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The Deuce (#110 of 8)

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 8, “My Name Is Ruby”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “My Name Is Ruby”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “My Name Is Ruby”

Even without considering its title, it becomes obvious that Ruby (Pernell Walker) will figure heavily in the season finale of The Deuce when we see her walk dejectedly through Times Square midway through “My Name Is Ruby.” Normally prone to holding court under the 42nd Street lights, she’s avoided by pedestrians as though she were a piece of debris. Her thoughtless murder late in the episode is heartbreaking precisely because after weeks of her amicable presence, it’s a shock to see her treated as a disposable thing.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 7, “Au Reservoir”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 7, “Au Reservoir”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 7, “Au Reservoir”

David Simon’s The Wire helped to make the Momentous Penultimate Episode a hallmark of prestige television, so it’s fitting that tonight’s “Au Reservoir” ends with The Deuce’s first shocking twist of the season. When the usually docile Leon (Anwan Glover) snaps, killing Reggie Love (Tariq Trotter), the act dutifully provides gravity to an episode that fixates on the show’s peripheral characters. The Deuce has consistently balanced cynical appraisal of urban development with a humanist attention to individuals, and after last week’s focus on the broad influences affecting Times Square, the season’s second-to-last episode looks to the background, prominently featuring Ashley (Jamie Neumann), Paul (Chris Coy), and the now-listless crew of pimps.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 6, “Why Me?”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 6, “Why Me?”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 6, “Why Me?”

The first five episodes of The Deuce foresaw the drastic transformation of New York City’s sex trade, and in “Why Me?” a new framework finally materializes. The brothels are open. Porn is here. And keeping with the show’s devotion to historical accuracy, the revolution is far from explosive.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 5, “What Kind of Bad?”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 5, “What Kind of Bad?”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 5, “What Kind of Bad?”

Tonight’s episode of The Deuce, “What Kind of Bad?,” opens with Darlene (Dominique Fishback) in North Carolina, after a well-intentioned Abby (Margarita Levieva) bought her a ticket out of New York last week. Instead of reuniting with family, though, Darlene lures her friends to the Big Apple with a series of lies about her lucrative “modeling” career. The scene upends our perception of Darlene, the sweet bookworm and budding cinephile; here, she’s a calculating predator, duping anyone naïve enough to return with her and work for Larry (Gbenga Akinnagbe)—ostensibly because it would boost her seniority, or at least shift Larry’s attention away from her for a while.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 4, “I See Money”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 4, “I See Money”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 4, “I See Money”

Symbolism in The Deuce isn’t always subtle. Sometimes it’s as obvious as a rat crawling onto a prostitute while she gives a blowjob in a porn theater. When that happens to Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) in the opening sequence of “I See Money,” the husky rodent does more than portend the indignities awaiting her. An inevitable symptom of Times Square squalor, the rat is an emblem of the collateral damage we see everywhere in the episode.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

The Baltimore Sun reporters from The Wire described their city as “Dickensian,” a comparison that stuck as a critical shorthand and pervasive cocktail-party quip about the HBO series itself. The Deuce seems intent on recycling the parallel: In “The Principle Is All,” Darlene (Dominique Fishback) reads A Tale of Two Cities, curious to acquaint herself with the source material of the 1935 Jack Conway film adaptation that moved her to tears in “Pilot.”

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

Officer Chris Alston (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) issues the titular ultimatum of “Show and Prove,” the second episode of The Deuce, to hookers during a farcical street raid: Show a property voucher proving your residence or spend the night in a holding tank. Alston is nonchalant as he demands paperwork allowing him to plausibly overlook the block’s rampant prostitution, and arrest only hookers who don’t pretend to be merely half-nude loiterers. Like paper bags concealing liquor bottles, the vouchers provide a shroud of willful ignorance for the cops who tolerate squalor but not brazenness.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

Fans of David Simon’s The Wire won’t be surprised that the pilot episode of The Deuce lacks a singular inciting event designed to ensure audience retention. In the place of narrative hooks, the episode thoroughly maps the ecosystem of vice that was 1970s New York City, and beckons us to explore a ruinous Times Square alongside a sprawling cast of vibrant characters.