Public Morals Season 1 Episode 3 Review: O'Bannon's Wake

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Pour yourself a dram of some good Irish whiskey, and let's all give Mr. O a hearty "Slainte!"

You don't have to like somebody to enjoy a nice, free stiff drink at their wake, as we saw on Public Morals Season 1 Episode 3. We were finally introduced to a character who legitimately liked the fallen bookie, adding one more man to the hunt to find his killer. 

The intergenerational conflicts wouldn't stop coming either, with enough father-son conflicts to keep Freud in cigars for a month.

We started with the wake and ended with the poker game bust, and while I liked each of those plots individually, they were so disparate that the episode felt a little disjointed to me. Both served their purpose, they just didn't mesh well together. I keep reaching for a common theme between the two, but I come up short. 

The wake allowed for character exposition, showing us how everyone felt about dear old Mr. O and shedding light on relationships (Rusty and Aunt Kay, what have you been up to?), while the raid on the poker game was more about good old police work and graft. A development with Mr. O or Susie's case would have made more sense for a requisite police action scene. 

The case of Mr. O may be stagnating, but that's not dissuading newcomer Richie Kane. He's an interesting new character, a total hot head, and possibly the only person to really mourn Mr. O. I'm intrigued by his devotion, since everyone else seemed to hate the guy. Other than encourage his flights of fancy of taking over the Westside, what did Mr. O do for this guy?

The drive to overthrow the establishment and create his own little kingdom the most valuable asset he brings to the show, though. It inherently creates drama, and with the show set in the sixties, is a nice little metaphor for the political and generational upheaval of the time. I love that kind of attention to story craft.

Kane's scene with Smitty is the best example of this. I loved Smitty's response, because it was so emblematic of the WWII generation. After the upheaval and strife of their youth, the greatest generation often seemed to want to just keep on keeping on. 

Smitty: What is it with you Kane? What is it with you? I've got no interest in starting a war with Patton, a war we can't possible win.
Richie Kane: Patton's an old man. His crew is nothing but old men.
Smitty: I feel like I'm talking to a brick wall here. Let me just tell you...all I want to do is make as much money as I can and get out of this racket before I end up in jail or dead,in the river, like Mr. O. Put your bullshit plans to bed already.

Of course, generational differences aren't always confrontational. My favorite B plot was Bullman and his daughter. For some reason, I had thought that Bullman was a sleaze who cheated on his wife with the prostitutes he arrested, but no, he's really just a loveable family man who has a soft spot for Fortune.

I mean, I'm sure that they'll end up screwing around at some point, but he's got a total white knight complex going on hiding beneath his attempt at a gruff exterior. He can't seem to keep that up very long, though. I'm really surprised that he didn't let Agnes go out with her friends; he's a soft touch with her.

The scene with Agnes and her fiance at lunch was great. Everything, from his concern about her pursuing college to his hidden hurt over how long she had kept this from him, was reinforcing what a wonderful dad he was. The threat to Ryan was both funny and effective.

Brooklyn? Why would you want to live in Brooklyn?

Charlie Bullman

One thing that is frustrating me is the lack of development of Christine (okay, any of the women, but we'll go with just her for now). I want to love Christine. I do. She's got a lot of sass going for her, and may be able to blur the Madonna/Whore thing that this show has going on with its women.

But she's also kind of one note right now. Elizabeth Masucci is doing a great job with the material that's she's given, but that material always seems to be "Be a better dad" and "Let's move." I don't get much of a sense that she exists outside of the scenes that she is in, and that's a problem.

Christine Muldoon: Rather than knocking some sense into him, wouldn't it be easier to just move?
Terry Muldoon: Uh, yeah, but it would be a lot more expense, whereas a smack doesn't cost us a thing.

Public Morals Season 1 Episode 4 airs next week, and with more screen time for Christine, may address my complaint. I'm looking forward to Shea being back as well. Something feels a little off with him, and I'm eager to find out what it is! 

Watch Public Morals online and let us know what you thought in the comments!

O'Bannon's Wake Review

Editor Rating: 3.75 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (2 Votes)

Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.

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Public Morals Season 1 Episode 3 Quotes

Do me a favor, don't worry about that, okay? Just go take a seat, say a prayer, and hope you don't end up an idiot like the rest of them.

Terry Muldoon

Christine Muldoon: Rather than knocking some sense into him, wouldn't it be easier to just move?
Terry Muldoon: Uh, yeah, but it would be a lot more expense, whereas a smack doesn't cost us a thing.