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Lone Star Recap: Pilot


The eternal quest of a TV pilot is to somehow find the balance between exposition and plot.  Lone Star on Fox gives itself a harder job than most, as it attempts to follow a main character who leads no fewer than three separate lives at once.  How well it succeeds is debatable; I certainly want to watch next week’s episode, probably even the complete first season,  I simply question the ability of the writers to maintain this premise for too long without it becoming simply unbelievable.

Bob Allen (the doe-eyed, open-faced James Wolk) is a con man currently running two jobs.  In Midland, Texas he’s the live-in boyfriend of Lindsay (the improbably named Eloise Mumford, who should most definitely lend her moniker to a children’s book character) who sells investments in wells that don’t exist.  In Houston, he’s the husband of Cat Thatcher (Adrienne Palicki, all grown up from Friday Night Lights), who is quickly offered a job in his father-in-law’s oil company.  In real life, he’s the son of John Allen (David Keith), who’s the mastermind behind his son’s other operations; it turns out that Cat is the victim of a long con (if you’ll forgive the Lost reference), and that Bob was put on the inside by his father in an effort to get at Clint Thatcher’s (Jon Voight) money.  Also floating around are Cat’s brothers Tramm (Mark Deklin) and Drew (Bryce Johnson), the former of whom takes an instant dislike to Bob’s presence in the company, the ladder of whom seems quite happy to have him if only because Bob doesn’t treat Drew like an idiot (which, to be fair, appears to be an accurate description of him).  It occurs at this point that recaps of pilots have the same problem that the pilots themselves do: too much exposition.  Also a lot of parentheses.

To say that there is a lot going on in Lone Star is an understatement; it now becomes a race to see what subplots connect with the audience.  Obviously, one focus is the Bob-Cat-Lindsay love triangle which couldn’t help but make me think of immediate comparisons to Big Love, a show that really is interested in exploring how a man could love more than one woman at once.  Lone Star doesn’t appear to be as interested in that idea, instead seeming to count on the fact that the viewers will accept that Bob does indeed love Lindsay and Cat equally and completely.  I’m not sure how I feel about this; the longer the show continues to have Bob lie to both of these women he claims to love, the harder time viewers will have accepting it.  At least Bill Henrickson has the decency to be honest with his wives (he’s not decent about much else, of course, but he does have that).  However, James Wolk is doing quite a job in bringing me over to his side.  He never appears to question the fact that he loves both women, he simply does.  His assurance in that fact will help make the relationships more palatable.

Also, we have Bob’s assertion to his father that he wants to abandon the long con on the Thatcher family and actually try to do the job he was hired for.  He longs for something real, and for a man who’s entire life has been predicated on creating and maintaining facades, it’s understandable.  John Allen is less than thrilled with this idea, and when his son first brings it up he talks him back under his wing with a predictable “they’re-not-your-family-I’m-your-family” speech that may have been more affecting if it wasn’t so painfully predictable.  The second time around, when Bob offers to buy him off so he can try to honestly work for Thatcher’s oil company, John seems to acquiesce a bit quickly.  Even as son tells father that he loves him, you can see John’s mind already working over a new plan.  John makes a few references to how Bob is the best con-man that he’s ever seen, how Bob’s got moves that John didn’t teach him.  It makes me wonder if John’s got some moves that Bob hasn’t seen.  This thread seems much more rife with possibilities, squaring off teacher and student, father and son against each other in a double-crossing game.  I hope it gets ugly.

Finally, we have Bob’s continued relationship with Lindsay in Midland.  Despite the investment con going belly-up, Bob can’t let go of his sun-dappled sweetheart in the country. As he drives away, he tries; at a gas station, he discards his Midland wallet and phone in the trash, and drives off to Houston and Cat.  However, it’s Cat who reminds him of two things: “You make your own luck” and “People who believe they can have it all are the ones who wind up with everything.”  He uses his new job to con Cat’s little brother, Drew, into buying a plot of land for him to further his game in Midland,then proceeds to the jewelry store to buy a ring for Lindsay.  I expect Cat would have rephrased if she knew where her words of encouragement would send her husband.

And that’s basically where we stand at the end of the pilot episode.  Bob’s married to one woman, engaged to another and dancing as fast as he can to keep everybody in ignorant bliss.  He’s bound to trip eventually.

And some bullet points:

-Apparently, in Midland, one can leave for the  airport about an hour before the plane leaves.  As someone who prefers to be at the gate at least an hour and a half before hand, the very thought of that is enough to give me the willies.

-Who wants to bet there’s a story behind Bob’s mother that’s ripe for November sweeps?

-I didn’t much touch on the sequence in the hotel bar, but it was nicely shot and acted; I really wasn’t sure if Bob would sleep with the barfly or not.  I’m glad he didn’t (and if I may reference Big Love one last time, Bill Henrickson totally would have…just as soon as he could figure out why God wanted him to).

-Lindsay’s ex-boyfriend Travis seemed a little out of nowhere, however I’m betting he causes some big problems for Bob down the road.

-Adrienne Palicki looks good with dark hair…but I keep thinking she’s Peyton List who plays Jane Siegel-Sterling over on Mad Men.  The brunch dress with the chest bow really added to that perception.

-Clint, Trammell, Drew and Cat  Thatcher.  Southern much?