beginning of this season would have just cried quietly but this one hit him like a big yellow school bus. She smiles at him calmly and tells him that the "real me wants you buried."
CC is the first one from the gang that is as tortured by this as he is. He is also the one (shown in such detail) who is lashing out at whomever he thinks he can control. A tussle of power, he is terrified by the fact that she's trying to escape him and do her own thing. The only way he knows how to get her to stay is to beat her into submission.
Little does he know, she never meant to leave him. Although it was only a matter of time, his beating sparks her to a point that she loses it in front of Candy. She wants to be in Candy's 'Red Hot' and meets her at her place. She realizes that Candy owned the house and lived there alone and she realizes there is literally nothing she has that is hers. Not her body, not her money, nothing at all. This is when it hits her - it is a cage after all.
Candy's dreams of making 'Red Hot' have come true, and she's got the money from Franky. Although she knows that he is trouble, she still makes him co-producer and takes the money. She's desperate, and the only thing standing in between her and realizing the dream was cash. Abby asks Bobby to be banned but accepts his made up story without batting an eye.
Abby is smarter than that. This, we realize in this episode is a pattern - these women keep these men in their lives because they are a necessary evil. They help them do what they want to do - for Abby its causes and for Candy, it is her film. These women know that these men will screw them over, but they don't know what else to do. While they think they are in control, are they?
The story is slowly building towards a massive rebellion and 'Red Hot' will surely be at the front and center of it all. Like Shay so aptly puts it, "Dicks are assholes. I’m so sick of dicks. If I never see another dick for the rest of my life, I swear …"
'The Deuce' airs on Sundays on HBO at 9 pm.