Sugar Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Boy in the Corner


Hollywood can chew you up and spit you back out if you’re not careful.

Sugar Season 1 Episode 5 played with that message as John leaned hard into his dark side while Davy gave up on life.

It wasn’t an easy episode to watch, but it offers a lot to discuss.

As we saw on Sugar Season 1 Episode 4, the walls are closing in on Davy Siegel.

“Boy in the Corner” goes to great lengths to tell us why he’s chosen his dark path, but even watching the flimsy support he receives from his family isn’t enough to make him a sympathetic character.

Davy is the typical Hollywood nepo baby. He had an in to a world of prestige and thrills the 99% will never experience, but when things didn’t go in his direction, he chose the route of less resistance to get what he wanted.

It’s a common theme about children born into wealth — they can’t tell if someone likes them for themselves or for the abundance of riches being connected to the family name might bring.

But let’s give Davy kudos where they’re earned. He didn’t have to talk with Sugar. His parents were happy to run interference for him just as they have done his entire life.

That’s not what Davy needed. He needed to be seen and understood, not appeased. By ignoring his repeated pleas for help, which is really what all that bad behavior means, his parents did him a grave disservice.

As his misdeeds caught up to him and his life was flashing before his eyes, Davy just gave in. It made no sense for Margit to keep John from speaking with him. His secret was already flashed across every available media source.

It was evident early that Davy was thinking about doing something dire. It takes that kind of resolve to move beyond pretense and get real, particularly if you don’t have support.

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Margit and Bernie thought they were doing right by Davy by burying his secrets, but they were doing the opposite. The repeated coverups and rescues gave him wings to do the wrong thing time after time.

John was brought in to solve a missing person’s case, but Davy had no idea that John’s relationship with his sister would be his undoing.

As Davy recounted his tale of woe, how he needed trafficked girls who, in his estimation, seemed to enjoy the pleasure of being abducted and used by strangers, John was dumbfounded.

His biggest regret is whatever happened that tore him away from his sister. We can guess it was a similar abduction, and his sense of failed responsibility has been eating away at him ever since.

John didn’t want to tie Olivia’s disappearance to Davy because he couldn’t comprehend it. It’s the opposite of his love of his sister.

And it took someone like John to voice what Davy had probably been feeling all along. You don’t have that kind of talent to bring a story to life on screen if you have no compassion. Davy was just too damaged to separate his feelings and despair from the monster who put his sister in danger.

Davy can’t even call Olivia his sister. He always refers to her as his half-sister, as if that somehow releases him from responsibility for his actions. If it were his whole sister, he probably figures, he would have never done such a thing.

But this half-sister of his, well, she didn’t seem to like him much, so he decided not to like her. Because of his parents’ doting, it never dawned on him that he didn’t deserve to be liked.

But a funny thing happened this last day of the rest of (or not) Davy’s life. The confrontation with John was compounded by his mother’s “eff this town” mantra to the point that he realized, finally, that he was the problem.

It wasn’t Olivia or his lack of talent (he was, by all accounts, quite so) — it was him. He was the problem. He made excuses for his issues, but deep down, he always knew he was the problem. If he had sought outside help, maybe he wouldn’t have been so desperate.

The camera work in this episode was fantastic. The use of lighting and partially out-of-frame shots worked tremendously to convey a sense of discord that couldn’t be found with words or traditional shots.

Davy gazing in the mirror was a perfect example. His persona was fractured, disjointed, and in such disrepair that the only way to free himself and others from the misery was to take himself out of the equation.

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It wasn’t a surprise. Every shot leading up to the act was prescient, right down to how he held his wine glass as Margit reminded him he could tell the town to eff off.

As despicable as the things he did were, it’s not a relief to see someone fall so far that they want to take their own life.

And it seems his parents always knew the possibility was around the corner, but they didn’t have the strength of character to rein him in before it went too far.

As frantic as they were in the aftermath of the shooting, they also seemed somewhat resigned to it. They saw it coming but never lifted the appropriate finger to stop it.

