Mayor of Kingstown is many things. It's a Taylor Sheridan-created, based-on-a-true-story prison drama and Jeremy Renner vehicle done up in the gritty style of a classic CBS procedural. With episode 4, the Paramount+ series has added another genre element to its ever-expanding bag of tricks: The treasure hunt. Written by Stargirl scribe Evan Ball and directed by Empire's Tasha Smith, "The Pool" takes us on a nail-biting collision course. It's a race against the clock for Renner's Mike McLusky to make good on his Kingstown Peace Summit before Tent City is evacuated. Meanwhile, a major discovery picks up an unresolved thread from season 1. The field of play has been blown wide open, and it's anyone's game.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Mayor of Kingstown Episode 4, "The Pool."
The Driver of the Wagon
It's not just the Kingstown penal system that's getting a revamp; the very landscape of the city is changing. At the site of a new commercial and residential "superspace" (some great advertising, that), one lucky construction worker named Colton (The Equalizer's Tony DeMil) strikes gold. When his front-loader hits a metal chest buried in the dirt, Colton cleverly decides to keep his treasure-to-be a secret from the rest of the site workers. (Are your MacGuffin senses tingling?)
Now for the big prison shakeup: The Department of Corrections is transferring all Tent City inmates to Anchor Bay, the privately-owned prison Mike toured last week. Bunny's cousin and heir-apparent Raphael (D Smoke) is among the first round of inmates to be bussed out of Tent City, leaving Bunny (Tobi Bamtefa) unable to formalize his succession. Bunny calls Mike to get to the bottom of the transfers, but Mike wasn't privy to the evacuation plan. Prison leadership isn't playing fair with the gangs or with Mike. "You're supposed to be the driver of this wagon, not the goddamn horse," Bunny tells him.
Mike sets his sights on Assistant D.A. Evelyn (Necar Zadegan) at Kingstown's Hall of Justice, and he has to cross a bridge to get there. It's a literal rendering of the wide gulf between Mike's extralegal, nighttime Kingstown and the official, daytime Kingstown. Mike won't find any friends among this lot: Evelyn can't stop the Tent City evacuation, and she can't guarantee the gang leaders' release anytime soon. Besides, the Department of Justice needs someone to take the fall for the riot and the traphouse massacre, and the still-unseen D.A. is using the gang leader bust to shield himself from the axe. "He doesn't know these people," Mike warns Evelyn. "I do. And when s*** goes south on the inside, it's gonna find him [the D.A.] on the outside."
"The Matriarch Hyena"
Kyle (Taylor Handley), predictably, is not doing well. He's on a bender at his brother Mitch's grave. It's the first time we've seen the resting place of Mike's ill-fated predecessor and everybody's favorite brother, played by resident "ohhh, that guy" Kyle Chandler in the 2021 series premiere. After a good cry, Kyle heads to Mike's office to ask for a real job -- no more of this fruitless search for Iris. He wants to be Mike's right-hand-man, just as Mike was for Mitch: "A man's gotta feel like he's worth something," Kyle begs. Problem is, Mike never wanted Kyle involved in the family business. Mike is a convicted felon; Kyle is the strait-laced youngest with the bright future and, now, a baby boy on the way. But Kingstown is good at squashing hopes and dreams, I guess.
We check in at home with lucky construction worker Colton. The metal chest he found was full of old bonds that belong to none other than Russian mob boss Milo Sunter. Colton and his wife Rosanna (Kristen Rakes) have done some Googling and learned that the bonds are as good as money. Even if they can only cash-in a tenth of the bonds' original worth, they'd be millionaires. Meanwhile, in Tent City, Bunny and the interim leader of the Whites, Gunner (Dylan Kenin), have a tête-à-tête. Gunner thinks Mike could have played them, telling Bunny, "Tell your boy to do his f****** job." At this point, Bunny's fealty to Mike is self-destructive.
Back at Milo's club, the girls are gussying up for a profitable night when Iris (Emma Laird) accuses one of the more experienced women of stealing from her lockbox. (Never a smart move for fresh blood to pick fights in prison or in a brothel.) Den mother Tatiana (Gratiela Brancusi) gives Iris a good old Nat Geo analogy to whip her into shape: "The matriarch hyena does the hunting. They're not like most animals. They band together to stop fights and deal with the problems inside the clan. Are you going to be a problem in our clan, Iris?"
Mitch McLusky the Elder
Mike meets Bunny, self-proclaimed "King of Mudville," at Tent City to buy some time. Once the D.A. has finished his victory lap, the gang leaders will be released, but Bunny knows which way the wind is blowing: When the prison population is scattered across eight different Pens, nobody runs point. Besides, Mike's street cred with gang leadership has taken a serious hit. The mayorship is filled with occupational hazards. Even Mitch wasn't bulletproof, Bunny notes, and his murder was random. If the Whites, the Mexicans, or the Bloods come for Mike, you can bet it'll be premeditated.
