666 Park Avenue Review: "The Dead Don't Stay Dead" (Episode 1.03)
The most fascinating aspect of 666 Park Avenue thus far has been watching Gavin and Olivia slowly making progress on their newest prospects, Jane and Henry. The show is allowing us to see Gavin’s ability to take unsuspecting tenants, exploit their deepest desires and finish out on top. Anytime we see Gavin and Olivia integrated with Jane and Henry, the show has fun with balancing this dynamic while also playing with the audience as the all-knowing viewer. Unfortunately, 666 Park Avenue, particularly in “The Dead Don’t Stay Dead,” has problems keeping the rest of the stories of The Drake quite as interesting.
Unlike on last week’s “Murmurations,” 666 Park Avenue finds reasons to keep these two couples interacting. Gavin takes Henry out, trying to figure out what he wants the most and then use that to win over Henry. After he finds out that Henry wants a job working under Councilman Edwards, they just happen to run into him at dinner. Gavin tells Henry to go talk to Edwards and not come back to their table until he has a job. The whole situation was orchestrated by Gavin, who later kills Edwards. Gavin wants Henry to dream bigger, but the humble, somewhat shy Henry isn’t being as bombastic as Gavin would seem to want.
Meanwhile, Gavin asks Jane to spend the day with Olivia, since it is the 10th anniversary of their daughter’s death and Olivia tends to get ‘destructive’ on this day. After a nice dinner, Olivia freaks out, drives her car at high speeds in New York City and then proclaims that her daughter actually killed herself. Her daughter left a note before she died, stating that she believed her father was evil. Good call.
The rest of the episode just can’t compete. Henry is still fighting the advances of his wife’s assistant, with really the only new information being that Henry used to be a successful Broadway writer. There’s also a new tenant of the week, Annie, a reporter who is stuck writing obituaries. She makes up information in her latest obit, after Gavin persuades her to, and everything she writes starts to become true. She even makes up Kandinsky, a Russian assassin, who by episode’s end has trapped Annie and possibly killed her. Not much resolution is made in this plot, but it looks like Kandinsky will be running amuck next week as well.
It also wouldn’t be an episode of 666 Park Avenue without Jane seeing some crazy stuff that makes everyone else think she’s borderline insane. This time she gets trapped in the door in the basement, sees a little girl and watches as the basement door drips blood. In the end, she grabs a suitcase from behind the door, which when she’s not looking, has hands trying to force their way out of it.
While 666 Park Avenue sells itself on its sex and evil setting, what makes the show strong is character interactions that work on several levels. But instead the show will spend too much time with plotlines that aren’t growing but instead rehash ideas from previous episodes or don’t flesh out the tenant of the week enough to make them matter. By the end of each episode, it’s already clear that these weekly guests will either wind up dead or in their own personal hells. There’s an unending level of possibilities to be had at The Drake, but the show has already taken some of the suspense out of these ideas. If 666 Park Avenue can sustain the level of excitement that it has with its two main couples, the show could be something truly exciting.