Joe and Terry discuss Hulu’s cruise ship slasher series Wreck, alternating between our respective sites.
Spoilers for Episode 3 “Showtime!”
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Episode 1.03: Jamie becomes embroiled with an illicit operation onboard in exchange for new information on his sister. Meanwhile, Vivian is charmed by a guest as another crew member vanishes.
Terry, I wasn’t disappointed by episode two of Wreck, but when we sat down to discuss it, I realized I didn’t have as much to say about it.
I’m happy to report that that’s not the case with episode three, which not only a) includes a pretty gnarly murder, but b) quickly and efficiently addresses the Olly (Anthony Rickman) / Sophia (Alice Nokes) attack from episode 2.
Plus we get a broader perspective of how corruption works on the ship as cruise director Henry Allan (Donald Sage Mackay) essentially bribes his way out of trouble with Detective Martinez (Marcia Leckey), despite the fact that she very clearly sees that Danny (Jack Rowan) was murdered.
Oh yeah, and we got confirmation that the nine inch ankle biter dong belongs to Officer hottie aka Sam Rhodes (Louis Boyer).
All in all, “Showtime” is a really strong episode of the show, which not only wraps up a couple mysteries but also unveils some new ones. It also offers some pretty significant emotional beats, particularly between Olly and Jamie (Oscar Kennedy), Vivian (Thaddea Graham) and wealthy love interest Lily (Ramanique Ahluwalia), and – most significantly – Cormac (Peter Claffey) and Rosie (Miya Ocego).
That last pairing is arguably the episode’s best. Thus far Cormac has been used primarily as a comedic figure (and/or eye candy) on the show: he’s sequestered in Jamie’s tiny cabin, often clad only in boxer briefs, acting like a bit of a moron.
“Showtime” doesn’t change his personality dramatically (he’s still caught outside by both Officer Sam and Vivian), but when he gets locked in the wardrobe of the performer’s room and confesses his love for Rosie, it’s a really sweet moment. It doesn’t hurt that Claffey and Ocego have good chemistry, despite not sharing much screen time before now. The admission is just deeply romantic!
The same can be said of Vivian and Lily, who have a meet cute under the fireworks when Vivian thinks that their time on the ship is running out. This is another example of great chemistry on the series as these two actors have clicked since Lily smirked at Vivian’s verbal spat with her mother at the bar last episode.
Here we get another class conflict as Vivian butts heads with Lily’s step brother Nile (Ned Costello), who – like their mother – has no issue barking orders at a server or threatening their livelihood. The pay-off when the two women sit on the stairs and share a kiss is another testament to how quickly (and seemingly easy) Wreck is at creating queer romantic chemistry. This series is a milestone for no other reason than seeing so much LGBT love on display. This is how you do it, folks!
The most complicated of these pairings is, obviously, Jamie and Olly, who hit a speedbump when Jamie discovers the black balaclava in Olly’s room (and right after a make-out, too!) While this was obviously another Duckie red herring, I really appreciated that this wasn’t a long drawn out affair, Terry.
Instead, it comes out that Olly was ordered by the Filipino mafia to pull his weight and threaten Sophia aka “Little Miss Peroxide”, who is caught in the middle of a drug war. It doesn’t excuse Olly’s behaviour, but I was so happy that that information is out in the open rather than hanging out in the background for the next few episodes. Also: it means we get more Jamie and Olly kissing, which I’m in favour of.
Terry, I’ll kick it over to you: which of the three romantic subplots was your favourite? What did you think of Lauren (Amber Grappy) and Jerome (Diego Andres)’ storyline and that end of episode murder? And did you sympathize with Sophia when she explained how she can’t leave the dealing business with the statement “They’re men. And men don’t seem to understand the word no”?
I’m so glad we’re dealing with a six episode season, Joe, because moments that would (in, let’s face it, American TV) be stretched to their breaking point are quickly brought up and dispatched. Case in point: the Jamie/Olly situation where I was expecting this to be the rom-com misunderstanding breakup moment that would be placed much further in the season in most television series is quickly addressed an episode later.
I love their flirtatious banter, such as when Olly pokes Jamie about the giant dong he has on his phone: “Going door to go looking for a match like prince charming?” They have so much chemistry together that I’m glad we can get back to their joyous relationship instead of waiting for that bomb to drop.
