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Quarry - Series Premiere - Advance Preview

This Friday, 9th September, Cinemax are premiering their latest show, Quarry. Based on the bestselling books by Max Allan Collins, the drama follows U.S. Marine Mac Conway when he returns home to Memphis from Vietnam in 1972. When he returns, he’s shunned by his loved ones and demonised by the public as a result of his time at war, and while Conway grapples with the nightmare he experienced, he is unwillingly drawn into a network of killing. The series comes from Michael D. Fuller & Graham Gordy (Rectify), who write the series, while Greg Yaitanes (Banshee) serves as showrunner and directs all eight episodes. Logan Marshall-Green (“Prometheus”) stars as Conway, Jodi Balfour (“Final Destination 5”) stars as his wife, Joni, and Peter Mullan (Olive Kitteridge) stars as the mysterious man known only as The Broker.

Quarry's debut episode is a weird mix. It’s a solid episode of television with an intriguing premise and some good acting - from Marshall-Green in particular. On the face of it, it’s enjoyable enough. And yet, I can’t help but feel that there’s something desperately missing.

Originally, the show was ordered to pilot, which means that it is, inevitably, going to have that somewhat dreaded feeling of knowing that this is, essentially, the show before it finds itself, the extremely long trailer that will get you buying the ticket - to put it in movie terms. There’s even a moment halfway through the premiere that features two characters having a conversation that introduces the basic premise of the episodes to come; this is after half an hour or so (*) of extensive build-up, which fits much more with the cable - and, specifically, HBO - type premieres than a broadcast network one. It’s very much a pilot rather than an episode of television designed solely as the first chapter of a novel.

(*) The premiere is 75 minutes, and it does feel that long.

The episode certainly has enough to keep you with it throughout, though it takes some patience as many of the characters are left shrouded in mystery for long stretches. Damon Herriman’s Buddy, for example, appears in multiple, wide-ranging - and occasionally strange - scenes before revealing his name, and even by the end, very little about him isn’t completely and utterly perplexing. The complexity of him, along with The Broker, aren’t without merit, but if you go in anticipating everything to be laid out, revise your expectations. It’s why it is so baffling to realise that this was a pilot initially.

Despite this, it’s certainly worth it by the end, at least to an extent. There are long stretches in the back half where Quarry treads through murky waters and it becomes very unclear as to how this works as an eight-episode season, beyond perhaps becoming a simple procedural. But there is potential, and the final 15 minutes or so present much of that potential as Conway’s role in the series becomes clear.

Throughout, Logan Marshall-Green is excellent. Conway has returned after his second tour in Vietnam, and what he saw and experienced and did over there haunts him, both psychologically and in his everyday life from the town - his father tries to keep Conway from visiting him and his mother, while his hunt for a job is difficult due to some negative press of one of his actions. Even in the early stages as Conway is mostly in control, Marshall-Green presents a feeling of unease, both for him to be home and having to deal with everything, and to be around. He’s a dangerous man in a flawed mental state, and the performance conveys that long before any character states it outright. The supporting cast of Balfour, Mullan, Herriman and Jamie Hector (The Wire), who plays Conway’s best friend and fellow Marine, Arthur, are all enjoyable to watch too.

Anyone who knows Yaitanes’ style from his work on Banshee - no 20-minute GoPro heist sequences yet, unfortunately - will immediately recognise it here. There are some clever cutaways from a present day shot to a hallucination shot and back again, while one scene uses the trick of a soundless, slow-motion shot with a continued dialogue over the top. Yaitanes makes good use of the locations: One pivotal scene shot in a quarry looks wonderful, while the opening scene, likely most notable for its story ramifications (which I won’t spoil), perfectly captures the dark, unpleasant nature of both the scene and the setting.

I feel a lot better about Quarry having completed the premiere than I did after half an hour, but there’s still work to be done here. Watching it will require patience, and in a month full of premieres, that might not be a virtue you can afford, but this show is certainly worth a try.

Quarry premieres on Cinemax on Friday, 9th September at 10pm.

About the Author - Bradley Adams
18 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, co-host on the SpoilerTV Podcast. Created and is in charge of the yearly Favourite Episode Competition and currently runs the Favourite Series Competition. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, while some of his all-time favourite shows include 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Banshee, Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul and many more. He also runs an Arrow fans site, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email
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