Follow Us on Twitter

Tin Star: Season 2 Finale - Review (What went right?)

Tin Star: Season 2

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

WE’VE been saying for some time that the second season of Tin Star has been a marked improvement on the first and the climax maintained the show’s strong run of form, even if the cliff-hanger ending (without any confirmation of a renewal) left us feeling a little frustrated.

Episode nine, The Unseen, marked the culmination of a long-brewing storyline involving the impending arrival of ‘Liverpool’, and the violent repercussions of Jack’s past life. It also embraced classic Western values (from High Noon to Open Range), as the town’s good guys became involved in a huge gunfight with the bad ones.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead]

The most striking difference between seasons one and two came in the way we changed our feelings towards the main characters. Where Jack (Tim Roth) and his family (Abigail Lawrie’s Anna and Genevieve O’Reilly’s Angela) had grown tiresome by season one’s end, they now felt like complex human beings worth investing time in.

A lot of this was due to a more focused narrative. The story arc of the show’s sophomore run allowed the events of season one to feed into the characters’ emotional journey, while the story itself moved forward.

The emergence of a religious community, led by Pastor Johan Nickel (John Lynch), provided a far more interesting backdrop, enabling Jack to confront his demons while also, possibly, setting him on an unlikely path to redemption.

The fifth episode, Consequences, was a particularly powerful midway point, in which Jack appeared to come to the rescue of Jonah’s family… themselves unwittingly involved with a Mexican drug cartel.

But this being Tin Star, things didn’t quite go the way as predicted (another of the show’s strengths). Rather, it shifted expectations once more, bringing the ‘Liverpool’ story to the fore while still placing the lives of all of the principal players at risk.

When episode eight opened with the murder of Pastor Johan’s eldest daughter, you knew things weren’t going to end well. And so it proved.

By Unseen‘s close, many of the religious community’s townsfolk lay dead, including Johan and his wife. Jack’s family were also on the run, forced to go their separate ways, with O’Reilly’s Angela forced to look after Johan’s sole surviving son.

Jack, meanwhile, was left surveying the wreckage of his past misdeeds, as bodies were strewn everywhere – many innocent.

Tin Star: Season 2

Indeed, one of the most striking elements of the season finale was the clinical efficiency with which the action was directed. Death came quickly and ruthlessly, in short bursts of automatic gunfire. It was often indiscriminate.

The shooting of Johan’s wife, Sarah, was particularly cold. It happened quickly, before anyone had chance to process what was going on. But it left you feeling the right kind of numb… a sense of shock accompanying a senses of feeling numb.

Jack also had his own brush with death, before being bailed out by two unlikely sources (two of the town’s youngest townsfolk with paintball guns), and also seemed stunned by the swiftness of the brutality. Roth’s final scenes were mesmerising, as he attempted to process the cost of the gunfight and his own legacy, which had driven the killing.

Where season one left him as a cold killing machine, season two appeared to have broken him, emotionally. Jack had gone on a journey. And his victims kept on multiplying.

Again, season two did a great job of slowly building the tension, while peeling away the layers of Jack’s persona. His slow rebuilding of the relationships with his ‘wife and daughter’ were hard fought but ultimately deserved, bringing a greater sense of tragedy to the finale. In his own kind of way, Jack cared.

Equally of note was the journey of Johan, expertly conveyed by Lynch with an ever mounting sense of anger and torment. His funeral speech, midway through the final episode, was especially powerful, as were his final moments as he sought to wreak God’s vengeance. Lynch remained one of season two’s greatest assets.

There were still criticisms, of course. Pacing was sometimes still an issue, while there were plenty of loose ends and plot directions that didn’t always make sense. Perhaps they will, if a third season materialises.

The lack of a visible villain also felt a little frustrating. The long-anticipated arrival of the cartel, or ‘Liverpool’, failed to provide a focal point for Jack’s nemesis. Again, perhaps they have yet to materialise.

But in the main, season two of Tin Star deserves congratulating for the way in which it turned things around to become a show worth looking forward to. Where once it felt slow, aimless and quirky for the sake of it, the show now seems to have focused its offbeat leanings and unconventional style, while providing a more robust edginess and a stronger emotional connection.

Season two emerged as a most welcome surprise.