I’ve been enjoying American Rust week after week as it came out. It’s not exactly a murder mystery because you learn who the killer is pretty early on. It’s more interesting in that it’s a group of character studies.
Jeff Daniels anchors it as the sheriff in a western PA town; the kind of place Deer Hunter made famous, or rather, infamous. Drugs are rampant and, naturally, someone is killed indirectly because of that.
Maura Tierney is a woman who works sewing dresses and she’s trying to organize a union her shop. Her son, Billy Poe, is arrested as the prime suspect in the murder. His character I found somewhat troublesome. He’s a lost soul who mistakes loyalty for smarts. I’m intrigued and disturbed by Tierney’s character. While she gains some sympathy she is also manipulative and you how much of her son’s problems come from her.
The English family is also featured with a handicapped aging father, whose wife committed suicide years ago. A daughter who escaped to law school, only to get drawn back. And the son who splits town right after the murder and has his own adventures on the road.
Overall it’s not as good as the terribly titled Mare of Easttown. The stories meander without a single thing holding it together other than the shared miseries of the characters.
It’s worth watching but when I went looking for Episode 10, because 9 ended with Jeff Daniels having a really, really bad morning after a really, really, really bad night there was nothing. I know we often end a season on a cliffhanger, but since there is no single plot line, this ended on a lot of loose ends. Too many in my opinion. I’ve got no idea when the next season will be, but the reality is, as Jenny Crusie taught me, that the ending is the most important part: it’s what you leave readers/viewers with. And this abrupt stop without an ending left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I doubt I’ll remember all the threads by the time season 2 comes around.