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Claws - Quicksand/Fallout - Review

The women of “Claws” get dragged deeper into the Dixie Mafia “Quicksand” in the first of these two episodes, but I found the “Fallout” to be the more interesting of the pair.

“Quicksand” begins with the principal characters gathered around Virginia as she spitballs a ridiculous story about being kidnapped by Roller’s killers. Because this is “Claws,” it involves being tied to a toilet in the middle of the swamp and having peanut butter licked off her toes by her captors. When they’re finally alone, Desna lays into Virginia for again deviating from her plan and later accuses her of having “detail diarrhea” as her tall tale is riddled with specifics that can be checked and disproven. This sends them scrambling to a convenience store where Desna and Virginia, respectively, bribe and blow a clerk to make the story work. Virginia’s return also causes a stir at the salon, with Virginia trying to milk her “ordeal” for sympathy and the other ladies unsure why Desna is allowing her back into their circle. I particularly like the simmering tension between Virginia and Polly, and there’s a great moment where Polly snidely asks if her kidnappers broke her legs too when Virginia simperingly requests a soda.

But the main meat of the episode is trouble at the medical clinic. Despite Jenn’s warnings, Bryce allows himself to be worn down by Uncle Daddy and agrees to step in at the clinic. Jenn, in turn, begs a reluctant Desna to help out Bryce by showing him the ropes. Both Desna and Bryce try to put their feet down about this being a temporary situation. But when Bryce and Dr. Ken get distracted by a seizing patient, the stockroom is raided and all of them find themselves on the hook to Uncle Daddy for $88K. Jenn in particular is despondent about this turn of events, fearing she’ll lose Bryce to the Dixie Mafia or drugs or both. And it turns out her suspicions about Uncle Daddy’s involvement in the robbery were spot-on as the audience later learns he arranged it to get Bryce and Desna squarely under his thumb.

Over in the subplots, Desna gets dropped as a client by her realtor Mandy. Refusing to take the rejection lying down, Desna crashes a fancy event she’s hosting and wins her over by charming a group of her gold star clients with drinks, dancing, and designer nails. There’s also a stub of a story with Quiet Ann acting as a personal trainer for Dean (and still being stalked by her New Year’s Eve hookup), but it doesn’t really go anywhere in this episode.

“Quicksand” ends with a cliffhanger showing Desna in bed with a seemingly alive Roller. Unsurprisingly, “Fallout” begins with the reveal that Desna’s just having a nightmare. She also sees ghostly apparitions of him a few more times during the episode. I wasn’t a fan of seeing this trope come into play; it feels like the show fell in love with Jack Kesy’s performance and retro-engineered a way for him to keep appearing.

The main storyline in “Fallout” – my favorite one in these two episodes – involves a blast from Polly’s conwoman past. Her name is Sally (played with a delightful wink throughout by Gina Torres of “Suits” and a million other things), a trophy wife whom Polly befriended under an alias years before. Hilariously dropping her voice an octave, Polly spins a story to explain why her wealthy widow alter ego is now doing nails and there’s a riotous scene where they regale the salon with a story from their past (baby carrots are involved). The down-on-her-luck Polly is all too eager to renew this friendship so she can take advantage of its perks, but the plates she’s spinning eventually come crashing down when her ankle monitor goes off at Sally’s house. Carrie Preston gives an even greater than usual performance in the aftermath, first when Polly unloads on Sally for being just as much of a con as she is, and later when she cries to Desna about her fears for the future, that they’ll never make it out of the hole they’re all in.

Sally also turns out to be a lazy deus ex machina for Desna and company’s money woes. Desna spends most of the episode hustling to pay off the debt to Uncle Daddy and makes back a bulk of the money when she and the crew poach clients from another clinic (given her worries that doing so would result in a turf war, I’m guessing we haven’t heard the last of them). But when they come up $15K short, Polly uses what she learned as Sally’s “friend” against her and blackmails the balance out of her. Given what a big deal this setback seemed to be in “Quicksand,” I thought it was lame how quickly it was resolved.

But Desna’s problems are far from done. Earlier in the episode, Uncle Daddy dragged a man he suspected of Roller’s murder in front of the girls and, despite Virginia’s pleas that he’s not the guy, executed him. Bryce is particularly shell-shocked by this, and by having to participate in disposing of the body. Knowing the wet work won’t stop until Uncle Daddy feels Roller has been avenged, Bryce puts two and two together to make five and erroneously comes to the conclusion that Dr. Ken is the culprit. And while Desna and Jenn rush to stop him, the episode ends with Bryce abducting the shady doc.

That’s all I got to say about the “multi-ethnic ‘Steel Magnolias’” that is “Claws” this week. Which episode did you think was more polished, “Quicksand” or “Fallout?” Let me know in the comments section.