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Snowfall - Slow Hand - Review: "Follow The Money"

Snowfall 1.03 Slow Hand - Review:
Directed by Dan Attias & Written by Leonard Chang

From the experienced creative team of Dan Attias (The Sopranos, The Wire, among others) and writer Leonard Chang (Justified), Snowfall's third episode Slow Hand was something that I went into with fairly high expectations as I was hoping that the talented director/writer combo behind this episode would be able to make an improvement on the previous two episodes, and picking up from where we left off with a broken, bruised Franklin lying in the road missing the bag of money he needs, there were signs of an improvement from the very start. This episode had a sense of agency and tension that was lacking from the previous two episodes as Franklin's hunt for the names of his attackers took him to Claudia, as the show took a darker turn than it had previously over the course of the two episodes that we've seen so far, upping the stakes. He finds out from Claudia after getting beaten up by the two men who wanted to sell to Claudia in the first place he learns of their names, Lenny and Ray Ray, and then goes and recruits Leon. Leon decides to bring in Karvell for some more man-power, but you know Karvell is bad news, and it's not going to be as easy getting retribution as Franklin thinks.

They do eventually find both Ray Ray and Lenny, but it's as expected, on the terms of the unhinged Karvell. Karvell doesn't hold anything back, going across the line by essentially raping Ray Ray. This decision doesn't go down well with Franklin and then to top off everything, Karvell decides to take the money. So Franklin's doomed quest of retribution has seen things go from bad to worse and has now seen him practically gift the money to someone who would be even harder to get the money off in the first place than Ray Ray and Lenny. He's too "soft", Karvell reveals. I was expecting Franklin to get the money back but from the moment Karvell was brought into the picture I knew it wouldn't be as clean cut as Franklin was hoping for, and now he's in a whole world of trouble. Despite the wishes of his mother Franklin turns to his Uncle for help, but his Uncle stubbornly refuses. His Aunt however is kinder towards Franklin, giving him a pistol, which he'll inevitably have to use at some point. Things are setting up to have a major effect on Franklin's character going forward, and dropping that big of a Chekov's Gun hint at the end of the episode leaves things on an interesting note indeed. Presumably the next episode will deal with the hunt for Karvell, but it remains to be seen for now. And of course, after this, Franklin will almost certainly come out of this debacle not being as trusting as he was previously, if he has any sense. It'll be interesting to see how these events shape his character going forward.

It's also interesting to note that unlike the first two episodes this one didn't start off with a blues song, preferring a more silent opening soundtrack-wise, suggesting the darker tone of the series to come. I am going to miss naming my review titles after Nina Simone songs, though. But this is a good decision for the show as things progress into murkier waters.

One thing that is pretty clear however is which storyline out of the main ones here is the best one, and it's certainly Franklin's. It so far has the most agency and the most tension, and the consistency of the other threads aren't really as strong as this one has been, which has been steadily improving. Here though, Teddy's storyline for example, doesn't really pay off yet. Unlike with Franklin's adventures we don't feel an emotional attachment to Teddy's character, who starts to get more ambitious as the episode progresses, much like Franklin before him. However much like Franklin things go south when both his wife and son arrive in the picture, and it's undermining Teddy's status when his wife addresses the situation that the war he is fighting is too dangerous. Lives are on the line here. He ends up becoming slowly paranoid over the course of the episode as the rocket launches he acquires for Alejandro have US Government serial numbers on them, which could bring unwanted attention.

He ends up finding out that Alejandro has fled with the arsenal against Teddy's instructions, putting him in a very difficult position. It's like Franklin's storyline without the heart, almost, as so far it feels hollow and almost repetitive just taking place in a different setting and involving weapons rather than money. Hopefully Teddy's storyline is headed in a different direction to Franklin's in the next episode, that's for sure, because the last thing Snowfall needs is to be feeling repetitive in the fourth episode of the first season, when it's still struggling to convince audiences to stay hooked for the long haul.

Having one out of the three storylines work is a poor success rate and something that needs to be rectified sooner rather than later. Gustavo's too, who has the potential to be the best out of the three, simply isn't being utilised effectively, being reduced to rather limited storyline which is a shame when he has some good, fleshed out character depth. At least unlike Teddy and Franklin he knows what he's getting into and does not underestimate the people that he's working with, making him already the smartest out of the three leads. He's not quite as keen on following everything that both Lucia and Pedro put before him, and ends up picking a target with no family ties when he sees his initial one - Tomas - having dinner with his male partner. his target may be harder, but the death will not affect any members of the immediate family. So this will no doubt be an interesting chance to explore more of Gustavo's character going forward, but for now, we're left with precious little that only leaves us wanting more. Because his storyline feels far more interesting than Teddy's at this point, and the lack of attention is the only real thing that's preventing it from making two out of three work.

So on the whole, Slow Hand was probably the best episode out of the three so far, but still was a bit inconsistent with its three narratives, feeling pretty messy in parts. Hopefully as time progresses things will improve, but for now, Slow Hand is a slow step in the right direction.

What did you think of Slow Hand? Let me know in the comments below and check out Snowfall's newest episode tonight at 10pm on FX.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, Black Sails, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Preacher, The Mist, Star Wars Rebels, Silicon Valley, Snowfall and Veep for Spoiler TV and will be covering Castle Rock, Counterpart, Krypton, Marvel's New Warriors, Rise, Marvel's Runaways, Succession, Star Trek Discovery, and Trust. He also contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 300 favourite movies here.
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