“Tin Star – Season Two” (2017-2020)
Produced & Created by: Rowan Joffe
Featuring: Tim Roth, Christina Hendricks, Leanne Best, Christopher Heyerdahl, Roark Critchlow
Angela: “He tried to hang herself, Jim. Because of what you did. Because of Jack.“
This month sees the release of “Tin Star – Season Two” (2017-2020) on DVD after a run on television which sees the continuation to a story that actually exceeded expectations in the first season, but for me comes to a crash in this very mixed second season.
There is a popular term being used at the moment, that this is the ‘Golden Age’ of television, which is a ridiculous thing to say, as that age was in the 1950s, when the idea of what television could be started to take shape. That was when some of the most original and cutting edge television was made, watching some of those programs can be very refreshing. There is also the attitude that we are in the best time of television where writers are the kings of the medium – this might be truer, but it is not a new idea. One thing is for sure, there are more scripted shows than ever with a few of them being great, a larger number being very good, but a large amount being a complete waste of time. The trick is of course knowing which ones to start viewing as well as when to give up or stay with them. The beauty is that many of these series are only normally up to ten episodes so it’s not a long-term commitment if they do not follow through on their initial promise.
That brings us to the latest drama featuring Tim Roth in the main role as an English police officer who has been transplanted to the Canadian Rockies, something that is already an original idea. Couple that with the opening ten minutes of the first episode, this is a show that digs its hooks into you and will not let go for its first season.
“Tin Star” is based around former London police detective Jim Worth is the new police chief of Little Big Bear, a small town in the Canadian Rockies, where he has moved with his family to escape his past. The influx of migrant workers because of a new big oil company, headed by the mysterious Mrs. Bradshaw, forces Worth to confront the resulting wave of crime that threatens the town. Worth’s stand against the criminals results in vigilante groups attacking him and his family, leading Worth to slip into the violence of his past.
Many modern police dramas, particularly those on pay sites or cable channels will touch on family matters as well as any home life – this is mainly to broaden the main character’s appeal, as well as give depth to his life, making him three dimensional. The show may even create some kind of drama at home, making this an integral part of the plot. What “Tin Star” has done is to integrate the home and work life, making them interwined in a very natural way that causes almost all of the players to, at some time, interact with everyone else. It also negates the reason for the main character to have some kind of double life separating his work and home. This also means he can be as honest as he can be with the people most important in his life – this is something many stories will not do. Honesty in a television drama is something that is normally not used as a narrative device, in fact what this main character finds is that honesty is all he has left after the first few episodes. This is a person that has made some mistakes as well as lied to many people, this show illustrated in a stylised way what can happen when the chickens come home to roost.
“Tin Star” involves many different genres, it is political, it is definitely nourish, has action, involves minorities and uses its landscape as a fully fledged element that is rarely seen in this kind of show. What it doesn’t do, which many many shows do, is make the actual story a ‘slow burn’, the narrative moves along at a surprising pace. I found this refreshing, not only did it keep me interested but it also helped to maintain the point of the story – which I can say is very good. The main part of the story is completely resolved by the end of the last episode, as well as many of the subplots are fully explained. What is done, however, is that if there was a second season (which I believe there is) there is enough in the closing minutes to continue some kind of story – which is pretty fantastic.
The casting of the show, in part due to the nature of the transplanting of an English family to Canada is just great, and it may be in part due to the juxtaposition of many English accents around so many Canadian, as well as Native American, accents that seems to keep the show fresh each episode. With Tim Roth in the lead as the Sheriff you get immediate legitimacy as well as an actor that knows his craft, can play many different emotions as well as someone who is extremely physical both being able to inhabit a space specifically as well as not being afraid to really commit to a part in a unique way. The cast is expansive but I loved seeing Christina Hendricks playing someone who is more than the she seems, particularly in the first few episodes. In fact she has such a good story arc that I hope she returns at some point for any subsequent seasons. Lastly, there is the Canadian charater actor Christopher Heyerdahl, who genre fans will know from his years of work on many different science fiction and horror shows, here he plays a man who has secrets that are revealed slowy and as such subtle changes in performance is required, Heyerdahl is more than capable of showing us these.
