WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Mayor of Kingstown Season 1, Episode 2, "The End Begins," which premiered Sunday, Nov. 14, on Paramount+.
With everyone still reeling from the death of Mitch, the second episode picks up at the McLusky brother’s funeral. The rained-out grave site transitions to the desultory wake, where folks express condolences to Mike and Kyle, but Mike is immediately back to business trying to figure out what happened at the prison and how to avoid repercussions. He decides to move guards around in the prison in order to change up which gangs are in control of the yard and to remind the prisoners of exactly where they’ve ended up.
After Kyle, his wife and his mother clean up from Mitch’s wake, Kyle and his wife have a heart-to-heart.She reminds him that grief doesn’t follow a script, that it's okay if he doesn't feel bad now. She tells him that what happened to Mitch could also happen to Kyle and asks that they not waste a moment of their time together. Their domestic happiness is both a joy to see and a breath of relief given the rest of the episode.
Mike throws his own wake, emptying a liquor bottle against the safe still splattered with Mitch’s blood and then lighting it on fire. He claims this was in an effort to get the stain out of the carpet, but the fire department had to come put it out. Kyle suggests that burning down the office instead of moving is pretty metaphorical and tries to talk Mike out of taking on Mitch’s mayoral work, but Mike says he’s just tying up some loose ends.
A woman approaches Mike about what options are available to her brother who’s been sentenced to death. After telling her there’s nothing left, Mike gets an angry call from Bunny about moving his gang off the yard. Mike then grabs some concussion grenades from his safe before driving his car into Bunny’s set up and threatening him with a gun. Mike demands the letter back and when he gets it, calls to rearrange the prison yard yet again back in Bunny’s favor. As Mike leaves, an unknown person takes a photograph of his visit.
Mike then makes a stop at a sporting goods store where he asks questions about what bears like to eat and what it would take to kill one. After buying a bow, 40-pound bags of french fries and the used fryer grease from a food truck, he heads back out to his cabin ready to lay a trap for the bear he saw. It’s a moment of levity — Jeremy Renner once again holding the weapon he made famous with his superhero role as Hawkeye and some cute animals to distract from the violence in the rest of the show. But when the bear finally does come to snack on the fries, Mike cannot bring himself to fire.
Back in the city, Mike is approached by special agents from the FBI. They ask Mike to run down the events leading to Mitch’s death, including his role in arranging the surrender and arrest of Milo and his ability to hide a portion of the money he stole, which was the motivation for killing Mitch. The agents then explain that Mitch was a paid informant and offer the same deal to Mike in what seems explicitly to be focused on helping bring Bunny down. Mike agrees, but dictates the terms of his own service. The assumption is that it was these FBI agents who photographed Mike at Bunny's earlier, but Mike seems to have set up his own recording device to ensure there is a record of their arrangement.
Mike then agrees to run an operation for the local police to bring down a meth dealer who’s so clean that they can’t find a way in. They bring Mike in on an epic radio-guided chase to cause an accident, giving them the cause they need to search his car and bring him in. The car chase becomes the one moment of action in an episode otherwise filled with emotional talking.
Meanwhile, Milo makes an appearance when one of his lackeys goes to visit him in prison. It’s clear that Milo is calling the shots, but he also talks about bringing in someone new to deal with Mike. He suggests Iris, a sex worker currently in New York who makes her first appearance in this episode. Her beauty and soft-spoken confidence would certainly seem out of place in the harsh realities of the prison town, but it's clear she'll cause some trouble when she arrives.
Beginning the most heartbreaking part of this episode, the young woman from the beginning returns and asks Mike to attend her brother’s execution by lethal injection to advise her and her mom through the process. The next nearly 10 minutes show this execution, with Mike explaining to the family when to look and what’s happening. The scene feels incredibly realistic in all the worst ways, highlighting the moral ambiguity that Mayor of Kingstown does best. While most of Mike’s work is bending the laws to do what’s right, the lethal injection scene showcases following the letter of the law to do real violence. No one leaves the execution satisfied, even the family of the people the inmate had killed.
Afterwards Mike returns to Bunny’s hangout. This time, instead of concussion grenades he brings replacement chairs for the ones he ran over. He sits down to have a drink with the drug dealer and the two discuss relative suffering and the death that awaits everyone. It’s a nihilistic yet calm ending to a brutal episode.
New episodes of Mayor of Kingstown release Sundays on Paramount+.
KEEP READING: Yellowstone Star Teases Jamie's Identity-Seeking Journey in Season 4
You May Like Also