'The Deuce' season 3 Episode 1: Candy and Vince live glamorous lives on the surface as they struggle to hide the decay inside
Even if things change to an extent at The Deuce, they essentially remain the same
Spoilers ahead for 'The Deuce' season 3 episode 1...
'The Deuce' season 3 premiere episode is foremost a study of contradictions. We are now in December 1984 and the characters have come far since the first season. Sure, there is more money in Vince's (James Franco) hand, Frankie (James Franco) has now proceeded to shoot porn too and Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) doesn't have to turn tricks to earn any more. Even as so much has changed in their lives, a lot remains set in stone. The audiences are shown scenes that are expected to be layered and full of emotions that are expected to awe them, but essentially it is all a facade just like Vince's bar.
Compared to the bar that Vince was managing in the first season, the one that he owns in the third season is all the rage. This is a symbol of how Vince's life is now filled to the brim with people, only that none of them really matter. He and Abby (Margarita Levieva) may live together, but that has nothing to do with Vince sleeping with other women because as Vince says 'There is no cheating at all'. He likes Abby, he also misses his ex-wife occasionally and that has him taking her to his apartment. It is here that he tries to show his ex-wife Andrea (Zoe Kazan) that everything at that point is acceptable. However, all that we see is a man who is using any available excuse to aid him in sleeping with a number of women. He has gone far beyond what he had ever hoped to achieve and as a result became a man who has had to sacrifice his morals - the tiny bit that he ever possessed - in the process of making it as a business owner in The Deuce. His achievements portrayed side by side with things proves that he has essentially failed to show any progress.
Then we have Candy aka Eileen Merrell, who may seem like she has finally got everything under her feet, but it is again just an illusion that is built around the character to make her lack of success more distinct. Every time we see her lord her talent for filmmaking in comparison to the others who are making porn, in the next few minutes we also see her being put off by misogyny in the industry which is forced by the fact that pornography is something that is essentially of interest to the straight-while-male population.
'The Deuce' season 2 saw Candy finally breaking into the business of movie-making after much hard work, especially considering that porn industry in the 1980s was one filled to the brim with men making videos to help fellow men, and so directed the content solely directed this segment of the population. Candy wanted to change that and make porn that allowed women to take not just the driver's seat in pleasuring themselves, but also wants to explore what it means to make love. In fact, one of the films that she is cutting a trailer for in season 3's first episode is a scene of a real-life couple making love that she was allowed to document. But no one finds this interesting and the tug of war between being secure as a creator and not having an audience for her work is the struggle that portrays the duality studying the glamorous surface vs what is really happening beneath all the glossy exterior.
Finally, we have Lori Madison (Emily Meade), who has given herself a chance to heal and visited a rehabilitation center in Los Angeles where she stayed close to a month. When Greg, her manager arrives to pick her up it is apparent from her expression that she is not exactly happy to be back. Especially when Greg (Ryan Farrell) tells her that she would have to sit in on a meeting about a convention that she would have to attend soon. While she is advised to find new surroundings with people who wouldn't further push her into the depth of addiction, it takes her just days before she gives in to the temptation of snorting coke, erasing even the slim chance that she may have at putting her life in order. The same time as when she finishes snorting her line, Candy and Vince clink glasses to a new year - 1985 - and to times together and better. Even if things change to an extent at The Deuce, they essentially remain the same and this scene especially drives that point home.
The next episode of 'The Deuce' will air on Monday at 9 pm on HBO.