Saturday, August 6, 2022

‘City on a Hill’ Season 3 Episode 1 Review: Bold and Solid, Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodges crime drama with an intense start

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This season is all about giving the key characters their own challenges, some seeing them as gods or others turning them into monsters.

Contains spoilers for “City on a Hill” Season 3 Episode 1 “Gods and Monsters”

Sam Fender’s Play God set the tone in the season premiere of City on a Hill, in which a corrupt FBI agent and an honest Deputy District Attorney set out to clean up the filthy streets of ’90s Boston. They were okay gods, and while Fender’s album Seven Going Under was about coming out of adversity unscathed and overcoming trials and tribulations, director Michael Cuesta brought two gods to Boston to do exactly what the lyrics suggested. Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) and Jackie Rohr (Aldis Hodge) were the messiahs. They weren’t perfect, but they had the power to change. And they did, with opposite effects not only on the city but on their personalities as well.

Two seasons later, the gods have collapsed. They were the Nebuchadnezzars with heads of gold, but for once the feet of mixed iron and clay gave way. In Season 3, the duo is biting. Rohr struggles to make ends meet. He pours drinks at a bar, wipes up vomit, and also manages to chug a beer and down some whiskey while at it. His “escape money,” having left the FBI before being ignominiously kicked out, is quickly running out, and after some old-fashioned failure from Mrs. Jenny (Jill Hennessy), he finds a job that may not quite be what he is supposed to be announces.

Ward has to deal with some domestic issues after his father, Franklin (Ernie Hudson), is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Amidst the heat of fighting for his promotion, he rushes to Brooklyn. Now at the ACLU, his wife Siobhan Quays (Lauren E. Banks) takes over a giant construction company after a mess she gets involved in meets a familiar face in Father Doyle (Mark Ryder), who is on sabbatical from preaching.

Director Christoph Schrewe has done his homework. Jorge Zamacona’s script is brought to life in signature City on a Hill style. The crisp writing style, the subtle pop culture references, the reliability, the music and the attention to detail – the foundations of the show’s success are fully demonstrated. This season is all about giving the key characters their own challenges, some seeing them as gods or others turning them into monsters. For Rohr and Ward, the familiar question is how dirty can they get their hands to get where they want to be.

It’s too early to jump to conclusions on the basis of another fantastic start to the season. But what it does is lay the groundwork for seven more weeks of intense drama in the heart of Boston – one that could change these characters’ lives forever.

City on a Hill Season 3 airs Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET on Showtime. Viewers can also tune in on Saturdays for early streaming episodes.

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