Quarry is the new tense drama from Cinemax. The show airs on Friday nights and is just now beginning its first season. The story centers on a Marine sergeant who returns home to Memphis after serving a second tour in Vietnam.
Mac Conway and his best friend Arthur arrive back to the states in 1972 to find that they are not being welcomed home as heroes. Soon after their return, the harsh reality of post-war living catches up to both of them. Quarry pulls no punches when it shows that drafted veterans are practically left to survive on their own after returning home from war.
Cinemax is upping its television game with shows like Banshee, The Knick and Outcast, but Quarry is an instant standout that could easily develop into a must see show. The first season is set to last eight episodes, and if the tone of the show holds up it could easily be as watchable at the initial run of True Detective. So far Quarry is off to a great start.
You Don’t Miss Your Water begins with our main character Mac played by Logan Marshall-Green on the banks of the Mississippi. He staggers after an unidentified man after picking up a pistol and fires. In the early morning light, he drags the body into the river and pushes it into the current. The title comes up.
Mac and Arthur played by The Wire star Jamie Hector are home from war. They are happy and talk smack to each other in the Memphis airport before meeting up with Arthur’s wife Ruth. The happy times quickly get destroyed as they are assaulted in front of the terminal by a mob of anti-war protestors and demonstrators.
The trio drives through Memphis and Mac sits in the back seat looking out at the world he has returned to. Once Arthur and Ruth drop him off at his home, he walks through his house to find his wife cleaning the pool. Jodi runs around the water and jumps quickly into his arms. They make small talk, then they make love.
They take a swim together and Mac begins to hallucinate. He sees himself in uniform and in front of him Jodi is still under the water. The vision quickly ends and they wind up watching television after sunset. The phone rings and nobody speaks when Mac picks up. Between this and the hallucination, Quarry shows us that Mac is troubled and paranoid.
The first day the two Marines are back begins with Anthony job hunting. He goes into a factory where the foreman refuses to shake his hand and tells him that the only job available is a labor position. The next scene has Mac and Jodi at his “Welcome Home” party where nobody has shown up. This is the point where Mac knows that he is alone, and his father reinforces the thought by telling him not to visit.
Here Quarry reveals its true plot to the audience. We see a man who looks familiar from the scene in the Memphis airport singing alone in a hotel room. A knock at the door reveals that there have been persons unknown watching and keeping tabs on Mac. The vibe of the scene is part noir and 70s pulp fiction and immediately we know that our main character is in trouble.
Mac attempts to find a job himself and is rejected. At the swimming pool he used to train at as a kid, he is told that there is no job available for him and there never will be. This is the point where Mac is hopeless and completely without support. At home, he is angry that his service in Nam has left him with barely enough money to pay the rent.
The characters in Quarry are very well developed and the performances are spot on for the tone on display. Logan Marshall-Green and Jamie Hector work great together as war buddies and each of them brings strong presence to their roles as they deal with the realities of being ostracized after sacrificing themselves for their country. Even before the action kicks in Quarry is captivating.
Jodi decides to leave Mac at the house to go out with friends. Alone, he goes for a swim and is interrupted by a man calling himself The Broker. This is the same man who said that he would take on Mac’s case when we saw him earlier in the hotel room. He offers Mac thirty-thousand dollars before being told to take his henchman and leave.
The next day begins with Mac getting the only job he can at an auto repair shop. He meets up with Arthur at a local bar afterward and the two talk about being home. Arthur reveals that he has quit the factory and taken The Broker up on his offer. Mac tells him that The Broker visited him too and he has a bad feeling about this.
The next day Mac loses his job when he assaults a customer at the auto shop. He decides to help Arthur with the job he has taken from The Broker and the two plan the assassination of a local target. The hit goes wrong when Arthur gets shot in the neck and Mac kills a man by stuffing a sock down his throat. It’s a powerful and fast-paced scene that is shocking and painful to watch.
The scene cuts to Arthur’s funeral where gospel music plays over shots of Ruth and her children in mourning. Mac sees himself alone in the church with only the choir and Arthur’s casket in front of him. They then head to Ruth and Arthur’s house where The Broker calls and tells Mac that he is to meet up at a quarry to discuss what will happen next.
At this point, we know that Mac has gone from being a war veteran to hired killer. There is plenty of discussion throughout the episode about how and why he went back to Vietnam twice. Mac’s dad, The Broker and the man at the auto shop all talk about the controversy that preceded his return home, but now we have seen that Mac has real rage inside of him and is capable of killing at will.
Back at home, Mac is searching for an Otis Redding record and asks Jodi why it’s missing. They fight and he leaves telling her that he’ll be out late. The sequence that follows basically establishes the narrative of the show and gives us insight as to where everything is headed. Now we know what led Mac to murder a man in cold blood at the beginning of the episode.
The Broker meets Mac in the quarry and tells him that he has to be held accountable for Arthur’s failed assassination attempt. He explains that Mac is just like a quarry where he has this deep and dark place inside of him that he can tap into at any time like the flick of a switch. Mac agrees and commits to working for The Broker as a hitman. He has now hit rock bottom.
We return to the hotel room to find that The Broker’s henchman Buddy is ready to give Mac the info on the next hit. They talk and Buddy explains that he was the man at the gift shop in the Memphis airport who told Mac to get Jodi flowers. Mac gets the folder that lays out the info on his next mark, and Buddy gives him a hug. This exchange makes Mac uncomfortable, especially when Buddy sits down to drive nails through a baseball bat.
Mac tracks the man he has been hired to kill. He keeps tabs on him at a bar and then follows him back to the house where Mac and Jodi live. This confirms that Jodi has been seeing someone behind Mac’s back, and he witnesses the two have sex before following the target back to his house. Mac walks up to the mark’s home and enters his garage.
The man who has been marked for death by The Broker is working under his car while listening to Mac’s Otis Redding album. Mac confronts him and kicks out the car jack causing the vehicle to fall and crush him dead. Mac calls in the hit and tells The Broker the job is done. He goes home, plays his record and swims in his pool as Jodi realizes he now knows everything.
You Don’t Miss Your Water is an excellent start for this series. The episode runs about the length of a feature film and the momentum never really becomes sluggish or boring. The characters are easy to connect with and Logan Marshall-Green’s Mac is the heart of the show. Cinemax is doing great work here, and Quarry looks to be a show worth keeping an eye on.
- Buddy’s solo performance in the hotel room.
- Mac’s breakdown at the auto repair shop.
- The Broker telling Mac that he is now Quarry.