“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Five: “What Kind of Bad?”

You don’t need to be a perfect show to produce a perfect scene – and tonight episode of The Deuce (titled “What Kind of Bad?”) proved it.


It’s the kind of scene where you can feel the filmmakers realizing exactly what they can do with the ingredients at their disposal, liked winning Chopped contestants. Take one tablespoon of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sad-eyed glamour, with a pinch of the unpredictability inherent in her low-key acting style. Add in Method Man’s mellifluous voice, and the way he always looks and sounds like he’s sizing up everyone in the room for strengths and weaknesses. Sprinkle in the unending ebb and flow of people and cars on the street, providing a dynamic background perfect for a clash between two titans.

But by showing how strong this show could be, it serves to highlight how weak it currently is otherwise.

I loved the duel between Maggie Gyllenhaal and Method Man’s characters on this week’s episode of The Deuce, which I reviewed for Rolling Stone. The big question now is whether this is the show finally getting its sea legs (which has happened many, many times in recent history—cf. The Leftovers and Halt and Catch Fire) or if it’s just an anomaly.

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