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An Embarrassment of Riches: Season Finale of "The Riches"

While the expression "an embarrassment of riches" might refer to having more of something good or pleasant than you need, that was just the opposite this year with the severely truncated season of The Riches, which wrapped its second season last night on FX.

Originally ordered for thirteen episodes this season, The Riches found itself downscaled to just seven when production was shut down during the writers strike. Personally, I am a huge fan of this series and hope that the shortened season doesn't bode against renewing this compelling, subtle drama for a third season. (Not helping matters is that creator Dmitry Lipkin has sold a pilot script for Hung to HBO.) Especially since last night's unintentional season finale ("The Lying King") left nearly every characters' plotlines hopelessly dangling in the wind.

While some viewers have found this season to be creatively uneven, I've been really intrigued by the second season of The Riches, which placed the characters in far more dire straits than in the freshman season and put them in morally compromising, soul-killing situations that pushed them to their breaking points.

It's never been in question that the name of their little adopted community, Eden Falls, was anything other than intentional. Here, it signifies the ultimate purgatory as each of the characters--from Wayne and Dahlia to poor Nina--are forced to relive their sins in a neverending and perpetual cycle of self-destruction. Try as they might to become buffers, to give themselves new names and iPhones, they can't escape their pasts. Wayne claims that everyone creates their own luck but they same holds true with bad luck and the Molloys seem to have found themselves surrounded by a big old mess of bad karma.

I was really on the edge of my seat as Dahlia contemplated returning to drug abuse and obliterating herself; when she wrapped that belt around her arm, I worried that she was totally and completely relapse. After all, she's been stripped of her armor completely now: her parole officer turned his back on her (more on that in a bit), Wayne was revealed as a liar and accomplice to murder, Cael ran away, and Nina abandoned her. Dahlia is a consummate liar but she's finally realized that she's been lying to herself... even if her confession to Nina resulted in a complete lack of belief on her friend's part.

I literally gasped when Nina asked her about what happened to Pete. I get that Dahlia wouldn't want to involve Nina in the entire Pete murder/cover-up but she did to Nina just what she's angry at Wayne for doing to her. For proving once again that the best thing a Traveler is good at is lying. Still, I couldn't believe that her married parole officer kissed her after he discovered Dahlia skulking outside his house... with his wife and kid just a few feet away. I could tell from the way he looked at her and fingered his wedding ring that he was attracted to Dahlia but I had no idea that he would actually act on this and cross that boundary. For Dahlia's part, at least she put a stop to it. In a lot of ways, this was Minnie Driver's episode and I was completely transfixed by her vulnerability and raw emotion as she portrayed Dahlia as a woman beset by demons, both internal and external.

As for Wayne, he's finding himself playing both sides against each other. He's made a deal with the devil by turning to Minkov to defend the Bayou Hills construction site from Quinn's men. He's obviously conflicted about this decision--with it comes the promise that he'll throw Hugh under the bus--but it seemed the most expedient way to ensure that he can collect his $13 million from the land deal. Likely he thinks the Molloys can just disappear into the night after that, but Minkov is far too cunning to let that happen. Wayne is playing with fire; he has Dale, Quinn, Minkov, and Hugh looking over his shoulder and none of them are going to let him off the hook for what's liable to happen next.

I loved the scene between Wayne and Nina in the kitchen as Nina lights up (much to Dr. Morgenstern's delight) and asks him, as he tries calling Dahlia for the nth time, if he's looking for Dahlia Molloy or Sherien Rich. Have they started living the lie? To me, this episode included some of the very best Nina-driven scenes of the series and actress Margo Martindale deserves an Emmy for her performance. Her distraught tantrum at Jim's funeral, her disbelief at Dahlia stringing her yet another lie, her confrontation with Wayne at the house; these all add up to a nuanced performance of a woman fed up with being lied to her whole life.

I was intrigued about where the writers were going with Sam and his new friend from school; she clearly accepts him for who he is and is going to great lengths to get him to express his true identity as a cross-dresser. I loved the scene in his bedroom where she dresses him up in girl's clothing and tells him how beautiful he looks. I am not sure where this will go but it was a fantastic coda to Sam's entire relationship with his conflicted nature.

Cael has begun to fit in among the Travelers again, helped along by his newfound relationship with Rosaleen. I loved the scene in which Quinn asked him to come with him to break up that fight and then stood beside Cael and offered a toast to the reunion of the clan, to a Quinn standing next to a Molloy... and then later called Wayne to say that they'd now be business partners and, if Wayne didn't like it, well, Quinn has his son.

