A woman in a dark gray turtleneck and black blazer; still of Zazie Beetz in "Full Circle"
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Tv “Full Circle” weaves an intricate web in episodes 3 and 4

“Full Circle” weaves an intricate web in episodes 3 and 4

A woman in a dark gray turtleneck and black blazer; still of Zazie Beetz in "Full Circle"

Nothing is quite as satisfying as a big TV twist: a jaw-dropping finale or midseason moment that reinforces why audiences gravitated to a great show to begin with, and why they’ll come back for more or crave it forever.

Max’s “Full Circle” isn’t about too much convolution – not yet anyway – but episodes 3 and 4 measure small twists in just the right dosage, countering a slow plot development with clarity about past and current events. Written by Ed Solomon and directed by Steven Soderbergh, “Jared’s Body” reveals more about Nicky (Lucian Zanes) and his connection to the Brownes, while “Safe in the Circle” breaks away from the connection between the McCusker and Mahabir families.

Episode 3 is the slower of the two for most of its run, redeemed near the end by the revelation that Nicky is Derek’s son. It’s hardly a revolutionary development, but that’s exactly why it works; neither too predictable nor outlandish, and obscured precisely enough that by the time it comes to light it couldn’t be more obvious. To its credit, “Jared’s Body” also opens with an answer to the question alluded to in the title and still unanswered at the end of Episode 2: that “Jared” (Nicky) is still alive, not senselessly and wrongly killed in a feud between two families that doesn’t involve – or at least shouldn’t – involve him.

Related stories

The second season of ‘Minx’ loses some of its charm

“WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS” -- “The Mall” -- Season 5, Episode 1 (airs July 13) — Pictured: Natasia Demetriou as Nadja.  CR: Russ Martin: FX

Nadja’s doll goes a long way in “What We Do in the Shadows”

After the initial deluge of character introductions, the central episodes of “Full Circle” give viewers a breather. Time spent with any character feels not only earned but productive, contextualizing their motivations and actions in a way that at least the first hour didn’t have the luxury of doing to the same extent. This especially pays off with Aked (Jharrel Jerome) and the other youngsters, whose fear couldn’t be clearer now that they’re far from the immediacy of the kidnapping. Aked still plays tough, albeit clearly in denial, while Louis (Gerald Jones) and Natalia (Adia) voice their panic. Mel (Zazie Beetz) leans further into his hypocrisy, visibly more confident now that he feels powerful next to the Brownes. Danes continues to develop Sam (as promised) but Oliphant’s Derek still stands out from everyone around him. His sense of guilt for Nicky’s fate – regardless of his relationship to the boy – is any parent’s fear of his own child or of someone else, as well as his desire for action, for truth, to escape guilt.

Solomon is writing tight drama, but Episode 4 in particular drifts in and out of dark comedy. It’s hard not to laugh at Nicky hatching heist plans with Louis and Adia, or at the phone call where Mel accuses Manny (Jim Gaffigan) of being involved with the McCuskers and his bumbling responses confirm his previously incomprehensible suspicions about him. Even kidnapping the wrong person is inherently funny — and a lot easier to laugh from this side of the knowledge that Nicky wasn’t killed.

So AND moving forward with the McCuskers and the Mahabirs? That’s a question for episodes 5 and 6 to answer, but now we have William Sadler as cantankerous Gene, Jeff’s (Dennis Quaid) ex-cop brother who might hate him more than anyone. Jeff may have distanced himself and all but forgotten what happened in Essequibo, but it’s clear those events completely altered the course of Gene’s life for the worse. It’s hard to imagine him cursing Savitri’s (CCH Pounder) husband, but she believes whatever happened then brought bad luck to her family, right up to her brother’s death. Nicky may have survived, Jared too, but it’s hard to imagine this series not ending with blood shed on both sides.

Connect the dots

  • I called this section “Connect the dots” before actually watching the episode where they say “connect the dots”. Please clap.
  • Jeff is as soon as in these episodes, and by the end of episode 4, her past and role in it all are the biggest questions left.
  • Will we have a flashback? I love a good flashback. But that might also feel hokey within the contained world of “Full Circle.”
  • Beetz is doing his best here, but with the more conventional material of the bunch. The on-off relationship because she’s too busy with her work is a cliché this show could do without.
  • Savitri is also sparingly used in episodes 3 and 4, but Pounder is such a powerful screen presence that the impression she left on the first two was enough to make me shudder at the thought of her finding out they had botched the kidnapping. I was not disappointed!
  • I just want to say that Phaldut Sharma is doing a great job as Garmen, the common thread between multiple key players which just doesn’t work in the hands of an actor who can’t keep his feet on the ground.
  • Given Gene and Jeff’s involvement in Essequibo, wouldn’t it be interesting if the Mahabirs target the wrong one? Like kidnapping the wrong guy in the premiere, this would bring the show… full circle.

Combined Grade: B

The final two episodes of “Full Circle” air Thursday on Max.

Related Post