Photo: Oliver Upton/FX/FX Networks.
What has Trust been all about? On one level, it was a recap of one of the craziest kidnapping stories of all time, the story of a boy who tried to get himself out of a dangerous situation and only ended up ruining his life. But why tell the story again, especially so quickly on the heels of All the Money in the World? The final scenes of “Consequences” are interesting in what show co-writers Simon Beaufoy and Alice Nutter, as well as show producer Danny Boyle, choose to focus on. We don’t even see John Paul Getty III and his mother Gail Getty in the final moments. Instead, we watch a pathetically lonely old man realize that even if everything he touches turns to gold, he will be alone. And we see a man inspired by what happened in Italy to come home to his family. In a sense, that word has been a defining one for Trust: family, and how it can destroy you as easily as it saves you.
There’s an undercurrent of deep sadness that runs through “Consequences,” even with the often lighthearted, fourth-wall-breaking narration of Brendan Fraser’s James Fletcher Chace. It’s a sense that what happened in Italy to John Paul Getty III destroyed something in an irreparable way. John Paul Getty would never be happy again. His grandson would get addicted to drugs. His son would remain estranged from everyone and end up in rehab again. The show even makes the argument that the money paid to Primo, the main villain of the season, helped him build a pier that would lead to the trafficking of 80 percent of the drugs into Europe. If Paul hadn’t faked his kidnapping, we might have never had “Just Say No.” Formally, gone is the kinetic, rock energy of the premiere, replaced by somber Italian music and talk of a potentially happy future that we know won’t come for most of these characters.
Paul is home. He’s been treated and the authorities say he’s fine, although Chace reminds us that “Stories don’t just stop.” There are consequences to the decisions made over the last nine episodes. For Paul and his mother, it starts with a certain degree of uncertainty as to what actually went down. Paul tries to confess to his role in the planning in the initial phases of the kidnapping, but Gail refuses to believe him. They seem to reconcile when she comes to his wedding, which most of Paul’s family — including his grandfather and father — skips. The wedding ends with a long dance sequence intercut with flashes to the future of an addicted Paul in a wheelchair. History tells us that Paul would never be the same, but Trust is wise enough to give us one more beautiful, happy moment.
Primo gets something of a happy ending out of the Getty kidnapping, only after he kills Fifty and Don Salvatore. Instead of whacking Leo, he brings the accountant into the fold, telling him about his plan to build a port that would become a profit machine for the Calabrian mafia. Things worked out surprisingly well for Primo, at least in this version of his story.
Life is not as good for John Paul, who is about to go on a losing streak. First, it’s worth noting that we see this monster of a man in the two things that matter most to him before he even considers talking to Paul — doing business and making himself pretty. He tries to buy the Elgin Marbles for his soon-to-open museum, but they won’t sell, even for a billion dollars. And then he gets a facelift. Even then, he doesn’t want to talk to Paul again.
Neither does Paul’s worthless father, who just became more and more pathetic over the course of the series. He whines about not being able to go to his son’s wedding because he can’t go back to Italy, and then he ends up in rehab. He’s almost more hatable than his father.
The major centerpiece of “Consequences” has nothing to do with the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III directly. The J. Paul Getty Museum opens and gets slammed by critics — although one could easily argue that Getty was so revolted by the way he handled the kidnapping that it must have tempting to slam anything with which he was involved. Anyway, when John Paul gets the pans, he freaks out, slamming through his model of the museum like Godzilla stomping through Tokyo. It’s not really an effective scene, uncertain about its metaphor and a bit overdone. What does this say about John Paul? He’s a superficial monster, more upset about his bad press than his grandson’s permanent disfigurement? Yeah, we got that.
More effective is John Paul’s final moment, a riff on King Midas, who could turn everything to gold but starved to death because he couldn’t eat any food. As John Paul watches the world around him turn to gold, he realizes he’s alone. At least Bullimore made it out, rekindling with the gardener who left a few weeks ago, and people like Penelope seem to have left John Paul behind forever. John Paul Getty would die in 1976, but there’s something sad about such a powerful figure being most remembered now for how he mishandled his family and his fortune.
At least, according to Trust, Chace learned a lesson. The series ends with him going home to see his estranged son. One of his final lines to the audience is telling: “If you don’t learn from this, then I give up on y’all.” What exactly you learned from Trust is up to you.
• This episode used Brendan Fraser well. He would have made a good narrator for the entire series actually.
• If you’re wondering about the wheelchair, John Paul Getty III, a victim to his serious addictions, took a cocktail of Valium, methadone, and alcohol and suffered from liver failure and a stroke, which put him in a wheelchair, made him partially blind, and unable to speak. He would divorce in 1993 and die in 2011 at the age of only 54.
• Susanna White directed this episode. She’s helmed episodes of Masters of Sex, Billions, Parade’s End, Boardwalk Empire, and the upcoming theatrical Woman Walks Ahead.
• Who gave the best performance in Trust? It’s close for me between Brendan Fraser and Harris Dickinson, the two I most hope get Emmy nominations, although I suspect Donald Sutherland and Hilary Swank are more likely.
• Thanks for reading all season. The show may not have lived up to its pedigree or the promise of the first few episodes, but it’s been an interesting one to dissect and discuss.