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Claws - Shook - Review

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It’s more manis, more problems for the women of “Claws” in season two. And by the end of the highly entertaining premiere, things have gotten “Shook” up real good.

At first, the new normal is going okay for Desna (Niecy Nash) as we rejoin her and her crew at Nail Artisans of Manatee County. Instead of being under Uncle Daddy’s (Dean Norris) thumb, she’s the one running the show at the clinic. And instead of trifling Roller (Jack Kesy), she’s spending her nights with the suave Dr. Gregory Ruval (Jimmy Jean-Louis, who’s been promoted to series regular). Of course, we in the audience know that Ruval is secretly a drug kingpin himself. We’re reminded of this when Uncle Daddy calls him, asking when they’re going to make their move against the Russians, but Ruval implores him to be patient. And that seems to be the show’s plan too, to slow burn this storyline.

The main drama, therefore, comes from the new Russian overlords. Because despite her new position of power, working for them isn’t exactly champagne and caviar, particularly when Riva (Andrea Sooch) informs a discomforted Desna that they’ll be expanding from opioids to cocaine. But the real wrench in things is the arrival of Zlata (Franka Potente, “The Bourne Identity”), Riva’s sister and the mother of Olga (Katherine Reis, “Rise”), Roller’s young baby mama. Sporting a loud accent and louder clothes, Zlata fits right in to the world of “Claws,” but doesn’t get a warm welcome from her family. So when she tags along when Riva goes to discipline Desna for a screw-up by the Husser boys, Zlata takes the opportunity to shoot her sister in the head, a shock turn that also saddened me because I really liked Sooch in this part. “I choose lane,” Zlata announces to a stunned Desna and crew, informing them that they now work for her.

Lucky for the ladies, one thing Zlata does have in common with Riva is that she likes Desna, sees in her “bad bitch like me, who has been underestimated for far too long.” Determined to prove that women “can be just as bad and have more fun doing it,” Zlata shows up at the salon with envelopes of cash and cheers of female solidarity to woo the women. She then lays out her plans to expand the drug business on both fronts, and also to launch a male revue at the strip club, a task, amusingly, Polly (Carrie Preston) and Virginia (Karrueche Tran) leap into with relish. But despite her amiable approach, it’s clear that Zlata is demanding and volatile. In particular, she wants a reluctant Desna to start treating her crew more like employees and less like friends, first by making her engage in petty retaliations against the Hussers, and then by literally forcing her to accept the keys to Jenn’s (Jenn Lyon) house. As the episode ends, Zlata excitedly declares them sisters, but by the look on Desna’s face, it’s clear she hasn’t forgotten what Zlata did to her actual sister.

The lingering attraction between Desna and Roller might prove a problem down the line too, even though he’s forced at literal gunpoint to marry Olga in a wedding that’s classic “Claws.” It’s definitely still there, particularly from Roller’s end, and we know that Desna’s relationship with Ruval is a ticking time bomb. And I couldn’t help thinking, when she interrupted a private moment between the two, how bad it would be for Desna if Olga came to view her as a threat and sicced her mommy on her.

Moving on, let’s check in on the other relationships among the characters. Things are still real tense between Jenn and Bryce (Kevin Rankin), but even though she’s not feeling his “Vanilla Bryce” makeover, she still seems to want him back. Polly and Ken (Jason Antoon) have indeed formed a weird little family with Marnie (Morgan Lily), that teenage girl Polly saved from sex slavery last season (and who, I noticed, has undergone a Polly-esque makeover of her own). Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes) is still smarting from her breakup with Arlene, and seems a bit bitter about Desna’s happiness with Ruval, a plot point I really have my eye on. Dean (Harold Perrineau) susses out that Virginia is pregnant, and I cannot wait to see how Desna reacts when she finds out. And amazingly, Uncle Daddy has chosen to memorialize his dearly departed wife with a mini-portrait of her on his coke nail. Oh “Claws,” never change!

So that’s how things “Shook” out in the season premiere of “Claws.” What did you think about the return trip to Palmetto? Come share your thoughts in the comments section.

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