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Claws - Burn - Review

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“Burn” was a weird episode of “Claws” in that, narratively, it was trying to be both a small flame and a raging inferno all at once, in a way that didn’t weld together too well.

Desna is hungry, parched, starving for revenge against Ruval and Zlata when we rejoin her this week. But even after a night spent staring at the charred remains of her wedding dress, she hasn’t really come up with a plan to strike back at them. So she’s susceptible to Uncle Daddy suggesting they take advantage of the distraction of a “Caribbean Cup soccer thing” to burn down one of Ruval’s storage warehouses. But once they’re there, Uncle Daddy pulls an audible and talks Desna into stealing the coke instead, swearing it’s a better way to hurt their enemies. Quiet Ann is furious about this turn of events and quits the crew when they return to the salon. I’m not sure if this plot was supposed to feel half-cocked because that’s how Desna is reacting to being betrayed, but it’s certainly the way it played out. There were also flourishes that noticeably felt like they were there just to be flourishes, like Virginia buying them animal masks they barely wore so the show could play “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on the soundtrack.

This is as good a place as any to note that it really struck me in this episode that “Claws” doesn’t know what do with Virginia anymore. Last season, her integration into the crew and her secret with Desna about “killing” Roller made her more central to the action. But this year, all she does is wear crazy outfits, crack wise, and get snapped at by the other ladies. I hope they can course correct because Karrueche Tran can handle it when they give her something more to do, like with Virginia’s abortion subplot earlier this season.

Anyway, things get more interesting when we finally hear the reason why Ruval and Zlata targeted Desna in the first place. It turns out that, unbeknownst to her, Desna’s name is on the license to run the pain clinic. The Dixie Mafia chose her because, in addition to having a cash business to launder money, she had a clean record (Uncle Daddy’s aside here that Jenn and Juanda’s rap sheets rival the Husser boys' is hilarious). And because of a crackdown on issuing said licenses, Desna is the only one in the operation who can open more clinics. But Ruval could get his hands on hers if he married her...and then killed her. Now, in a real-world sense, no way do I believe that a business/medical license would transfer to a spouse like that, nor do I think it would be impossible for Ruval – who apparently has a legitimate cover as a doctor – to get one of his own. But I do think this is setting up the interesting possibility that Desna, by the end of the season, will kick the Hussers, the Russians, and the Haitians out and become a queen-pin in her own right.

Desna’s fury at being played by the Hussers turns to fear when Ruval shows up at the salon to pick her up for a date night she forgot about. She somehow convinces him they should be celibate until their wedding night, which you think would arouse his...suspicions, but I guess the show wanted to sidestep questions about Desna sleeping with him under duress. And the next morning, when she overhears him on the phone ordering his men to check out all the Russians for the cocaine theft, Desna comes up with another way to hit him in the nuts. She convinces Roller to plant some of the cocaine on one of the Russians, correctly noting that this ploy worked with the Coombs last season. And it does here too, setting the stage for war between the two factions. Finally able to take a breath, Desna decides to take a day off and go to the beach with Dean. And that, of course, is when Arlene and her partner Lucy (whose dry line readings I’ve been loving, by the way) show up to arrest her.

Let’s back up to when we first see Arlene in this episode. Thanks to Ken’s stupidity, the agents have more than enough on tape to lock up Polly, but what they really want is a “big fish” like Zlata. Wired up again, Ken bumbles off to see Zlata (who, in this scene, is wearing amazing exclamation point earrings) and, lucky for him, she invites him to help her out with a liquor-boarding. The person being subjected to it is Roller, whom Zlata is interrogating about Uncle Daddy’s whereabouts. Roller maintains the cover, although he comes close to cracking when Zlata threatens Bogdan. And after this is when Olga decides to tell Roller that he’s not actually the baby’s father. I’m not sure why we needed this twist, and needed it dropped in now. I guess because his fatherly affection for Bogdan has redeemed Roller enough that the show can put him back with Desna and him not actually being the bio daddy will allow him to more easily walk away from him and Olga?

So Ken hands over the recording of the liquor-boarding to Arlene and Lucy and they agree with him that he and Polly are now off the hook, an anticlimactic moment even if we know there’s no way this is actually over. But nothing he got on tape really implicated Desna. So did Quiet Ann, who seeks comfort from Arlene after quitting the crew, say something that Arlene used to get her arrest warrant? Or did she decide to use the evidence she already had on Desna now that Ann has walked away? I guess we’ll find out next week, but something tells me this relationship is about to go kablammo all over again.

Finally, with everything else going on, Jenn and Polly are left to run the salon, a task made all the more difficult when Zlata struts in for a spa day with the ladies who cut her coke. The tension between Jenn and Zlata has been a delicious throughline all season and it’s obviously quite rampant now that, you know, Zlata nearly killed Jenn’s husband. Jenn really, really, reeeaaallly wants to kill Zlata, but she manages to keep her nail cleaner out of Zlata’s neck, pockets the payoff she’s offered, and crows to Bryce that they can use it to finance the move out of Palmetto they discussed earlier. But given Bryce ends the episode nervously going into surgery – plus the weirdness with Hank last week – there’s a real cloud of doom hanging over these two.

So that’s my hot take on “Burn.” Did “Claws” leave you hot or cold this week? Tell me what you thought in the comments section.

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