The Cleaner, episodes 7, 8 and 9

House of Pain
The principal of a prestigious prep school (Stephanie Bill), who is also a friend of William’s, asks for his assistance with a student and talented basketball player (Brian Porter) who is abusing heroin and prescription drugs. William and his team encounter resistance from the boy’s blue-collar father (Tom), who is refusing all help or to acknowledge the problem, while the young man, in the throes of addiction, steals from his grandmother in a nursing home and engages in increasingly reckless behavior. William takes extreme measures to capture both their attention before it’s too late. Meanwhile, Ben is still battling with William and refusing to come home.

Let it Ride
Sal, an old friend of William’s, asks him to look into the drug use of a jockey (Jimmy Alvarez). Jimmy Alvarez has used drugs for years in order to keep his weight competitive, but as of lately has been exhibiting hostile behavior. William gets him into treatment, but he breaks out in a violent episode and heads for the track. William realizes that he is also fighting the man’s addiction to his sport. The jockey rides and wins, only to collapse and die moments afterward

The 11th Hour
William is brought in when a botched intervention drives a woman (Sarah) onto the streets; the original interventionist – played by Isaiah Washington – considers William little more than a thug; William questions his own motives in one of the first crises of faith in his profession while searching for the woman. William has a crisis of faith when one of the first in his profession.

I’ll start by saying that House of Pain was directed by Leon Ichaso – the director of Pinero – and you can see it in the episode style and intensity (though Benjamin’s awesome acting in the whole series contributes a lot to make The Cleaner a great show). I could almost feel a physical pain watching William dealing with a boy about his son’s age with the potential to do very well and he is risking to lose everything because of drug abuse, and the boy’s father who refuses to aknowledge the problem till when he almost loses his son. I guess that this situation prompted William to go to his father’s house to apologize with his son for what he had put him through and beg him to go home. A conversation William has with God at a memorial for the girl who had the principal seek his help still stays with me… “How many times have I seen this? More to the point, how many times have you? I can’t imagine what’s it’s like to have the power to move mountains… and yet, you have to stand by and watch this. I get that everything happens for a reason. And I get the mysterious ways in which you move. But I wonder if moments like this cause even you to doubt. To question… us. I used to wish I had your vision, the ability to see the big picture. But then to see things like this… I wouldn’t want it. This deal we made, I made, sometimes I think I understand it. And what’s next? Another lost innocent. Another death. Another funeral? Yeah, sometimes I understand it. And sometimes…”

Let It Ride is touching in another way. It tells us of a failed intervention by William and his team (owed, if it is true that interventions are mostly unsuccessful, IMHO) and it is a failure in a job that was particularly meaningful to William as Jimmy Alvarez was his hero, a jockey whose racing helped him survive in his darkest hour in prison. The sports world doesn’t come out too well of this episode, showing how winning is more important than anything else. However, there’s a ray of hope at the end, when the boy Jimmy Alvarez was training to replace him one day asks for William’s help so that he won’t end like his mentor.

Some topics surface in The 11th Hour: guilt when Sarah’s mother and sister wonder if they are to be blamed for what is happening to their daughter/sister, their seeking re-assurance that what is happening was not their fault, competition between two individuals in the same trade and working on the same case that risk to harm the young lady they are supposed to help, different attitudes towards a job (studies vs. experience). Besides the fact that Sarah is rescued from the streets and admitted into rehab, the up side of the episode is that William and Ben ‘negotiate and sign a tentative deal’ to be able to live together and possibly rebuild their father-son relationship.

I’ll end this post with a blog entry dating to September 10, 2008, which is open to debate:

A Glimpse at Addiction in the Media

6 thoughts on “The Cleaner, episodes 7, 8 and 9”

  1. Hello all — I’d just like to say that “Let It Ride” is my favorite episode so far. With most of the episodes, the plots seem to create instant trust between William and the “mark.” In this one, though, William does more than just show up and say “I can help you, take my hand.” Building trust with Jimmy by admiring his racing career felt quite real. And I was touched by William explaining why Jimmy had been such an inspiration. (I admit, too, that I think Benjamin looks great in a dress shirt — watching him got my heart racing a little!)

  2. In fact, Let It Ride is the only episode (I think…) so far where William doesn’t say what has become a catchphrase, i.e. “I can help you,” stretching his hand out to mean “Let me help you.”

  3. Wow!!  I love this show.  Yet, I cannot think of any Benjamin Bratt entertainment that I have not enjoyed.  This program really gets to me and I certainly hope it continues for a long time.  Best of luck to you Benjamin Bratt.  You deserve it!! :roll:

  4. Marcella, I’m with you in hoping that further seasons of The Cleaner will be produced. It is one of the best and most original series around and Benjamin is just perfect as William Banks.

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