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Claws - Avalanche - Review

An “Avalanche” of crazy rains down on Palmetto in the tense, twist-filled season finale of “Claws.”

We rejoin Desna running for her life in the abandoned amusement park (probably the one time Desna wishes she had opted for flats and some yoga pants) while Roller and the surviving Russian trade bullets. Luckily, having realized that she was in trouble, Polly roused the troops and they were able to track Desna down using her phone, rescuing her right before Roller can get his hands on her. But attention then quickly turns to the idea (newly introduced, I believe) that the Russians will retaliate by going after Jenn and Bryce’s daughters. Their parents are a little busy – Jenn’s in bed with Hank the dance instructor (who wears a big bottle opener on a string around his neck...‘kay?) while Bryce is covering up the murder he just accidentally committed. So Grandma Juanda is babysitting, but before she can get herself and the girls to safety at the strip club, the Russians break into her house, shoot Juanda, and take off with Brienne (“the black one," Desna later snaps at Polly), leaving a handwritten message on Baylor’s forehead that they want Roller in trade.

Juanda doesn’t survive her shooting, but both character and actress get a great send-off. First, she goes out fighting in amazing style – slashing one of the thugs with a knife she had stashed in her garter and then bashing him over the head with a tacky statue before getting shot – and the pride with which she relates this to Uncle Daddy is the best. And second, the scenes of her passing, with her beloved Clay at her side, are actually pretty emotional. Uncle Daddy is a character I’ve had trouble with, but I think the show got better at calibrating him as the season went on. And all along, Dean Norris and Dale Dickey have sold the love these two crazy kids have for each other. So it’s sad when she slips away and Uncle Daddy breaks down in sobs; I’ll miss their dynamic.

Everyone regroups at the strip club and the secrets start coming out. Roller reveals that he knocked up the 17-year-old niece of Russian boss lady Riva and that’s why he’s been paying them “child support.” This cues up a bonkers sequence where, as Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” somehow starts playing over the club’s speakers, an all-out brawl between the Husser men eventually turns into a sobbing group hug, all the while Desna looks on in arms-folded disgust. Amazing! The fun’s over, though, when Roller spills about Desna and Virginia’s roles in his “death.” But after everything she’s been through this season, Desna is unafraid and unrepentant. And with Riva having demanded “the manicurist” be sent to negotiate, Uncle Daddy has no choice but to let her live.

After Desna has left, Jenn and Bryce get into a brutal argument of their own, blaming each other for not being with Brienne when she was kidnapped. And, to my surprise, Jenn comes out with her cheating pretty much right away. The two then start flinging each other’s failings all season long in each other’s faces (I gasped when Bryce said he “pushed [Jenn] into being a whore”) and it’s left ambiguous whether they’re still together when the episode ends. It’s really great work from Jenn Lyon and especially Kevin Rankin; Rankin’s ability to play both Bryce’s doofier and darker character beats has been impressive.

So Desna goes to talk to Riva at her fancy estate, where the captive Brienne is taking riding lessons and the coffee is made from beans fed to and then pooped out by cats. Oh “Claws,” never change! Anyway, after a few false starts, Riva concedes that she will take 50% of Uncle Daddy’s businesses in lieu of Roller’s life. And because he does truly value family above all, Uncle Daddy agrees. They all then roll into a summit at a seemingly neutral site – a country club swarming with senior citizens. And that’s when things get really bananas as, while a breathless Desna looks on, the tables get turned multiple times.

First, Riva only hands Brienne over when Roller surrenders himself to her men and then announces that she’s decided to take 100% of Uncle Daddy’s businesses instead. But then! One of Uncle Daddy’s associates (not the one with the turtle, sadly) gets the jump on Riva. But then! It turns out Riva got to him first and he turns his gun on Uncle Daddy. But then! Roller gets free thanks to Bryce and Dr. Ken and they all ambush Riva. But then! It turns out all the olds in the place are packing heat and on Team Riva. Bottom line – everyone now works for her. It’s an exhilarating sequence of events and I’m impressed the show stuck to its guns in having the Hussers lose everything.

A quick subplot check-in before the cliffhangers. Marnie, Polly’s teenage neighbor from a few episodes ago, stops by the salon in distress, but Polly doesn’t have time to deal with her. But later, Polly has to step in and literally buy Marnie from her trash bag mother before she’s sold into sex slavery. Comforting her, it’s clear Polly’s relating Marnie’s trauma to something from her own childhood, and it seems like they and Dr. Ken might form some kind of weird family. Also, the Quiet Ann/Arlene situation doesn’t factor into the finale at all; curious to see if that storyline is done or if it’ll loop back around next season.

Wrapping up, the girls gather at Glint Nails, but Desna reveals that one of Riva’s conditions was that she stay at Nail Artisans and continue washing the clinic’s money. She tries to turn the new salon over to the other girls, but they insist they are a crew and should stick together. Obviously, it was too early in the show’s life for Desna to get her dream, but this reset of the status quo was a little easy, felt a little contrived. We also see Virginia take a pregnancy test, which turns out positive. Presumably the baby’s Dean’s, but how much time has passed in the show’s universe, is there any chance it’s Roller’s? And finally, in the greatest OMG of all, Uncle Daddy, Roller, and Bryce reach out to another drug outfit for help battling the Russians. And I really should have guessed given his appearance in the previouslies, but it’s only seconds before he turned around that I realized said drug boss is...Dr. Gregory Ruval, Desna’s suave doctor boyfriend. Whoa, what?!?!

So that’s a wrap on the first season of “Claws!” What did you think of all of “Avalanche’s” twists and turns? And which character was your favorite color of crazy? Share all your thoughts in the comments section.

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