Living in Your Car, “Chapter 2” (1.02)

“When I look at you, I have this deep desire to kick you to death. Kick you to death, rip your head off with my teeth, stick your head on a post on the front lawn. That way everyone would know how I truly feel about you and I would not be tainted by our association ever again.” – Lori Unger

The second episode of HBO Canada‘s new original series, Living in Your Car, written by George F. Walker, Dani Romain and Joseph Kay, and directed by Shawn Alex Thompson. Review after the jump…

Steve Unger is pathetic. If the pilot didn’t nail that into your head, the theme was revisited here: here, the man breaks into his own house by crawling into a window, steals money from his own daughter, gets a whole crew of workers fired because he wants more pay… and yet, through it all, the man is fundamentally unable to understand why everyone in the world has turned their backs on him. He’s so desperate to find someone who won’t hold him accountable for his actions, he’s taken to talking to a small doll from Macchu Picchu that he stole from his wife, just to have someone to whine to that won’t talk back.

And yet, he still gets offended when the w0rld doesn’t give him what he wants. He gets frustrated when he learns his soon-to-be ex-wife had the locks changed, he blames everyone but himself for his troubles, and he constantly declares himself better than the world he’s found himself in.

The show is amusing, if only for John Ralston‘s fantastic performance as Steve. He’s so goddamn slippery, you’re frustrated by his inability to see his life and actions for what they are, or you can be amused by him in the same way viewers of The Office accept Michael Scott’s bumbling incompetence and social gracelessness. It’s punctuated by the rare moments of, if not repentence, then acknowledgement of how much he’s hurt those around him, such as his reaction to the above quote.

After being played as brainless and shallow in the pilot, Ingrid Kavelaars’ Lori gets to show some power as she faces down with her soon-to-be ex-husband over how he deals with their daughter. Kavelaar‘s approach to her in this episode, rather than the whiner I instantly disliked in the pilot, gives her some real backbone and has made her the second-most engaging character after Steve himself, and that’s all owing to the shift in performance. She takes him to task for condescending to her throughout their marriage, yes, but she also demands better from him; she may want to kick him to death, but she’s also forcing him to remember that he’s a father, and that there are other people in his life he might actually care about. I’m genuinely interested to see where this relationship goes over the course of the season, as I think Lori might end up being a force for good in Steve’s tale of perhaps-redemption.

That gives us a power triangle of engaging regulars: Steve, Lori, and Neil Epstein, Steve’s skeezy lawyer played by Colin Cunnigham. The rest of the cast are passable (though I hope to be wowed in future episodes), with those three the main reasons to check out the show.  The show’s still finding its feet a little, but I can say I’ll be there for the rest of the season to watch it happen.

One Response to “Living in Your Car, “Chapter 2” (1.02)”
  1. Celia Chan says:

    hey I love Austin MacDonald who plays Scott. he is an awesome young actor and hope one of the stories is he dates steves daughter to see if really thinks the car people are ok and ok enuff for his girl!! Austin MAcDonald rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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