HOLLYWOOD – Since the first episode aired seven weeks ago, speculation has been rife about the past of Wedger (Robert Downey Jr.) – the erratic wedge expert intermittently helping Captain Balaton (Jeff Daniels) in his search for ludicrous serial killer the Wedgier.
In Sunday night’s episode we finally got a chance to see the young Wedger, played brilliantly by Zac Efron, as he grew up in a rough neighborhood in the Bronx during the 1970s.
There was plenty of nostalgia as during a series of flashbacks induced by an industrial quantity of peyote that Wedger imbibes while attending an international Wedge Conference in Mexico, we see Wedger in his best disco clothes, roller-skating about and trying to hit on his future wife (played here by Rachel Evans Wood). As fun as all this stuff is – and the scene in which Wedger has his first sexual experience by having sex with the family cat only to be discovered by his whole extended family and teachers and new girlfriend has to be a masterpiece of awkward humor – the whole episode felt like it was treading water. Is this series going to become a victim of its own initial success as it increasingly stretches to fan service rather than pursuing the urgency of its own plot? I suppose the last five minutes came as some consolation with the unexpected murder of Stephen ‘Paint Bottle’ Wedger (Matthew Modine) who has been a season favorite. With only one episode remaining, the whole reputation of everyone involved and HBO might well hinge on what and how the finale delivers.
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