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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sneaky Pete Season 3: Better than Ever



Sneaky Pete rolled out is third season on Amazon Prime earlier this month, and I enjoyed it even more than I did the first two.  Which is saying a lot, since the first two were full of quirk and jive and action.   I can't quite recall if there ever was a television series about a con man like Sneaky Pete - maybe Maverick is a distant cousin - but Sneaky Pete did it better than anything I've ever seen on television.   And the third season did it more, adding subplots, locations, characters, and action.

The basic story, if you haven't seen it (and the rest of this review will have some spoilers), is that a con man, Marius, takes on the identity of his cellmate, Pete, when Marius is released from prison.  Taking on Pete's identity entails Marius showing up at Pete's family home, where his grandparents live.  Marius knows that the family hasn't seen Pete in years.  But, actually, the two don't look all that similar, and it's a tough sell for the viewer to believe that Marius is able to pull this off.  But part of the charm of this series is that you can almost pretty much believe that he does.

The tension of Pete continuing to fool most of his adoptive family is the centerpiece of the story, the tableau on which the various cons that Marius is enacted are played out.  Indeed, the reason he assumed this identity had to do with a major con.  In the third season, new cons are introduced, involving art forgery and wine, and these played out on the East Coast, where the series originated, and in California, where the series takes up residence.  Although a key member of Marius's conned family - Julia - discovers in the second season that Marius isn't Pete, he continues to grow so close to the family that in the third season he risks cons and alliances to save Julia.   He's in fact a mensch, a decent person deep down, and he's grown to love the family he's been lying to through his teeth.  And they love him, too.  One of the most moving moments in Season 3 is when Grandpa (Peter Gerety) sincerely says to "Pete": "you're a good boy".

One of the great things about Sneaky Pete is how even the secondary characters are real characters (you know what I mean) and memorable.   In the third season, these secondary characters increase in number are so compelling as to be raised to a state of art.  There are so many of them that I'm too lazy to list them all right here.  As for the central characters, Giovanni Ribisi as Marius is superb, and Margo Martindale and Peter Gerety as his "grandparents" are off the charts.   Perfect binging after a day at the beach or the lake or wherever during the summer.

See also Sneaky Pete: True Win (review of season 1) ... Sneaky Pete Season 2: Excellent, Beats the First (Slightly)

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