Flashbacks filled in the gaps in the Getty family's dark, depressing, and fractured history.
Trust Season 1 Episode 7 jumped back and forth between Little Paul's childhood and the present day after Getty successfully negotiated his grandson's ransom demand.
Despite spending minimal time in the present, "Kodachrome" was a surprisingly strong outing.
The writers have done a fantastic job of giving each character a "spotlight" episode. Previous installments have handed that focus to Getty, Gail, Paul, and even Chace.
This time, it was J. Paul Getty, Jr.'s (also known as "Big Paul") turn.
I'd mentioned before that I wasn't particularly intrigued by what we'd seen of Big Paul so far. Thankfully, "Kodachrome" took the time to deepen his character, filling in the gaps in his troubled backstory and showing his downfall.
Big Paul is one of the most tragic Getty family characters. The hour showed, in extremely effective detail, how an utter lack of affection (or even compassion) from his father emotionally destroyed him.
That destruction also led to the fracturing of his marriage to Gail and his relationship with his son.
As the flashbacks depicted, Big Paul was initially very much a family man – not interested in drugs or stepping out in his wife. He also seemed to truly love his son.
It all went downhill after he finally met with his father – who refused to let Big Paul even call him "Dad" – and got a job heading one of his companies in Rome.
Jr.: Hi, uh, Dad.
Getty: Hm. You may call me Paul.
Getty treated his son hideously, and it was very uncomfortable watching Big Paul grasp for his cold father's attention and approval only to be beaten down time and again.
Taking the job gradually wore Big Paul down, as his father repeatedly undermined him at every turn and didn't even give him any help when he first took over the company. Eventually, he turned to drugs, and he and Gail opened up their marriage.
Seeing how hopeful, happy, and in love Big Paul was at the start of the flashback sequence juxtaposed against the broken, drug-addicted shell of a man he is in the present was incredibly compelling.
Victoria: You look happy.
Jr.: Oh, we were, we were. Broke, but happy.
As an aside: I can't believe how supportive Victoria is of Big Paul, while he's literally sitting there reminiscing about how happy he was with two of his previous wives. Ouch.
Of course, Victoria's flashback moment with Little Paul (when Big Paul was still married to Talitha before her overdose death) was very enlightening as to why, exactly, she'd be willing to put up with it.
Michael Esper gave the standout performance of the hour, particularly in Big Paul's confrontations with Getty.
The episode's climax, when Getty revealed that the money for the ransom he negotiated would be a loan at 4% interest from the Getty Trust, was stellar.
I am so stupid. So stupid. I'm such an idiot. I thought you were going to give me something. I thought you were giving me something. All my life, that is what I have wanted. For you to give me something, anything. I don't care what. That little bit of pottery in your pocket. It's worthless apparently, everywhere apparently, but you still had to have it back. And it's a loan of my money to me with interest! Of course it is!Jr.
Big Paul's breakdown was powerfully delivered by Esper.
As per usual, Donald Sutherland was great.
We saw, thanks to the flashbacks, that Getty has been a cold, cruel, unemotional creature for years. It's not a new development.
Gail's explanation of Getty, when speaking to Chace, was perfect: He's got an utter lack of genuine compassion.
Gail: They're not normal, Chase. The Gettys. It's okay. He's your boss, I know you can't say. They seem normal human beings, but there's a slice of pure animal in the old man.
Gail: Yeah, you know, that thing that the rest of humanity holds onto for dear life? Love, compassion, care, kindness, whatever you want to call it. There's a switch in him that clicks and it's gone.
One of the most interesting parts was seeing how Getty had clicked with Little Paul even upon first meeting the boy, years before what we saw of them on the Trust Series Premiere.
Seeing this installment's flashback sequences made their bonding in the premiere – and its eventual deterioration – all the more poignant.
I like him. I don't care for children. But him I like.Getty
Capping off this sequence of quietly devastating moments was Gail's appearance throughout "Kodachrome."
In the flashbacks, we saw her make what we know would eventually turn out to be a colossal mistake: leaving Big Paul for Lang. (Not that Big Paul was such a great catch – but Lang also wound up being terrible.)
In the present, Gail's scenes were exclusively with Chace, as she excitedly baked a cake for Little Paul's birthday in anticipation of his at this point apparently assured return.
Gail has run the emotional gamut. She went from thinking Paul was dead on Trust Season 1 Episode 6 to being told the ransom was all settled. Then, the ransom money fell through when Big Paul had his breakdown and refused Getty's loan.
Hilary Swank was subtle perfection, particularly in her final scene.
Not a word was exchanged between Gail and Chace, but it was immediately clear what was being communicated: Little Paul would not be coming home.
Not in time for his birthday, at least.
- Little Paul learned how to do those amazingly impressive shadow puppets from Getty! That was a nice (and unexpected) detail.
- Kodachrome is a type of film, so it was no surprise that this installment explored a bit Paul's interest in filmmaking. It was mentioned earlier in the season, but now we know it went back to the time he was a kid with a video camera attached to his hand.
- I was not expecting to see Rob Delaney. That was a surprising guest spot!
- Getty realized Penelope has been having an affair with her flight instructor and angrily demanded she be left just $1 in his will – the ultimate in cruel payback gestures.
- That opening scene (and his gentle behavior with Paul) seemed to suggest that Leonardo isn't really a bad guy like Primo and Salvatore. I mean, yeah, he's still participating in a kidnapping, but shades of gray and all that.
- A nice thematic parallel: Getty literally threw Little Paul into the water to teach him how to swim and figuratively threw Big Paul into running the company to see if he could manage it. Very apropos of the character we've gotten to know so far.
What did you think of "Kodachrome"? Share your thoughts by commenting 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.