A pessimistic view of the world is central to Taylor Sheridan and Hugh Dillon’s Paramount+ series Mayor Of Kingstown. Violence is not so much the language of its primary characters (cops, prison guards, gang members, and police officers in the fictitious titular town), as it is the very air they breathe. Punishment and vengeance serve as organizing principles.
It is uncertain if such a portrayal is descriptive (here is the world as it is, as discouraging as that may be to comprehend) or gloomy (here is the world as it could be, as difficult as that may be to fathom). Perhaps deliberately so.
However, that does not make it any less unsettling. Returning for a second season after a riotous (literally!) climax the previous year, the Mayor Of Kingstown delves even further into a horrific depiction of law enforcement and gang brutality.
A reminder, just in case you forgot: An Attica-style riot ended the first season of this thriller starring Jeremy Renner, with competing gangs, outraged convicts, and tough-as-nails guards swept up in an all-out brutal battle that has left Kingstown severely battered. The previously tenuous order that existed on the streets and within prison walls has been obliterated.
As the first two episodes of the most recent season reveal in horrifying detail, no one or no place is safe. Not before some form of law and order is restored. Herein resides Mike McLusky’s primary motivation (Renner).
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The daily lawlessness he witnesses (rabid pit dogs unleashed on gang members, drive-by shootings aimed at home parties, and random murders in the prison) is unsustainable.
However, putting the genie back in the bottle, particularly after witnessing the devastation that occurred during the riot, proves to be a more difficult task than our ethically ambiguous protagonist could have imagined.
And that’s on top of needing to get Iris (Emma Laird) to safety while determining if a certain crime leader was killed during the violence or actually escaped – a scenario far too frightening to consider seriously without dreading the worst.
Mike’s repute for power brokering is what directs the Mayor of Kingstown. As useless and unappreciated as it may sound, he is merely a man attempting to bring order to the chaotic streets of his city.
In a television landscape that has given us everything from Oz and Law & Order to The Wire and most recently We Own This City, Sheridan and Dillon’s gritty series can never feel novel, even as it attempts to encase its urgent commentary on the American prison system in a thriller that flattens far too many characters.
Perhaps this is why the most intriguing plotline of the most recent season is Mike’s brother Kyle (Taylor Handley). After receiving a transfer out of Kingstown, the former Kingstown PD officer is slowly learning that he still bears emotional scars from his time there.
In the first two episodes, Kyle must come to terms with how policing in Kingstown has nearly twisted his perception of the world, where every raid is a potential drug bust and every stopped vehicle is a potential violent threat. (However, given the show’s penchant for exploring the darkest scenarios, the second episode concludes with a horrifying scene that will undoubtedly put Kyle back even further, confirming his deepest concerns about himself and the world he’s dedicated to helping.)
In a sense, it is difficult to condemn the Mayor Of Kingstown for achieving its intended purpose. Here is a crime drama that feels both born out of Fox News’ most vile notions of what urban living entails (Drug dens! Gang fights! Petty thieves at every corner store!) and out of the most nightmare-inducing assumptions about contemporary American policing (Corruption! Senseless Violence! Furious exchanges!).
There are no “good” or “evil” people. Guys, just guys. Miriam, Mike’s mother, is the only character who attempts to navigate herself above such a black-and-white world.
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Miriam’s clipped, breathy demeanor, portrayed by the luminous Diane Wiest, captures the anxiety she feels when she realizes that carceral and policing systems are operating as intended, eager not to rid streets of “criminals” but focused almost exclusively on creating them and thus validating the “law and order” that guides their actions, both personal and structural.
A brief instance in which she chooses grace over punishment is evidence that there are individuals devoted to doing all they can to dismantle an unfair system.
Unfortunately, as Mike’s actions reveal, both the show and Mike appear to find more narrative interest in (re)establishing tired narratives involving fighting gangs and violent power grabs. It may be captivating, but it lacks imagination, both as entertainment and as a reflection on law and order in the year 2023.
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How Can I Watch Episode 2 of Season 2 of Mayor of Kingstown?
Watch the full episode of Mayor Of Kingstown Season 2 Episode 2: Staring at the Devil on Paramount Plus.
What is the Gist of the Mayor of Kingstown?
The family of power brokers between the police, criminals, inmates, prison guards, and politicians explores systemic racism, corruption, and injustice. The crime thriller series offers a bleak depiction of their efforts to establish order and justice in a town where neither exists.
Are There Prisons in Kingston Michigan?
As of 2018, there are six prisons in the Kingston area, including Collins Bay Medium/Maximum Security. Collins Bay Minimum Security (formerly Frontenac), Millhaven Maximum Security, and the Regional Treatment Center.
Who is the Black Female Character in Mayor of Kingstown?
Who is the Drug Distributor in the Mayor of Kingstown?
In Kingstown, Deverin “Bunny” Washington is the leader of the Crips and a drug dealer. In the open air, Bunny spends his days reclining in a lawn chair and selling drugs from adjacent coolers. Bunny has a positive relationship with Mike and is the closest thing he has to a buddy.