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AMC (ended 2013)

Low Winter Sun S01E04: "Catacombs"


Television shows are like people. Some impress from the very first word and you want to know them for the rest of your days on Earth, while others you despise right away. With a little time and patience, others still might grow to be your best friends ever. You’re thankful you stuck it out past an awkward first encounter, ignorant remarks, and several punches to the face and eyes. So which category does AMC’s latest anti-hero brooder Low Winter Sun fall into? Four episodes in, did this sometimes overly serious Detroit-based crime show find some fun in its premise, exceed the confines of the genre to say something about life, or at least be itself very, very well?  

After tonight’s episode, the answer is "yes - the last one." Low Winter Sun doubles down on the simplicity of its inciting conflict–essentially cops investigating the very crime they committed, and finds ways to jeopardize their cover-up, involve a love story, and flesh out each player, painting a picture of an economically depressed American dream in one of the worst financially hit U.S. cities today. As the heart of this central mystery was also the very first scene of the series, enjoyment comes not from the suspense of discovering that one of these characters is a killer, but rather whether or not Detectives Frank Agnew and Joe Geddes can stay one step ahead of an unexpected Internal Affairs investigation. The result is a meta-look at your average cop procedural, where the two main characters act as viewer surrogates to the normal goings on of a precinct. What should have been your average, run-of-the-mill staged police suicide expands into an office-wide murder investigation that the culprits must constantly hoop-jump in order to keep the long arm of the law at arms length. The astute persistence of Simon Boyd and creeping insinuation of Dani Khalil, who both seem to trust Frank ensures a real manipulative shit-fest, which always make for good watching.       

Despite Agnew and Geddes having to juggle respectively ignorant personas, the overall plot's pretty straightforward in execution, taking its time here and there to build out the lives of each character, such as Joe Geddes, who lives with his mother and has a tumultuous relationship with his teenage daughter, or criminal wife Maya Callis who shares some suburban ties while helping to build a local drug-and-whore empire. Steadily barreling towards the precinct’s investigation, this separate storyline set in the Detroit underworld is interesting in its own right depicting the building of small cartel and alliance between two otherwise separate factions. 

Most stories need some kind of heart to avoid settling into Drearysville, USA, and Frank Agnew’s psychologically taxing pursuit of the woman he killed for provides both sympathy and a twisted, one-sided romance worthy of exploration. At times it’s easy to forget that Agnew drowned a man with his bare hands on false pretenses, but his desperate hunt for the prostitute who would bring him peace in a peaceless land where ex-cops get drunk on Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and play trash-hockey while dogs chew off corpse faces in trap-houses seems noble by comparison. 

Still, Agnew’s journey of the heart through a dystopian Motor City and the skeezy beyond ("Catacombs" much?) doesn’t guarantee happiness. Frank’s intense search for Katia reveals a man increasingly weakened alongside a frustrating inability to produce results. For someone willing to take another’s life out of pure revenge and no guarantee of absolution, the chance for a positive emotional reward such as love might justify his deadly vengeance (he probably hopes). Who knows though, we haven’t really seen any certainty that Katia will still reciprocate his affection if the two are reunited. The murder of her almost-killer might be appreciated, but then again what if she wants zero murders in her life? Such is the strength setting a story in a constantly depressing environment–even if one gets what they want, the loss-ridden scenery tells another tale. 

Nearly halfway into the season Low Winter Sun has used its time efficiently to make a case for its own space on AMC, touting an at times neo-noir story of doomed romance and moral transgression. It's a shame the ratings are so low, because with enough support this could be a story that highlights the rich world of Detroit and the symbiotic relationship between what we deem "good" or "bad." Like most people, there's some of both qualities here, but at the end of the day this show is worth knowing.        


WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 10/6/2013

Season 1 : Episode 10

63 Comments
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I am sorry to say this show was a big disappointing, I don't know what happen to end this show with confusing end, I was hopping if there is another season to explain more about the story... what a shame
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I'm one episode behind (due to work) but this is one of the few shows that I usually keep current with...I really like this show (it's great imo)
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My opinion about this show is similar to many who posted here. I loved the pilot but it seems to get a little worse with each episode. The cast is good but I think the show need to pick up pace or viewers will lose interest.
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Low Winter Sun seems a bit schizophrenic to me, although I never saw the original British version I still feel some strange disconnect. The intro capturing the devastation of Detroit seems lifted from shows like Treme or the Wire but those shows seem to me to have multiple characters and story lines and this doesn't seem to fit LWS which has a specific focus on just the one crime. They can add in characters like the returned soldier with PTSD who peels his beer labels or the former cop now an addict but they seem like distractions rather than part of some rich connected tapestry about a place.

