In the season premiere, Marty Byrde argued that he needed to play it safe because the newly opened Missouri Belle had recently hired 200 new employees. That’s a lot of room for error. One of them could be unstable. One of them could be a mole. One of them could just be an idiot. If you think about it, the rest of the season has played out in a way that has proven Marty right. Wendy may want to build an empire, but there are new, unpredictable faces around every corner — Ben Davis, Frank Cosgrove Jr., Maya Miller, Erin Pierce. Even people like Sam, who is essentially laundering money by losing it at the Missouri Belle, are variables. All of them have made life more complicated and challenging for the Byrde family in ways they couldn’t predict. And when Marty Byrde can’t predict something, he’s not safe.
“In Case of Emergency” sets itself up as an episode about the aftermath of the cartel attack, but it’s really all a stage for what’s arguably the main event of the season: the nearly fatal beating of Ruth Langmore by Frank Cosgrove, Jr. The head of the Kansas City mob told his dumb son that Ruth was “untouchable,” and his defiance of that mandate can only lead to problems. Either vengeance is sought for Ruth’s beating, starting an all-out war with the KC mob, or it’s not, and Ruth Langmore will have to question where she stands in the hierarchy of the Byrde empire.
Everyone is brought in for questioning after the chaos that ended the previous episode. No one is really giving anything up, but it’s Ben who seems to be getting the most agitated. As the feds try to turn Ruth — good luck with that — Ben paces and gets more restless. When she’s out, he wants to run. She knows they can’t. And this sends Ben into full panic mode.
All of the adrenaline after the attack has pumped up Wendy, too, who is brazen enough to ignore Omar Navarro’s call. When her boss calls Helen instead and she hands the phone to Wendy, the Byrde matriarch is aggravated. She’s still furious about the horse farm incident and reminds Navarro, “Marty and I are the brand.” The Byrdes are the shield for the illegal operation. She plays to his intelligence and business sense, reminding him to let her do what she does well. She needs to be the face to protect the illegal activity going on behind the scenes.
Marty and Helen learn in a meeting with the Feds that they have a crazy theory about what happened. Tommy was a mole. They know Tommy committed the arson in episode two, and he was giving them all the intel on the Byrde operation. The theory is that Marty found out and staged the cartel hit just to get rid of Tommy. As Helen points out, that would be near impossible to prove.
The bigger problem is that Frank Jr. might believe it. He thinks Marty and Ruth got one of his friends killed. After all, Ruth changed the drop location. (Which does raise a question as to how the attack took place that will hopefully get answered in a future episode.) Frank confronts her in the casino, right in front of Maya. As if that’s not enough tension on the casino floor, Maya confronts Sam at the table, telling him he’ll be hearing from the IRS. He later calls Marty in a panic. Marty gets about one panicked phone call a day. Maybe two.
The big scene comes when Ruth is leaving the Belle one night and Frank jumps her, beating her nearly to death, followed by a somber scene in a hospital waiting room covering how they had to operate. While Ruth recovers, Wendy and Marty plan their next move. They know they can’t get to Maya Miller now. Wendy has a new idea.
Three Langmore comes to Darlene’s house to talk to his brother about their cousin Ruth. Is this violent incident the thing that can repair the bridge between Wyatt and Ruth? While that appears to be moving closer, Marty cuts all ties with Kansas City, threatening to kill Frank Junior if he comes anywhere near any of them. Will it come to that? And will just cutting ties be enough for Ruth?
Meanwhile, Wendy tries to woo some political capital for her new foundation by passing a senator some information about corruption and offering a fundraiser at the Belle. She’s basically going around Miller to embarrass her. If the FBI learns that she ignored a tip about a crime because she was so eager to bring in Marty, she could get in serious trouble.
The deeply unsettling relationship between Darlene and Wyatt gains another level in what is basically a confession scene, as Wyatt tells her about how Ruth revealed that she killed Wyatt’s dad. And Darlene tells her new love about how she killed her last husband, Jacob, but she does so in a way that casts Marty as the real villain. Marty is the one who turned Darlene and Ruth into murderers. She claims that he’s the bad influence, never really sensing the irony of how she’s influencing Wyatt. Poor Wyatt, always surrounded by murderers.
Also, poor Sue! The therapist who was getting bribed by the Byrdes and then demanded even more money to stay quiet really never comprehended the extent of her situation. She even has the nerve to tell Helen Pierce that she wants more money. “I’ll make sure you’re taken care of,” says Helen, in a way that couldn’t sound more ominous. It’s not long before Helen’s lackey has killed Sue and wiped the Byrde data from her computer.
As that’s happening, Ruth is waking up. Ben is by her side, but Ruth lies to him, telling him she’s not sure if it was Frank. She probably knows that Ben would kill him. And she wants that to be Marty’s job. She basically says as much to Marty and Wendy, who try to talk her out of it. She claims she’ll do it herself. Ruth isn’t that wrong here. If Frank Jr. had beat up Charlotte Byrde, he’d already be dead.
As Ben is literally carrying Ruth home, Wyatt comes to her trailer. “Who did this Ruth?,” he asks. She pauses, much like she did in the hospital room with Ben, as if she knows she could turn him into an assassin. “Who we are ain’t so bad. It’s the Byrdes that cursed everything,” he tells her. Has this whole episode been about planting the seed of potential dissent in Ruth Langmore? And did it work?
• Frank Jackson’s therapy scene was great. Why not get a little bit of help before you commit a murder?
• Speaking of Sue, you have to love the sports car scene. “Please get back in the toy and leave” is one of the best lines of the year.
• With only three episodes left, there’s been a surprising lack of carnage. No, Tommy doesn’t count. But it still feels like anybody could be on the chopping block.