Nicolas Winding Refn, the filmmaker best known for his breakthrough hit Driver, gives Amazon Prime one of this decade’s most ambitious series to ever stream online. From the director of The Neon Demon comes Too Old To Die Young, a 10-episode series that he describes as a 13-hour movie.
The series follows the morally questionable police officer Martin Jones (Miles Teller), whose shady past comes back to haunt him in the most violent ways imaginable. Since Amazon’s latest show is a true Refn project, it’s inevitable that some of the weirdest and most visceral scenes ever put to film will break the deliberate atmosphere of the series’ slowly-paced and sporadically violent episodes. Here are the 10 craziest things we saw in Amazon Prime’s brutal new show.
10 Monkee Puppet – Episode 10
As if a conspiracy show hosted by an obvious hack wasn’t weird enough, his co-host threw everything else off the rails. Said co-host is a monkey puppet simply named Monkee Puppet, who’s also a foul-mouthed primate that incites violence.
The show’s latest headline centers on a lady who claims to have seen a pill-shaped Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) with alien occupants promoting peace and harmony. Monkee Puppet crassly refutes the mere suggestion of the alien’s benevolence because he thinks peace is only for hippies. In his own words, Monkee Puppet don’t care.
9 The L.A. County Sherriff’s Department – Episodes 4 & 8
In a setting as bleak as the neon-lit ganglands of Too Old To Die Young, the last thing anyone would expect is some screwball comedy. And yet this is precisely what the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department contributes to the series.
After a misleadingly serious introduction, the detectives’ team – led by Lieutenant – engage in wacky hijinks and constantly fail to rope the brooding Martin into their fun. Some of their antics include a team cheer for fascism, a stand-up comedy routine satirizing Jesus’ crucifixion and current events, playing pranks with a mannequin, and a ukulele number.
8 Hideo Kojima Performs Yubitsume – Episode 4
After sparing a would-be target’s life, Martin accompanies the man to repay his debt to Damian by borrowing money from the Yakuza. Among the mobsters is Hideo Kojima, the auteur video game director behind Metal Gear Solid and Death Stranding, in a violent cameo.
The fan-favorite developer performs Yubitsume – the ritual amputation of one’s little finger to atone for their wrongdoings – on Martin’s former target, taking his finger in exchange for the money. This cameo attracted gamers to the show, and it’s fitting that Kojima – a film buff – had a scene directed by one of this generation’s most well-renowned filmmakers.
7 The Naked Brawl – Episode 1
To ensure his safety from the Mexican cartels, Martin offers his services to the Nigerian gangsters led by Damian in exchange for protection. Damian has Martin assassinate certain people for him, the first of whom is a naked man who’s probably high on crack.
The naked man’s abrupt introduction happens after a long period of tense build-up, and it’s hard not to laugh in confusion or be wordless the moment he lunges at Martin. The fight itself is short but appropriately raw, and it establishes the violently strange tone of the entire series.
6 Preparations For War – Episode 2
Following the death of Don Ricardo, Miguel assumes leadership of his father’s drug cartel. Though he started off on the wrong foot with Jesus, Miguel makes amends by bringing his estranged cousin into his coming war effort – after performing a ritual that involved nudity and drugs, of course.
The brief ritual that takes place in a dingy bathroom remains unexplained, where Miguel rubs cocaine on his face before rubbing more on a naked Jesus’ head. The following scene (a mass execution of policemen) shows that they reconciled, although it took some very strange means to do so.
5 The High Priestess Of Death – Episodes 2, 8, & 10
A grounded gangland tale such as this series doesn’t really have room for over-the-top characters commonly seen in pulpier crime fiction, and yet Too Old To Die Young found a way to squeeze in a gun-slinging vigilante who’d fit perfectly in a Death Wish knock-off.
It’s revealed that Yaritza – Jesus’ wife – has been freeing the cartel’s sex slaves and killing the soldiers, naming herself after the folk legend known as The High Priestess of Death. Unlike the rest of the series’ depictions of violence, Yaritza’s rampages are notably more heroic and action-packed in a John Wick sort of way.
4 Viggo Kills America – Episode 9
Desperate to lash out after his mother passed in her sleep, the retired government agent-turned-hired killer Viggo unleashes his anger and despair on an unsuspecting trailer park. What makes this massacre – in a series already filled with violence – unique is how it’s shot.
As Wagner’s classical music plays, Viggo guns down caricatures of American culture including evangelists, Neo-Nazis, rednecks, and Santa Claus. The montage of carnage – with shades of David Lynch's distinct brand of surrealism – stands out because of how classy it’s presented, especially when compared to the oversaturated colors of the series’ psychedelic dream and torture sequences.
3 The Nameless Hostage – Episode 5
After growing a conscience, Martin demands that Damian only give him targets who deserve to die. The ganglord obliges, offering the Crockett brothers: pornographers notorious for making rape films. As bad as they already are, the brothers outdo themselves when Rob Crockett reveals that they have a hostage buried alive in the desert.
Chained in an underground box with a pipe as the only source of ventilation, the nameless girl is somehow alive given her dire circumstances. Her story or the brothers’ reason for keeping her are never revealed, which makes things even more unsettling.
2 The Sex Perverts – Episode 7
Too Old To Die Young is an overtly sexually-charged series, but it reaches disturbing highs when the series reveals how repressed and depraved some characters are. The first is Red, a detective claiming to be perpetually horny who’s presented in a comically raunchy light.
The second and more disgusting pervert is Janey’s father Theo, who confesses to Martin that he wants to sleep with her in the hopes that his daughter’s boyfriend would agree with him. Theo says this to Martin while masturbating right in front of him, and the detective responds by strangling him with excessive force.
1 Oedipus’ Cartel – Episode 6 & 9
Jesus’ motivation is to avenge his mother Magdalena, a drug lord killed by Martin. It goes without saying that Jesus loves his mother, but by how much is only made clear later in the series.
This manifests overtly twice with Yartiza – a Tarot card reader who may or may not be his reincarnated mother. First, he performs oral sex on her to taste his mother. Later, he has sex with his wife in a room filled with Magdalena’s pictures after putting on her makeup and roleplaying a mother-son fetish with Yaritza. Calling him “messed up” would be an understatement.