While it’s certainly daring to do almost an hour of television in Italian with subtitles, it’s a little too damaging for Trust to so do at this point in the season, right when we want to build up momentum for the final act. The ambition of “In the Name of the Father” can be easy to admire, but it’s hard not to wish they would just get to the ear-cutting.
Still, there is an interesting parallel this week to the overall narrative of the show in that it’s essentially another episode about the power and pull of family. Just as the Gettys stamp a brand of sorts on every branch of their family tree, being born into the sphere of power of the mafia determines certain chapters of your life. It certainly seems to do so for young Francesco, who stumbles from the confidence gained by the day of his confirmation to mutilating another cursed son outside of a cave. His father wants to pull him from the quicksand of his existence, but the episode does open with the old man teaching him how to use a knife on an animal, so at least some of this comes directly down the family line.
“In the Name of the Father” is about the kidnappers’ attempt to hide from Don Salvatore the fact that their $5 million deal has fallen apart. We learn that Primo and the team waited four hours to exchange John Paul Getty III for the money, but no one showed. Paul was thrown in the trunk and they sped back up the Calabrian mountains. Leonardo tells Primo that they have to hide Paul in a cave. The town can’t know that he’s still there. They’re counting on the influx of money and they want the whole nightmare over. Making matters even more complicated, today is the day of the confirmation of Leonardo’s son, Francesco.
The confirmation ceremony is lengthy in a very Italian way. There’s some Latin, some hymns, some talk of sin, and Leonardo lies in a house of God to his boss, saying that the Getty deal is done. How long can he keep this secret? Leonardo’s wife wants the secret kept for at least one more day. Let Francesco have his moment in the sun; let her family have this happy day. Leonardo gives a speech at the meal after the confirmation that’s telling about how he feels about the Calabrian Mafia. He says his son will go to university and will get out of there. The don clearly isn’t happy. He counters by presenting his gift to Francesco in front of everyone, a knife that the don’s father used in the war. How much of John Paul Getty III’s life would have been different without that gift?
At the event following the confirmation, people start to whisper and wonder what’s going on. Why is no one talking about Paul? Why aren’t they making Getty money rain? There’s talk of being repaid for the work it took to guard and house Paul, not to mention finding him when he escaped. And then Angelo Calati’s nonna comes asking Don Salvatore where her grandson is. She curses the don. His wine will turn to vinegar and his bread will turn to stone — and she will likely be killed for speaking out against him publicly. There’s a good scene between Angelo’s grandma and Francesco’s mother about them being stuck in this life from the day they were born, which presents the strongest parallel yet with the Getty clan. In a sense, Francesco’s mother is like Gail Getty, stuck in a family nightmare that she never really asked to be a part of.
Then the façade comes crashing down. Salvatore confronts the man who has been doing the negotiating on their part in Rome and he learns the truth. As Francesco wanders off from the party and shows his knife to a few other boys, Salvatore walks into the dance party and fires a pistol in the air. He asks himself, Why not just shoot Leonardo in front of everyone? He yells at his whole team for not telling him immediately and Primo even implies that perhaps Leonardo screwed up the negotiation with John Paul. That Primo hasn’t been killed yet is unfathomable.
Francesco finds Paul’s cave and he hears his faint cries, finding the golden hippie with a gag in his mouth. He pulls out his knife and Paul asks the young man for water. Francesco takes him to a trough outside the cave, and Paul drinks, and then he gets a good monologue — it’s one of the few scenes in English this week, all about how he’s going to be killed. He thinks of his siblings, peanut butter, and the beauty of the countryside in which he’ll die.
As Salvatore’s team discusses what to do next, Francesco decides to help Paul escape, but the young Getty can’t move. Francesco yells at him to go. He doesn’t. Francesco slaps him. “There’s nowhere to go,” Paul yells at him. And then Paul has an idea. He grabs a knife and tells Francesco to cut his ear off and send it to his parents. Maybe then they’ll do something. And we see this life-changing event for John Paul Getty III happen in slow motion: a boy in his nicest confirmation suit cutting off another boy’s ear. As the rest of the local Mafia power structure arrives in the cave, Francesco emerges from the darkness, his hands covered in blood, tears in his eyes. And he hands his father a human ear.
• There is only one music cue this week, over the credits: “Sympathy” by Rare Bird.
• Trivia time: This was the shortest installment of the season. Any thoughts about the length of these episodes?
• “In the Name of the Father” was directed by Emanuele Crialese, an Italian writer and director who has had several films premiere at the Venice Film Festival. While I have some issues with the pace and the timing of this episode, it was definitely a good idea to get an Italian filmmaker to direct it, giving it a much more authentic tone than it otherwise may have had.
• We finally got to the ear! The arrival of John Paul Getty III’s ear in the mail to an Italian newspaper was a major turning point in the true story on which Trust is based, although there’s no evidence that a young boy cut it off on the day of his confirmation. What we do know is that a newspaper received the ear with a lock of hair in November 1973, four months after the kidnapping, with a note that read: “This is Paul’s first ear. If within ten days the family still believes that this is a joke mounted by him, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits.” No spoilers for the next two episodes, but the real negotiations are about to begin.