I was given the first obviously dueSouthish story since Red, White, or Blue (I consider Dead Guy Running to be in league with the old dueSouth, only it took some reflexion on my part to reach that conclusion). My shattered fate in dueSouth was suddenly gluing itself back together.
In Easy Money we finally see the end result of the ridiculous and caricature-like portrayal of Ben in season three. In this episode, everything has come together, simmered so to speak, and suddenly we have the old Ben back. Only, he isn't the same because life experiences, but mostly the city, have changed him. The Ben of Easy Money is a little weary, and a lot more streetwise than the Ben of the pilot or Free Willy was. He's finally learned that some battles just aren't weren't worth fighting, much less picking, and sometimes you just have to admit that bad things will happen and there's no point in trying to stop them. I was a little distressed by Fraser's sarcastic response to Quinn saying that the animals can talk too, and by his unwillingness to participate in the fight to save the land. Perhaps this much more citified Fraser is pleased that he will no longer have the opportunity to see the place where his father was killed, but even more than this, I think that the city has sharpened Fraser's cynical edge (he has always had one, no matter what Paul Gross might claim). He knows much better the type of person Mr. Carruthers is than does Quinn, and he has admitted to himself that this is one kind of person even he cannot win over. Perhaps, also, he does not want to lose Quinn like he lost his father. It is interesting to see Fraser lead Quinn around Chicago much in the same manner in which Ray once led Fraser around the Windy City. Fraser even says "I will be your guide".
The flashbacks were interesting. Ever since The Blue Line I've known that the young Fraser was a real imp, and I was not disappointed by this portrayal of a twelve year old Ben. We learn that Fraser has actually run away at least twice in his life, once at age sixteen, as described in Chicago Holiday, and also at age twelve. We are also given the proof that Benton is a name you grow into. Fraser's friend Innusiq (from Bounty Hunter) is mentioned again. To my horror, I learned that Ben's grand-parents were named George and Martha. Please! :) The last scene with Ben telling Quinn "you allowed me to make one of the biggest mistakes of my life" gives further insight into the mind of Benton Fraser. We all know what one of his other great mistakes was.
One line in this episode almost made me fall off my chair, not just for its words, but also for its delivery. Let's admit it folks, Fraser's getting older. He's got grey around the temples and a few more wrinkles than he did a few years ago. His voice has also changed a little; sometimes it's almost obnoxious, sometimes a little streetwise; still Fraser but different. Only this time, with this line, we are brought back to another time and place. We are no longer on a busy Chicago street in bright daylight, Fraser in red serge giving Quinn Ray-like advice about how to get information in Chicago. We are at a strip club and Fraser is dressed in jeans, a blue plaid shirt, hiking boots, and a leather jacket. The only woman he has ever loved is trying to convince him to leave with her. Cue back to Easy Money. Fraser says: "I can't do that". I was so stunned after hearing this line that I pulled out Victoria's Secret and fast forwarded to the "You know I can't do that" line. Sure enough, the delivery and tone is the same. I'm certain that this was not done intentionally, but it sure makes for a lovely connection between seasons one and four, between a thirty-four and a thirty-seven year old Fraser (who is, by the way, a full two years younger than the actor who portrays him).
The scenes involving Ray and his parents were unbelievably touching. Mrs. Kowalski makes Mrs. Vecchio look down right cold! Perhaps this plot line doesn't fit in to well with the covering-for-Vecchio one, but I felt that somehow it could pass. This is a side of Kowalski we have to know about. I loved the pleased look on his face which he tries to mask when he sees his parents for the first time in who knows how many years.
The scenes with Turnbull at the Consulate are classic. I was pleased to discover that the man can cook and I was surprised by how friendly he is with Dief. What impressed me the most is that after recovering from his faint, Turnbull, before cleaning himself up, made a sketch of the kidnapper, called Ray to report the crime, and then faxed the drawing. Turnbull did everything right for once!
I don't think we've seen Fraser in as much trouble as he was tied up in that building since The Duel. This is the second time since that episode that he's needed a Ray to save him. I was happy that this time around, his black eye swelled up. I'm a stickler for realism. :)
This episode was... flawless. Really. Well, except for the little slip of Quinn tending to Fraser's right hand when it was the left one which had been stomped on! My only complaint, really, and this is not just about Easy Money, is that Fraser is spending even more time than usual in red serge in seasons three and four. I miss his thick comfy sweaters and flannel shirts, those washed-and-worn to perfection jeans. I also miss his old haircut. He looks positively unkempt in certain scenes, and definitely older than he did with the very short, sculptured, and much darker style he had in season one.
A side note: Francesca (who is so incredibly mature, well for her, in season four!) actually called Welsh "Harding" at one point. I almost fell off my chair!
What more could a dueser want? A great script with perfect portrayal of the characters, further insight into the mind of most of these characters, a bit of drama, and some great laughs. dueSouth is back and I'm thrilled!
I noticed, second time viewing this episode, that this is actually 3 stories in one. There is the story of how Quinn and Fraser got involved with this bad man looking for the diamonds that he and his buddies stole. Then there is the story of the young Fraser and how he met Quinn. And, last of all, a lovely story going about Ray K and his parents.
Fraser is very serious in this episode. He seem to be less cartoonish or clownish. I like the way how he spoke with Quinn about the first time they met. Young Fraser thinks he can somehow come into manhood if he can hunt down a caribou and kill it, by himself. Quinn finds him and instead of bringing the young boy home, he helps Fraser look for the caribou. Along the way, Quinn teaches young Fraser how to track his prey. It gives a little insight on how Fraser became respectful of nature and animals.
Ray K is trying his best to solve the case of the robber who stole the diamonds from the jewelry store. Along the way, everyone at the police station keeps telling him that his parents are calling him. Ray doesn't believe them at all because he has been estranged from his father for so many years. One of the loveliest part of this episode is when Ray walks out and finds his parents and his parents' trailer home parked right outside the police station. He has this look on his face that showed surprise, a bit of shock and a slow gorgeous smile appearing on his face as he walks towards his parents. His mother throws her arms around him and just gushes at him. What a lovely moment! His dad looked uncomfortable but you can see he was trying to mend fences with his son. I also dig the part where Ray K and Dad went to look at the car they once worked together. They were pretty much guys, strong and silent, and a little awkwardly shaking hands. It was a rich emotional moment. Kinda made me feel a little teary eyed.
One last thing, there is the scene where Fraser and Ray were sitting briefly at the breakroom in the station. Ray Kowalski tells Fraser about his estrangement from his father because his father disapproved of him quitting college and joining the police force. There was a slight catch in Ray's voice as he told this story. Fraser politely listened and did not comment one way or the other, but you can tell he was sympathetic to Ray. What a great bonding moment! This was something I didn't see when Fraser was with Ray Vecchio. I felt the connection there between the two men.
The jewel robbery story becomes almost secondary.
A very, very good episode for people who like seeing the background stories of Fraser and Kowalski.