Home » Our Breakdown of HBO’s RAIN DOGS – Part I

Our Breakdown of HBO’s RAIN DOGS – Part I

by Jef Dinsmore
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Hey, the “little shows” need attention too, right? That leads us to RAIN DOGS. It debuted back on Monday, March 06, and aired a new episode weekly for eight installments. We gave you a cursory review and now we offer an episode breakdown. RAIN DOGS is available in its entirety on Max.  

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First a bit of background beginning with that title. Costello Jones (Daisy Mae Cooper) and her daughter Iris (Fleur Tashjian) can be classified as ‘rain dogs.’ It refers to the situation of lost dogs wandering from home having lost their way because rain showers have washed away their scent trail to lead them back. That is this mother/daughter; they have lost their way; they are wandering strays. Will they find their way back to some semblance of home or will someone take them in?  RainDogs_Title

Well, we will learn that they have been evicted from their home and must start anew and that there are others who will help them start again. They are Gloria (Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo), Iris’s godmother, and a gay friend of Costello’s named Selby (Jack Farthing). Collectively they may prove to be dysfunctional, but they are family because, well, any arrangement of people can be constructed as such. We know they don’t need to be biologically connected to be family. How this family makes it through life is the story at hand. 

Episode # 1 – “It Is Hard to Be A Saint in the City”  

RainDogs_Review1-pic2-300x170Mother & daughter are in a scramble to pack up what they can because a bailiff is pounding on the door to evict them. Remember, this is a co-BBC series thus, set in Britain. And just like that within the first minute, Costello & Iris are our title strays. Our Mum flips off the authority before her, tosses him the keys, and is gone from her flat with the child in tow. And to top it off she stiffs a cabbie driver trying to get Iris to school.   

Her only plan it seems is to link up with a place to live by the end of the day. Cut to our next character, a man holed up in prison; the man we learn is Florian Selby. He doesn’t seem to be a great help to anyone at the moment but at least he too is being evicted from his current address. And then there is Gloria; we find her passed out in a phone booth in downtown London. Well, as the title of the episode says, it is hard to be a saint in the city.    

RainDogs_Review1-pic3It turns out Selby and Costello are old antagonistic friends. They have a little chat in a bathroom complete with gloryhole that they converse through, that is, after he services an old gent through it. Ah, it is not just language that pushes this series as for mature audiences. Anyway, that is where we get a bit of their backstory and Costello gets some money. She knows hanging around Selby isn’t the best thing but asks him to stay away from her and Iris. He had already seen Iris though and slipped her some money.  

Wow, is this the best relationship she can muster up? How about her chances with Gloria, Iris’s godmother? Well, it is dark out and Costello still has no place to stay, and Gloria isn’t home. So, she sees it all right to smash Gloria’s car window so the two of them can shelter inside while it downpours. But no more Gloria in this episode. Desperate to hole somewhere for the night Costello gets into a bit of a mess with a bloke who will let them shelter at his place in exchange for sex. Costello is forced to call Selby to rescue them, and he does. It turns out he is the best relationship she can muster.   

Episode # 2 – “Scenes from a Crucifixion” 

Gloria features more heavily in this episode, which is a good thing since she is a part of the family dynamic here. She starts off by being apologetic to Costello for not being around when she was needed. But Costello is on track holding down a job at a back-alley Peep Show joint. She’s lucky she has the job because she would skip out on her shifts but now, she really needs the money and is out to try harder. But it could be her lucky day. A journalist who has seen her writing likes her style, uh, not at the stripper pole but as a writer. So, while a man in the next booth is liking her style at the pole very much, she makes a deal to write about her life in the sex shop. If Costello can play her cards right, she just might be able to improve her lot. 

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We find that Selby & Iris enjoy each other’s company. He lets her join him as he hits his old familiar haunts. Let’s just say, not the best places for the little lady to hang out. And Gloria, she is a bit of a randy girl. She helps her dad at the funeral parlor but just rather get in hot water with anyone that will play along; that includes banging a bloke at his old man’s viewing. She is just all out nasty, and we’ll see plenty of it I reckon. 