Rowan Joffe the creator of “Tin Star” is an experienced writer/director, who has worked with many top talents as well as being behind some pretty good movies. He has created a show that is compelling, as well as fitting in with his previous work. His work often involves people that have become isolated for a variety of reasons, that incorporate a variety of genres, which is unique in itself. This is probably why “Tin Star” has been such a success in terms of the finished show – he has also used the location as well as showing how this landscape affects the characters as well as the motivations behind some of the arrivals to the town. Some of the same themes that are presened here are also in the new film “Wind River” (2017) to a lesser or greater extent – I am sure that is a coincidence.
Prairie Gothic: Following directly on from the events of My Love is Vengeance, Jack lies bleeding on the mountainside, having been shot by Anna. Terrified by her own actions, a confused Anna flees, swiftly pursued by Angela, who leaves Jack to die. Anna reaches an Ammonite community on the border of Little Big Bear, where she tries to commit suicide; but is saved from death by teenager Rosa Nickel, daughter of the local pastor. Meanwhile, Jack awakens from a period of unconsciousness and manages to make his way into the forest, where he sets alight to Whitey’s cabin to signal for help.
Resist Not Evil (Elizabeth and Johan’s Story): Anna begins to integrate with the Ammonite community, being baptised by Father Johan in a desperate attempt to leave her former life behind. Elizabeth and Angela continue to hide out at her company mansion, which has now been cut off from the grid. Father Johan struggles to conceal a shipment of cocaine that he has smuggled across the border from Mexico for a cartel of dangerous criminals. A deranged Jack continues to cause misery amongst the Ammonite community with his tirade of abuse, climaxing with him driving his police truck through the community church in the middle of a service.
Consequences: Johan panics when the cartel come calling for the drugs, but they are nowhere to be found. Jaclyn manages to track down Elizabeth and Anna and demands $100,000 in return for her silence. As Elizabeth tries to raise the required funds, she finds herself unwittingly caught in the middle of the feud between Jack and Frank.
Jack and Coke (Jack and Angela’s Story): As the same day plays out from the perspective of Jack and Angela, Angela approaches Jack for help in an attempt to help a desperate Elizabeth. Jack concocts an elaborate plan to mix Johan’s drugs with baby powder in order to double the quantity, but when Frank refuses his offer of a deal, he decides to rob Randy’s Roadhouse, unaware that an illegal poker game involving several wealthy townsfolk is taking place in the backroom.
The Bagman Cometh: Anna pleads with Jack to help Johan out of his predicament. Jack offers to help on the understanding that Johan opens up to his family about his secret life. Sarah questions Johan’s motives for smuggling cocaine, to which he reveals that he was forced into a life of crime after the cartel murdered his brother as repayment for an unpaid loan taken against diesel supplies for a harvest crop which failed, leaving the family penniless and unable to pay back what they owe.
Age of Anxiety: Jack comes face to face with the cartel’s bagman, who after fearing retribution from his superiors, decides to take his own life – but not before telling Jack that ‘Liverpool’ is coming for him. Denise interrogates Elizabeth over the disappearance of Jaclyn, prompting an unexpected accusation of murder towards Jack and Angela.
Subterranean Fire: Jack negotiates the safe return of the drugs, allowing Johan to meet with the cartel to give them what they are rightfully owed. Sarah organises for Rosa to leave the colony to spend him with her cousin in Nelson. Jack, continually haunted over Whitey’s death, decides to extract the truth from Frank once and for all.
Wild Flower: As Jack, Angela and Anna prepare to flee back to England on false passports, they come across Rosa’s lifeless body on the roadside. Whilst re-uniting Rosa with her family, Jack receives an unexpected delivery containing photographs of his loved ones. Aware that the threat against him is edging ever closer, Jack approaches the colony for help in slaying all of his demons once and for all.
The Unseen: As Jack’s past finally comes back to haunt him, he executes his plan of action with the help from an unexpected source.