Previously, on Quarry: “His Deeds Were Scattered”
Quarry – S1E7 – “Carnival of Souls” | Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Jodi Balfour, Peter Mullan, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Damon Herriman, Edoardo Ballerini, Chloe Elise, Josh Randall, Happy Anderson, Ann Dowd, Joshua J. Williams, Mustafa Shakir | Written by: Graham Gordy & Michael D. Fuller | Directed by: Greg Yaitanes
In a surprising move, at least to me, this week’s Quarry is a Halloween episode, complete with costumes, candy, and heroin. Well, one of those things may not be the stuff of your typical Halloween episode.
You would expect the Halloween holiday to be treated as a backdrop put in place merely for the sake of setting, and it is definitely used that way here, but this series has consistently found a way to incorporate its environment into its plot. It begins with the music, of course, whose selective presence and absence has set a tone for every episode; we’ve also, however, seen the show use the 1972 Olympics, professional wrestling, a plantation casino, etc., to complement developments at various points of its plot.
With Halloween, the allusions are clear and easy to recognize. From the very moment we first see Mac, we are reminded of his slow progression into not only accepting his new line of work but liking it as we see he is still putting butter in his coffee. Even though Joni has been let in on his secret profession, Mac is still pretending to be two different people. Yes, I’m saying he is wearing a costume, just go with it. In this episode, though, his mask comes off. More on that in a moment.
First, we have to bring in Buddy. For him, he’s been wearing the clothes of a different man for so long, he is now that man, and he knows it. You see, for Buddy, the life of an assassin is war, and he does not want to be a soldier anymore. Not only that, but he does not want Mac to fall into the same pit he has and get so deep into this role that he cannot get out. What Buddy doesn’t realize, and what Mac doesn’t want to acknowledge, is maybe war is where Mac wants to be. Both of these men, on opposite ends of this profession in multiple ways, realize that truth in this episode, but not until after Buddy does try to reach Mac in a terrific scene where they discuss what it’s like to kill people for a living, but they don’t even make eye contact in that scene. For Buddy, the realization seems to come when he delivers the line “For a reluctant motherfucker, you sure are gung-ho sometimes”, to Mac. For Mac, it’s a few moments later when he grabs Buddy by the mouth and basically tells him to get his shit together. The Mac costume was removed in that moment, and it was only Quarry underneath.
“Carnival of Souls” also deals quite a bit with metaphorical candy–as well as actual candy–in the form of drugs. Along with the prescription medication Buddy is taking fistfuls of at a time, The Broker also has his team deal with Credence Mason (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), the large man from the casino two weeks ago and also the most ’70s character to ever exist. Mason is a drug runner who also owns an amusement park, which means he could also easily serve as the villain to an R-rated Scooby-Doo. The actor is fantastic, and the character is a perfect mixture of menacing but also small-time. Credence Mason and his crew of “heroin hillbillies”, as Karl refers to them, are very clearly not international men of ill repute; outside of the general Memphis area, they are probably nobody, and that feels exactly right for The Broker to have Quarry dealing with right now, and possibly for the foreseeable future.
This episode was light on musical performances, but we did get a small taste of John Mooney Band performing their own song “Feel Like Hollerin'”, along with plenty of other songs playing on radios and such. I think this episode having less music added to the tone, which takes a very fitting for Halloween suspense-horror path, especially toward the end when the action picks up.
There are some other interesting developments to discuss briefly. First, I am so nervous for Ruth and her kids because Marcus, her son, is dabbling in things he does not realize are as serious as they are; Moses/Felix is going to find out, and I don’t know what is going to happen then. Second, I love the relationship we see between Buddy and his mother Naomi (Ann Dowd), because it feels like a very organic, adult bond they have forged together. Here, she helps him prepare to present his collage presentation to The Broker–the one he was putting together while she played Bingo–and you feel the support he has from her; that’s something he may really need, when he tells her The Broker basically patted him on the head and said he would hang the presentation on the refrigerator. Third, Detective Tommy Olsen has reached the point of obsession with Mac, to such a degree that it finally causes his partner, Ratliff, to snap at Tommy about Mac fighting for his country “so you could be free to stick you dick in a dead man’s sister.” Tommy’s obsession may be interfering with his work and home life, but it does lead to a moment here that feels like the turn; the actualization of what we’ve seen coming for weeks, even if Mac still does not want to see it: he is Quarry. Trick or treat.
This penultimate episode gets us as close as possible to seeing Mac embrace his role as Quarry, with a cliffhanger that puts him right on the cusp of making that decision. With its novel use of Halloween and allusions to veiled identity, “Carnival of Souls” continues the strong freshman season.