In the aftermath of the riots, Kingstown is in a state of chaos.
Nobody thought it was going to be smooth sailing after such a calamitous event, but Mayor of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 1 surpassed the wildest dreams.
Mike sure has his work cut out for him.
Mike’s long been straddling the divide between inside and outside of prison, and it saved his life in those riots.
The guards and the prisoners were dropping like flies around him, and they were shouldering the burden of those extreme circumstances.
When the hour began, it almost seemed like some significant time might have passed since the riot. Mike walking a blindfolded Iris to the water and sweeping her away to a borrowed sailboat seemed just like another day of washing away the sins of the day.
My father used to say, I can’t wait to get old, for my mind to soften, and my memories to rot away. The hardest thing to do is forget, forget the scars that life gives you, forget the scars you gave others. The challenge, then, is hiding a few memories worth keeping from your dying mind. He told me to keep a journal and only write down the good things. Then, when the bad things fade away, you can read about the happy life you had. But minds don’t forget so easy, and the horror that we witness and endure takes root. Only madness and dementia can remove it.
Mike was pulling the wool over his own eyes because moments later, Captain Moore’s trials told an entirely different story. Thirty-three guards were murdered in the riots, and the rest were raped with their own billy clubs.
The prisoners left standing after the riots were left without phones, drugs, or money and had taken to beating the crap out of each other to pass the time. It’s mind-boggling that the prison system allows for that stuff in the first place, but the inside and outside are so interconnected that it’s the only way to keep the peace.
The consequence of a riot is dismantling the illusion that prison is controlled by the guards. The consequence of putting down the riot is dismantling the leadership structure within the inmates. All that remains is chaos until a new leadership structure is created, and when there are no leaders inside, there are no leaders outside. All gangs are from prison because that’s where all gangsters end up. And so is our new reality, and that reality is chaos.
The very fine line that Mike and his brother before him were tasked with maintaining burst after the riots. Nobody is in charge, inside or out. Without a pecking order, there’s nobody to make demands and nobody for Mike to address when he’s trying to fix things.
The guards are on the warpath, and who could blame them? The system broke down around them, which allowed the riots in the first place.
Mike: Well, the only way it will get better, Bunny, is if the whole world gets fucking quiet, real quiet, real fast. Friend to friend, I wouldn’t be cookin’, and I wouldn’t be movin’.
Bunny: You know how many of us they shot like dogs in that prison?
Mike: They killed 33 guards, Bunny, and then they raped the rest of them with their own fuckin’ billy clubs.
Mike: The guards are fuckin’ thirsty for round two. They’re just waitin’ for you to do somethin’.
When you think of how easy it was for the riots to begin and that Kyle and Ian were in the same room with the masterminds, you realize the structure is as stable as a house of cards.
But even working in the indelicate environment wouldn’t prepare you for the assault the prison personnel endured. After all, their jobs require them to look the other way from things like drugs and cell phones.
When you’re part of that careful balance of control and power, it would be easy to think that while it’s not ideal, it’s working as intended. Nothing gets so far out of whack that a semblance of order can’t be maintained.
Until it all changes. Captain Moore was on the receiving end of trauma he’ll never forget, and it changed him. Would the Kareem before the riot, even with decades of unpleasantness under his belt, have been driven to such extremes that bashing someone head in was his only release?
With decades of experience, it’s likely that he and others like him have made very bad calls, but he lied to the therapist, who had to OK his return by assuring him everything was hunky dory. At that moment, he became no better than the men he’s been tasked with guarding, and in many cases, worse.
Women have always faced the threat of rape. Some people, men in particular, still believe it’s a sexual crime. It’s a crime of power, and Moore was dominated.
Can you imagine if every rape victim had a captive audience and could do with them whatever allowed them to process that overwhelming feeling of powerlessness? I hate to say it, but it might be more helpful than any of the current laws in place.
