Jeremy Renner as Mike McLusky in season 2, episode 8 of the Paramount+ series MAYOR OF KINGSTOWN
Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount +

‘Mayor of Kingstown’ Episode 8 Recap & Predictions: A Long-Awaited Character Reveal Tops the Season’s Best Installment Yet


After a string of slow-going episodes, Mayor of Kingstown is firing on all cylinders in Episode 8, titled "Santa Jesus." Directed by frequent helmer Stephen Kay, this week's installment is classic Kingstown. We get a messy car chase, a fist-pump of a character reveal, and a shocking act of violence that practically jolts this season back to life. Most impressively, though, "Santa Jesus" makes time for Jeremy Renner to soak in the character of Mike McLusky. In a daring move, the mayor takes a back seat this episode, and it's for the better: Mike's subplot plays like an experimental short film of a man going in circles, only to find that what he's been looking for was right under his nose. 

Warning: Spoilers Ahead for 'Mayor of Kingstown' Season 2, Episode 8, "Santa Jesus."

Bunny is Released from Anchor Bay

The episode opens with Rebecca (Nichole Galicia) entering a desolate mayor's office. We cut to the mayor taking a so-called drunken "pause" at Rudy's Pub. Mike has been playing hooky since the previous night -- and from the looks of him, he's been on one legendary bender. He leaves his gun and keys with the bartender, instructing her to hand over the gun when he returns later that night but to keep his keys at all costs. 

We cut to the reason for Mike's mini vacation: Bunny (Tobi Bamtefa) is being released from prison, meaning Mike convinced Evelyn to sign the papers. (There's no telling whether Mike offered Evelyn Milo's bonds in exchange for Bunny's freedom, however.) His generals pick him up from Anchor Bay in style, and Bunny flips the bird at the prison as he yells, "Alright, Kingstown. It's a new day."


Back at the rooftop, the Crips throw a welcome home party for their triumphant leader. Bunny calls Mike to invite him over, dubbing him "Santa Jesus," (title drop!), but Mike's phone is locked away in his office. An increasingly worried Kyle (Taylor Handley) shows up on the rooftop looking for Mike, and he meets Bunny for the first time. The AB and Blood leaders are still in prison, so they could have put a hit on Mike. Bunny promises to get some intel from Raphael on the inside. 

Ian Makes a Fatal Mistake

Meanwhile, Ian (Hugh Dillon) is on a road trip with a serial killer. After escorting him to the dentist, he decides to use Charlie (Kenny Johnson) to spook Ben Morrisey (Blake Shields) -- the SWAT officer who accused Robert of wrongdoing during the riots -- into silence. Ian makes Charlie slip on a hair net and gloves, and they knock on Morrisey's door. Once inside, Charlie sits handcuffed in the corner while Ian shows Morrisey the killer's file, threatening, "Now, [Charlie] knows where you live." Morrisey is terrified, and he immediately calls the D.A.'s office to announce that he won't testify against Robert after all. 

Everything goes according to plan until, on their way out the door, Morrisey calls Charlie a rapist. Charlie breaks his neck without even thinking, killing him on his doorstep. Ian makes the crime scene look like a break-in gone wrong, and he and Charlie flee. Later that day, Ian contemplates shooting Charlie in the back of the head, execution style, while the guy enjoys a slushie and decries "mean" people like Morrisey. For better or worse, Ian decides against it. 

Joseph (George Tchortov) and Tatiana (Gratiela Brancusi) bring Iris to Milo (Aidan Gillen) at the church, where the mobster praises her profitability -- and her talent at getting under Joseph's skin. Iris (Emma Laird) is not afraid of Joseph because he has no power. She tells Milo that he's the one who hurts her the most, not Joseph. "I wish you hadn't disappointed me," Milo says. "You deserve worthier challenges." The low-level clientele of Kingstown is Iris' punishment for having betrayed Milo. He has no plans to send her back to New York, where she was responsible for flipping judges. Here, there's no political intrigue behind her work; it's just a "business transaction," he says. 


Milo Surprises Mike

All the while, Mike has run through every neighborhood bar in Kingstown, where he knows practically everyone. He goes home with a woman named Allison (Callie Thorne), the widow of a police officer killed in the riots. Over in cop territory, Robert's been cleared of all wrongdoing in the wake of Morrisey's renunciation. (The D.A.'s office works fast, I guess.) He's celebrating with Kyle and Stevie (Derek Webster) at the bar. After having dropped Charlie off at Anchor Bay safe and sound, Ian waltzes in and feigns shock and delight when the guys tell him Robert is off the hook. 

The final moments of the episode play like a fever dream, culminating in one long-awaited reveal. The morning after his bender, Mike wakes up in Allison's bed. She's on the phone, assuring someone that Mike is indeed still at her house. He leaves on foot and spots a car tailing him, so he ducks into Rudy's Pub to collect his gun and keys -- problem is, he made the bartender swear that she wouldn't let him drive off only half-sober. Mike heads outside, and it's man versus car in a not-well-thought-out chase. Mike runs in zig-zags in a dirt lot to avoid the car, shooting through the windows as he runs and hides. Finally, the car crashes into a dumpster at full speed, and the driver, obviously an AB White, dies on impact. Mike slips his sunglasses back on, a church bell tolls, and out of the dust, Milo materializes: "Hello, Mike. I heard you've been looking for me."

Theories and Predictions

  • Who tried to kill Mike? Definitely one of the AB Whites. There will be a target on Mike's back until he secures Gunner's release from Anchor Bay. 
  • What did Mike do with the bonds? This one's a toss-up. Either he traded the bonds for Bunny's freedom, or he held onto them. My guess is he's still got the bonds, which leads us to the ultimate question ...
    • What does Milo want with Mike? Gotta be the bonds. But will Milo be willing to trade the horde for Iris? Or will he attempt to keep both prizes? Now that he's shown his face to the mayor, it's safe to say Milo has a plan. 
  • What will happen to Ian now that he's an accessory to a crime? Robert, Kyle, Stevie and even Mike have alibis for the time frame in which Morrisey was killed. Ian, on the other hand, was obviously late to the pub. If someone sniffs out his involvement, Mike will have to cut a deal to protect him. But what leverage does he have now?
  • What's going on with Iris? Maybe even she doesn't know what she wants. Mike wanted to ditch her, so she ran back to Milo. Her return probably ensured her safety for the time being, but Iris wants out. Milo should know better than to trust Iris with a covert operation against Mike, but maybe Iris will find a way to work toward Mike's benefit in the ensuing cold war between Milo and the mayor. 

New episodes of Mayor of Kingstown stream Sundays exclusively on Paramount+.

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