That’s going to be tough for them to overcome, and it should also be a wake-up call that their treatment of Olivia was not OK. Their assumptions that Davy needed saving while Olivia deserved her fate, whatever it was, will haunt them.

Davy’s actions may kick Bernie into gear to find his daughter, if nothing else. After all, his beloved son put her in harm’s way. He should make amends by doing whatever he can to find her.

What John learned from Davy put him in the right frame of mind to go into hyper-protection mode when Melanie was in danger.

It’s so funny how quickly you can forget what’s happening with various pieces of a show’s plot, but that’s what happened when the white van began following her. My immediate reaction was that it was someone nefarious, totally forgetting about John having her under protective detail.

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Watching her visit old friends and go about her day, though, even with the protection John had on her, gave her a sense of security that didn’t exist.

The danger wasn’t following her, so keeping a tail on her left an enormous window of opportunity for someone to get the jump on her from inside her house.

It’s worth noting again how skillfully those scenes came across on screen. This time, it wasn’t the lighting that elevated the scene or added to the sense of dread but the editing that made every passing second so fraught with tension that it was almost unbearable to watch.

We take our safety for granted, but this showed how quickly something can go awry, even when you have every physical and metaphorical door and window latched for protection.

I appreciated that the bad guy called Melanie out on the “my boyfriend will be home” comment as much as I did how she took advantage of putting it out there. He didn’t think he’d fall for it, but all she needed was for him to look away because of her “there he is now” to make a run for it.

Another much-appreciated device was how the goon got a drill to create a hole in the door to make his way through it. In reality, most men can’t just shove their fists through a wooden (even plywood-en) door to gain access.

Little things like that put this production a cut above the rest and make it more believable than standard fare.

John’s day was beyond the pale already, and he easily could have missed the truck parked down the road.

You can imagine his adrenaline in overdrive as he went in for the attack, taking out all of his pent-up anger on the man trying to harm the woman he’s grown so close to in only a matter of days.

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John made no excuses for his violent response. The man deserved it, but John was still sorry that it happened. We know that for whatever reason, John doesn’t need violence to accomplish much. But he’s been in Hollywood long enough to understand its allure.

Again, the editing was perfect, intercutting his brutality with Hollywood’s similar on-screen past and the women who saw the men in their lives fall prey to it.

Someone once said, tip the world on its side, and everything loose lands in Los Angeles. Is that what is happening? After all this time, is this place starting to turn me upside down?

Sugar [internal]

John is a well-put-together fellow who thinks before acting, but his feelings are getting the better of him — feelings that, as an observer, he’s not supposed to have.

At the same time that John was beating the tar out of someone, Ruby and a guy named Miller were meeting to discuss him. They remain worried about what he could discover from his investigation. The simple answer for Miller is to ensure that John does not find out.

Is that because they know he’s capable of damage far beyond what he inflicted on the intruder? We still do not know or understand much, but John seems to be getting closer to sharing it with Melanie.

Her protection is vital to him, and like she told her friends earlier, it’s not romantic or sexual. When John appeared in his skivvies, those were the last things on his mind — or Melanie’s.

John wants someone to hold dear. Melanie is that person. Her importance seems tied to his sister and the likely countless women he’s been tapped to find. There comes a time when you can’t fail anymore, and he’s proving his worth with Melanie.

Thankfully, she’s doing the same for him, offering him a hand to hold and an ear to listen.

Melanie: What is it?
Sugar: I have a secret.

Will he tell her (and us) his secret? I’m sure of it. But Stallings is a more urgent matter.

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Olivia is still missing, and Stallings grabbed another young woman to traffic.

We’ve got three more episodes to tie the story together. Are you figuring it out? Do you think you know his secret? What is Ruby hiding from him? Does Stallings have Olivia behind that locked door?

Will Davy survive? Will Olivia’s disappearance take on more urgency in the Spiegel family as a result of his actions?

Any show that makes you think this much deserves to be watched and discussed, and I hope you’ll join me either below or out there in the vast world of social media.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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