Serial Watcher: The Black Donnellys – Episode 1-06

NBC has announced that there are only two weeks left on the current run of The Black Donnellys, and the April 16th episode will be the last one to air for the time being. Some more episodes were produced but there’s no news on when or if they’ll be shown on TV. The ratings have been on a constant downward trend since the first episode aired and the numbers of viewers is lower than what Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the show it replaced on the Monday 10:00PM slot, had. As much as I love the show, I find it hard to believe that this week’s episode, “The Only Thing Sure”, did anything to change this decision, as it was a relative weak one.

My main beef with this episode is that there wasn’t enough advancement of the stories or characters, especially Tommy. It’s like they’re taking just one step forward every two weeks and then they hold their ground with him. I fully understand that Tommy is being portrayed as a good guy who’s being sucked into a life of crime against his will. We all get that. In fact, we got that on the first episode, when Joey pretty much spelled it for us with his narration. Now can we please move on with this? Can we move past his internal conflicts and into his new career? This week that pattern was very evident, as Tommy went from being a sympathetic friend (not boyfriend) to Jenny, to violent debt collector for Jimmy, to again being the good guy at the end.

Jenny came to Tommy for help at the beginning of the episode, telling him that unless they come up with $13,000, Doakie will take over the diner. She knows that if Tommy helps her, it will be probably be dirty money, but with her back to the wall she has no choice. Wanting to help her, Tommy plans to collect the debts for Jimmy and steal the money from him. This plan doesn’t really come through when he finds out a big part of the debt belongs to Kevin. Kevin and Jimmy owe $10,000 to Whitey’s uncle and unless they pay up, he kills Jimmy. Now, we all know what happens when Jimmy owes someone money Jimmy kills him. And that’s what happens this time also, and it also happens in front of Sean, who takes it pretty hard.

Jimmy, however, doesn’t tell Tommy he killed Bob (Whitey’s uncle) and lets him think Bob’s still after him, so Tommy won’t take his money. Tommy, of course, will always take care of his brothers, and doesn’t take the money. Instead, he loans it from Kate, Huey’s widow. He does that knowing full well she has a thing for him, and he’s taking advantage of her, but for Jenny he’ll do it.

And this is my problem. It seems like it’s the same every week. Tommy struggles with himself about what action to take. Some time he’ll go the “Donnelly” way but most of the times he’ll do the right thing. His crossing to the mafia is taking too long, and the show drags. While this is going on, Jimmy becomes a bigger mob boss, as he’s not only taking over Louie’s booking business, but this week he’s going into the protection field. This might lead to an eventual face-off between the brothers, but seeing how Tommy’s behaving, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him just fold in front of Jimmy. Yes, I know Jimmy’s supposed to become the leader of the Irish mafia, but so far he’s taking too damn long to get there.

The Donnelly brothers are preparing for their swan song. With numbers that bad, I can’t believe NBC will renew this show for another season. I can only hope that the next two episodes to air on TV will be better than this week’s and at least show how Tommy becomes a mob boss. The (few) loyal viewers of this show deserve this.

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