‘Mob City’ Season 1 Finale Review

Published 1 year ago by

Ed Burns in Mob City Season 1 Episode 5 Mob City Season 1 Finale Review

[This is a review for Mob City season 1, episodes 5 & 6. There will be SPOILERS.]


At this point, one of the primary questions Frank Darabont’s Mob City faces is how it will be remembered. The six-episode season 1 was always going to be viewed as the director-writer’s rebound from his turbulent time spent with The Walking Dead, and considering he chose to make that rebound within the same medium (and with many of the same actors) it stands to reason that perhaps there was something for Darabont to prove. When the show wound up in the inhospitable surroundings of the pre-holiday television schedule, though, it began to look increasingly unlikely that there would be a season 2, a situation that would leave viewers with only a hint of what the series might eventually become. In essence, the show may be remembered more for what may have been, than for what actually was.

Following last week’s two-episode micro-binge, it seemed unlikely that Mob City would be able to convincingly wrap up its various storylines with the time it had left (i.e., the episodes, ‘Oxpecker’ and ‘Stay Down’). When the show left off, Bugsy Siegel was facing murder charges, while a witness Carl Steckler (played with doughy, fumbling precision by NYPD Blue‘s Gordon Clapp) was holed-up in a safe house awaiting his opportunity to testify (though in a show called Mob City, anyone waiting to testify is more or less just waiting to die). Meanwhile, series breakout, Robert Knepper (Sid Rothman) was waiting for Joe Teague in his apartment, for what seemed to be a very unpleasant visit. All of these major plot points were then added to the idea that Bill Parker was working to clean up the LAPD against the widespread corruption within the force. It was, quite frankly, a great deal of story that felt nowhere near an end point.

So how did Mob City manage to tie it all up? By leaving as many loose ends dangling as possible, of course. Still, to its credit, the show wound up securing the biggest loose end it had, by placing the still-unsolved murder of Bugsy Siegel in hands of the series protagonist Joe Teague (Jon Bernthal). In that sense, the story had history on its side – give or take a few flourishes and additional details to give an already gruesome slaying an even more gruesome bent – as Siegel’s real-life murder once more demonstrates why mobsters continue to endure in popular culture: The larger they become, the more sensational their demise, which, in turn, makes for a rather attractive tableau to set a larger story around. And the added benefit of Siegel’s murder never having been solved plays right into the expansion Darabont clearly had envisioned for this series, effectively turning these initial six episodes into the prologue to an ongoing program that will (likely) not see the light of day.

Milo Ventimiglia as Ned Stax in Mob City Season 1 Episode 6 Mob City Season 1 Finale Review

So much of what transpired in these six hours was so beholden to history and so entrenched in the specific, fictionalized accounts of actual events that even the Joe Teague storyline wound up feeling like it was operating in the background. The trouble is, with the series being bookended by the two murders committed by Teague, to ensure his ex-wife’s safety, the narrative essentially became unnecessarily bifurcated, or at least focused in the wrong direction. Siegel’s death did more than create a power vacuum within the context of the plot; it generated an inadvertent power vacuum within the show as well. Had Mob City utilized its historical figures to reinforce the fictional ones – instead of the other way around – perhaps the audience wouldn’t have been left with the sense that the show was doing much more work than needed to be done in order to arrive at its eventual stopping point – which, as luck would have it, was the start of a much larger narrative with a plotline seemed to rely more evenly on characters like Joe Teague, Ned Stax, and Bill Parker‘s burgeoning Internal Affairs division.

Following Siegel’s death, Milo Ventimiglia’s Ned Stax approaches Joe and seeks to enlighten him with the revelation of what a “powder keg” Los Angeles will become, now that the likes of Mickey Cohen (Jeremy Luke), Jack Dragna (Paul Ben-Victor), and Bunny (Ernie Hudson) will be fighting it out for control of what Siegel once held. As one of the many underutilized characters in the series, Stax had been seen primarily as someone interested in keeping the peace, and maintaining some level of order amongst individuals who were willing to kill to get what they wanted. This short bit of dialogue demonstrates the extent of Stax’s character, in that he was always intended to be the mouthpiece of the mob, a liaison of sorts to Teague and the world beyond organized crime – in that moment, he and Teague effectively became representative of the moral gray area that was so overtly referenced in the series premiere. After such a lengthy set-up, it would have been interesting to see how this dynamic would have unfolded.

