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Claws - Just the Tip - Review

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The drama in this premiere is likely “Just the Tip” of what the ladies of “Claws” are going to get up to during their third season. There’s some plot wonkiness involved in getting the women of Palmetto back together, but the new status quo this episode sets up seems interesting.

When we last saw Desna (Niecy Nash), she was sobbing over Virginia (Karrueche Tran), who had gotten shot shoving Desna out of the way of a bullet meant for her. So season three opens with Virginia being rushed into surgery, her blood smeared on Desna’s white power pantsuit. We learn pretty quickly – and it’s not that surprising given the promos haven’t been trying to hide her fate – that Virginia survived the shooting. However, the doctor tells Desna – and we see in a sequence that is not for folks who are squeamish about eye stuff – that Virginia had to have a “corneal transplant from an elderly Reiki healer.” And when Virginia wakes up, it’s clear she’s got a new spirituality to go with her new peeper, talking about “a divine order” and “seeing [everyone] so clearly now.” The writers seem to have noticed what I complained about last season, that Virginia needed something to do, and this is what they came up with. I’m not sure about this storyline so far, but I guess watch this space.

Anyway, with Virginia alive, attention turns to the matter of who tried to take out Desna in the first place. As she notes to Roller (Jack Kesy), there’s plenty of options – the Dixie Mafia, the Russians, the Haitians, or “it could be somebody [they] don’t even know.” Early on, Roller suspects that it was Uncle Daddy (Dean Norris), in part because he was mad Desna refused to partner with him on more pain clinics, but more likely because Roller’s still convinced Uncle Daddy murdered his parents. Uncle Daddy has an alibi, but he ends up cracking the case for them when, in an effort to build a bridge with his nephew, he dimes out confederate Clint (Michael Drayer) as the culprit. After confirming it with a hysterical Toby (Evan Daigle), Roller and Desna take care of ol’ Clint with a quickness – running him down with a car and then tossing his body into the swamp. But it turns out the actual shooter was – dun! – Toby! Toby “went rogue” because he felt Uncle Daddy had been disrespected by Desna, and then the two of them cooked up the idea of framing Clint. It was a surprising twist and, given Daigle is now a series regular, I’d say Toby is definitely a character to watch this season.

That takes care of old business so let’s move on to new business – the Bayside Rapture Hotel & Casino. Desna gets ambushed at the hospital by two absolute weirdos, Mac (Michael Horse, “Twin Peaks”) and Melba (Rebecca Creskoff, “Bates Motel”) Lovestone. They were dead Dr. Ruval’s partners in the casino Desna inherited from him (Mac exposits that non-Native Americans can only be minority shareholders) and they, you know, just popped by to buy back Ruval’s stake for the “generous” sum of $50,000. But in addition to being amusingly weirded out by them, Desna suspects that they’re trying to lowball her. Theorizing that they might have been behind the shooting for this reason, Roller tails Mac and Melba to a tent in the woods where they’re torturing an employee. He rescues said employee so he can question her, but she hilariously tucks and rolls out of his moving car (“Bitch pulled a ‘Ladybird’ on me!”). Desna tracks her down, though, and is able to get her suspicions confirmed – turns out the casino launders $2 million a month and thus her shares are worth way more than the pittance the Lovestones offered. So, with her crew on-board (a tad too quickly, I thought, given how reluctant some of them have been about getting involved in criminal activity) and in-tow, Desna marches into the casino and declares that she “ain’t going nowhere, bitch.” And then there’s a fun dance sequence set to En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” because, you know, it’s “Claws,” y’all.

To wrap up for this week, some words on the other ladies and their love lives. Between chit-chat about lawnmowers and suggestions about less urban acrylics, Jennifer (Jenn Lyon) and Bryce (Kevin Rankin) are bored as hell in Tampa. Virginia’s shooting gives them the perfect excuse to head back to Palmetto and conveniently, for the show’s sake, realize that it’s home (“We could move to Antarctica,” Jenn muses, “and our hearts will still belong to this hillbilly shitshow town.”). The crisis also gives Polly (Carrie Preston) a reason to check out of the psychiatric hospital (there’s some amusing antics where an unamused nurse catches her trying to climb down a bedsheet rope and reminds her that her commitment is voluntary). She’s still on “crazy parole,” though, despite the lack of Lillian. Polly also blows off Dr. Ken (Jason Antoon) when he approaches her at the hospital. Finally, Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes) and Arlene (Suleka Mathew) take out their frustrations with each other in the boxing ring at their gym, and then hook up in the locker room. Arlene thinks it means they’re back on, but Ann bluntly informs her that it was “just a drive-by.”

So what did you think of “Just the Tip?” Sink your claws into this week’s “Claws” in the comments section.

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