I've seen an advance copy of the first four episodes. No spoilers below, except for what you have to know already: Brotherhood could never let Michael Caffee die.
So Michael's back. But he's not 100%, and the shake-up that his brain received makes for an important element in this year's story. Jason Isaacs gives a great performance - just as he did last year - of a slightly muted Michael. (Isaacs plays Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, in case he looks familiar. Talk about an actor with range.)
Jason Clarke gives a fine performance as brother Tommy Kaffee, too. Brotherhood has good echoes of The Sopranos. But the great strength of the series for me has always been the Providence politics. It's not only Rich Man/Poor Man, brother who made good and brother who didn't. It's a show about getting things done - the hard mobster way as does Michael, and the hard political way, as does Tommy. The first ends in blood more than the second, but otherwise they're no less painful, no less easy as paths to success.
The women are also strong and appealing on Brotherhood. Tommy's wife Eileen played by Annabeth Gish is complex, intense, and, whatever her flaws, you'd want her brown eyes on your side. (Her relationship with Tommy is especially difficult now, because of what she told him at the wedding last year). Fionnula Flanagan as mother Rose Kaffee is a classic (if she looks familiar, you saw her in Desmond's UK flashback on Lost). Michael's girlfriend Kath (played by Tina Benko) has a much larger role, and that's welcome. And The West Wing's Janel Moloney is now on the show, as - well, I promised only one spoiler, above.
But I can say that I think the show is more thoughtful, even deeper than it was last year. Ethan Embry's giving a sterling performance as officer Giggs, and the complexity of his personal and professional life could support a series in itself. Brian F. O’Byrne joins Brotherhood as Caffee cousin Colin - from the other side of the Atlantic - and this adds an additional dimension to the family.
Brotherhood's on its way to making memorable television - among the best of the decade.
See also Episode 10: Finale
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