Rake: “Staple Holes”

(Episode 1.08)

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Rake: “Staple Holes”

Kee’s life doesn’t always go pleasantly or make for scintillating entertainment, but it’s rarely outright boring. That becomes clear when Kee shows up for his first day of work at Ben’s firm and freezes at the door like a first-grader on the first day of school. It’s not necessarily the prospect of gainful employment that scares him—and he enjoys the perks that come with the job, from the $25,000 signing bonus to his attractive new assistant—but not being able to walk away when his interest flags.

Not to worry, though, as Kee doesn’t get sucked into the grind, even a little bit. He’s more of a conjunction or interjection than an article man, his mind drifting to Cindy the assistant mid-meeting as the rest of the team parses documents. Similarly, Rake this week allows its focus to fracture; where each episode’s title typically provides a sense of some sin/underlying moral consideration, Kee’s current case offers no such dimension, only minutiae.

So “Staple Holes,” ready for excitement if nothing more meaningful is available, chases erotic complications wherever they may lead. Kee’s involved, of course, but the other characters get much more scope to play than usual. Leanne and Roy enjoy some afternoon delight when he comes to pick up Kee’s debt payment, the queen’s English proving much more titillating to him than to her wayward boyfriend. Ben and Scarlet make out (or least try to) in his office to celebrate her nomination for district attorney, despite managing attorney Robert’s ill-timed interventions. And Gloria, the mayor’s wife, finally wrangles Kee into bed, though only after Mikki leaves him sporting two glasses of wine and a hangdog look.

Kee even manages to spice up the dry court case. (What was that phone plan, Callifornication?) Kee turns up in court unprepared and hung over, naturally; never was “Let’s pretend I know absolutely nothing about this case” uttered with more sincerity. But he works his cross-examination magic to educate himself as he goes, eventually catching the opposition in a walk-off lie. Too bad Kee’s firm would’ve preferred a time-consuming, profitable loss to a quick win, but Kee’s feeling so cocky he’s sure he could’ve lost with just as much panache, had they but asked.

The general promiscuity culminates in the mayor’s death by autoerotic asphyxiation, suitably to the strains of Don Giovanni as he’s hauled off to hell. Gloria summons Kee’s new nemesis, ex-chief of police Bernie, to break down the bathroom door, and then keep it forever closed. Maybe the mayor had it comin’ like Lipschitz, but I could’ve lived without seeing even a corner of that tableau.

Kee goes from strength to strength in the episode, and the mayor’s death looks like a big win given his anti-Deane vendetta—“Rest in peace, but he was a real dick,” Kee tells his quietly horrified new colleagues, champagne in hand. But the mayor’s departure from the scene, while it looks like it rids Kee of one of his biggest worries, may be the worst thing that could’ve happened. Kee’s a gambler, riding a hot streak with Maddy’s breakup with Bruce, winning his case, paying off his bookie, etc. But he should know not to trifle with Bernie, who earlier had goaded Kee into ransacking his own apartment by saying he planted a kilo of coke. That turns out to be a trick, but it shows Bernie’s not above that kind of setup (and Kee’s not quite bright enough to figure it out). Kee, though, is never one to leave well enough alone, and creates his own bad luck, going runner (showing up to mock Bernie at his house) runner (Bernie deciding to frame him for the mayor’s murder) to lose on the river.

Rake’s shift from Thursday to Friday nights this week, particularly in an unsuitable 8 o’clock slot, doesn’t say much for Fox’s hopes for the series the rest of this season, or any future ones. If this week’s flings are the last tango before cancellation, at least Kee’s not the only one kicking up his heels.

Andrew Westney is a Charlotte-based (and New York-bound) writer and journalist currently reviewing Rake and Helix for Paste. You can (and should!) follow him on Twitter.