"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Sunday, October 17, 2021

American Rust 1.6: The Debts

I don't usually title my reviews with the given title of the episode of whatever I'm reviewing, or even with a title that resembles the official title of the episode, but the story in tonight's American Rust episode, 1.6, was so deeply about debt, in at least two ways, that I had no choice.

First, Del's former partner from Pittsburgh, Chuck, calls upon Del to pay his debt -- in this case, murder some guy who committed a heinous crime years ago, and got away.  The backstory: there's a "brotherhood" of Pittsburgh police who kill bad guys who've evaded the law, the killer cop apparently not being the cop who was investigating the crime, so the original investigating cop can have an alibi?  (I'm not completely sure of that.)  Anyway, unsurprisingly, Del can't pull the trigger.  (But then Chuck goes in and does the deed himself, and then turns the gun on himself, and I'm not quite sure why Chuck killed himself, either.   Because Chuck knew he could no longer rely on Del to back him up?  My wife thinks it was to give Del a haunting memory as pay-back for Del not killing the bad guy.  Maybe both explanations played a role in Chuck's ultimate motivation.)

Meanwhile, Billy almost pleads guilty out of loyalty to Isaac.  There's some kind of debt in there, too. But, like Del, Billy can't bring himself to do that.  He pleads not guilty at the last minute.  He's off to a hardcore prison with bail denied, but he still has a chance of a good life.

Not many if any of the characters in American Rust seem to have much of a chance at that.  Lee's husband Alejandro realizes that Lee has been sleeping with Billy, after Grace all but tells Alejandro so.   No one's very nice in American Rust, either.  Grace gets her just deserts soon after, though: someone (likely someone who doesn't like her unionizing) burns and blows up her car.

I haven't even mentioned what happened to Isaac.  A grim but powerful episode indeed.

See also American Rust 1.1-2: Pennsylvania Noir ... American Rust 1.3: Highs and Lows of Life at the Same Time ... American Rust 1.4-5: Tightening Noose and Fraying Relationships

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