Starz apparently has faith in Boss, and so do I—but the show needs to have a little more faith in itself. What the show needs to do now is to trust itself, and trust its actors, and give us room and reasons to truly invest in these characters.
The penultimate episode of the first season of Boss feels like a siege story: Kane is holed up in his office—beaten, bleeding, and running low on ammo—while an unbeatable army waits outside.
Kane is the Grand Inquisitor; he sees himself as one of the rare breed of men who can make the decisions other people aren't willing to make, who can take care of his people even if he has to enslave them, and even if he himself needs to become a monster to do it.
Finally, Boss lives up to its potential. With a strong premise and a clear narrative throughline—focusing on the staff's attempt to control a bad news story—"Remembered" is a tight, tense, breathless hour of television.
Four episodes in, and I'm starting to feel that the problem with "Boss" may be its main character. Because there's actually a really good show struggling to come together in the space around Thomas Kane.
I like to imagine the writers' room at Boss as a constant negotiation between the side of the room that wants to do serious political drama and the side of the room that just wants lots and lots of gratuitous sex. In short, the battle for this show's soul is being fought between Team Wonk and Team Wank.
I ended my review of the first episode of Boss saying that this show's success would depend on its willingness to balance its more sophisticated elements with its more sensationalistic ones. I'm already worried that Boss is not really interested in fighting that battle, as "Reflex" hews much closer to the sleazier side of the street than the pilot did.
In its pilot episode, "Boss" is doing many very ambitious things right, and has the potential to be one of the best new shows of the year.