The second episode of Memphis Beat centers largely on family and the ties that bind. From the family at the center of this week's crime to Dwight and Lt. Rice's own familial revelations, the thread running through these is one of extreme loyalty. Whether it's to a murderer, a harsh parental figure, the untarnished memory of a role model, or an obligatory play, our characters are stickin' tight with their kin.
We open on Dwight and his kooky sidekick, Whitehead, as they discuss Whitehead's obligatory foray into the stage world courtesy of his cousin's play, La Familia. They're immediately sidetracked by freshly scrawled graffiti and chase down the young punk responsible. Whitehead's out-of-breath pursuit leads me to believe he could use a personal training session down at Curves (you'll get me in a minute).
We cut to a pretty blond primping and a reclining Dwight looking quite sated and happy. They get their smooch on until Dwight's distracted by a crashing curtain rod. We quickly learn two things; this pretty lady is Alex, Dwight's ex whom we suspect he often falls back in cahoots with, and that Dwight has a penchant for being a Mr. Fix-It, which apparently isn't always a welcome attribute.
Dwight meets Whitehead over at a school where he gently chides his buddy for falling back with his ex. Dwight cheekily responds, "You're a sad old man with a dried up heart. Tell Ann Marie I feel sorry for her." At the school, two boys are disciplined for fighting and one of the boys, Scotty, claims his Dad is in the FBI and the terrorists took him away. Dwight, feeling a connection with this youngin who idolizes his father, offers to check it out. I'm not sure why these detectives (detectives, not officers, ya hear!) have been called to handle a school yard tiff... but I'll just go with it.
They visit Scotty's house and we meet his Mama, Cleo, played to tortured trailer park perfection by Juliette Lewis (is it just me or does this woman not age??). Cleo explains she was simply arguing with her husband, Billy, about an impending bank foreclosure. Her older son, Troy, loafs lazily on the couch and Dwight notices resin on his hands, which he takes to be marijuana.
Meanwhile, Dwight's Mama swings by the precinct showing off her Southern charm by engaging in some harmless flirting with Sgt. Lightfoot. Lt. Rice perks up when she realizes who this woman is and the close-in-age ladies engage in friendly banter. I'm not sure where everybody else was while watching this scene, but I was sweating it out in 90 degree heat in NYC and I'd be a liar if I said I didn't want to jump right into that scene, down some sweet tea, and join their conversation about Spanx and Curves! I loved that Dwight's Mama was wearing skinny jeans (as a result of her sexually charged new beau, no doubt!).
Also at the station, Dwight's Mama's beau visits Dwight for a man-to-man peace talk. Dwight hears him out, but then quips, "Don't expect me to start playing tag football with you in the park on Sundays." You better walk the line beau-man!
Dwight and Whitehead continue their investigation by interviewing Billy's former truck-driving employer who divulges that Billy was beat up and tossed in a car. He continues by giving us a revealing descriptor of the type of man his employee really is, "All Billy ever did for me was be a cheap prick."
Cut to Cleo, nervously sewing up an old shirt and apologizing for lying to the detectives. She cries that she saw Billy last night after two guys drove him home and then he took off after arguing. Davey Sutton (DJ Qualls) gasps that he knows what's going on. He thinks Billy is a scarecrow (new term for me! Apparently that's a middleman for gun-selling), so we journey over to a gun shop where the owner has got to have on the coolest t-shirt in gun shop history (anyone else kinda want one?). Dwight showcases his own gun skills (hot!) and intimidates the owner into admitting that while Billy used to sell guns, he's "moved on to greener pastures" (i.e., he's joined the Mary Jane trade).
Cut to the sniffing canine patrol and boy oh boy, not only is there a lot of pot in the shed out back of Billy and Cleo's house, but there's also a fresh grave! Dwight and Whitehead talk to Cleo who adds yet another chapter to her Billy story. This time she feigns ignorance about the pot, but reveals Billy's abusive past and says the gun went off when they were fighting. Troy isn't home and when the phone rings, everyone knows it's him and we learn he's responsible and on the lam.
Lt. Rice meets Dwight at Troy's hideout, an old arcade, and shares a story about her son Rodney. Hmmm... seems Lt. Rice and Mrs. Hendricks have been swamping son stories while sweating it out at Curves. Apparently Rodney didn't initially support Lt. Rice's return to faith, however now, "he backs my joy." Guess Dwight should cut his Mama some slack around her new beau.
Lt. Rice suits up in a bulletproof vest and attempts to coax Troy out of his hideout. She has a sweet moment with him by sharing a story about her own overbearing (though not abusive) father. Troy admits he got the gun out of the closet and shot his father to stop him from hurting his Mom and brother. So everything's wrapped up, right? Not so fast... Dwight astutely realizes there's a problem with his story — Scotty told him Troy keeps the gun under his pillow, not the closet.
Dwight's back in Cleo's house and makes Cleo and Troy reenact the shooting about 800 times until Troy messes up by heading up the stairs (towards his bed) instead of downstairs (towards the closet). Busted! Mmm... except Troy is a darn smooth liar and covers his tracks easily.
Cut to Dwight making a peace offering to his Mama and her beau over dinner at a nice French restaurant. Those two sure aren't shy about showing their affection, are they? Apparently, Dwight isn't quite ready to see his Mama move on from his deceased (I think?) and idolized father, so he continually sings his Daddy's praises in front of her oblivious beau. As they continue to only have eyes for each other, Dwight drifts off into thoughts of Billy's shooting and by rearranging common dinner table items (who knew a pepper shaker was so telling!) he cracks the crime by realizing Cleo shot Billy.
Lt. Rice tries to get a confession out of Cleo by relating to her as a mother. She almost begs Cleo to reconsider what she's doing by letting the underage Troy take the fall for the murder. What if he's not tried as a minor, she reasons. Cleo, clearly torn, sobs but sticks to her story.
Dwight tries the same approach with Troy to which he responds, "I got a brain, too." With that line we realize the story is sticking and innocent, but fiercely loyal, Troy is taking the fall. Dwight and Lt. Rice don't push the issue when they see young, now father-less, Scotty and know that, "the boy needs his Mama."
Dwight pops over to his Mama's house and instead of freaking out when beau-man answers the door in a pink robe (yup, pink!), he graciously acknowledges that Mama has a right to carry on as she wishes. Way to back your Mama's joy, Dwight!
The final shot is of Dwight kickin' back, chillin' and playin' his guitar. He's interrupted by a chaotic but charming message from his ex, after which he continues on with his song, "I wanna play house with you..." leading us to imagine we may see Dwight and Alex doing just that in future episodes.
So, what did you think? Better/same/worse than the premiere?
Do you think Dwight's Mama's beau (Tony) is harmless or up-to-no-good?
And, for all her motherly vibes, we haven't seen any of Lt's Rice's five children. Are you as curious to learn about her family as I am?