Of course we’re also still waiting for Jamie to drop his bomb that he’s not, you know, Cormac, and why he’s actually here. I’m curious to see if this is resolved equally quickly or whether this little nugget of truth will end up having further-reaching consequences. It would have been so easy for Jamie to give tit for tat for these shared bits of duplicitousness. The fact he doesn’t admit it is intriguing from a narrative perspective…if I were to deep dive into the structure of this story not allowing Jamie to be truthful yet, I would suggest that it doesn’t actually let Olly off the hook.
I also wouldn’t say that episode 2 was disappointing, but it was rather matter-of-fact from a narrative direction. There wasn’t a whole lot to explicitly dig into. But this one deepens a lot of the relationships in intriguing ways. I was happy to see you enjoyed Cormac and Rosie’s storyline because in the first two episodes, he kind of came off as a creeper. Here, his relationship with Rosie has a whole lot more nuance and kindness. You’re absolutely right that, considering they’ve barely shared any time together, these two have so much chemistry. It does help that Cormac is just a big, dumb handsome oaf; a himbo, if you would. He has golden retriever energy and it’s easy to overlook the way Wreck set him up to begin with.
It’s also an opportunity to give us time with another queer character, the drag performer credited on IMDb as Gloria P Hole (Rory O’Neill) who gets to be the overprotective drag mom, telling Cormac to “feck off.” This is something that Wreck does incredibly well, giving us brief glimpses of side characters who seem to have their own histories and stories. I want to know more about Gloria, just like I enjoy getting more information about Lauren. Turns out <3 Daronte <3 isn’t her fiance anymore. The way Lauren delivers this bit of information is so sad and callous; him pushing her to take the job, telling her he can’t do long distance and then unceremoniously dumping her at the airport. Sociopathic behavior, that.
It’s doubly unfortunate because she seems to be getting closer to Jerome and while Jerome has been on a sexcapade this entire time, they have a flirtatious relationship that could have easily developed over the season. Yet Wreck not only breaks up this relationship-to-be but does so with ruthless efficiency.
Joe, that death sequence was more brutal than I was expecting. Seeing poor Jerome slide down the pole through his face and his body dragged off screen by chains was a shocking image (what a way to end the episode!)
His death also changes up things, because it throws the killer’s motive into question. First, we had Pippa (Jodie Tyack) being chased by a VIP-card carrying Duckie. Then it was Danny, who thought it was just Hamish (James Phoon) dressed as Duckie. Those two created a pattern: the victims are the entertainers who are selling drugs to the staff, as well as the guests.
But Jerome complicates matters because it’s not as if he discovered something or was part of anything, other than being a sex-starved young man.
It makes me wonder what the connection is…and I keep coming back to two people who are very interested in keeping the ship in tip-top shape. First we have Dolce (Georgia Goodman), the leader of the Filipino Mafia, who waves a dead rat in Jamie’s face while complaining about how too many rats on board will sink a ship. It’d be easy to see her as a potential mastermind behind this, since Pippa and Danny were selling drugs to people they shouldn’t have been. But she even admits that Danny wasn’t their “style”.
Which leads me to the other strong female presence on the ship: Karen (Harriet Webb). Karen who wants everyone to jump when she says jump and wants everything to run by the books. Sure, she runs the officers who are the ones pushing Danny and Pippa into selling drugs outside of their lanes, but the cold open establishes an obvious tension between Pippa and Beaker (Warren James Dunning). A tension that is further expanded on with Sophia’s situation with Beaker, as well. She’s absolutely right when she says “Men don’t seem to understand the word ‘no’”, and I did also enjoy the way Wreck lumps Jamie into that…even though his ask is a little less problematic than Beaker’s. Sophia’s in a tight predicament, especially since this is the second time she’s been threatened with just being dropped in the middle of nowhere, with no way of getting home. So it would make sense that her little group has outlived its usefulness and is now being targeted.
Which leads us to Jerome…well, he seems to have taken the job to basically run amuck and hit on girls. That’s not exactly in line with Karen’s plans for the ship and could easily put him in her crosshair. She could just as easily be cleaning up what she views as “rats” and you better believe she’d be strong enough to drag Danny’s body into the secret room back in episode 1.
