In Act 2, several course-altering events occur in rapid succession, including:
- Joe’s first-ever blatant refusal to subordinate himself to his elder brother, who is also a rung above Joe in the country’s police. This forces a new dynamic and tension into their relationship.
- Joe’s active elimination of the criminal elements puts Joe’s brother Cain and the other political cronies on edge, which causes the politico to rise up against Cain’s unspoken authority, which further pits Cain against Joe.
- At the same time, Joe begins to employ tactics that he’s learned from, and once despised in, his big brother: using the press to his advantage.
- As this is developing, Joe’s new take-no-prisoners strategy puts him at odds with his mother and other family members who symbolically serve as his moral compass and have previously been his greatest ally. This puts Joe emotionally adrift, separated from his support system.
- In the midst of all this, Joe springs a trap he had set, flushing out the suspected Judas on his team. His harsh treatment and banishment of the traitorous squad member sends a message to anyone else operating against him to watch out.
These and several other interweaving threads of shifting pressures should cause us to react on several levels, if I can craft this right.
- On one level, we revel in Joe’s victories and allow ourselves to believe that that he’s doing the right thing.
- On another level, we know that his methods, though effective, seem morally wrong and seem to skirt the legal limits of the law. If done right, we should be torn between wanting him to do right, but wanting him to win, but not by becoming that which he’s trying to stop.
- On a third level, we should feel alarm as we see forces rising up against him from all around, which should evoke empathy.
Keeping these threads fast and active and balanced in what will become just a 10-minute passage of screen time is the challenge of the day. And probably of tomorrow too, along with taking a morning hike with my daughter in the Verdugo mountains.