Trust – Episode 2: “Lone Star”
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Hilary Swank, Laura Bellini, Sarah Bellini, Donald Sutherland, Michael Espar, and Harris Dickinson
Written by: Simon Beaufoy and Brian Fillis
Directed by: Danny Boyle
”Now, when I was in the C.I.A., they taught me how to kill a man a man with a pencil. Ya see, you take the one end of the pencil rest it just so against the earlobe and *snap* that’s lights out. Now I have never seen it in practice, son, but I do NOT doubt the theory.”
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy’s second installment of Trust doubles down on the jazzy, kinetic energy of the pilot episode. “Lone Star” is another consistently funny and eminently entertaining entry for the new series. One that shines thanks to Beaufoy and his co-writer Brian Fillis noir-inspired, yet cheeky script. One that opens with an action beat straight out of Shallow Grave and then settles into a bravua actor’s showcase for the magnetic Brendan Fraser and the powerfully vulnerable Hilary Swank. The kidnapping of John Paul Getty III was just the start of this mad affair. “Lone Star” shows that Trust still has plenty of story to tell with plenty of fun to spare in the aftermath.
Picking up moments after the discovery of JPGIII’s “ransom note,” “Lone Star” gets us roaming the streets of Rome alongside a cocksure Fletcher Chase, a charismatic cowboy who is seemingly unbound by the constraints of linear time. Brendan Fraser was but a mere shadow in the pilot. “Lone Star” is VERY much his episode as he leads us through the particulars of the crime and the weird twists it took. I know Fraser has become a bit of punchline as of late, but his performance here is seriously great. He chews scenery as a John Wayne like anachronism stalking through the streets of Rome as “Getty’s man.” Giving fourth wall breaking monologues straight down the barrel of the camera. Better still, Beaufoy and Boyle really know just why we love Fraser just as a performer and really lean into it throughout the episode. He’s kind and warm in one scene and broadly funny in the next. There is a simmering current of menace underneath Fletcher Chase that we will probably (hopefully) see in future episodes.
Fraser is matched in kind by Hilary Swank, portraying John Paul’s ever suffering mother, Gail. Much of “Lone Star’s” runtime is devoted to detailing the ripples of the kidnapping throughout the Getty clan and Chase sussing out the particulars. Swank’s Gail finally gives a real human face to the crime and the Getty clan, who was sorely in need of good representatives. Constantly berated by the press about a family she only married into once, she accompanies Chase to John Paul’s Roman hovel, hoping to find some sort of clue or sign that he’s okay. Swank is so, so good here, especially when paired with Fraser’s Chase. His final laying out of John Paul’s “kidnapping” providing the episode it’s highest emotional peak.
I am honestly so, so glad that this stuff makes up the A-plot of “Lone Star.” Though fun and clever, the affairs of the 1% this episode fail to impress outside of a few comedy beats. Donald Sutherland is still a goddamn delight as the codger at the top of the pyramid. He ups security by screwing bars into the windows of his historical home and ordering guards at the gate to shoot to kill. But his sons fail to impress during this second episode. We get cursory check-ins with the rest of the sons. They mostly just establish how hard up or disconnected they are from the whole situation. I get it, structurally, but there aren’t really any standouts here. The closest being one of the sons recording friggen’ chamber music in what looked like an abandoned church, which was pretty funny tbh. It really just distracts from the glory that is Rome in this episode.
Verdict: Watch It. I Feel Like It Is Starting to Grow
Though a lot of the stuff at Sutton Place is really stuffy and doesn’t go anywhere, “Lone Star” is still a damn fun watch and seems to really have a heart behind this strange and theatrical crime. It also doesn’t hurt that you get to watch two of the best character actors in the business spar and act against each other in a stylish, cheeky, and occasionally dreamlike sophomore installment. I really, really had a lot of fun with Trust this week, and I feel like it really has something to say. Or at the very least a point of view and that is always worth attention.
Until next time, remember the face of your father, and I’ll be seeing you.