The stone-cold cruelty of Getty was on full display on Trust Season 1 Episode 2, as the billionaire tycoon sent his man to Rome to track down his grandson.
But Paul's kidnapping might not be exactly what it appears. At least if you ask James Fletcher Chase.
While the Trust Series Premiere was undoubtedly a showcase for the many talents of Donald Sutherland as J. Paul Getty, "Lone Star" was all about James Fletcher Chase.
Chase's exact, "official" title wasn't made clear. But it's heavily implied that he's Getty's beyond-the-law fixer – a man who is tasked with handling any "messes" that Getty himself isn't willing or able to handle himself.
As so often happens, we must find someone else to sort out the mess.Getty
As the former CIA agent, Brendan Fraser does an impressive job at embodying the calm, laid back, confident but inelegant swagger of Chase, with all the airs of an overweight former Texan cowboy.
Unfortunately, on "Lone Star," Chase made a series of possibly foolish decisions that may have endangered Paul more than helped him.
Now, I don't pretend to be an expert at kidnapping negotiation, but wouldn't you think that flashing money all around Rome would tip off the kidnappers that there's a seemingly endless amount they can try to extort from Paul's family?
Chase spent the majority of the hour trying to get in contact with the mafia in Rome. But in the end, ironically, the mafia was (seemingly) straightforward with Chase – they couldn't help him. They claimed not to have Paul, and not only that, they didn't believe he was kidnapped at all.
Chase: OK. So you really don't have him?
Mafioso: Nobody has him.
Oddly, Chase took their words at face value. Combined with the other evidence that Paul had staged his kidnapping to extort money from the Getty family (including the movie he saw and Paul's outlines for a movie) he became convinced that Paul wasn't in need of ransoming or rescuing.
You'd think a guy who used to be in the CIA would be a bit more shrewd or careful, but I guess not.
Aside from this logical failing, I loved Fraser's portrayal of Chase. I'm so glad that he's beginning to get roles again, after such a lengthy absence from Hollywood. I always thought he was more talented and capable than the goofy Blockbuster roles for which he was typically known.
Fraser and Hilary Swank also have great (thus far platonic) chemistry as Chase and Gail Getty.
Much like Sutherland, Swank was a huge get for the casting department. With two Oscars under her belt, she's an incredibly talented and high-profile actress. I absolutely love this era of "prestige" TV, where actors who've worked predominantly in film are eager and willing to work in the small-screen medium now.
The role of Gail is an interesting one, particularly in her introduction on this installment.
Semi-estranged from her son, Gail is nonetheless convinced that Paul would never do something as cruel as faking his kidnapping simply to get money from his family. It's simply her faith as a mother since she hadn't been close to Paul for quite a while.
Gail refused to accept Chase's determination that no one had kidnapped Paul. She set out on her own to find information after Chase took off to return to England after his not-entirely-thorough investigation was complete.
I mentioned in my review of the series premiere that the show has a decidedly cinematic quality. That was particularly evident in the scene between Gail and the statue man.
That scene was so creepy, stylish, and engrossing, short as it was. It was also the only hint, so far, that Paul had been kidnapped – from the sole eyewitness to the event.
Unless, of course, the statue man was in on it.
Speaking of the show's cinematic quality – breaking the fourth wall tends to be a divisive stylistic choice among viewers. I, personally, love it when it's used well.
In this case, I think Chase's little speeches to the audience are very effective, particularly thanks to Fraser's delivery of them.
Turns out a rich life is just as messed up as a poor life. Just a different kind of messed up.Chase
John Paul Jr., meanwhile, continued to be an unbearable ass and incredibly useless when it came to finding his son.
He showed a brief flicker of concern when Gail first phoned and informed him of the kidnapping. But it didn't take very long for him to decide – as Gail's husband Lang did – that Paul was in no real danger.
Then, when he went to speak to Getty about finding Paul after Gail threatened to contact Getty herself, he wasn't even able to go to Rome himself to look for Paul because of outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Most of the Getty men are a complete mess. Jr. blamed his upbringing for his problems in the bar scene, but it's ultimately still hard to empathize with him.
The overall feeling I get watching this series, so far, is a deep sadness for Paul's life. Sure, he was a self-involved kid, but he was only 16. Based on what we've seen of Gail so far, it seems that his mom loved him.
But as we also saw, Gail was willing to choose her new husband Lang over Paul, allowing Paul to go live on his own with a bunch of other kids and get into massive trouble with the mafia.
Paul's dad, as we know, could hardly be bothered with him.
If you know anything about the remainder of Paul's life, you'll know that it didn't get much better after his tumultuous teen years.
Finally, there was the man at the head of the table: Getty himself.
While the series premiere focused almost exclusively on Getty, giving us a very full picture of him as a man right off the bat, the second installment featured him much less.
That said, Sutherland still made the most of each of his few scenes.
I knew that his delivery of the "not a single, solitary cent" speech would be great. And Sutherland certainly didn't disappoint.
I would like to send a message to the persons — person — responsible for the disappearance of my grandson. I have 14 other grandchildren who would be put at risk if I were to negotiate with kidnappers. So for their sake, I am making it clear now, and for the record, that I will not be paying a single, solitary cent. Good evening.Getty
Knowing that Chase had informed Getty before the press conference that he believed Paul had staged his kidnapping, this pronouncement made a lot more sense.
In theory, he claimed to be doing this to prevent other kidnappers from thinking they could kidnap his other grandkids for more money. By refusing to pay for Paul (while thinking his grandson was in no real danger), he'd be sending the message that kidnappers would get nothing out of ransoming his relatives.
Of course, knowing Getty, it was more than likely all about the money. Sure, he may have been somewhat concerned about the safety of his descendants, but he was mostly unwilling to be bled dry to keep them safe. They're simply not that important to him, from what we've seen.
The closing moment of the hour gave us a glimpse of Paul, seemingly in a dire state and seemingly actually kidnapped.
It'll be interesting to see what changes Chase's mind and gets him back into investigating Paul's disappearance. Will Gail's story from the statue man be enough for him? We'll just need to wait and see.
In any event, I'm looking forward to seeing Gail and Chase work together to track Paul down and getting a fuller picture of both characters. John Paul Jr., thus far, I care less about.
- I think I spotted Roman Polanski on Marcello's list of people he and Paul saw during the previous two weeks.
- This installment revealed that Penelope is having an ongoing affair with her flight instructor during the time of the kidnapping. So far, this is just a minor plot point unconnected to anything else, but it will be interesting to see how this betrayal affects the proud Getty when he inevitably finds out about it.
- On that note, none of the other girlfriends were featured at all.
- I loved the visual effect of the boxed shots while Chase was searching for information on Paul in Rome. That, again, was very cinematic and stylistically, it was very Danny Boyle.
What did you think of "Lone Star"? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and don't forget that you can watch Trust online here at TV Fanatic anytime!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.