Claws Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Tirana

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Poor Desna Simms.

On Claws Season 1 Episode 1, Desna, the owner of a Central Florida strip-mall nail salon just wanted to better the lives of her friends and family.

Stepping Out - Claws Season 1 Episode 1

She needed to find an apartment without a leaking roof for her and her autistic brother Dean.

She also sought her dream salon for herself and her friends and co-workers Jenn, Polly and Quiet Ann.

The flaw in her logic was that she planned to do all of that by laundering money from an illegal drug clinic run by the Dixie Mafia. She agreed to make deposits all over town in accounts in her name for a year in exchange for a small cut and a $20,000 bonus.

It also meant babysitting the clinic's pill-popping doctor, who somehow still had a license and could write prescriptions. His obsession was two Russians who sat in his waiting room all day, keeping track of his business.

The other flaw in her logic was Roller, the dim, muscle-bound gangster running the clinic. Desna tolerated him both in business and in bed, thinking that he'd have her back.

News flash: He didn't. Roller considered himself God's gift to women and treated all women, including Desna, badly.

So while Roller promised Desna the world, he was far too self-absorbed to follow through. 

Enter the psychotic Uncle Daddy, played with scenery-chewing relish by Dean Norris. He loves his nephews Roller, who entered the family business, and Bryce, Jenn's husband, and the world's worst motivational speaker.

He knew Desna as "that girl," which explained why she only got a tiny cut of the multi-million dollar operation. As Uncle Daddy explained it, Roller's promises weren't his obligation.

Edgy Sitdown - Claws Season 1 Episode 2

This left Desna in tough straits. She needed the money for the deposit on her dream salon, but her employees, especially parolee Polly, were strapped as well.

This episode was all about how Desna handled the pressure building up on her. No one treated her seriously: Roller, Uncle Daddy, nor the snooty Realtor lady.

Do she exploded and tried to drown Roller. She had every right to.

But it was so much better having Virginia, who he tried to rape and strangle, blow him away.

Claws is blessed with a colorful cast of characters.

Foremost among these is Desna. I'm used to seeing Niecy Nash in comedic roles such as Reno 911 and Scream Queens. But she is a revelation as Desna, the surrogate mother to her brother and friends. She's able to exhibit both menace and vulnerability equally well.

Then there's Dean Norris as Uncle Daddy, the deeply religious, cocaine-snorting bisexual crime lord. It's fun to watch these thugs cross themselves before doing a line. There's no contradiction there.

Carrie Preston engagingly plays Polly, the world's least likely criminal, who pulled identity-theft schemes on seniors and is now continuing to pay the price for it, starting over after leaving prison.

More Than Mani-Pedis - Claws

Judy Reyes, after playing mother figures on Scrubs and Devious Maids, is amazing as gay ex-con Quiet Ann, providing muscle for the salon and pleasure for the bored housewives who visit.

Music is also employed well on Claws.

Edwin Starr's War provided the soundtrack as the women tossed turncoat Virginia out on her ass, humiliating her in the parking lot.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight was a bizarre, but ideal, choice as Desna confronted the Russians while the patients ran amok at the drug clinic.

Then it was a picture of sisterhood as Quiet Ann lip synced in Spanish as Desna divided her bonus among her crew.

Bosom Buddies - Claws Season 1 Episode 1

After Desna and Virginia got reunited through their hatred of Roller, their lives promised to go into greater turmoil. After all, they had just killed Uncle Daddy's golden boy. It will be interesting to see how many of Desna's circle of friends get pulled into the cover-up.

Also, I'd like to see more of Dean and Bryce, both underused in the premiere.

Overall, Claws was a welcome blend of character study and thriller, and I'm looking forward to what's coming next.

Will you watch more? Who's your favorite character? Is Desna is over her head, or will she come out on top? Comment below.

Tirana Review

Editor Rating: 4.25 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (11 Votes)

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Claws Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Desna: How about next time you wait until I got my Spanx off?
Roller: Nobody's got time for that.

Virginia: Looks like I missed the party.
Jenn: You wouldn't have if you were on time for once in your dirty life.