Lone Star Recap: American Dream, Times Two

Say what you will about that crook John Allen (a con man who’s brought his son Bob up to follow him into the family business), it’s hard to argue with his credo: “It’s about moving to an island full of topless women, not dragging my ass to a cubicle every day.”

Bob wants out. He’s fallen in love. Twice over.  He’s looking to go legit – well, as legit as a bigamist can go – and he wants to set his dad up with a cushy corporate gig at the very company that they’ve been planning to rip off. The company is Thatcher Oil, a family business run by a grizzled old-timer, Clint Thatcher (played by Oscar winner Jon Voight, with varying degrees of success pulling off a convincing Texan accent.)

Bob is married to Clint’s daughter, Cat (Adrianne Palicki from Friday Night Lights), and they’ve got a big house in Houston. But he’s also shacking up with a dream of a girlfriend in Midland, where he and his father have been busily selling fake oil and gas leases. She’s more than understanding when he disappears for days on business trips, though he’s spending much of that time living his second life. He’s got his routine down, switching out wallets and cell phones as he moves back and forth across the state.

It’s not clear how Bob and John were going to fleece Thatcher. Those plans are out the window by the pilot’s end, at any rate. Clint asks Bob to take a job with his company. This invitation seems to come as a shock. I don’t understand why. If Thatcher was their target, and if Bob (presumably) married Cat to get close to the company, didn’t he and his dad think a job offer from the Thatcher family patriarch was a possibility?

Regardless, Bob tells John that he wants to take the job “for real.” He’s been faking his way through the oil business for long enough that he now knows what he’s doing. (Is it cynical of me to think there are a number of real oil executives who could/would say the same thing?) But John will hear none of it. He’s not interested in a regular gig. He wants to make one big score of cash and get off to that tropical island dream. Bob prefers to hold onto his American Dream(s).

Halway through the episode it appears that he’ll have to give up his cute-as-a-button house and girlfriend in Midland. The West Texas fuzz is closing in, and it’s time to take his always-packed suitcase and skedaddle. At first he’s resistant to leaving, but then he remembers that his girlfriend’s parents are among the many people in town that he’s scammed out of their savings. So off he goes, tossing his cell phone in the trash, and headed to Houston with no intention of returning.

It’s his wife Cat who finally gives him the pep talk that causes him to change his mind. “There are people in this world who try to have it all, and they’re the ones who usually end up with everything,” she says. She doesn’t know that she’s giving him the advice that spurs him to return to Midland and whisk his girlfriend away to Las Vegas to make an honest woman of her. Cat thinks she’s just reassuring him that he’s capable of succeeding at her father’s company.

There was something extremely pragmatic about her worldview during this speech. Prediction: when she eventually discovers that her husband is a con man, she’ll actually help him cover for his crimes. But she won’t find out about his second wife at the same time, which means he’ll still have something to hide from her.

So Bob makes up his mind that he can have it all. He’ll steal from Thatcher Oil to pay off the people he cheated in Midland, and somehow make so much money for Thatcher in the process that they won’t even notice. And he’ll balance his two marriages.

But will Cat’s suspicious brother find Bob out before he can execute his plan? Can this show sustain the promising premise established by the pilot episode? Will Susan Saffron Fine Jewelry see a spike in sales from all the product placement they got in this episode?  And, again, why did they set this show in Houston when it’s shot in Dallas?

image: Bob Allen (James Wolk) chooses not to choose between Cat (Adrianne Palicki, left) and Lindsay (Eloise Mumford). Publicity shot.

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