“Life’s about who you love and what you do for them.”
In what is no doubt the most bizarre episode yet, Marcus and Billy head to Vegas (with Saya, Willie, and Maria in tow) to kill Billy’s father, Gene. What follows is a visually striking and imaginative trip that ponders questions of reality, life, and all manner of self-introspection.
Making the decision last week, the affable Billy has realized that, if his father Gene isn’t eliminated, the lives of his mother and little brother will be irreparably destroyed. Billy’s solution to kill his drunken, abusive, gambling degenerate of a father is the only way he can think to save his already fractured family. Calling Marcus in as backup (with the others along for the ride) is the only way to get it done. As students at a school for assassins, killing a crooked cop indebted to the mob shouldn’t be too difficult, now should it? It probably wouldn’t have been except for a few surprises along the way. The first is a stop at a Jerry Garcia caravan. Full of hippies there to have a good time, the crew (save for Billy) partake in some recreational drug use. One hit of acid would be enough but then Marcus goes and downs seven (!) in one go. What follows for him is a psychedelic trip down a rabbit hole of wonder where he can’t distinguish truth from reality. He’s in no condition for a real mission, and he and Billy actually killing Gene is nothing more than a happy accident.
If you thought killing Gene would be the end of their mission, think again. Not only is Marcus still suffering from the effects of his acid trip but Chester finally tracks him down. In no condition to even accept the reality before him, Marcus is at his former roommate’s mercy but that’s not enough for Chester. He wants to make it big; hell, his goal is to be on Donahue, thus Marcus’s fate must be something “with pizzazz”. That gives our protagonist a free pass…too bad Chico’s isn’t in such a giving mood.
Like the possessive stalker he is, Chico must have got wind of Maria’s escape and ends up following the quintet on their Vegas road trip. When he walks in on Marcus and his girl about to consummate their initial weeks of flirting, he’s insane with rage. The ensuing chase and fight ends up just like their other confrontations: Marcus battered and bloodied with Chico standing over him, ready to end it. Of course, Marcus has the luck of a leprechaun. This time it’s not the monks or Master Lin that disrupt Chico’s coup de grace, but Maria, Billy, Saya, and Willie. But there is no turning back and Maria has to make the ultimate choice when she ends her boyfriend’s savage reign, slitting his throat with her bladed fan.
The final ride home is told through another Marcus narration as he has finally reconnected with the dichotomy of contentment warping to loneliness. Moreover, his choice to be with Maria seems to have been made; whether it’s what he truly wants—as he glimpses Saya’s hurt—remains to be seen. But it’s not just Marcus whose future has been altered. Every single person in the car has been emotionally scarred and how they come to terms with these grievous wounds will play an important role to their ongoing story arcs. Not to mention the fact that they broke one of King’s Dominion’s major tenets; they killed a fellow student. And that, more than their own psychological scars, may be the death of them.
- It almost had to go this way. In how they continued to frame Chico and his psycho-ish behavior, keeping him as the antagonist when he and Marcus have already had multiple run-ins would have been too much of the same. Maria killing him though is a great swerve. Not only will she have the emotional fallout to deal with but the cartel will no doubt get involved. Add to that her new relationship with Marcus and how that will affect her bond with Saya has really scrambled the dynamic of the power players.
- On the Saya/Marcus front, it’s a shame how things are, at least for now. Despite Maria’s charm, there’s no doubt that the chemistry between Saya and Marcus is much stronger. From a drama perspective, this triangle will add much more angst than had Saya and Marcus got together but how long will things last?
- Now that his father’s dead, Billy’s succeeded in defending his family, but at what cost to himself? The trauma of killing his dad will most likely haunt him forever and the already unstable lad may become even more unhinged.
- While it seems as if Willie had the least damaging trip to Vegas, he has to not only deal with the reality of his staged persona being discovered but also the guilt at not being able to save his friend when he had the chance. I’m curious to see its impact on his interactions with the Final World Order as well as Marcus and the others.