I’m not completely willing to give up on my random thought that Cormac is the killer (c’mon, that would be a surprise)…but Karen does give me the “what ifs”.
What about you, Joe? We’re now at the halfway point of this short season…do you have any thoughts about the motive and who the killer is? What do you think these flashbacks to Pippa’s time on the ship will eventually tell us? Do you believe she turned into a “shitlord” on the ship or is there something more going on? What do you think of Vivian’s budding relationship with Lily and Wreck’s somewhat subtle exploration of crew and guest critiques?
Yes, I was shocked that Jerome got the Paris Hilton in House of Wax treatment! It was surprisingly mean and I loved it.
While I will confess that I view Wreck first and foremost as a fun, escapist queer slasher series, it’s definitely doing the work when it comes to its critiques. Lily and Vivian are probably the most obvious example of this: from the way that Lily’s mother and step brother treat the staff on the ship to Vivian’s observations about the class and racial hierarchies, Wreck isn’t subtle about its politics (which I’m appreciative of!)
It will be interesting to see if Karen and Henry Allan have a part to play in all of this. I can definitely see your argument about Karen or Dolce “cleaning up” the ship (or, let’s be honest, doing what they need to do in order to keep it running “business as usual” since they both clearly profit from the drugs in some way or another). From what we’ve seen in other drug series, though, when there’s a gap in the pecking order, someone inevitably steps in to fill the void and make a profit.
That means Dolce has the most to gain from removing the competition and shifting the balance of power back in favour of the Filipinos. Considering how savvy Wreck has been about knowing the conventions of the subgenre, though, it’s likely that she – like Beaker – is a red herring.
Karen, on the other hand, has motive and opportunity, so I could definitely see it. She’s not my number one preferred suspect – if only because it would be a bit obvious to confirm that the ship disciplinarian is also its murderer – but given how much zeal Webb delivers her barbed diatribes in these episodes, it would be very fun to see her go off on an epic villain monologue.
For now, I’m sticking with Sam: he’s hot, he’s implicated by the tattoo and he’s directly involved with most of the victims. Jerome is a weird outlier, but I feel like we will learn more about him – and how he’s involved in all of this – posthumously. There’s something that we’re either missing (or it hasn’t been revealed) about how all of these folks are connected. That’s exciting because Wreck churns through storylines, but has kept its central mystery, and even its main villain, pretty well hidden for the first half of the season.
Obviously everything has got to tie back to Pippa, whose death seemed to kick everything off. Whatever everyone is embroiled in, and the reason why the murders are happening now, points to her. Thus far we haven’t seen any of the “shitlord” behaviour the others used to describe her, so I’m curious if that’s merely the group’s way of covering their backs. The other consideration is that the flashbacks have been principally from Jamie’s limited frame of mind and he clearly had a very different sense of who his sister was from everyone on the ship.
So who is the real Pippa and did she really go off the deep end? Who is lying? And what else, beyond drugs, is actually happening? That’s what I expect the back half of the season to explore.
What about you, Terry: where do you think the show will go next and who will be the next victim? Do you anticipate some sexy sex scenes between any of these couples? And, finally, will Jerome’s body get dumped on Lauren like all of the others?
Oh man, Joe, I didn’t even think about Lauren discovering Jerome’s body like Danny. For her sake I hope not! She doesn’t deserve that! But it would also be an ingenious way of getting her more involved. If I were the one continually finding bodies I’d be obsessed with trying to solve the mystery. Because pretty soon I wouldn’t be surprised if she becomes a suspect by proxy for everyone.
I really hope we do get some sexy times between our leads because, with only six episodes, the pacing is going to pick up on the killer front very soon. And I want more queer sex in the properties I watch. Normalize queer love!
There’s also a part of me that wonders if something more supernatural is going on here. I know we had a discussion on whether Jamie is having a cinema-friendly hallucination seeing Pippa everywhere…but I’m also leaning towards something more spooky. I don’t really know why but with a more mortal situation like the drug empire and the violence/implied violence there, it’d make sense if the actual slasher portion is something more supernatural. I don’t know why I’m thinking about this and have nothing to back it up with, other than the feeling the show is giving me…which isn’t much to hold onto.
I guess we’ll see when we go back to Gayly Dreadful for Episode 4!
S01 of Wreck is now available on Hulu