Clearly, the idea of Low Winter Sun is to try and demonstrate how Mark Strong’s Frank Agnew is basically a good cop – relationships with hookers, acceptance of past bribes and the whole premeditated murder of a fellow detective notwithstanding – who is gradually drawn into a seedy world of corruption, murder and vice that has him standing on the precipice of his own destruction.
That’s the conceit, as far as the show would like you to believe. We know this because as much as Frank Agnew would like to wander off to Windsor and order up a particular flaxen haired Romanian woman with “emerald eyes” – very specifically, “emerald eyes” – from a menu kept in the coat pocket of a large individual whose associate with a small ponytail still manages to screw up Frank’s order like a droopy teenager manning a Wendy’s drive-thru window, he actually spends more time in cars and glass-lined offices reminding his accomplice that he is, in fact, investigating the very murder that they committed.
Sure, ‘Catacombs’ is the fourth episode in the series, and maybe people have forgotten what the show is about, or they’ve missed the rather lengthy advertisements for the series that air during Breaking Bad, which break the plot down beat by beat, but at this point, one might think Frank and Joe would have developed some sort of shorthand or codeword to remind one another of the time they drowned a crooked cop and failed miserably in trying to make it look like a suicide. But as oblivious as these two are to how conspicuous they’ve become while discussing the case around one another, Frank seems even more so when it comes to his search for his lost love Katia – you know, the one with the “emerald eyes.”
Protagonists who are lost or at some kind of existential crossroads are nothing new, especially in today’s television market. Don Draper’s been keeping audiences captivated for six seasons now and he’s no closer to figuring out what he wants than when the series began. Frank’s sensation of being adrift, and this seemingly insatiable need to seek out a woman who apparently had some sort of relationship with the man he murdered fails to resonate, as this obsession, like the up-and-coming Blind Pig being run by Damon and his crew of incredibly uninteresting associates, has failed to establish a meaningful or compelling connection with the larger narrative of Low Winter Sun.
Right now, everything is just too disconnected. We can be shown a desperate man telling a mollifying prostitute that all he wants is to be saved over and over again, but if the nature of his obsession and the nature of the man himself hasn’t been established, it’s all just surface-level content. We only know things are important because we’re told that they are; everything significant to these characters exists in the form of dialogue and one-sided interplay. Frank tells his hard-drinking ex-cop buddy Sean that Katia really got under his skin, and Sean just nods along, assuming the statement to be true.
Until Low Winter Sun can show how statements like that actually are true, we’ll all just be passively nodding along, as well.
Low Winter Sun continues next Sunday with ‘Cake on the Way’ @10pm on AMC.