G-S-T TV: Low Winter Sun (S1, Ep 4: Catacombs)

Low Winter Sun_Strong KarkanisThose somewhat invested in AMC’s Low Winter Sun might find it deflating that the creators have set this new series to cruise control so early in the season. In episode 4 Frank has traveled to Windsor, Ontario in hopes of finding Katia (Mickey Summer) while Joe makes sure home fires continue to burn and keeps IA at bay with the resulting smokescreen. When Frank comes home with nothing but a goose egg for his troubles it appears that he is losing his grip on things.His quest for Katia has him so focused that he’s actually starting to lose clarity of other things, or just lose it in general.

When he makes a statement about following the leads, Joe snaps back with “What leads? We’re the ones who killed him.” Now Joe (Lennie James) is rightly testy because he’s taking his fair share of lumps too, and for the time being it isn’t just because of IA (led by David Costabile) constantly knocking. His blood pressure is on the rise from family issues. His daughter was brought in to the station for petty theft. Joe, as expected, is at extreme odds with ex-wife but it also hurts to now find that his daughter similarly resented him for being absent the last 13 years.

The sub-plot that follows Damon’s (James Ransone) steps to take a sizable chunk of the Detroit crime scene look to heat up but still come across lukewarm and uneventful. We get a little more explanation of why Damon is so hot to get his illegal enterprise (The Blind Pig) up and running. His father and Skelos, the current foreign mafia-esqe baron, were partners (and likely to assume he’s a reason Damon’s dad is out of the picture) and Damon owes Skelos what his father did. But Damon has plans of his own, one of which is trying to overthrow Skelos. Yet until that gets moving it’s still gonna be all sizzle and no steak.

Low Winter Sun_Grayden Ransone

Once the show gets back to Frank, Strong shines even if he looks a bit bored with the material. Though conflicted (compromised is more like it) he retains competency and continues to bait and lead IA down continually colder paths to cover his and Joe’s tracks. But David Costabile, playing it very cool and removed, isn’t letting on if he’s fooled or not. He simply retains his Vulcan-like poker face. Doing so keeps Joe and Frank on edge as like a fly on the wall  figures that if he sticks around long enough he’ll eventually catch Joe scrape the crap off his shoes.

As if the bell-ringer he got in Canada wasn’t enough, Frank’s self-destructive quest to find Katia takes him to the decrepit and shocking underground brothel called the “Catacombs”. Now it’s not the fact a Hostel-like place like this exists, or that even most “ladies of the night” choose to avoid this place that is most shocking. It’s that by showing Frank’s eye-brow raising exchange in this dungeon-like room AMC is taking some bold steps and getting closer to FX territory like The Shield or Nip/Tuck. There he’s duped again by a blonde Romanian that’s not Katia. Yet he’s so hopeless without her he’ll even play along (this time) if it makes it feel like he’s getting closer.

Low Winter Sun_Karkanis

But vices aside, Frank still sort of has a game plan. In order to gain a little more of a heads up on what’s going on in the city, Frank pays a visit to Sean (Trevor Long) an ex-cop turned wino/junkie. He’s fallen on hard times but still has a bit of respect for his old police friends and will be Franks’ eyes on the ground. Also, to help further rule Frank and Joe out as suspects, Frank is calling attention to officer Dani Khalil (Athena Karkanis) and the link she’s found between the cases. And so with that, the pawns continue to push forward. Low Winter Sun isn’t bad, just slow and uninspiring when it should leave you wanting more. Fans probably aren’t chomping at the bit to see what happens next.