Other guards who had returned to the job were in a similar position and using what power remained the same way. In some instances, they could just stand back and allow the prisoners to do their dirty work for them.
It’s hard to imagine how the power balance will be restored when both sides are embracing their darkness.
Outside the walls, things were just as bad. Since more innocents are outside of prison walls, they’re actually worse. Granted, there aren’t many people in Kingstown without a keen awareness of or a connection to the rampant crime or those tasked with controlling it.
Inside and out, the riots have heightened reality as much as they crushed the power structure. Even normal gang wars are emboldened and bloodier as a result.
Dammit, it breaks my heart that human animals will use their furry counterparts to go against their nature. What that poor pitbull was forced to do by way of perverted training broke my heart. People who entangle animals in their sick worlds get no sympathy from me.
I’m just goin’ to go out on a fuckin’ limb here and say it’s gang-related.
Cops raided one of Bunny’s cookhouses, which eradicated any men who could have moved into a leadership position to fill the current void. That was a different kind of brutal, but it had wider-reaching ramifications.
Bunny’s relationship with Mike is one of the best on Mayor of Kingstown. They tell it to each other like it is, then they each share what they’ve learned with their groups. The gangs respond to Bunny, and the cops, guards, and prisoners respond to Mike. It works because all involved allow it to work.
So when one side or the other goes astray, Mike and Bunny need to agree to shore up the defenses again.
Most of the premiere centered on the dynamics of the riot and how they could work together to pick up the pieces. That was before Mike realized that Milo wasn’t among the living or the dead. He’d pulled a runner.
This is a disaster, Evelyn. Everything else is fuckin’ shrapnel.
How much worse can things get? A lot if Milo has his way. It was surprising that Ian or Kyle didn’t bring Milo up sooner. They both had eyes on him just before they were taken down, and all hell broke loose. That should have been the first thing on their minds when they were finally free of that living hell.
But, as we saw, priorities shifted after the riot. Nothing is making sense. Hell, Kyle took off for watery pastures, hoping to distance himself from the insanity. His reaction to maple syrup tariff jumpers suggests he’s not cut out for the simple life.
Something that bugged me the entirety of the first season was how hard Miriam can be on her boys. She raised them in that hellish place but hates that they’re part of its existence now.
Her uber-liberal attitude on criminals and prosecution (and America in general) betrays the choices she made with her own family. She considers the Kingstown cops as much of a gang as the actual gangs, but does she have a real solution for how to make a difference?
Miriam haughtily demanded the “stormtroopers” leave the classroom or class would be dismissed. The stormtroopers accepted the challenge without even offering her a chance to rescind her demand.
It would have been better to keep her mouth shut and teach the class under the inconvenient circumstances than to show the women in her class that her feelings on the situation were more important than theirs.
Out of one side of her mouth, she was telling them how choices have consequences, and out of the other, she made one for which the consequences laid firmly at their feet. I never know what message she’s trying to send.
Ian: He’s gonna kill somebody.
Miriam: Nah, your gang will kill him first.
When she was beaten and robbed, she again came out on the wrong side. It’s Kingstown, not Mayberry. That kid likely had done that to many others already but was never caught. Sadly, the city in which she raised her family isn’t filled with wholesome innocents. Everyone there is touched by corruption.
I’ll give her a pass when she gives one to Mike. He’s uniquely positioned to mediate between powerful gangs, no matter who is in them, and he doesn’t take it for granted or (generally) overstep.
Maybe when she realizes the future of Kingstown, including her work with the prisons, falls squarely on his shoulders, she’ll give him a break, but I won’t hold my breath.
Yep, Mike has his work cut out for him in more ways than one. He came thisclose to getting Iris to safety, but she spat in the face of that attempt. Sure, Mike has a thing for her and even killed for her, but with so much on his plate, the last thing he needed was to protect her 24/7 with Milo on the loose.
What’s a drama without piling on more than any one character can bear?
What did you think of the premiere? Bring on the next episode now, please. Dear readers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.