If Lone Star had never actually been greenlit, the pilot would still have become historic. It would’ve been taught in screenwriting courses, and developed a “What could have been?” cult of imagination, Heat Vision And Jack-style. But last night was Lone Star’s second episode, and second episodes are hard. Especially if the show is trying to do something unique. (Remember: after the monumental two-hour premiere, Lost had a Kate episode. And not even one of the good Kate episodes.) There’s already a burgeoning show-cult around Lone Star, but after a series premiere that handily mashed together the classical American Dream with modern man’s search for identity, plus lots of family politicking and oodles of broadcast-TV sex, could a second episode possibly measure up?
Short answer: No. Long answer: Last night’s episode wasn’t as masterfully paced as the premiere, but it still brought us deeper into the hot-blooded, semi-mythic world of Bob/Robert Allen, his beloved daddy, and his two sets of in-laws. More importantly, it kept things dangerous. The episode started with Bob/Robert walking hand-in-hand with his new(est) wife, Lindsay. Lindsay ducked into the bathroom. A man recognized Bob, called him “Frank Colson,” and exclaimed that he was owed $25,000. A scuffle followed. This was not the smoothly paced double-life that Bob is used to. The set-up screamed soapy awkwardness – did Lindsay really have to be in the bathroom for the exact right amount of time to not hear anything? – but the implication was clear: Danger is all around Bob. The world is constantly threatening to close in on him.
Cue the limo sex! Cue also an angry tirade from Lindsay’s Sabrina mom, who can’t believe she missed her daughter’s wedding. Lindsay doesn’t care about eloping, though: as she told Bob, she liked their fast-paced wedding. “We live like we’ve got a plane to catch,” she said. Nominally, this should be exactly what Bob should want to hear. (Roughly translated in Con-speak: “Mysterious Husband, I have adjusted myself utterly to your barely explained absences!”) But Bob wants more for his new wife. He wants her to have the best day of her life. He wants her to feel like a queen. He wants her to be feel as happy as his other wife did on her wedding day.
The way Lone Star crosscut between those two scenes – Bob in bed with one wife, and Bob watching his wedding video with another wife – was darkly funny. It also reminded me of something: Bob is not a good guy. He believes frantically in the possibility of creating something true out of a foundation of lies, which sounds crazy but is more or less how every great American institution came to pass. (Read Robert Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson if you have a couple years to spare. Possibly subtitle for the series: “How everything great about 20th century America was invented by bad people in Texas.”) He seems to make everyone around him incredibly happy. But he basically betrays everyone around him, all of the time.
NEXT: The exception to the rule.