By Kyle PriceLivingston
The soul of an Irish artist is a thing of beauty. Bright and fragile, given to flights of joy that bring one to the gates of heaven itself, before diving to smash itself on the rocks of existential depression far below. James Joyce, perhaps the most highly regarded artistic progeny of the Emerald Isle, famously challenged himself to a drinking contest which lasted nearly 50 years until the coroner declared it a draw. Joyce was tortured, you see, by a combination of pride, poverty, and the sneaking suspicion that nobody actually understood Finnegan’s Wake. He was caught between a desire to impress his patrons and the fear of selling out. Imagine the crisis of conscience he would have had if he had been, say, a hitman instead of a writer.
This is the problem facing Ray Kelly (Bek Markas). A new member of mobster Al Moretti (Adam Mucci)’s crime syndicate, he is given contracts to execute total strangers with no explanation at all (in fact, not asking for an explanation is part of the deal). Each of the short episodes (usually less than 5 minutes) starts with few minutes of subtle character development (both of Ray and his target) and ends with a murder. Ray never complains, but he spends an awful of time staring morosely into the middle distance for somebody who isn’t having a hard time sleeping at night. His life is further complicated by a budding romance with Lydia (Shea Glaser), a freckly and, frankly fascinating woman he meets while waiting for an opportunity to strangle a guy in the park. If you were looking for an interesting drama, you found it.
The show looks incredible. The camera work shifts back and forth between wellframed closeups (which highlight the Bek’s excellent facial expressions) and beautifully framed set pieces. The shot between the playground equipment in Episode 2 is beautiful, significant, and perfectly placed. The music and quotes which begin each episode (both by Irish artists) set a great, brooding tone, and the writing and acting carry us through the rest of the way. Writer/Director Mickey Micklos has executed his vision flawlessly.