RainDogs_Review1-pic5That evening Selby brings Iris home to the flat and Gloria, with the funeral bloke in tow, arrives. We quickly learn that Gloria & Selby despise each other. The surprises don’t stop there. We also learn that Selby is required to report to rehabilitation sessions as a condition of his prison release and violation of said session will result in his return to the lockup. Man, this family dynamic just gets better and better, doesn’t it? 

The episode ends with a peek at the newspaper article which is about sad sack Costello, not her piece at all. The paper did her wrong. But we know Costello well enough by now to know that she will get her revenge. She is going to continue to write and include what just happened to her in her book. And on that high note, the photographer who took the pictures for the article felt bad for her and looked her up and took her out for coffee. Keep on trying Costello!             

Episode # 3 – “The Small World of Florian Selby” 

By now, we get the tone & pattern of the show. RAIN DOGS is not there for us to feel necessarily sympathetic to the characters. It is there to point out that the kind of folks depicted here have just as much right to be happy and have a sense of family and home as the rest of us. To be more specific, Costello Jones has the right to raise her child the best way she can under her circumstances. How we define or label the characters here is up for debate and to the viewer’s discretion, but we all know people like them. They find it a bit harder to make do and go about it the best they can.  

RainDogs_Review1-pic6-300x180In the third episode, Selby is in a bit of a bind. His old cellmate is out of the hoosgow also and gives Selby 48 hours to come up with the money he owes. The real nasty bit is that the thug mentions Iris. Oh, is that a little threat? What is Selby to do? He can’t get the cash betting on the dog races. So what? We spent the next 25 minutes or so finding out.  

While dodging his old jailmate, Selby ends up sabotaging or saving a second date between Costello and Richard, the photographer. Seems Richard is a champion dumpster diver! Later that evening Costello ends it with Richard on her own; he is so premature if you know what I mean, he can’t even get past putting a condom on. Iris, thankfully, is nowhere near that scene. She is with Gloria and Paul and no wonder Iris likes her because they spend the whole night at a videogame funhouse. A proper upbringing for Iris is nowhere in sight!  

When Selby bumps into the thug once again, his only option is to bring him in front of Allegra, Selby’s rich and flaunting mother. It seems Selby gets an allowance from her to keep him afloat beyond his gambling money. She pays off the thug and dismisses Selby to her summer cottage because she is tired of the sight of him. Thus, the life of Florian Selby.    

 Episode # 4 – “Didion Hell” 

One more episode before a little breather. Selby has invited Costello & Iris to move in with him at the summer house. His plan is to keep busy with small jobs until his mother Allegra dies and he inherits her wealth and then they will all be on easy street. They are enjoying themselves to the fullest with parties and feasts and fun. One serious discussion is held regarding Selby’s interest in officially adopting Iris, but he is denied the right due to his prison record and that sets him in a mood. 

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It is in this fourth episode, more than any other episode to date, that we see just how toxic a relationship Costello & Selby have, despite Gloria’s presence at times. Over the course of a few months, they are just bitter, nasty towards each other. It all comes to a head at a Halloween party. The tension builds up as they keep one-upping in retaliation. As Costello soaks in a tub in preparation for the party Selby urinates in her RainDogs_Review1-pic9-300x156bathwater; she finds an opportunity to scratch up his beloved record collection for which he alters her Halloween costume to embarrass her. It all comes to a head when Costello beats the snot out of Selby in front of the guests when she finds out that he has gambled away all the money she had saved.  

The end result is that she needs to leave, and she realizes that. This relationship is not good for her or Iris. Can she make that break or can Selby change his ways and get back in her good graces? Can Gloria help either of them? Can Iris perhaps become the adult here? We will find out when we pick up the discussion upon reviewing the back half of RAIN DOGS. Look for it. 

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