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Claws - Teatro/Ambrosia - Review

The women of “Claws” have more drama to deal with than ever before as “Teatro” and “Ambrosia” raise the stakes ahead of the season finale.

The main story across these two episodes, of course, is Roller’s return. Virginia has barely caught the girls up on his apparent resurrection when he saunters into the nail salon, which elicits simultaneous screams from all of them. At first, it seems like things might work out okay. Roller claims not to remember anything about the day Desna and Virginia “killed” him. And his ordeal in the swamp appears to have softened him as he’s very sweet to Desna, even (gasp!) not demanding she squeeze his neck when they’re having reunion sex. But it soon becomes clear that he’s gaming all of them. Desna spots that he’s getting mysterious texts demanding money. And later, at yet another elaborate Uncle Daddy shindig, Roller makes a dramatic scene of “remembering” who shot him...and then fingers the Russians we saw rescue him last week. The women are able to piece together that Roller was embezzling from Uncle Daddy to pay off the Russians, but when Desna tries to blackmail her and Virginia’s safety out of him, he takes her hostage at gunpoint.

“Ambrosia” begins with a flashback to the first time Desna and Roller met and sparks flew. But in the present, the rapidly unspooling Roller has a plan to use Desna to drain all the cash he needs to pay his debts and then frame and kill her. As they spend the day locked in tense conflict – Desna doing everything she can to talk him down or escape, Roller periodically exploding in anger at what she did to him and his current predicament – we continue to see flashbacks of their courtship and how Desna came to be involved in his criminal world. Now, there’s a little bit of retconning going on here to fit Roller back into the show, especially the reveal that he did try to get Uncle Daddy to pay Desna her due, which was their central conflict in the pilot. But you can’t blame them as Roller’s a colorful character and there’s a good deal of scene chemistry between Niecy Nash and Jack Kesy.

Another relationship fraught with tension is Jenn and Bryce’s. Bryce has come into his own at the clinic and is resistant about making room for Roller to return. The brothers spar several times during “Teatro,” but Uncle Daddy makes it clear that he wants Bryce to continue running things. Jenn is not happy that he won’t put his sobriety above the job, and when he tries to buy her off with a flashy diamond ring, but she’s especially horrified when he shows no remorse about killing the innocent Coombs. So it’s not surprising that, near the end of “Ambrosia,” she succumbs to the flirtation she’s been having with that dance instructor and smooches him.

Crazily enough, that’s the least of Bryce’s problems. His various stressors having shoved him off the wagon, he insists to Uncle Daddy that they strike back at the Russians and Uncle Daddy concedes to call in his superior in the Dixie Mafia. Said superior is Ted and he, amazingly, is played by Michael Emerson, of “Lost” fame and Carrie Preston’s real-life husband. Ted is a hoot, a hippie in ripped jeans and a tie-dye T-Shirt who carries a speaking stick and beats Bryce with it when he doesn’t play along. I’ve barely wrapped my head around that awesomeness when, to my total surprise, Bryce spitefully shoves Ted and he breaks his neck. So now, Bryce and Uncle Daddy have their own unplanned murder to cover up.

Also caught up in a mess of crime, love, and loyalty is Quiet Ann. It turns out her cop girlfriend Arlene has been investigating the Coombs’ murder and she suspects a connection between them and the pain clinic/Uncle Daddy. She even finds that broken nail of Desna’s from episode two on Roller’s dock. So Quiet Ann is of course horrified when she stumbles across her files and realizes Arlene’s about to have Desna arrested. A lot of their relationship has been off-screen, but in an amazing scene with Polly, Judy Reyes is amazing selling how much value Quiet Ann gets out of this romance, how Arlene accepts every part of her, even the parts that she herself hates. But after a stern reality check from Polly about everything Desna’s done for her, Quiet Ann makes a choice and, extremely reluctantly, uses her knowledge of a DUI in Arlene’s past against her, drugging her so her credibility will be compromised.

A few other plot tidbits. There are some amusing scenes about the ladies’ sex lives, first when Dean blurts out about having sex with Virginia in front of Desna and Roller, and later when Polly is teased by her friends about her hookup with Dr. Ken. Dean additionally announces plans to ask Virginia to marry him. And there’s also mentions of Roller and Bryce’s father, who was killed by rivals and avenged by Uncle Daddy, which feels like it’s going to be important later.

Finally, the cliffhanger. Roller drags Desna to his meetup with the Russians at an abandoned amusement park (kudos to the show’s location scouts) and manages to get the drop on them. But when the moment comes, he can’t bring himself to shoot Desna. And when he’s distracted by one of the twins – and just as Polly is realizing that Desna used their code word for danger on the phone with Virginia earlier in the episode – Desna runs for her life.

That’s my take on these two episodes of “Claws.” Tell me what you thought of “Teatro” and “Ambrosia” in the comments section.

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