It might still be a mediocre melodrama overall, but Feed the Beast Season 1 Episode 3 was the least mediocre of of the episodes that have aired so far.
It helps that this was the episode that saw Tommy and Dion finally get their restaurant, Thirio (translation from the Greek: Beast) off the ground, thanks to an investment from Aidan and assistance from a motley crew of characters.
After the show began with two whole hours of Tommy and Dion getting into ridiculously repetitive fights, it was a relief to get to an episode where the anger, while still there, was balanced with the excitement of Tommy and Dion preparing to open the restaurant of which they have dreamed for so long.
This boisterous buzz pervades every scene, giving Feed the Beast a spark it has missed thus far.
The show's darkly comic tone is becoming stronger, which makes the more absurd elements of Feed the Beast much more palatable. If the show is laughing at itself, then it feels better when we laugh at – and with – it.
Dion's manic humor, as stammered by the delightful – though still not Greek – Jim Sturgess, is often immature and not very clever. But, the puffed-up pride he has in his voice as he spews it makes it extra amusing, especially when compared with the much more straight-laced, serious Tommy.
Tommy: Not that one. That's five years from maturing.
Dion: You're five years from maturing.
The hectic wine heist committed by Dion as directed by Tommy via FaceTime was surprisingly funny and a necessary reprieve from yet another award scene between Tommy and Pilar. These two have no chemistry, and their relationship has very little believability.
Perhaps Pilar is lonely after the death of her husband and looking to use someone as a surrogate. But I can't understand why she is gravitating towards dour, depressed Tommy or why she allows Tommy and Dion to continuously mansplain to her.
We're friends. We fight, but we make up. Please don't let us scare you away.Tommy, to Pilar
In this episode, Dion lectures Pilar about the importance of expensive restaurant equipment, while Tommy educates her on the importance of expensive wine. Not only does it feel like men lording their superiority over women, it also feels like the (relatively) upper class lording its superiority over the lower class, espousing the gospel of having and spending money.
Pilar is not supposed to be an experienced restaurant manager, but watching her gaze innocently at Dion and Tommy while they explain everything to her is a bit distasteful. It is nice to see Tommy and Dion passionately showcasing their respective areas of expertise, but I wish these scenes had not played out with Pilar the way they did.
One is made with Tommy's skillet from Kmart and the other is made with a seven hundred dollar pan. I am calling this a teachable moment.Dion
Despite these less enjoyable moments, the scenes involving the planning of the restaurant have a bright, bustling energy that is conspicuously absent from the other storylines.
The eclectic group that they bring together to help them remodel the space and refine the menu is delightfully diverse in a variety of ways, from Mose, the veteran whose hiring enables the restaurant to collect a disability grant, to Val, a married lesbian trying to have a baby (which Dion offers to father).
In comparison to upward trajectory of the restaurant business, the gangster business as represented by Patrick "The Tooth Fairy" Woichik feels increasingly flat. No disrespect to Michael Gladis as Patrick; the scenes are just way too cookie-cutter to hold my interest.
If every scene involving Patrick was replaced with one involving TJ, the show would vastly improve. Watching TJ learn to box from his crusty old grandfather was a moment that felt like it could be a real turning point for a boy in desperate need of some form of strength.
Let's see who's next in the magical book of investors, shall we? No, no, and no.DIon
In other positive news, the show continues to look great. The indoor lighting is subtle, shadowy and decidedly unglamorous throughout, while the majority of the outdoor location scenes are shot in Queens against a backdrop of subtle gray haze that masks the sun like a layer of dust and fits the show's gritty feel.
Three episodes in and Feed the Beast might be finding its feet. However, it still needs less drug drama and more restaurant drama.
As the immense popularity of Gordan Ramsay's various restaurant-oriented shows (not to mention the vast array of knock-offs) can attest, the running of a restaurant is a high-stakes, high-anxiety, yet highly rewarding enterprise. Feed the Beast should focus more on the titular Beast and less on the drug-dealing, gun-toting ones.
What did you think of this episode? Will Tommy and Pilar's romance start to blossom, or will his relationship with Dion get in the way? Is Dion a bad influence on Tommy, or a positive one who encourages him to spread his wings?
If you're hungry for more, you can watch Feed the Beast online via TV Fanatic.
Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.