Ed Burns and Jeremy Luke in Mob City Season 1 Episode 6 Mob City Season 1 Finale Review

And again, for everything that was going on, the season’s final episode essentially spent as much time alluding to the larger storyline that lay ahead, as it did in bringing Siegel’s – and by extension, Jasmine Fontaine’s – plot to a close. In the end, capping this short stint off with Bugsy’s assassination made season 1 look more like a proof of concept, than a full-fledged season. With all that it was setting up, ‘Stay Down’ demonstrated that even with its misfires, Mob City at least had a clearly drawn roadmap in front of it. It just so happened that map didn’t necessarily lead TNT anywhere it wanted to go.

TAGS: Mob city
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  1. So the show is def not gonna come back? That sucks. I enjoyed it and would continue watching it.

    • wait and so it has already came out on tv and now gonna stop after the fisrst season

  2. Really enjoyed this program and would love for it to come back!

  3. I enjoyed it. I hope SR is wrong. For a non-cable mob movie, it was pretty entertaining.

  4. I thought the two bookend murders were nicely symmetrical. This is one of the best miniseries I’ve ever seen, and I hope we see more!

  5. Seems like a lot of critics have already made a decision for TNT but the fan reactions are the total opposite. I think this show will only get better of a second season is ordered.

  6. I would really love for this show to actually continue. There’s def a lot worse shows on TV. I thought it was really quite good. Grabbed my attention from the start and held it. Kept me wanting more and anticipating the next episode. Will be really disappointed if it’s cancelled.

  7. I hope you’re wrong, I hope it gets a second season. I enjoyed it, and want to see how far Ned and Joe will go..

  8. Not surprised that the buzz is this show won’t be renewed. The concept is too real and interesting; the writing, acting, and production values are too first class; the concept requires an invested and intelligent audience. It just doesn’t fit in with all the other crap surrounding it. Shame on TNT if it isn’t brought back.

    • “The concept is too real and interesting; the writing, acting, and production values are too first class; the concept requires an invested and intelligent audience. It just doesn’t fit in with all the other crap surrounding it.”

      You beat me to it. Period pieces are much more expensive to make. Add all of the other costs for a first-class mini-series and they need to attract the lowest common denominator in viewership to have a large enough audience to pay for it, but that viewership is just as happy with all of the absolute garbage on TV.

  9. Ditto with all of you, really enjoyed this series, hope it’s back.

  10. I absolutely loved this series. I hope it returns too, I thought the acting was wonderful and the characters I just truly liked them all. The sad thing it seems that all the shows I really like seem to never return. I am not into the garbage that is on TV now days, this show kept you interested and you had to think while watching it. :)

  11. Glad to see everyone else on here enjoyed it as much as I did. Would love to see in continue. They still have three major storys: Mickey’s reign of LA, the beginning of Internal Affairs, and the roots of Vegas. First off, they need to give the other cops more backstory. I only remember Joe’s and Tug’s names. Great potential!

  12. I really want this show back Its so good!!!

  13. Is it coming back for a second season? I liked it and would like it to come back. If it is coming back, does anybody know when?

  14. I loved the show so far. It was intense, clever, complex, a really good story and visually captivating. I watched the last two episodes (one session) with my family (aged 13 to 42) and they loved it too. We can’t wait for the next episode. Please TNT — continue with it.

  15. Well…if we know anything about critics and reviewers its that they dont write for the masses. They are always self-indulgent, looking for a way to prove they are somehow to o good for the product. Very rarely do you ever see a critic match up with their audience.

    Lets get real about critics…they are like horoscope column…its there, its total b.s. and you know people read them, cause they are still there, but you have no idea who…

    Cant blame them though…if they were to actually write down-to-Earth reviews, they’d just be labeled user reviews…everyone can do those.

  16. Loved the show and absolutely loved the main character. I truly hope TNT picks it up for a second season. Of course we all know that if a show doesn’t involve the Kardashians & Kanye or all the Housewives series, then it’s not considered good enough. We’d be better off without the reality shows and much better off with great shows like Mob City. Let’s hope and pray that TNT and the critics have more brains than the Kardashians and bring back this great show for the rest of us to enjoy.

  17. Just finished watching season 1 and I have never seen a better show on tv in my 32 years on this planet. I was not bored at any moment during the series. The acting was superb and the show it self refreshing. A show based on reality in a time when all tv is based on reality BS … Hope to see more …

  18. I hope it’s renewed

  19. I enjoyed Mob City too, but I don’t agree that writing is good, I cringed from time to time, because of bad dialog. I just love film noir and actors who play in it, so I can digest some cringe worthy stuff.

  20. I will be so disappointed if this show doesn’t come back on. I have been craving more since the first five minutes.

  21. classy show. I hope it continues.

  22. Absolutely brilliant , can’t believe this show has been cancelled,don’t watch much tv as it’s full of crap but this was right up my street and was hooked for the short time it was on,surely TNT this is a must continue tv show, it would be criminal not too !!!