Spring 2013 Review: Red Widow

15 Apr

Guess which one is the Red Widow


Red Widow begins with a super double episode to really attempt to hook us in.  Red Widow herself, Marta Walraven, lives in a swanky Bay Area house with her husband Evan and three children, a older high school boy, a younger high school girl, and a 10 year old or so boy.  Her father, and her family in general have some sort of Eastern European mob ties, and her husband Evan, who wears his long hair like a cool European soccer star, joined the family business, mobstering, when they were married, working with her brother, Irwin, and a third friend named Mike.  They mostly participated in light mobstering, namely importing and exporting pot (ie the good drug).  Marta knew, but she was busy housewiving it up and raising three kids, and in the near term, helping her sister on her wedding.

This is all going swimmingly until Irwin decides their middle-brow marijuana business just isn’t making the grade anymore.  He recklessly rips off 85 kilograms (“keys” in drug lingo) of cocaine from reputed super druglord Schiller, killing a couple of Schiller’s guys on the boat where the coke was stored, in the process.  We know this is bad news right away because, before Irwin kills one of the dudes on board the ship, the dude warns Irwin that if he goes forward, him and his family and his family’s family and so forth will die in revenge for the theft. Evan is not at all happy to hear that Irwin risked everyone’s lives by stealing from Schiller and is now terrified.

After her youngest son finds Evan’s gun, and threatens someone at school with it, getting expelled in the process, Marta demands that Evan leave the business now, but he warns her the only we he can is to leave everyone and everything they know behind completely, like completely completely.  Fine, she says.  She’s got three kids to protect, dammit. That night is her sister’s wedding, and everyone’s there.  Irwin goes to unload the coke and gets arrested by the FBI.  Mike and Evan have a fight.  Evan is murdered the next morning, which was only a matter of when, because otherwise the Red Widow show name would be incredibly misleading.  We suspect Schiller was involved because of his threats. Before the body is cold in the ground we find out that Evan had made a deal with the FBI.  When he promised to keep them safe if they left everything behind, it’s because he got them witness protection in return for dropping a dime on everyone.  Marta’s son is not impressed; those are family criminals he was turning on, and even if a deadly mobster was out to kill them, Mom would have found another way.

Marta’s bro lets her know that now she has to take on the debt (thus turning her into the RED WIDOW), and return the cocaine to Schilller to try to save her family.  This once lowly housewife must now take on the duty of navigating the mob while still protecting her children.  Schiller (Goran Visnjic of ER) is an enigmatic mega-gangster who lets her know with constant bits of cryptic wisdom that she will have to help him get some shipments through the port, and perhaps by helping him, he will deign to let her and her children live. She has ol’ Mike teach her the biz, and starts to slip into the world of illegal activity, trying to convince the right people to take bribes to get the shipment through.  She’s concerned she could get caught and have her kids go to jail, but she sees no other way. She tensely awaits the call from Schiller with the details of her job, at the end, she gets it.  Here’s the time and place.  The game is afoot.

Honestly, it’s a pretty mediocre action show.  Red Widow is not that interesting and not that captivating.  The plot in general could be interesting, but there’s no reason to think it will be.  It’s not awful.  It goes.  If it was a movie, you’d watch it on a plane and feel like you hadn’t wasted your time, since you were going to be on the plane anyway, but you certainly wouldn’t see it in theaters.  There’s less a lot to say bad about it, than nothing to say good about it.  It’s got some sub par or at most par action and suspense scenes; you could do a lot worse, but you can also do a lot better.

Also –  why is she a Red Widow?  The widow part is obvious.  I assume the Red is in reference to Russia.  She’s clearly supposed to be eastern European, though it wasn’t clearly whether Russian or not.  Red, I had thought, referred to communism, so I don’t know that post-Commie Russia would be red.  Is the red a reference to something else?

Will I watch it again?  No.  I try to really think about why I like or don’t like a show, but I also try to give some credence to my immediate visceral reaction, sometimes compared against other shows I’ve watched.  I watched Hannibal recently and wanted to watch a second episode immediately after I finished the first.  I finished Red Widow, and I didn’t feel like I wasted my time, but I was closer to being glad it was over (being a double episode doesn’t help) than wanting to put on the next.

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