As for Didi, it's only fitting that she'd suddenly be interested in how the other half was living, in skulking around the huge buffer mansions that pepper Eden Falls with her new security guard friend Ike (Joan of Arcadia's Michael Welch). Her affair with Ike and her breaking and entering routine are a surefire act of rebellion against everything Wayne has come to stand for. Of all of the Molloys, she did seem the most at home as a buffer, attending school and wanting more from life than just con and con. Lying in the palatial, imperial bed of her latest B&E victim's house, she can pretend for just a few minutes that this is her life and not the screwed up mess it's become now that she's seen her father for what he really is: the king of liars.

I really hope that FX does decide to renew The Riches for a third season. I for one am not done with the Molloys and hope that fans of the series have the opportunity to see these storylines pay off in a meaningful fashion rather than just have the series end on a slew of mini-cliffhangers that never get resolved. Fingers crossed that the cabler sees it the same way and rewards the cast and crew of The Riches with a reprieve.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Not reading this because I am still a couple eps behind, but I have to say I felt a sense of relieve when I noticed last night was the season finale. This season has been a real struggle...
Bill said…
I did enjoy this season, but it's very different from the first. Most of the humor disappeared, and was replaced with a very dark drama. Hugh's outrageous behavior was more sad this year than funny, and there were less scenes of Wayne talking his way out of things, which are usually hilarious. But while I understand why people were disappointed, I thought it was just interesting in a different way.
Rumplestilzken said…
Here it is, 5 years later. What a damn shame this series was not renewed. I found that this was easily one of the most interested and truly relatable series i have ever seen. The conflicts might not be the same for all of us, but these characters bring together a story and a mood that can transcend individual experiences and enlighten us all. :]
Anonymous said…
Completely agree with all the words above. Just found and finished this series on Netflix in a few weeks, I was obsessed. The storyline has so much more potential to continue on!
Anonymous said…
Just finished it tonight. Sorely sad that it's over. What happened to that movie idea, Eddie? I'd watch it...
Anonymous said…
I've just watched this on netflix myself in 5 days as I was so addicted. I thought the first season was awesome and so funny, but I found the 2nd season to be quite depressing. I would of loved for them to do a 3rd season and bring back the humour but sadly it didn't happen. There was so much they could of done with it as well
Anonymous said…
I was saddened to find that this series wasn't picked up for a third season. I also recently found The Riches on Netflix and quickly found myself addicted to the characters. Although the antics of them all leave them in outrageous situations, we've all questioned who we are at one point. It's such a shame we don't get to experience where their stories end.
Anonymous said…
Bring it back!!!
Anonymous said…
I agree- bring it back, or at least the concluding movie Izzard wanted to do.
Anonymous said…
Two weeks? Try two days :p but seriously, i need to know what happens in the end!!
Lisa said…
Yep. We just watched the whole thing on Netflix. I knew it only had 2 seasons, but I was stunned that it ended right here! Truly sad. What a fantastic show. And while I enjoyed Hung (the show the creator ran after this), it was not nearly as good as The Riches.
Unknown said…
Wish this series would continue :(
Unknown said…
Wish this series would continue.
Unknown said…
What am I missing? Was the plot too outrageous? Were the characters unrealistic or uninteresting? To end it where they did was chickenshit.
Anonymous said…
Finally got a chance to watch this amazing show. But that ending.. so upsetting. At the very least a movie ending to wrap it all up would've been appreciated
Unknown said…
Please bring it back just finished it didn't know it would end like it did so many questions left!
Anonymous said…
I can't believe a TV Show like this gets shut down, but the real crap keeps getting produced - what is wrong with the world? The Riches remains for me one of the best TV Shows ever: intriguing, elegant, thrilling, with an amazing acting (unlikely many of today's movies and TV Shows). WHY SHUT IT DOWN?
Unknown said…
Me to I wish for continuation
MandMsMom said…
10 years later and still LOVE and am upset by it's sudden cancellation! Just finished watching it again on Hulu, this time around with my daughters, who are equally upset... Damn writers' strike messed up a LOT of shows, but this one was the biggest loss, imo... I wish they would have at least come back with a 2 or 3 parter, just to wrap up all of the incredible cliffhangers that set them up to have an incredible third season... I wish they'd let Eddie do the movie, if he'd still want to. I'm 100% positive it would be snatched up quick by a few outlets! Sorry for being so lengthy but it is what it is 😊
BRING IT BACK!!!

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