At this point, Low Winter Sun effectively has three storylines vying for a place as the show’s central focus, while also struggling to figure out how they fit together. On one hand, at least the show’s writers have finally brought wannabe kingpin Damon Callis and his crew to the intersection of Frank and Joe’s murder of fellow detective Brendan McCann, and now the Katia subplot at least has some importance within the narrative framework. But the whole thing remains so unfocused that simply running the plots headlong into one another isn’t going to somehow produce the drama that’s been absent so far this season.

In fact, the only thing that actually seems to have any real dramatic traction is the pursuit of Frank and Joe by IA cop Simon Boyd. Most of that has to do with the fact that Boyd is one of two cops (Dani being the other) who does actual police work for a living, but it’s certainly helped along by his level of investment in finding out the truth about a crime he (correctly) believes was committed by two dirty cops. It also doesn’t hurt that, unlike Frank, Simon is neither naïve nor conflicted about what he’s doing or is being done to him.

So far, Frank has been duped into committing a murder under the pretense that his ladylove was killed and hacked to bits. Then, after learning a portion of the truth, Frank burned Katia’s house down to destroy evidence and supposedly protect her. But instead of letting that sit, Frank has searched high and low for her, which led to two awkward conversations where he came off more like a love struck teen than a seasoned Detroit detective. Now, all of this becomes further muddled as Joe reveals the only person who can truly pin them to their crime is the woman whose supposed death got Frank involved in the first place.

What comes off as a contrived bit of irony could have been made more meaningful had the show bothered to give the audience some idea of why Katia is such a catch, and why Frank’s obsession with her would lead him to a) murder a cop, b) track her down when he knows it will endanger her, and c) vanish for more than a day in the middle of a high-profile investigation that has IA breathing down his neck. Sadly, all we have to go on are a few golden-hued flashbacks and a necklace that wound up flushed down the toilet.

And while Frank is a crudely drawn approximation of a morally conflicted man, Joe is just a font of clichés about being a weak man, taking the path of least resistance, and selling his soul to cartoonish criminals like Skelos. Stating such supposedly weighty themes in such a blunt manner demonstrates how much the show has in common with its characters; it too prefers the path of least resistance to the more demanding and challenging course of utilizing nuance and subtle character definition to raise the dramatic stakes of the narrative.

It seems unlikely at this point, but perhaps Boyd’s investigation will provide the focus this series needs to make something out of its storyline before the season’s end.

Low Winter Sun continues next Sunday with ‘Revelations’ @10pm on AMC.

Photos: Alicia Gbur/AMC