Living in Your Car, “Chapter 5” (1.05)

“The rules are stupid, and so is the law, and he knows that.” – Kate Unger

The fifth episode of HBO Canada‘s new original series, Living in Your Car, written by Joseph Kay and Courtney Jane Walker, and directed by Paul Fox. Review after the jump…

What are the consequences needed to make a man like Steve Unger sit up and take a look at his own flaws? Not money; he considers his poverty a massive inconvenience, but it is easily reduced in his mind to an unfair punishment. But when his actions clearly and inarguably convince his daughter that the law is to be broken, and sees the effect this ‘education’ can have on her future, he begins to realise that his actions effect others. That, combined with his story teaching the van-kid to steal aluminum, is the core of this episode. But, sadly, I don’t have much to say beyond that.

This episode continues a frustrating trend. Steve is moving forward in jerks and starts, but the constant standalone stories (even if elements are serialised) are, I believe, damaging the show. Perhaps it is all going somewhere great, but right now it’s becoming frustrated to watch the show. The ‘small stories’ aren’t working for me, even when they are very well-linked to Steve’s redemption like “Chapter 5” is.

Living in Your Car needs to better utilise its cast, and move toward a more cohesive formula that relies less on the standalone story structure. I’ve been mildly entertained the past couple of weeks, but the show’s prospects seemed much stronger when I thought they might take a situation and continue to explore and complicate it, rather than letting it go and moving on. Nothing seems to matter here except Steve’s redemption, and that’s slow going.

Everything seems like that scene in the laundromat: interesting things are discussed, but nothing is resolved by the end of the episode, and no progress feels like its been made. In that scene, the same jokes about the ethics students rear their ugly heads for the third time (turning them from initially charming to overplayed), they meander around the topic and ultimately it ends not with any kind of point or resolution but with a button gag.

Plus, the episode falls square on some of its weaker assets. Lúcia Moniz‘s Carol seemed like a good mentor at the end of the pilot, but she’s been around so sparsely that the character has very little substance, and Moniz‘s way of developing her pulls some of the intended power from her occasional conflicts with Steve. Meanwhile, though as a nice and normal girl Mariah Horner worked well as Kate, she just isn’t up to the sharp banter or the (mild) edginess they’re trying to add to her character. She doesn’t convince as a girl who has given up on respecting authority or the law. And Garreth was one of the most cliched and least-interesting characters I’ve seen in recent times, and that whole segment of the episode fell flat.

I miss Julio, and other charming or engaging guest stars. I miss the promise of a new, awkward, sordid career for Steve, instead of these penny plots we keep encountering. John Ralston and Ingrid Kavelaars are still strongly rooting the show to something believeable, but I want the show to be a bit more rewarding than it currently is. Here’s hoping “Chapter 6”  moves us a bit closer to something compelling and, though the show’s been consistently decent on this score, funny.

One Response to “Living in Your Car, “Chapter 5” (1.05)”
  1. Celia Chan says:

    the “van kid” Austin MAcDonald is awesome and really cute and talented!!!!!

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