Boss returns for a second season on Starz. While there have been a few personnel changes, Chicago Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) just keeps doing what he does: using every trick in the book to protect his legacy and get his way.
The Ballot and the Bullet
Last season ended with Kane writhing on his bathroom floor, apparently in the midst of some kind of seizure, after having his duplicitous right-hand man, Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan), shot and killed. The Season 2 premiere ends with more violence, as the ribbon-cutting at his precious, long-awaited O'Hare expansion is interrupted by gunfire, leaving his wife Meredith (Connie Nielsen) wounded, possibly dying. There's so much backstabbing, front-stabbing, and even side-stabbing on this show that nearly anyone could be responsible, even Kane himself.
Not the Kind of Vision You Want in a Mayor
As this season opens, he's consulting with a frightened Dr. Harris (Karen Aldridge), who doesn't have any good news about his health. After he reassures her that an overzealous underling was responsible for her forced exile from the city, she lets him know that he's only going to get worse. He'll experience hallucinations, and increasingly lose touch with what makes him himself. But Kane isn't interested in retirement. He thinks the fact that he's aware that the lizards and Ezras he sees aren't real will protect him.
Boss will apparently continue to be a dense show. The plot and characters are done in pretty broad strokes, as when Kane, realizing he's going to lose his redevelopment vote, signals a compliant alderman to have a psychotic episode, thus giving Kane an excuse to suspend the vote. But there's a lot of intricate detail in Kane's political manipulations, and so many characters to keep track of. One needs to pay attention.
Out with the Old, In with the New
A couple of new characters enter the picture. Mona Fredricks (Sanaa Lathan) is the smart, tough new aide to disgraced Alderman Ross (James Vincent Meredith) and Ian Todd (Jonathan Groff) is Kane's inexperienced but ambitious temp. He's filling in until Kane finds a replacement for Ezra, and good luck with that, Mr. Mayor. I guess Donovan will continue to pop up occasionally as a ghost, but he's a great actor, and he'll be missed. Meanwhile, the conniving Maggie Zajac (Nicole Forester) looks to be taking on a bigger role in her husband's gubernatorial campaign.
With ruthless people all around, and even relative innocents like Kane's daughter Emma (Hannah Ware) and dogged reporter Sam Miller (Troy Garity), seemingly susceptible to manipulation, Boss presents a very dark world, but it's still compelling. The great opening credit sequence helps.
"You're not God. You don't wanna shake? How do you feel about seeing monsters, or believing you can fly? Your personality, your judgment, the way you look at the world: All those things will be compromised soon."
--Dr. Harris warns Kane about his future.
"Purpose. I have purpose."
--Kane tells Dr. Harris why he'll keep going.
"Ian, get the alderman a treat. He's being so obedient."
--Linda Driscoll (Elizabeth Laidlaw) mocks her colleague's subservience to Kane, before falling in line herself.
"If your employer wants to be a factor in this negotiation, tell him to show up for work."
--Kane to Mona over Ross's disappearance from the public eye.
"I've stared in the face of killers, never once blinked. Up there, I might just piss myself."
--Kavanaugh (Danny Goldring) expresses his nervousness about introducing Kane at the ribbon-cutting.