Sunday, September 10, 2017

TV Show Review: Snowfall

FX steps deep into the drug game jumping back to the dawn of crack with a clever show that has its highlights but plods along with the pace and feels like a lesser version of similar shows. The show is ambitious though and the first season seems to plant a lot of seeds that could grow and pay off in future seasons to come if renewed. The story is broken up into three different stories that follow various aspects of the drug trade from the source to the transport to finally distribution. It only has a distant relationship to major historic events, at least so far, and the characters interact minimally in a few scenes of little consequence. There also aren't many stories of the dangers of the drug game as the effects of this new substance hardly have time to take effect since crack really isn't introduced until the last few episodes.

The main story, and the most interesting one, is about Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), a young black entrepreneur who hopes to make enough money to solve all his problems. When a rich white friend asks him to ride along and then send him inside to buy coke from Avi Dexter (Alon Aboutboul), he learns that he can make more money from selling coke than weed. The coke turns a profit nicely but garners attention and Franklin is jumped for his cash. He seeks out help from Leon Simmons (Isaiah John) and others but the search for his money turns violent. Franklin quickly learns that there is more to the coke game than supply and demand. When he really works to turn a profit is when he heads up to Los Angeles to learn more about the mysterious recipe of mixing the cocaine with baking soda. This accelerates his business and leads to what will eventually be the crack epidemic. We only see the start of this change but already know the future. 

The second story involves a CIA Agent Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson) and his dealings with a Columbian cartel Alejandro Usteves (Juan Javier Cardenas). Teddy believes helping fund the fight against Communism is important and is willing to make sacrifices to do it but when a young woman Victoria (Justine Lupe) seeks out her friend who went missing in the company of a dead CIA agent and Usteves, Teddy has to step in and derail the investigation. He and Usteves also have to deal with all the difficulties of transferring the illegal drugs across the border even almost getting stuck in the middle of the desert. Usteves has to kill Victoria and Teddy kills Alejandro. He receives praise from his superiors and continues to deal the cocaine.

The third story has to do with a cartel family in Mexico. Lucia Villanueva (Emily Rios) is the daughter of a prominent gangster but their business partner's son Pedro Nava (Filipe Valle Costa) hopes to run the cocaine business. Lucia employs the former wrester Gustavo 'El Oso' Zapata (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) to serve as his muscle and help with distribution. Gustavo and Lucia have a growing relationship that makes Pedro jealous so he tried to push Lucia out of the game and discredit Gustavo but Gustavo knows other gangsters that will help him eliminate anyone that contests his right to run the business. The couple looks to be in a prominent position by the end of the season.

Snow fall had a tough time garnering my undivided attention and none of the storylines really stuck out to me as exceptionally interesting or exciting. Franklin's story was certainly one to watch and had the most exciting developments and showed the consequences of the drug game the most. Idris put in a good performance. Rios's Lucia was fun to watch but I wasn't always keeping up with the Spanish parts since I need to pay more attention to these parts. I would like to see where this show goes in the future as crack spreads through the neighborhoods of California and across the country and the cartels receive more wealth causing the CIA to take more drastic action. 

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