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Claws - Til Death - Review

Even though it’s the penultimate episode of season two, “Claws” this week wasn’t that interested in the Desna/Ruval/Zlata arc, instead deciding to dig into the subplot they’ve been teasing about Polly’s twin sister. “Til Death” is a fine showcase for Carrie Preston – who is always worthy of one – but it’s a weird time and place in the season to do it.

When we first see Polly, she’s waking up for the day and, half-asleep, calls out for Ken, clearly still adjusting to and reeling from the breakup. It’s another kick in the box, then, when she finds a letter from Marnie saying she’s left to go live with her mother (and sidebar – yes, Polly’s behavior re: Marnie had started getting clingy and creepy, but she did save Marns from sex slavery last season so her leaving like this is kinda cold. Bye, Marnie, bye). So it’s the absolute worst time for her to open the front door to her twin sister Lillian, with Preston adopting a deeper voice and a wavy, less brassy head of hair for the dual role. Polly is insanely rattled to see her, slamming the door in her face and insisting she’s busy with a family situation. “What do you think you’re looking at?” Lillian drolly notes.

Now, I had accidentally spoiled myself on the twist before seeing the episode. But even if I hadn’t, watching it unfold, it’s clear where this plotline is heading, as Lillian only pops up to poke at Polly (I made a note of Lillian mentioning their parents, given what we heard about their dad raping their babysitter earlier in the season) when she’s alone, never gets spotted by any of the other Nail Artisans, etc. But only when a client comes into the empty salon and catches Polly talking to thin air is it confirmed that Lillian is just a figment of Polly’s psyche. Polly tries to literally outrun Lillian, speed walking through Palmetto, but Lillian insists she has to face up to “what [she] did,” that she’ll never have a real relationship until she does. It culminates in Polly screaming at Lillian that she hates her in front of Ken and her friends and begging Desna to take her to the hospital.

When they come to visit (Ken gets the boot after confessing to Desna about wearing the wire), Polly discloses that her sister died when they were thirteen, drowning after falling through thin ice, and suggests that Marnie’s departure dredged up those bad memories. But it’s only later to Desna that she reveals the real story – jealous that her sister had kissed a boy she liked, Polly had pushed Lillian and then hesitated to try and save her. Desna – kinda too quickly given how much of her life has been dedicated to loving and protecting her sibling – insists that Polly was a kid and that she needs to leave the past in the past. And after a dream sequence with Polly and Lillian synchronized dancing to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” that’s kinda that, which...huh? A deep, dark secret from childhood and a psychotic break all wrapped up in one hour of television? What? Again, Carrie Preston is great in this storyline, but like the stuff with Quiet Ann’s family, it feels like backstory introduced just for the sake of a character spotlight that won’t really come up again.

While Polly is melting down about Marnie and Lillian, Desna spends her day planning her fake wedding to Dr. Ruval, first “Pretty Woman”-ing around at a fancy bridal salon with the girls under the disapproving eye of Madame (who, by the way, seemed like was going to be a bigger part of the story arc than she has been) and then tasting cakes with her betrothed. It’s during this that Ruval lets slip that he owns the hotel where they’re holding the wedding, leading Desna to discover that he has a whole host of property assets that Zlata doesn’t know about it/isn’t expecting Desna to sign over to her. Something about this revelation inspires Desna to embrace a life of illegality instead of trying to get out from under it as she has been. “We’re good at it,” she admits to Polly later. “We are criminals, Polly, and it’s time we own it and we take what belongs to us.” Whether this means she plans to accept Zlata’s offer of partnership or team back up with the Hussers or strike out on her own, I’m not sure yet. I am intrigued by what this means for the crew. While Polly is of course in, the other girls are more likely to jump out. Quiet Ann has repeatedly this season balked at the idea of getting deeper into the life. Jenn, in addition to her current plans to flee Palmetto, has always shied away from criminal activity. And while Virginia might be more susceptible, her relationship with Dean might also prevent her from getting involved.

The other subplots concern the Hussers. As mentioned, Bryce and Jenn are still planning to move and settle on Tampa, teasing their girls that they’ll take them to Busch Gardens every weekend. Unfortunately, those plans hit a snag when the home loan they apply for is of course denied, given his criminal record and her $12 an hour job (Jenn’s “You have lopsided tits, Karen” retort to the loan officer is hilarious). Meanwhile, Roller is envious of his cousin Clint, who impresses Uncle Daddy when he suggests they open a rehab clinic so they can profit from the opioid crisis on both ends. These threads come together when Uncle Daddy, Roller, and Clint show up at Hank’s Messianic Center (how Hank is not in jail or a mental hospital, let alone allowed to be in walking distance from Jenn’s workplace, I have no idea) and strong-arm him into signing the space over to them. When Bryce arrives, he tries to diffuse the situation, but after Hank makes an untoward comment about Jenn, Bryce brutally stabs the souvenir flamingo pen he got at the bank into Hank’s neck, killing him. This foray back into murder doesn’t sway Bryce regarding his decision to leave the fold so Uncle Daddy and Roller gift him with some cash to start his new life. Curious to see what stops Bryce and Jenn from leaving Palmetto because, c’mon, they’re not going anywhere.

Did this week’s “Claws” give you life or did you find it a deadly sit? Tell me what you thought about “Til Death” in the comments section.


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