“The Cleaner” Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2

So here I am with my thoughts about episodes 1 and 2 of the second season of “The Cleaner” (better late than never ;) ).

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Hello America

William faces his old sponsor, Paulina Kmec (Whoopi Goldberg), when an old friend and fellow program member (Jayne Brook) seeks William’s help to get her husband, Davis Durham (Gary Cole) a high-profile national news anchor, clean. But there are a couple of twists to the case. The news anchor is a national spokesperson for recovery, so William has to be especially discrete in his methods. And the news anchor’s wife is losing her battle with ovarian cancer forces William to confront his own personal problems.William juggles the case while moving back in with his wife Melissa to create a façade of happiness while her parents (Mariette Hartley and Barry Newman) are in town.

Last American Casualty

William sets out to have a relaxing father-son weekend with Ben, but instead ends up having to take on two cases of alcoholism, with Ben in tow. William’s dad (Raymond J. Barry) enlists him to help get his best friend Duren (J0e Don Baker) clean. Duren is a raging alcoholic and William worries he is too far over the edge and that there is no hope for him. Duren introduces William to a father named Lonnie Simon (Michael Beach) who recently lost his son in the war and whose alcoholism is destroying his relationship with his remaining son Kenji (Tyler Williams), who bonds with Ben over their fathers’ addiction issues.

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I’ll start out by saying that I’ve been waiting for its return since the season 1 finale, but I did not realize how much I missed this show until I watched the season 2 premiere.

After watching the first two episodes, it looks like the cast and writers hitting their stride and the show is getting deeper and grittier with stories of addiction. We have drama, tension and they even managed to squeeze in some comedy in the first episode when William is dealing with in-laws and chasing an unclothed man at the same time. And it seems that William has his work cut out for him this season. In fact, Benjamin really carries the show, as the focus shifted away from William’s team towards William himself.

Nothing is ever simple for William, no matter how hard he tries. In the last episode of season 4,William left his home for a separation Melissa asked for. In the first and second episodes, we can see a little how that has changed his life. William has always thrown himself into his work, but it becomes all he has now that is family is having problems. Dealing with people asking him about his family is probably the worst and we can see him struggle to tell people “we’re doing okay.” However, the way William and Melissa relate suggest that a door is left open for a possible reconciliation and I’m rooting for this to happen.

In the first episode, how the wife actually stopped taking her own medications because of her husband’s addiction – which is what makes him turn to rehabilitation in the end – and the sadness of seeing her turning to morphine (and ultimately her death) just to be able to live a manageable life strike a chord, and it watching her dance into the moonlight with her husband at the end of the episode is bittersweet.

Whoopie, who William calls “PK” in the episode, is an interesting character. She, William, Davis and his wife all have a long history together. And it shows us a little about how William broke off and began doing his own thing. PK was a bit perturbed to see William after so many years. She believes that you can’t be clean without help, which is a hardly questionable. But considered that William seems to be doing quite well at staying clean, she should be happy for him. So I wonder what the issue was: perhaps it was more a personal hurt more than anything else?

The second episode is the story of two addicts, neither of whom seemed to want help. The first (Duren) saw himself as a lost cause, the other (Lonnie Simon) was just angry.

I did think that Duren was going to kill himself halfway through the episode when he suddenly wanted to see himself clean one last time to meet his daughter while sober. Of course, he didn’t make it. Actually, he saw her, but he didn’t manage to make contact with her and get his message of sobriety to her.

Meanwhile, Lonnie –  an alcoholic and who William was hired to sober up in time for his son’s funeral – is mourning the loss of his oldest son, who not only was his son killed in action, but he stepped on a mine, and apparently his father felt it humiliated him. Besides, his son was gay, adding to the humiliation. So Lonnie was drunk and angry. And I got angry at Duren, who hired William to help him, and then he drinks out of a flask right in front of him. Anyway, I couldn’t help feeling for Lonnie and Kenji, who was being abused.

As for sons, I felt sad for Ben. What a weekend! He had to help watch a guy who was trying to get over addiction as well put up with  with drunk Duren first and then with dead Duren. It was surprising that he ended up wanting to stay longer with his father, though it is a relief to know that he still had that relationship after all that had happened.

BTW, William worrying about how Ben would have liked the loft to sleep… wasn’t it sweet?

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