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Snowfall - Trauma - Review: "Franklin's Out"

Snowfall 1.04 Trauma - Review:
Directed by Hiro Murai & Written by Emily Grinwis

The latest episode of Snowfall continued the slow, steady improvement in quality of the episodes by focusing on the Teddy and Franklin narratives, even if the storylines hit similiar beats in terms of problems that they faced this week in an episode directed by Hiro Murai, who has been previously responsible for the direction behind shows like Atlanta, having a longstanding collaboration with Donald Glover in the past under his Childish Gambino persona. Here Murai is joined by writer Emily Grinwis, the first female writer that the show has had so far. Here the episode itself benefits from a streamlined focus on both main characters, exploring how they react to the scenarios unfolding before their eyes.

Karvel has the money that belongs to Franklin and Franklin is under pressure from his employer to get it back. He's running out of time and is pressed into a corner. His only way to redeem himself is to kill Karvel, and with the help from Leon, Karvel is quickly located. This time, Franklin now has a gun, something which he has been told by his uncle that he should only take if he wants to use it. But he's slowly losing touch with the whole business over the course of this episode. The way this episode picked up from the aftermath of a game-changing decision in several of the plotlines on display really helped continue to give the series the agency that it's been missing, exploring the consequences of Karvel's actions in a fascinating way. Of course, Leon and Franklin complicated the scenario with Franklin's inexperience of handling a gun coming back to haunt him as it turned out Karvel was able to regain consciousness in the boot of the car and escape through the desert on foot, but not before being shot by Leon to the point where he's bleeding heavily, giving the two characters their lead. Leon wondered if he's ever going to die, but they soon find out their answer. Just to be sure, Leon shoots him, but one of the most interesting things about this was that Franklin paid no part in the matter.

He wants out. He doesn't even watch Leon pull the trigger, where Leon has always been the more enthusiastic one out of the two, with Leon being the only one who's singing along to the music in the car. They both know that the only way they were able to beat Karvel is the fact that he was coked up when they found him and in no position to fight, and Franklin's aware that he's not ready to advance further in the game. Franklin returns to Avi once the job is done, and Avi gives him a warning, claiming that "You should invest in your own shovel if you’re in it for the long haul.” Although for now Franklin is out, it'll be interesting to see how long he can last without being pulled back in. Avi himself also points out that Franklin lasted longer than he thought he would, leaving the episode on an interesting note. One minor issue here is that Franklin doesn't feel the real effects and consequences of what he's done, he's basically untouchable as far as the plot has concerned, and it means that most of the storyline here lacked tension outside of the scenes involving Karvel, which I felt were spectacularly done.

Something else that was spectacularly done in this week's episode that served as a reminder as to yes, this show can be good when it wants to? The cold open focusing on Gustavo, Lucia, and Pedro, with an excellent camera angle. It followed the Reservoir Dogs approach of not actually showing the scene itself but just the build-up in the previous episode and the immediate aftermath, which was a smart decision by the creative team. Pedro is shaken but it's Lucia who has all the agency here, she's bloody and clearly had something to do with the killing. This scene is enough to let us know everything about these characters, and I really like how the series has put Lucia in a commanding role here. We also got to see a great breakdown of Pedro's character in the small time that we spent with him as he couldn't quite deliver the killing of Enrique, and really shows what the series is capable of when it comes to dealing with its characters. If only it could be more consistent across the board and had it used what happened to Pedro as an example on how to flesh out the other characters, then things could have been far more interesting. But alas that sadly was not the case and the show suffers as a result.

Teddy's storyline was a fairly by the books one that saw him connect with a kid who seemed to know more than what he let on about the camp where they're located. Teddy and the kid bond, opening up about baseball and their pasts, but when Teddy stumbles across an infrared device that could potentially reveal the location of the camp to The Sandinistas, he knows the kid is the one who put it there. Whilst obviously the series is not going to show the killing of the kid on screen as it's left more to the audience's imagination than anything, it felt far too manipulative to pack any narrative weight and much like Franklin, Teddy's storyline suffered because of this. It's quickly becoming apparent that the multiple narratives whilst adding variety to Snowfall are robbing the chance for the series to properly flesh out its characters, as it constantly breezes through their plotlines in a rush to get to the next character. Hopefully we'll get some episodes in the future where the show focuses on one specific character for the length of its run, because with the proper attention then Franklin, Gustavo or Teddy could really shine. But unfortunately they writers aren't really sticking the landing, which is a real shame given the potential that we've had on display here so far.

What did you think of Slow Hand? Let me know in the comments below and check out Snowfall's newest episode next Wednesday 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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