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Claws - Vaginalologist - Review

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The rollercoaster ride that is “Claws” hit the midway point of season two this week and, based on how “Vaginalologist” ends, things are going to get even crazier in the back half.

But the episode opens with Desna on top of the world. She is overseeing the grand opening of the second pain clinic (she at one point talks down the new doctor, a throwaway moment that seems like it might be important later) and getting rewarded by Zlata with a fancy sports car. So the question becomes whether to dime out Uncle Daddy for plotting a coup. Desna is clearly enjoying the perks of being Zlata’s lieutenant – not just the cars and cash, but the acknowledgement and appreciation of her hard work – and isn’t interested in going back to the old status quo. But while I doubt she cares about Uncle Daddy himself, she is concerned about the collateral damage narcing on his “stupid plan” could do (Roller also makes a decent point that Uncle Daddy let Desna out of the operation when she asked, while Zlata is only pulling her further in). Her attempt to talk Uncle Daddy down goes nowhere, so when Zlata comes into the salon praising Desna for her loyalty and calling her family (Jenn hilariously interrupts at this point to make mention of Riva, you know, the sister Zlata murdered), Desna spills the beans, though she does get Zlata to agree to a sit-down so nobody gets hurt.

On the opposite end of the power spectrum, Uncle Daddy is lamenting the loss of his mojo, after first watching the Russians coopt his clinic plans, and then getting fobbed off yet again by Ruval. “I’m so sick and tired of people pissing in my mouth and telling me it’s mango La Croix,” he colorfully complains to Toby while they’re out having drinks. Lucky for him, he gets a beyond-the-grave pep talk from Juanda, and it’s great to see Dale Dickey again. She implores him to show the homophobic suits who’ve been heckling him that they’re “in the presence of a great man” and he does so by beating the hell out of them. That having put fire in his belly, Uncle Daddy decides not to wait for Zlata’s golf game the next week to take his shot at her (which is too bad because I would have loved to have seen what Zlata deemed appropriate attire for hitting the links), but to go after her that very night.

This results in him, Bryce, and a collection of Carolina cronies storming the strip club after the debut of Polly’s male revue. Most of the main players have already left or weren’t there to begin with (and sidebar – Roller ignores Bryce’s calls about the change in plans because he’s attending to his sick baby. So despite the easy, obvious flirting between him and Desna earlier in the episode, it’s clear he’s bonded with Olga and, particularly, Bogdan. Something tells me Roller will have a difficult choice to make before the season’s over). But Desna and Jenn are still there when the gunfire starts. At first, it seems like Uncle Daddy’s gambit has paid off. But, as Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” plays on the soundtrack, Zlata gets the upper hand and, while Jenn screams in horror, puts a bullet in Bryce.

When we come back from commercial, Desna, Jenn, and Uncle Daddy have somehow gotten Bryce out of the club and he’s still alive, if barely, when they get him to the hospital. Desna then heads to Zlata’s to...I dunno why she goes to see her, actually. To beg for the Hussers’ lives, to berate her for shooting Bryce? There’s a flashback to Zlata agreeing to the non-violent sit-down, but I would think Uncle Daddy pulling a gun on her made that promise null and void.

Anyway, the real reason is so Desna can slip into Zlata’s mansion unseen and catch her...with Ruval! They’re both half-dressed (and given the crazy jewelry and outfits she usually wears, particularly in this episode, seeing Zlata/Franka Potente so undone was kinda shocking!) and laughing as Ruval regales her with the story of his fairytale marriage proposal to Desna, and it’s clear they’ve both been playing her from the start. The episode ends on a close-up of Desna, a clawed hand clamped over her mouth, to keep herself from screaming or vomiting or both. I’m not sure this twist 100% holds together, at least based on what we know right now (for example, Ruval was already working Desna before the Russians even got their hands on Uncle Daddy’s businesses), but I am super excited to see how Desna retaliates.

In subplot news, Polly is desperate to bridge the growing gap between her and Marnie, but everything she says and does only pushes her teen ward farther away. Things on that front get even worse when Ken springs a family dinner on her, including her mother Marilyn (who’s meeting Polly for the first time) and Marnie’s new boyfriend Malik. At first, Polly’s efforts to get on Marnie’s good side are comedic – she tries to rap, she accidentally sets the table on fire, etc. – but things take an uncomfortable turn when Polly gets insistent on Marnie dying her hair red and the subject of her twin sister comes up again. I’m kinda over Marnie and her attitude – yes, some of this is typical teenage behavior, but you’d think she’d be a little nicer to the woman who saved her from sex slavery – but I’m really intrigued to see where this twin stuff is going. Please, please let this mean we’ll get to see Carrie Preston acting opposite herself!

Ken manages to keep an even keel throughout this awkward family meal, a surprise considering his arrest at the end of last week. It appears Arlene is now working with the FBI (and I’m convinced has only gotten back together with Quiet Ann so she can get the goods and get revenge) and she and her partner flip him in no time flat. But if he wants witness protection, he’ll have to wear a wire, an interesting proposition given his nervous temperament. I wonder who, if anyone, this will end up taking down.

That’s my take on this week’s “Claws.” Please leave any questions or thoughts you have about this “Vaginalologist” visit in the comments section.

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