The Deuce: “The Principle Is All” Season 1 Episode 3 Review

Photo Credit:

In its third episode, The Deuce continues to take its characters ever so slightly forward without developing its broader picture. What the “climax” of this eight-episode inaugural season might look like is something of a mystery, but that doesn’t stop its world from being wholly engrossing.

In “The Principle is All,” the two main goals set for Vincent and Candy last week dive into two very separate directions. Vincent, for example, faces a few roadblocks in opening his second watering hole. He’s got a supposed business partner who’s very particular about all the equipment he has lying around the bar. So naturally, Frankie smashes the jukebox right in front of him. It’s being set up that Frankie’s unpredictability is going to come around to hurt Vincent in some way, like it almost did when the businessman returned to the bar on opening night with a pistol. But Vincent proves charismatic, and a patron he welcomed with open arms took the gun in a scuffle. And yet, none of this gets in the way of the opening going very, very well. This large collection of characters at the new Times Square hot spot also seems to start setting up how a lot of these more minor characters might interact and influence each other. I said last week that The Deuce positions New York City as the Wild West, and that holds true in this third entry, but here Times Square also has the personality of a small town, where the true born and raised convene and bump uglies.

Candy, on the other hand, couldn’t be more ready to escape that feeling. As Gyllenhaal continues to provide the show’s much needed heart, we see Candy gain a full-fledged passion. As she tries to work her normal gig, she’s easily agitated at the prospect of having anal sex, a complicated although likely frequent request for a prostitute to receive. She’s even started to tell her mother about her new conquest. But her roadblocks are a lot more substantial than Vincent’s, and they have a lot to do with being a woman trying to get into the film business in the ’70s (or before this year). In her first meeting to learn more about the industry, she’s made to be small, a feeling Gyllenhaal already has us rooting for to disappear.

Many of the other character check-ins in “The Principle Is All” are fairly small. Darlene is seen watching another classic film with one of her regulars, and even taking an interest in art in general, reading A Tale of Two Cities at the opening night after having seen the movie. Abby’s relationship with Vincent also takes a few steps forward, just in their working trust of each other while trying to run a packed bar. There’s a little bit of Lori taking charge of her role when a client complains about pricing after she had his dick in her mouth.

All these inches forward are working to make these characters more likable before they presumably become integral to the show’s larger arc. That’s fine, The Deuce doesn’t have to be delivering big payoffs in its third episode at all. In fact, it’s pretty surprising that in just three episodes, we’ve seen Vincent open a successful new business venture. But hey, things move faster even in an eight episode season, despite this series being from the creator of The Wire. Either way, the series is still producing a winning combination of setting, tone, and character. This world is one worth coming back to every week, and its complicated characters are easy to love. For a brand new series with as wide an ensemble as The Deuce has, there’s not much more we need ask from it. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *