Recap: Love & Death (S1, Ep5) — A Brief Glimpse of Candy’s Motives Creates a (Slightly) Better Late-Season Episode

There’s a stylistic choice about halfway through “The Arrest” that I really enjoyed. Candy Montgomery (Elizabeth Olsen), her murder of her neighbor now public knowledge, is being driven to the local police station so she can be properly arrested. The media is well aware of who she is and have set up outside, waiting for her to arrive. As she’s handcuffed, the audio becomes muffled and we see several still, black and white shots of this moment in rapid succession. Without directly saying it, the show has communicated to us that this is the end. This is the moment that will immortalize Candy Montgomery—not the actual murder—and there’s nothing she can do about it.

Despite how much I wish there were more cool choices like that in Love & Death, especially considering the shift this episode makes towards Candy’s relationship to the media and the public, I will admit that this is my favorite episode of the series so far, if only slightly. Not all of its time is used well, but the time it spends well is spent really well.

I do appreciate how the episode doesn’t draw out its plot. With a title like “The Arrest,” I went in expecting we’d have yet another episode that drags out how close yet how far Candy is to being caught. After being grilled by the police (that complete shift in tone after being asked whether she was having an affair probably didn’t do her any favors, but it was pretty well acted), her fate is all but sealed. And so, after five episodes of buildup, we (finally) get to see Candy in handcuffs.

It comes after a dull first half, where the process of getting Candy in handcuffs just goes on and on. A welcome addition to the story is Tom Pelphery as Candy’s smarmy local lawyer, Don Crowder. Pelphery is an actor I always enjoy (his best role is probably on Ozark—coincidentally, his exit was kind of when that show started going down the tubes), and watching him play up what Crowder probably thinks is a bit of classic Southern charm is quite funny. Considering that the victim’s husband Allan (Jesse Plemons) takes on a rather minor role in this episode, it’s nice to see another well-acted character enter, as the show does seem to be hurting for them a little. (Not to imply that anyone on the show is bad, although I did kind of raise an eyebrow at Candy’s husband’s overacted expression of his anger here.)

Because of Crowder’s general shithead attitude, the trial is forced to stay in Candy’s hometown, so Crowder hurriedly schemes up ways to make Candy look as innocent as possible. He has her sent to a hypnotherapist in hopes of uncovering anything that will gain her sympathy, and it’s here where Olsen does her best work on the show so far. The slow progression of the scene works in her favor as the therapist takes her farther and farther back through her mind and Candy becomes more and more quietly distraught. It’s something we already know—Candy is repressed, yeah, big surprise—but seeing her struggle to admit all of the things inside her is interesting to watch and ends up making it my favorite scene the show has delivered so far.

Other than that one great scene and some nice moments sprinkled throughout, I still wasn’t huge on this episode of Love & Death. I think this wouldn’t be as big of a problem if the series’ introduction had been shorter. Allan’s absence here almost makes those episodes worse by comparison—I was looking forward to maybe seeing him interact with the woman who murdered his wife, but he’s in only two or three scenes here. And the structure of the show putting Candy’s arrest halfway through the antepenultimate episode feels off. There were some really good things on Love & Death this time around, but the whole still makes up less than some of its better parts.

This episode of Love & Death is now available on HBO Max.

Sam Layton
Sam Layton

Sam Layton is a Chicago suburb native that's trying his best to make a career out of his (probably unhealthy) habit of watching too much television. When he's not working as the Third Coast Review's current sole TV reviewer, he's making his way through college or, shockingly, watching too much television.