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Quarry - Seldom Realized - Review: "In the show's best episode yet, Mac and Joni settle their differences."



A man comes home from war to his loving wife, and they decide, like any ordinary couple, to buy a house. The man then decides to build a pool in the back yard, because why not? He's earned it. But after they've bought their house and he's built his pool, a feeling of guilt begins to claw away at him. Why does he get to enjoy this nice house and this pool, when his brothers are still in combat on the other side of the world, fighting for their lives? The man realizes that he has no place in ordinary society, and so he signs up for another tour. His loving wife, after waiting for him for so long to come home, is naturally distraught when he leaves right after he gets back. She doesn't understand, because she can never understand.

Mac Conway doesn't belong in the world he came home to. But he's also haunted by the various atrocities he committed while at war, and so he becomes a man stuck between two worlds, not part of one or the other. In war, he was comfortable. There, he felt useful, needed. But he comes home to find that not only is he not needed, but he is reviled by the general public for his involvement in an unjust war. His wife, Joni, who lovingly waited for him to come home only to see him leave just as suddenly, sought the comfort of another man. He can't seem to get a job, no matter how poor the pay. And so he follows in his friend's footsteps, and enters into a life of crime.

"Seldom Realized" is an outstanding hour of television. Whereas in previous episodes the show's more meditative moments came across as pretentious, here they revealed a depth I had no idea the show had, as Mac and Joni find themselves on the run from Suggs, hiding out in a rundown motel in Arkansas. And besides providing a resolution to the Suggs arc, this episode didn't have much in the way of plot development. Instead, the episode followed the formula of so many great episodes of TV, most notably Mad Men's "The Suitcase" or Breaking Bad's "Fly", by putting two of its characters together in close quarters and gradually allowing the tension between the two to rise and come to a boil.

This episode also, for the first time in the Quarry's run so far, shows an interest in actually developing Joni into a fully realized character, and does so by drawing parallels between her and Mac's respective journeys. Just like Mac signed up for a second tour in Vietnam partly because that's where he felt he belonged, Joni reached out to Cliff because she felt adrift when Mac left, and sought a meaningful connection to the world.

Like Mac when he came home that first time, and like Joni when he left again, this episode feels very adrift and isolated from the show surrounding it, albeit in a very good way. Yes, characters like Buddy and The Broker have been fascinating, but their presence would've detracted from this episode, and so their absence was welcome. Hell, Mac and Joni literally find themselves boxed in, surrounded on three sides by motel rooms. Yet the real world still permeates this box every once in a while, particularly through the news of the Munich Olympics massacre, which adds to the episode's atmosphere of doom.

Of course, this all builds to the brief but exciting climax in which the motel owner and Suggs both die and it's revealed that The Broker had someone watching Mac the whole time, but the real climax of the episode is its beautifully shot final scene. Mac and Joni, separated by the edge of the frame and the bathtub, seem to settle their differences, as Mac admits to her everything that has happened since he came home. As I said, the direction in the scene is stunning, with the two of them rarely in the same shot, with a couple of exceptions, particularly the final shot, in which Mac gets up to leave, and Joni grabs his hand, thus ending the episode on a fairly optimistic note.

But can Mac really live in this world that he has returned home to? This episode may suggest that he can, especially in his scenes with the motel owner. Mac seems envious of how that man has carved out a place for himself in the world, no matter how humble, and wishes to be able to do the same. In combat, Mac was accustomed to feeling useful, but since he's come home he's found that the real world has no use for him. So what does he do when he meet a man who seems to have it all figured out? He offers to fix his pool pump, because that's how he feels useful.

Grade: A

About the Author - Sean Candon
Sean is a student living in Ireland. He has a keen interest in dramatic television (as well as some comedies). Some of his favourite shows right now include The Leftovers, The Americans, Game of Thrones, Black Sails and Mr Robot. Some of his favourite shows of all time include The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Person of Interest, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Lost. He is also an "A Song of Ice and Fire" obsessive. You can visit his blog at www.discussingtelevision.wordpress.com.
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