Sneaky Pete: Season 2
March 25, 2018 7:58 PM - Season 2 (Full Season) - Subscribe

A conman (Marius) recently released from prison is on the run from vicious gangsters. He takes on the identity of his former cellmate (Pete) and reintegrates with Pete's estranged family of Bailsbondsmen. Almost everyone's lives get more complicated as they hide beneath ever increasing layers of deception. Marius apparently develops feelings for his newfound 'family,' becomes protective of them, but also sees a route to early retirement and an exit strategy despite acquiring a huge problem of his own.

‘Sneaky Pete’ Season 2 Review: Amazon’s Thriller Runs a Familiar but Fun Con as Margo Martindale Wows [Ben Travers, IndieWire]
Picking up right when Season 1 left off, Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) is kidnapped by a pair of thugs who claim Pete Murphy — the identity Marius stole from his former cellmate — owes their boss $11 million. Since they think he’s Pete (and he can’t tell them otherwise), Marius is on the hook to get it back.
posted by porpoise (3 comments total)
I had mostly forgotten much of the particulars, but there was a useful 'What happened in Season 1" prologue.

The first episode was mostly a straight line from the finale, but by the end of the episode I again completely bought into the show and impulsively put on e02 and watching e03 now.

This show is smart - and I see a lot of Brian Cranston's fingerprints on it. Everything is plausible, given a funny situation. Speaking of funny, this show has it in spades... on the down low.

I also found it really human/ humane. Again, the plausibility of it all, in the emotions and suppression and denial. I really appreciate how this show shows how cons work without belabouring it. Also, the baser parts of human nature.

The epsiodes-spanning "card trick" mini-arc demonstrates how 'freaking sharp yet understated' (I'd love it if someone could provide a logus for this word) the writing and the acting/ buy-in is.

Alison Wright (Marjorie) is NOT getting the kudos that she deserves in this role.
posted by porpoise at 8:51 PM on March 25, 2018

I really enjoy this show, but the one thing holding me back from absolutely loving it is that I am kind of perplexed by Marius. He's sufficiently sympathetic and all, but...I don't feel like I know the character very well, beyond that he's a manipulative control freak with a great Rolodex. It's weird, because all the other characters are covered in tons of little hobbies/subplots/desires like whales covered in barnacles (which I love), but I feel like Marius is just kind, he's into con games and that's basically it.

I guess that's sort of the point, that he just becomes whatever his mark needs him to be and there isn't necessarily more to him than that. But I don't get the feeling that he's meant to be a total cipher in that way, either. In comparison, on Better Call Saul, Jimmy is a chameleon in the way that Marius is apparently meant to be -- he'll adopt a persona based on what he thinks will play best with the people he needs to convince/charm/whatever, he will transform himself into whatever the context demands. It's impossible to know who the "real" Jimmy is, because who he is is so context-dependent. But still, I feel like I "know" Jimmy -- he's not at all a cipher. Whereas with Marius, I don't have a sense that he's struggling with his own identity or how people see him, and (most importantly) I don't get the sense that anything changes *inside* of him when he's rearranging himself to fit into whatever context he's in at the moment.

I think maybe the show *means* to convey that Marius actually is at least somewhat affected by his circumstances/lies and that his con games and resourcefulness are meant to be more in the vein of Jimmy on Better Call Saul than Michael on Burn Notice or Sean on Psych, because of that cold read that Maggie did on him when she said that it's a gift that he doesn't care but then also said that he must be exhausted by being an emotional contortionist. I mean, I guess you wouldn't call someone an emotional contortionist if their apparent contortions are meant to be totally breezy and fun. But I also still don't have a sense of what is supposed to be going on inside Marius during these supposed contortions. With Jimmy, you can see how he will dive into some ridiculous scheme as a way of escaping from his own life or as a kind of life raft for himself, and how that is self-destructive for the most part but something that he honestly kind of needs to get by. With Marius, there's none of that. No relief at escaping into a bunch of lies, no tension when he's abstaining from it. It's hard for me to know where his head is at?

Also, speaking of Jimmy McGill, a genuinely money-obsessed character -- the show keeps saying that all Marius wants is money, and I can take that on face value for the most part (despite him not actually seeming overly preoccupied by it). But even then...what does he want to do with all that hypothetical money? What does it represent to him? And frankly, I don't really buy that he would be happy to take whatever money he can get and then ride out into the sunset (a la Eddie and Karolina at the end of S1) -- he seems too frenetic/neurotic for that. But then, what does he want?

To compare them yet again: for Jimmy on Better Call Saul, his problems are clearly not entirely or even mostly financial, but he is so preoccupied with money that he ends up re-imagining his problems as financial problems and fantasizes about getting a big score like it's a magic pill that will cure his life of all its ills -- whereas on Sneaky Pete, Marius's problems ARE genuinely financial problems that can (and are) solved by a big score, but I still could not really tell you the first thing about what Marius's thoughts or fantasies concerning money are supposed to be. It makes it hard to get a feel for Marius's just basic motivations and personality, at least for me.

And while I'm at it...the other thing that I find perplexing is that while I think Marius does care deeply about at least some of the Bowmans (namely, Audrey and especially Julia), I think he could also say goodbye to all of them tomorrow and bounce back by the next day just fine. Really, it seems like he's having more of an affect on the Bowmans than they're having on him, given the way he's inadvertently infected their lives with his sleaze. Since Marius is clearly striving for "no attachments" in all areas of his life, that's fine in theory. But in practice, I really don't understand how Marius's story and the Bowman's story are supposed to connect (on an emotional level), and it can make the show feel like it's got a split personality sometimes. I care about the Bowmans and I enjoy their stories, I'm not saying it should be the Marius Show all the time -- but even though sometimes the plotlines intersect superficially, for the most part it's like they and Marius are in two parallel universes (emotionally), and sometimes I want a big emotional payoff that's not compartmentalized into either Marius's Show or The Bowman's Show, I want a payoff that occurs in "both" shows at once.
posted by rue72 at 11:19 PM on April 29, 2018

You know, thinking about what Maggie said about Marius's gift being that he doesn't care about anything...I guess she meant that Marius doesn't care about the destruction he leaves in his wake, that he's going to do what he wants anyway? That fits with Maggie saying that he got that trait from his mother, since that seems pretty much like addict behavior, too. And I think that Maggie was basically right about Marius. It's not like he's totally sociopathic, but he does use people pretty relentlessly and seems unrepentant about it. He's a user. And when she then says that he's exhaustively emotionally contorting himself -- I guess that she just meant that his scamming is compulsive.

Hm. I think my frustration and puzzlement over the character is coming from this feeling that Marius is sometimes written as ScamBot3000. The show gives compelling practical reasons for why he's doing all this stuff -- his brother is in danger or his own life is at risk -- but it doesn't have an emotional goal or through-line for him. And that makes him (and maybe the show) kind of shallow-feeling to me? It's also confusing because all the other characters have clear emotional goals/through-lines, so why NOT him?

Or maybe there are emotional stakes for him that I'm just not seeing. He did weirdly say that he'd kill himself rather than let Luka's goons use him to get to the Bowmans/Julia, so apparently he's not totally attachment-free. Not that I really understand what he's getting out of his relationship with the Bowmans, emotionally. I guess he doesn't, either, though -- that's kind of what he said to Marjory when he was telling her about telling Luka's goons that he'd rather kill himself. He seemed perplexed and said he thought that was a really messed up thing for him to say. So maybe my issue isn't that the emotional goal/through-line/stakes are nonexistent, it's that I personally am not really grokking that storyline.
posted by rue72 at 9:15 AM on April 30, 2018

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