As citizens of Todd Flora’s America are aware, I am a huge fan of Amazon Prime Video’s “Sneaky Pete,” a show brought to the screen by Bryan Cranston and David Shore, and starring Giovanni Ribisi and an all-star ensemble. Ribisi plays Marius Josipovic, a con man who pretends to be the long-lost cousin, “Pete Murphy” to the Bernhardt/Bowman clan, whose eldest members run a bail bonds business in Bridgeport, CT. As a con man, Marius is trained not to develop strong relationships, but he can’t help care about the family he adopted under false pretenses back in 2015’s Season 1.
It’s 3rd Season just went live to streaming on May 10, and I quickly ate up all 10 episodes within a 5-6 day period. As the 2nd season ended, bail bond entrepreneurs Otto and Audrey Bernhardt’s granddaughter, Julia Bowman, had discovered Marius isn’t really her cousin Pete. As Season 3 opens, she even rams into his car to send a message she is not pleased, and she’s going to spill all to the family. He makes some quick moves that slow her motivation to do so, but plenty of high jinks ensue as the show shifts mostly to California for the latest round of scams and drama.
But enough synopsis. This write-up is for fans who have seen Season 3 and know the show, so onto the “Sneaky Pete Season 3 Awards.” I certainly invite readers to propose their own Season 3 Superlatives in the “Comments” section.
“Best Royal Wedding Consolation Prize”
Goes to Patrick J. Adams, who played rich financier Stefan Kilbane. It was nice to see Adams back in action, and playing a somewhat entitled, smarmy character so different from his well-known “Mike Ross” from the legal drama “Suits.” Suits fans and now even the general public know it was Mike who famously married Meghan Markle’s “Rachel Zane” on the USA hit show.
“Best Adoption of Game of Thrones-like Speedy Travel Arrangements”
Goes to Season 3 and the entire show itself. For fans of the show who are ALSO familiar with Game of Thrones, you’ll know how in the final three seasons of the HBO blockbuster fantasy series, the writers seemed to allow characters to move back and forth around the kingdoms and city states of an area the size of South America with relative ease and speed, sometimes within the same episode! The same affect seems to have taken hold here, as the Sneaky Pete showrunners take advantage of most viewers supposed lack of knowledge about California geography and highways (and traffic!!).
The dominant California portion of the season takes place in 4 city areas: Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, and West Los Angeles. To give you a sense for how quickly the characters seem to go between these locals within the same episode, in reality:
- Bakersfield <-> Fresno: 1 hour, 45 minute drive in NO TRAFFIC
- Fresno <-> Santa Barbara: 4 hour drive in NO TRAFFIC
- Santa Barbara <-> Los Angeles: 1 hour, 40 minute drive in NO TRAFFIC
- Los Angeles <-> Bakersfield: 2 hour drive in NO TRAFFIC
“Most Annoying /(Slash)/ Sexy Villain Award” goes to Efrat Dor’s “Lizzie,” who has a mixed past with Marius. She also has a strange hold over Marius, which we would be stupid not to admit has to include this actress’/character’s attractiveness and seductiveness. One of the secrets that never gets told is that guys also dig “the bad girls,” particularly when they promise danger with few if any consequences.
At the same time, Lizzie drives me nuts. She shows up out of the blue, prompting the question: Does she really need Marius for the job she wants to pull? Or does she take bizarre pleasure in sucking him back into his dangerous game, where she can set him up for leaving her behind in Michigan? This isn’t to say that such dastardly plans are “annoying.” No, they are quite cunning. But what makes Lizzie annoying is she’s such a thorn in the side of the season staying on its larger mystery – the question of whether Lila Bowman (Taylor, Julia, and Carly’s mother) is indeed alive after being thought killed in a car accident 12 years ago.
“Most Useless Token Cameo Awards” go to Alison Wright’s “Marjorie” and Ethan Embry’s “Real Pete.” Both only receive a single scene in Season 3, neither of which seem particularly important. Instead, their appearances are somewhat forced and present themselves in a way that says, “don’t worry, we’ll be back.” Ok, thanks! Why don’t you trust real fans that we’ll know who they are if or when they return?!
“Best Posthumous Performance”
Goes to legendary magician and actor Ricky Jay, who played Kilbane’s “representative” T.H. Vignetti, but who ultimately also got the better of “playing” Kilbane. Getting the best of them all in the arthouse side of this season’s con, Vignetti not only walks away with the original art piece but also gets to play hero by returning the forgery to the museum that thinks they have had their original returned (I think?). Bravo. Ricky Jay passed on November 24, 2018.
“Worst Father of the Century”
Goes to M. Emmet Walsh’s “Tex Hopkins,” who we learn is not only Audrey’s estranged father, but also had an entire second family during Audrey’s upbringing. He’s a lousy liar and runs a car dealership in Bakersfield like his caricature Cal Worthington, but without the competence (if you could ever assign any to old Cal). Never has he tried to locate Audrey, but naturally acts as if no time has passed and that everything should simply be normal the day Audrey arrives in California. He spends the rest of the season incompetently stringing everyone along into believing Lila is alive, and along the way we learn he’s gone in with some very bad people on a solar farm investment. Not only was I surprised to see M. Emmet Walsh was still alive, but I find it hard to believe the character of Tex Hopkins could have survived as long as he did living such a bumbling existence.
“Suffers the Most Shit and Comes out Smelling… like Something”
Goes to Marin Ireland’s “Julia Bowman,” the only member of the family who knows Marius is NOT “real Pete.” Her season starts off with an arrest for helping last season’s trafficked witnesses escape the rent-a-storage facility. She’s bailed out but can’t afford an attorney better than her aimless dolt of an ex, Lance, and then doesn’t really have much of a choice by going along with Marius on his latest con, which he promises will help her pay for a decent attorney at trial. Illegally out of state and helping Marius, she’s kidnapped by country-clubbing drug dealers / money launderers, kept locked in a wooden box, and is left with the consolation of about a half-dozen diamonds to pay for the attorney. Of course, she’ll have to fence those diamonds for cash, and her kids haven’t seen her in weeks, and have no idea where she is. Also, she, like several of the characters, didn’t have much of a change of clothes during their extended stay in California.
“Season 3 LVP (Least Valuable Player)” goes to Maggie, who pops up for one episode, hiding out in Santa Barbara pretending to live the life of her sister, Lila. What a bullshit, piker move. Maggie showed us all she was the MVP for her performance in Season 2, and importance to the momentum of the story. But that didn’t make her likeable or trustworthy. Clearly she is manipulating tragedy to live off the memory of someone else. I was surprised, in fact, that the family did not act more hurt or angry with her when it was revealed Lila was indeed gone and it was simply Maggie the whole time. Ugh. Just pure bush league livin’ right there. Screw you, Maggie. Could also be filed under “Most Aggravating Cameo” Award.
“Season 3 MVP” goes to our little “teenager” that could, Carly Bowman. Not only does actress Libe Barer make us forget she’s really almost 29, but she does so playing Carly with an incredibly effective mix of naivete, idealism, hope, frustration, and youthful whimsy. Her desire to believe a yarn about her mother possibly being alive drives the ENTIRE California adventure of Season 3. Whole cons are relocated so that characters can come out to help her or help the family members that she roped into making the journey to chase after her. Soon, the search for the truth about her mother’s mortality and/or whereabouts becomes one of only three stories taking place from Fresno to Santa Barbara, Bakersfield to L.A. But hey, if this is what it took to finally get her to see the value of an education, more power to her energy and strong-headedness.