It is still a unique watching experience and I enjoy it's moodiness, the gloomy settings and seedy goings on. I can't but help love the quality cast and the still sharp cunning of all these seemingly broken characters. A strange robotic quality of pointlessly going through the motions to solve crime or corruption in an entire city on the edge of decay. Interestingly I want the criminal Damon to succeed simply because he seems the only individual with some drive and hope left but maybe that is the irony.
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The Frank I know Hulk Smashed a child before his death by RPG.
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IMHO it isn't near as good as Rubicon and AMC cancelled that. They also cancelled The Killing and then brought it back, which is also far better than Low Winter Sun.
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I had a big hopes for this one but after watching the first three episodes i find it kinda boring.
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I like the idea of this show and I really like how dark it can get but something is missing. All of these stories are great and interesting but I get a little bored halfway through each episode. It's a shame because there is so much potential.
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This show has so far not really made me interested in what's going to happen. It's certainly watchable, but it's far from great. I think I'll watch a few more at least, but it's a low priority show for me, a show that I watch in the middle of the week when there's nothing else on.
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I'm inclined to agree. Lenny James is not that great as an African american from detroit. He messes up all the folksy expressions. He is a great actor though. love the guy to death but I thought between him , ruben santiago and gayle from breaking bad, this show was gonna be awesome. Its supposed to be gritty, but it isnt. its got hot girls, great actors and no bang for the buck. the best thing about it is the theme song. great song , but a pitiful editorial on a show that wanted to follow in the footsteps of ''the shield'', ''southland'' and all the grittiest stuff ever shown on tv.
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I'm surprisingly loving this show hopefully it remains this way
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I really like it, but there is no denying it is a dark, dark tale.

I don't know how long they can keep IA from finding out the truth.
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i know they have to do something with the script
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Being a HUGE fan of Lennie James, I'll give anything he's in a shot. With or without him, based on the promo, 'Low Winter Sun' looked like it had some promise. I am however still on the fence about that.

The plot lines are straight forward, the characters are solid, and while the writing could use a little more flair, the acting is good. All around, I should like this show more than I do and couldn't figure out why until after this 4th episode.

Seeing Frank track down another prostitute that he thought was Katia but turned out not to be seem repetitive...likely since it happened the episode prior. And that was my clue. There just doesn't seem to be quite enough material. I'm all for shows taking their time in developing the overall story (and wish networks would show A LOT more patience), but there hasn't been a whole lot of forward progress since the pilot...almost like their stretching out what was designed to be a "made for TV" movie.

Then, in the recap of the pilot I read, "an adaptation of a two-part British miniseries of the same name" and everything made sense. I don't know how long the original was, but even if shown in two 2-hour segments, A 10 episode run will double that run time. I can't imagine THAT much material was cut from the original so that leaves a lot of filler.

