Things are starting to get interesting.
Trust Season 1 Episode 3 was, hands down, the best and most interesting of the three episodes that have aired thus far.
The chaotic, jumbled, non-linear manner in which the story unfolded was a great artistic choice.
Thematically, it also matched the frantic and chaotic inner thoughts of Paul himself, as he dealt with his faux-kidnapping-turned-real-kidnapping ordeal. The flashbacks and jumping around in time corresponded to the moments he spent in the trunks of various cars.
The opening sequence perfectly set the scene for the rest of the hour, which would largely focus on Paul's "sweet life" in Rome with his friends, Jutta, Martine (his sort-of girlfriend), and Marcello.
Visually, the introduction was filmed perfectly – and again, it was very cinematic and very Danny Boyle, specifically. The quick-change between the good (art, drugs, and sex) and the bad (the violent protest) was great. It quickly established the teens as a group of thrill-seekers, no matter the consequences.
The choice of music was also perfectly matched to the introductory scenes.
Much of the installment was anchored by Harris Dickinson's fantastic performance as Paul.
I mentioned in my review of Trust Season 1 Episode 1 that Donald Sutherland blew me away with his portrayal of Getty. On the flip side, I noted that Paul's character simply seemed less interesting and complex by comparison, though Dickinson was decently compelling in the premiere with what relatively little he was given.
Only two episodes later, I'm happily proven wrong. The writers have managed to make Paul into a far more engaging and complex character than I expected he'd be, and they did it in a relatively short span of time.
And, of course, Dickinson's performance was so nuanced and wonderful throughout "La Dolce Vita."
It was particularly enlightening to see Paul's relatively recent realization that his friends were essentially using him (and mooching off of him) for his money without his knowledge – money he didn't even have, but that they believed him to have access to, at least.
Jutta: Fuck off! You're John Paul Getty.
Paul: Yeah! I'm not my father, I'm not my grandfather, I'm John Paul Getty and John Paul Getty's got no fuckin' money!
Jutta: Please. You can get it just like that.
Paul: That's what you think? That's what you all think.
The 16-year-old was unwittingly supporting them all on "credit" against his family name. Credit that he had no actual way to pay back.
Marcello and Jutta (and to a slightly lesser degree, Martine) are terrible friends.
The writers also took a pretty favorable view of Paul, despite the fact that they represent him as having been (initially) complicit in the kidnapping plot. I understand that his relatives are angry at this portrayal, but the show managed to make Paul's decision to plot against his family very sympathetic.
Throughout the hour, Paul resisted leaning on his family name, preferring instead to "pay his own way" (with his paintings).
The writers managed to show the destructive effect that being a Getty had had on Paul and his sense of identity – even when he thought he was living as his own man, his "friends" had other ideas.
Paul: Look, I go to London looking for a few thousand dollars, but those assholes wouldn't give it to me. But I'm worth millions, right? I'm John Paul Getty III. Hundreds of millions. I'm gold.
Paul: So? You all knew, you were all cashing in. So now I cash in.
Martine: But what are you cashing in?
It's incredibly sad and incredibly effective at building sympathy for the young man, despite the fact that his goal was to swindle his family out of a huge sum of money by making them think he'd been kidnapped.
Even the brief scene between Gail and Paul was affecting.
Though we first met Gail on Trust Season 1 Episode 2, when she was in full-on mama bear mode following the kidnapping, "La Dolce Vita" quickly demonstrated just how the two had fallen out despite the love between them.
Specifically, we saw Gail passively choose her husband, Lang, over Paul. The older man didn't wait a minute into Paul's impromptu visit to insult him and accuse him of visiting Gail just to get money, which was true, but still.
The sequence of events led directly into what we saw in the series premiere: Paul departing Rome and arriving in England to schmooze Getty into giving him money. As we already saw, that didn't work.
That perceived betrayal – by his father for ratting him out, by his mother for siding with Lang, by Getty for denying Paul his money – seemingly led Paul directly to the idea he brought Berto about the fake kidnapping. It was, in Paul's mind, a scheme that would make them both rich.
Of course, he didn't care about hurting his family. In his mind, they'd all effectively abandoned him and left him hanging out to dry.
"La Dolce Vita" also gave viewers a great introduction to who I imagine will be the main "villain" of the season.
While Berto was more of a bumbling fool – that scene outside Roman Polanski's apartment when they ditched Berto was hilarious – Primo is quickly established as a cold-blooded and ruthless criminal. And he's not afraid to murder, given that we saw him easily and unblinkingly dispatch of five people.
Speaking of Primo's bloodlust: The scene where he took custody of Paul from Berto and then climbed up on his car to shoot down Berto and his driver was amazingly done and so tense. RIP, Berto.
To sum it up: Primo is a seriously scary dude, and I'm excited to see more of him.
One thing that the episode was lacking is a better understanding of what led Berto from working with Paul to selling Paul out to Primo and the mob.
It wasn't quite clear from what was shown why Berto wasn't willing to take Fletcher Chase up on his earlier offer of more money, instead opting to take whatever Primo was willing to give him in exchange for Paul – a decision which massively backfired on Berto, anyway.
- That scene of Berto getting ready and practicing what he would say to Roman Polanski in front of his dog was pretty adorable.
- Speaking of Berto: I also like the detail that it was getting ditched by the teens that sent him over the edge and had him demanding the money they owed him. How long would he have put up with their debt if Marcello hadn't played that cruel joke on him?
- Not only did Marcello get him into $6,000 worth of debt, but he also slept with Paul's girlfriend. Marcello is seriously the worst. I wouldn't mind seeing Fletcher Chase rough him up a bit in a future episode.
- The scene where Paul was getting restless while in "captivity" during his faux kidnapping was so charming and easily the best of the hour. Paul showing off his shadow puppeteering to his "captor" was very sweet. Of course, it all got very un-sweet when his cocaine withdrawal started.
What did you think of "La Dolce Vita"?
Share your thoughts by commenting below, and don't forget that you can watch Trust online here at TV Fanatic anytime!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.