Trust: ‘Trust’ Season 1, Episode 2 Recap: Don’t Mess With Texas

She’s defending him against Lang, who displays no likable qualities and blames Paul’s predicament on Paul himself. “He’s been kicked out of every school he’s ever been to,” Lang complains. “Drinks, takes drugs, lives in a squat with God knows who.” (The answer is Paul’s girlfriend, her twin sister and another drifter friend, Marcello.) Chace, noticing that Lang is critical of Paul’s general existence, asks Gail if Lang might be behind Paul’s disappearance. No, she responds: “For one thing, he’s not clever enough.”

That’s sufficient for Chace. They share a knowing look, and it’s a nice little moment of candor and trust-building between them.

But ultimately, Gail and Chace will diverge on how, exactly, the kidnapping did go down. In the final moments of Episode 1, it seemed very possible that the kidnapping was a hoax. (Paul places a sack over his own head as the men behind him wait, almost patiently.) The central line of inquiry in Episode 2 is whether the ploy was Paul’s or he was really taken against his will.

The investigation certainly seems to start under the assumption that the kidnapping was real, and rumor has it that the mob is involved. Through a tip from a bellboy — whom Chace has a humorous relationship with, and plies with immense bribes — Chace finds his way to a man we see in the very first scene, in Paul’s squat, watching porn and trying to have Paul’s girlfriend and her twin sister raped. He turns out to run a restaurant, where Paul’s paintings hang all over the walls — payment for meals when Paul didn’t have money, the man tells Chace.

“He owed a lot of people money around here,” says the man. “I tell you one thing, Mr. Texas, if I saw him now, I’d kidnap the little bastard.” But when Chace offers him the briefcase stuffed with money in exchange for Paul’s return, the man’s cronies ultimately refuse it, telling Chace they’re out of “stock” (Paul). Chace is back to Square 1. The situation appears to be a little more complicated than a mafia kidnapping.

Chace eventually arrives at the same conclusion we’ve seen hinted at by the abduction scene in Episode 1: He discovers that Paul has been writing a movie involving a faked kidnapping, likely inspired by a scene in the 1972 movie “Travels With My Aunt,” which Paul had recently watched. He combines this clue with some further fishy details (the ransom note was plopped directly on Paul’s bed, not delivered to the police; the timeline between the ransom note’s appearance and Paul’s last sighting don’t line up; Paul’s girlfriend and her sister show a surprising lack of concern) and becomes convinced that Paul has fixed the whole thing.

Gail begs to differ. Her idealist son would not be capable of something like this. In a moment of desperation, before Chace leaves, she asks him what to do. “Well, the good lord preaches forgiveness,” he begins. “But what that boy done to his mama? I’d whoop his ass.” This is peak Chace: Very Texan, Christian, straight to the point, and hard not to like. For the time being, Gail has to continue the investigation on her own.

In the end, Chace morphs back into the omniscient narrator to close things out, reminding us what’s at the root of this whole mess: money. “Turns out a rich life is just as messed up as a poor life, just a different kind of messed up,” he tells the camera. And this particular mess, he adds, is just getting started. The last image we see is of Paul, whimpering, chained up at the bottom of a pit.

Spare Change:

• Paul’s father, J. Paul Getty II (Michael Esper), who hadn’t had much of a chance to shine yet, has one of the better emotional performances of Episode 2 as he sits at a bar, drunk, watching his dad explain in a news conference that he won’t pay a single cent to the kidnappers. Talking to a woman he’s hitting on, Paul Jr. says his father is the meanest man he’s ever met. “When you have everything you could ever dream of, what do you value?” he asks her rhetorically, addressing the central crux of the show. “Nothing,” he whispers. It’s the first time you have pity for him and the plague that is money in his own life.

• One of the episode’s strangest scenes is a conversation between Gail and a live statue, who tells Gail near the show’s end that he witnessed Paul being hooded and whisked away by men. This feels like a narrative stretch, but it’s no more jarring than Fraser’s breaking of the fourth wall.

Correction: April 2, 2018

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of the character in “Trust” played by Brendan Fraser. He is James Fletcher Chace, not Chase.

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