As ever, Mike darkens Kareem's doorstep unannounced, just as the latter is about to drive his son to school. As the interim prison warden, Kareem (Michael Beach) got a heads-up on the big transfer out of Tent City, but he didn't tell Mike: "You're not the mayor to me, Mike. I don't work for you." Rookie mistake. If you lose the prison, you lose Kingstown. The gangs could easily bring their grievances to Kareem's front door.
Real-time train wreck Colton needs to figure out how to "move" his bonds. He has a pretty proposition for a gruff pawnbroker named Horace (Charles Baker). He'll give Horace $50k worth of bonds to cash in, keeping only $10k for himself. It's a sweet deal, but Horace knows better than to mess with blood money. He knows a criminal who could turn the bonds on the black market, but he warns Colton that associating with this unnamed outlaw is a death wish.
Queen of meaningful gestures Miriam McLusky (Dianne Wiest) is living in her gratitude. Marco, the teenager who jumped her last week, is in juvenile detention for another mugging, and Miriam has volunteered to teach Marco and his cohort at the facility. During her guided discussion, she shares with the boys how her husband died: The elder Mitch McLusky was shot and killed in a drive-by during his tenure as "mayor." (In other words, both previous mayors of Kingstown died in random acts of violence. Mike, on the other hand, has given a lot of people good reason to take him out.)
Too Little, Too Late
Iris is working at the club when Colton shows up (uh-oh) asking to see Joseph -- the criminal that pawnbroker Horace told him about. We cut to Colton tied to a chair in a backroom at the club. He spilled about the bonds to Joseph (George Tchortov) and his men, and they proceed to cut his fingers off. (As you do.)
Mike's cup of incoming SOS phone calls runneth over, and, for the first time maybe ever, he chooses to put out the wrong fire. Bunny rings, urging Mike to get to Tent City ASAP, then Stevie (Derek Webster) calls about a pressing concern at the station. At a crossroads, Mike decides to hit up the station first. Rosanna brought in the bonds fearing for her husband's life, and Mike instantly clocks that the notes belong to Milo. He swears Stevie to secrecy -- the bonds shouldn't even be logged in evidence -- and warns that Milo will come looking for his treasure if Colton blabs. On the bright side, the bonds are useful bait for catching Milo, the biggest fish in the sea.
Mike finally makes it to Tent City, but he's too late. The place has been completely evacuated, with every inmate transferred to Anchor Bay. In the final scenes of the episode, we see a group of kids excitedly enter a newly-opened neighborhood pool. The first boy to jump in spots Colton's dead (and fingerless) body, still tied to the chair, sitting at the bottom of the pool.
- So, the bonds. They definitely belong to Milo, and Milo definitely intended for Mike to find them. (Mike accidentally dug up the serial killer school bus instead, but it seems that plot has wrapped up completely.) Last season, the Russian mobster told Mike, "If you find it, you're the savior. If they find it, God help you" -- they meaning the authorities, presumably. Why did Milo intimate that it would be better for Mike to find the bonds himself? Hear me out: What if the bonds implicate Mike's dead brother, Mitch? And by extension, the McLusky family and the mayorship? Back in the season 1 premiere, Mitch was strangely loyal to Milo, his wife, and his riches buried in Bear Country. Maybe Milo cut Mitch in on the value of the bonds in exchange for their safekeeping.
- Milo will find out that Colton's wife brought the bonds to the police station, and he'll assume the police will have called Mike first thing. In short, he'll come for Mike. Just as Mike means to bait Milo with the bonds, Milo could bait Mike with Iris.
- I could see Mike moving the bonds someplace safe before using them to draw out Milo, and, luckily, he's got a decent hiding place: A drug-bust boat christened "Bad Optics," anchored in the middle of the lake. The problem? Iris knows where the boat is located, and she could squeal as an act of self-preservation if Milo presses her.
- Joseph could be an obstacle for Milo and his grand scheme, whatever it may be. He's secretly had a child with Tatiana, and Milo's girls aren't equipped with tracking devices for nothing. If Joseph is desperate enough, or if he and Tatiana want out, they could give up Milo in exchange for the bonds.
- As for Kingstown's impending doom, who on the outside will feel the wrath of the gangs? No one's safe. Not even Miriam McLusky. Targets include Mike and his family, Kareem and his family, the D.A. (never seen him, but seems like he'd have it coming), Evelyn, and Kingstown PD -- including Ian and Stevie, who raided Bunny's grandmother's house. Besides your usual prison guards, everyone present at Mike's Peace Summit is also in the line of fire. That means Carney (especially Carney) and SWAT Leader Robert have it coming.
New episodes of Mayor of Kingstown premiere Sundays exclusively on Paramount+
READ MORE: Where is 'Mayor of Kingstown' Filmed? Inside the Crime Drama's Abandoned Prisons and Picturesque Lakes
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