Editors note: Reviews of previous episodes can be found here.
Legitimate questions emerge at the start of "Silver & Gold" Season 1, Episode 7. For example, why isn't anyone in this crew of capable criminal minds getting paid after all they've been through together so far? Seven episodes in, with all they've done, "Our thanks for being a friend" doesn't exactly pay the bills, you feel me? Somehow, though, that seems to calm a tense situation enough for guns to be put down…for now.
In "The Valley Of Sorek," we end up rolling mainly with the character of Sosa Genera in this series by writer/director Alonge Hawes. Which ain't a bad thing, in my opinion – Sosa has been one of the more reliable and entertaining parts of this show, so for him to play the starring role in this episode could be a good move. This particular outing ends up dealing directly with his past, coming around full circle to confront him in the present day, and let's just say that Sosa's very much resisting the idea of having to be a part of that life again. We actually get to see Genera before he started wearing sunglasses 24/7! That's how far back we're talking. It's good, though – if you're a fan of the character, "The Valley Of Sorek" essentially serves as Sosa's origin story of sorts and brings you right through his journey to becoming the man that he now is today. He's always been mixed up in 'the life' – but he's also clearly always had heart on the inside, no matter how hard he appears on the exterior.
Part criminal, part community hero, you can see that he was on his way to building a life that would have worked throughout "The Valley Of Sorek," but since we know where he ends up in the present as well, we know it's just a matter of time before his past crosses over to the person we've seen in the other episodes. He's looking at creating a space that would be a "hero origin story" rather than a "path to the dark side," and even though we regard Sosa as one of the good guys as we watch this series, let's be real here – every character in "Silver & Gold" has a large amount of conflicting characteristics that keep them from just walking the straight & narrow. So even while Sosa is dreaming of a better life for himself, his girlfriend Susanna, and his daughter, we're hearing his plans to achieve that through questionable means in terms of the law & all that. It is what it is, as they say. You can possibly take the man outta 'the life,' but you still can't take 'the life' outta the man.
Deception reigns supreme, and before we know it, Sosa is in way over his head, and again, if we didn't know that he eventually makes his way out of trouble, we'd be swearing that he won't. While it could have been worse for Sosa, who we know as Samus throughout these glimpses into his past, we do end up learning about what makes him wear the sunglasses we see him in every day now. Alonge has put in real thought as to how Sosa becomes the man we see in "Silver & Gold," and as a result, I'd say this is one of the stronger episodes in the series. Some of the better scenes you'll see in this episode also come from Sosa and his father together in the story, which is where you'll find Genera wrestling with the prospect of taking over the family business. All in all, I thought that Sosa, played by Roberto Cruz Jr., gave us his best performance of the character in "Silver & Gold" to date, and right where it really mattered most. As to whether or not it furthers the story of the whole crew… that's probably a lot more debatable, but being able to do an episode like this shows that Hawes has enough confidence in the series to take a slight departure. Ultimately, I think that's a good thing. Clearly, it's not something that can happen every single time, but in the context of this singular episode, he chose the right character, and he went about it the right way. I also feel like Hawes is even more creative & capable when it comes to how he writes & casts 'the bad guy' – Andre Eaton Jr was fantastic as Ba'al, and tended to really steal the show whenever he was on the screen, much the same as Alonge did as well in the previous episodes we've watched in "Silver & Gold."
Hawes continues to do well with what he's working with. It's not like "Silver & Gold" has got a massive budget, so credit where credit is due – he's got the cast to commit to their roles, and you can see that they're getting more dialled into their parts as the series carries on. He still has plenty of opportunities to refine his craft and fine-tune the details, but it's not like he's way off the mark. It's the little things – like, you'll probably notice the fluctuation in the audio quality at times, which can happen – but Alonge has gotta be cautious of where it happens, you know what I mean? Audiences will accept stuff like that a bit more readily later into a show, because they're already invested, but whether this show is filmed out on the courts, in the boardroom, or using voice modulators, we're noticing that variable consistency more than we should be. Think of it this way – you put all that work into a script, and you want those words noticed and heard clearly without obstruction; otherwise, why spend all that time in the writing process? Corners can't be cut there, though, and I feel like deep down, Alonge has to know that.
So if he's gotta take the long way around, reshoot things when you can hear the microphone bumped, or spend more time in the editing process to level stuff out – it's worth it for the sake of the craft and the time spent on it all. He's got the shooting down straight, and he excels in the way that he films his visuals…now it's all about knowing that what we see is always paired directly with what we hear and that dropping the quality in one area can potentially cost both. There are also further opportunities to evolve what we hear and what we see in the fight scenes…if Hawes is gonna bring the violence to the screen, then he's gonna want that aspect to be as believable as possible. The same rules apply – no shortcuts – rehearse those fight scenes over and over and over again until they can be filmed convincingly, rather than leave it to the audience to fill in the gaps by just assuming what we think went down really did go down, know what I mean?
I feel like Hawes did great in streamlining the idea he was working with and not getting overly complex with too many extraneous details that didn't matter as much to this particular episode. This is more focused work in terms of the writing, which counts for a lot in the results we see. I felt that while there are still things that can be improved, Alonge Hawes took a noticeable step forward with this episode of "Silver & Gold." – I'm giving this one a three and a half stars out of five. The effort he's put in here really shows. Nice work.