I'll likely keep watching, but mostly because of a limited summer selection and unfortunately not because the show is compelling me to watch.
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I think it was a based on a limited series in the UK.
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I kind of enjoyed the pilot but ep 2 & 3 didn't push the story enough for me and the characters remained kind of shallow. Did anyone else experience similiar feelings but thinks it's worth watching ep 4? Does it really pick up from there?
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Episode 4 was what made me decide to stop watching. Nothing happened to advance the plot, and there was a lot of pointless grime, misery and dissipation. Really dark, and no payoff in terms of story.
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Haven't watched ep. 3 and 4 yet so skipped the recap. Did want to chime in, that so far I like what I've seen. I think the show got a bad rap because AMC has pushed it so hard following Breaking Bad, but so far so good in my book. I hope it hangs in there. Good grief, if THE FOLLOWING can get a 2nd season....!!!!
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After 4 episodes, I'm now really into the cops storyline, especially Frank, but the other story with Maya and her druggie friends remains extremely confusing. Still have no idea what's going on there and you'd think after four episodes this would become more clear, but it hasn't. As far as I'm concerned, if they can't make it clear to the viewers, just leave the whole thing out of the show.
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The other storyline isnt that muddled. Damon is married to Maya, he is trying to set up a business outside of Greek town because he has personal issues with the boss of Greek town.
The drugs he stole and is selling in the house were the greek boss' -which the greek boss doesnt know.
The house is outside of Greek territory, but knowing the Greek boss will probably hear about it, Damon got the local gangs backing to open up and so get protection.
The last episode seemed to set up future conflict with the Greek boss - possibly a gang war.
My only problem with this storyline has been the fact that Maya is still running the bar in Greek town now that the boss knows Damon has set up a rival business.
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Well, thanks for the recap, but I certainly wasn't able to figure all that out by watching. But I'm glad you did and I appreciate your explanation. Maybe I'll be able to follow it from now on. I've actually been to Greek town in Detroit a couple of times. Anyway, there are also some storylines in movies I've seen that I have not been able to follow and others can. Everyone's different.
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I'm a bit ambivalent - the "search" for his favorite hooker was way overdone IMHO - even the science-fictioney catacombs seemed over the top for what is really a trashy whorehouse. Will watch the rest of the season - I'm too lazy to reset my DVR - but I had hoped it would be another THE SHIELD type show and it just isn't
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I stopped watching this after 3 episodes. The thing that annoyed me from the start is the way they staged the suicide. As a fan of crimeshows I know that if you drown someone in tapwater and afflict wounds post mortem (cuffing the body to the steeringwheel), it will show up in the autopsy. I can't believe that homicide cops don't know this and it sort of spoiled the entire plot for me.
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Yeah, that was dumb.
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This show is well written, filled with the greatest tv-actors out there, great surroundings, great story.....so why in the heck is it soooooo boring? Is it the lack of comedic relief situations that fill Breaking Bad or what?
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Yeah, there's no light to contrast with the dark. Walter White is essentially a normal, decent guy who broke bad under duress, but Frank and Geddes are dirty cops who sleep with prostitutes and drink too much. I can't relate to them.
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Low Winter Sun this is the first time I hear about it...
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I have all the episodes... but am yet to watch a single one. Ryan says it's worth it, what says everyone else?
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I think it is great but I like "dark" shows (like breaking bad, boardwalk empire, etc...). If you watch it then go in with low expectations (so you are more likely to be pleasantly surprised).
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Not worth it. I kind of enjoyed the first three eps, but by the end of the fourth I had to admit I was bored and a bit depressed by it all.
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Worth it. Heck if you're sticking around for the conclusion of Dexter* watching Low Winter Sun certainly is NOT the worst way to spend an hour.
*Full disclosure I'm still watching it too..increasingly disappointed and ambivalent but watching to the end..
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I really haven't been able to make up my mind about this one yet and I tend to think that's not a good sign. The pilot sucked me right in but then my interest sort of immediately plateaued. So far, I haven't gotten more and more into it with each successive episode as is usually the case with great TV. (To be fair, Rubicon was also very hard to get into at first. In fact, it took half a season or more before I had any idea at all what the show was about. By the time it ended, I was quite into it and was sorry when it was cancelled. This could be another such show. We'll see.)

Maybe it's the bleak setting of the bombed out and all but abandoned Detroit. Maybe it's the unrelentingly unlikable nature of Lennie James' character. (His performance is great but his character isn't.) Maybe it's my confusion over all the goings-on with the B-story of the whorehouse folks. Maybe I've just seen shows kinda sorta like this too many times before to really be able to fall in love with yet another one.

So I'll probably keep watching it for as long as AMC lets it continue to air, but I also would quickly forget about it if they pulled the plug.

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I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds Joe Geddes unlikeable. I think the thing with his daughter this week was supposed to humanize him, but he just came over a a jerk. I think that's my issue - neither he nor Frank really seem like nice guys. And we really need to be able to see them as basically decent guys who have found themselves in untenable positions and done uncharacteristically bad things to get by.
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The ratings are bad. AMC will likely air all 10 episodes, but unless it picks up viewers, I doubt it'll be back next season. Will there be an ending or leave you without closure? I decided to stop watching, as I feel it will be a waste of time. If not, and it completes, I suppose I can catch it on DVD someday or watch the British one.
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I dunno why this version is a lot more watchable than the Scots one. Perhaps it is just the relative novelty of a US city depicted as being a hopeless/helpless place to live whereas that has been the (largely) accepted fate of Scottish cities for centuries.
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Loved the pilot and was looking forward to the rest, but sadly it just didn't grab my attention like it did with the pilot. Still think it's a good show but it's not working for me...there's no intrigue or joy so i have given up! Halas!
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I fully agree with your opinions, even though I haven't yet stopped watching it.
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Yeah, I think i'll do the 6 epi test, because this is a stellar cast...but yeah...there needs to be a story too to pull you in further...
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I'm going to wait and see if it gets renewed for a second season before committing to it. I didn't get into breaking bad until after the second season, so this one still has time to turn around.
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@marlonjones: it hasn't been renewed, you must be thinking of something else.
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I thought it already was renewed? Or i'm thinking of another show...but i think that's a wise decision...and Breaking Bad is a must!
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I gave up after the pilot and when I couldn't bring myself to watch my recording of episode two. I figured the bridge was enough.
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I was worried you were going to bash the show! I'm really enjoying it!
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Nope, enjoy it.
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