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Episode 11 - Rainmaker

6 March 2012

I thought David Morse was terrific here as Jerry "The Rainmaker" Rains. Until the final scene I thought the portrait of the old champ who took too many punches was both excellent and of course dreadfully sad. Even though it was heavy handed this was exactly what Lights needed to see all along. Jerry can't even remember his humiliating fit at the gym when he wakes up the next morning. This is what pugilistic dementia could do to Lights of course but more than that I felt this story was a showcase for why Lights is the hero of our story.

Lights couldn't bare the thought of Rains standing at the market every day being ignored by the world. So he added him to the list of people who depend on him. The family barbeque was a reminder of just how many people he is financially responsible for. Lights just can't say no to those around him. Johnny is already back to gambling and pinning his hopes on shaky real estate deals. Jerry almost kills Lights and when he rolls up to the gym the next day Lights still won't turn him away. Lights is too caring a guy to cut anyone off and that is ultimately why the show has held onto my interest.

Otherwise this was another episode that reminded me why Lights Out (the show) doesn't have what it takes to be a great drama. Sadly we have reached a point in society where dramas need to be brutal to be taken seriously. Heroism is difficult to take seriously unless it is very carefully thought through. I just didn't believe that Hal Brennan would leave the errant Councilman in Lights' hands. Brennan is a gangster. He is someone who has half a million dollars lying around. Yet we are expected to believe he couldn't hire a hitman or a thug to go take care of the Councilman? Instead he would suggest that Lights should go beat, bribe or possibly kill the Councilman for him. It makes no sense. Why would he want Lights even further exposed to the police by sending him after their new witness?

The ending was supposed to mirror last weeks (and perhaps the theme of the whole show) in that the old boxer managed to outsmart the cruel modern world. I didn't buy that either. Lights entrusts Jerry with the task of eluding motel staff, taking out police protection and roughing Hess up enough to keep him silent. This is the same Jerry who is having trouble remembering anything and flipped out only days earlier. I also don't buy that the beating would convince the Councilman to keep his mouth shut. Surely this beating might just push him to open up even more.

That final scene also left you with the feeling that Lights had thoroughly taken advantage of a vulnerable man. If Jerry had gone to jail would Lights have been able to live with himself? Theresa too jumped on the "take advantage of forgetful Jerry" bandwagon earlier in the episode. She certainly took all of Lights' problems in her stride didn't she? I wasn't happy with how easily she was able to shrug off his thuggery and support him in shirking the FBI.

Lights Out has never had the conviction to be The Wire or Breaking Bad and deliver the corruption and sadness that this story calls for. Yet the writers clearly want to get close to that sort of tangled-web storytelling. Each time they have though they have failed to deliver the goods. I don't mind seeing Lights outsmart the world and win in the end. But if you tell me too much about his troubles then it all becomes unconvincing.



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