Two soldiers accused of a horrible crime in Vietnam return home to their families, but have trouble finding work due to the rumors surrounding their time in the war. Mac (Logan Marshall-Green) and Arthur (Jamie Hector), after weeks of struggling to pay bills, are approached by a mysterious government organization that offers to pay them to kill unfavorable people. Mac refuses, but when Arthur accepts the gig and enlists Mac’s help as backup, he can’t let his friend face these things along. When their first job goes south and a lot of money goes missing, Mac finds himself indebted to the government for tens of thousands of dollars, which he must work off on the job, starting with a mechanic who it turns out is having an affair with his wife Joni (Jodi Balfour)
That’s basically the story of the pilot of Quarry. It’s a particularly long episode, moving slowly like an old western, but not building tension quite as well. The characters move slowly through their own lives, spout off some quips while they struggle to come to terms with their circumstances at home while coping with their time in the war. The Mac character is a pretty good focal point for the series. He’s calm and collected mostly, but will have a panic attack when he remembers something horrific about the war, or yell at his wife for misplacing a record. He finds an equilibrium once he starts killing for the government, like he’s accepting what his purpose on Earth is and it brings him some peace. This really helps move the character away from the standard soldier PTSD clichés and helped me to enjoy the series significantly more than I would have otherwise.
Another highlight of the series for me was Buddy (Damon Harriman), a homosexual who works for the same government agency that employs Mac, working to gather intelligence on potential targets. He seems to have a lot of fun with the character, singing and dancing his head off in one of his first scenes before he’s interrupted by The Broker (Peter Mullan) to talk about recruiting Mac. When he leaves, he tells Buddy to go back to whatever he calls what he was doing, to which Buddy responds, “I think you’d call it breathtaking.” Or something to that effect, and right away Buddy was the richest and most interesting character to me.
The show looks appropriately grim, with the titular quarry serving as a gray rock backdrop to Mac’s meeting with the Broker, but it gets a bit dull to look at for an entire episode. Some variety, color, sunlight as Mac’s emotions and perceptions shift would have been nice, even if only at the end of the first episode when he has found some purpose in the world. Arthur has a line asking Mac if he feels anything anymore because he can’t, and that might justify the monotonous color pallet, but It’d be nice to see something more visually exciting happen with the series.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Cinemax.