‘Sneaky Pete’ walks into his own trap in Season 2
Con man Marius Josipovic (Giovanni Ribisi) is on a different quest in Season 2 of Amazon’s “Sneaky Pete” — and he hasn’t changed his larcenous ways.
“It’s an evolution in the sense that Marius’ sole purpose in Season 1 was to extricate himself and [his brother] Eddie from the clutches of [gangster] Vince,” says Ribisi. “He managed to do that … and now, more or less, he’s forced to reckon with the sins of the individual whose identity he took on.”
In Season 1 of “Sneaky Pete” — co-created by “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston and David Shore (“House,” “The Good Doctor”) — Marius, recently sprung from prison, assumed the identity of former cell mate Pete Murphy in order to con Pete’s family for an assumed big payday (Pete told Marius his grandparents were in “bonds”). Traveling to Bridgeport, Ct., Marius is welcomed by Pete’s long-lost, decidedly blue-collar family: grandparents Audrey and Otto (Margo Martindale, Pete Gerety) — who run a bail bonds business — and cousins Julia (Marin Ireland) and Taylor (Shane McRae), a Bridgeport cop. In the meantime, Marius/Pete tries to save his brother from violent card shark Vince Lonigan (Cranston) through an elaborate con.
“Marius is a young guy who never really had a chance — he would not want this life, but that’s all he knows,” says Cranston. “This is all he was groomed for. In the second season he’s trying to do a certain thing which has unintended consequences on the other end. Everything gets ratcheted up: the pressure, tension, panic — even more than in the first season.”
Season 2 picks up with Marius, who’s leaving Bridgeport, kidnapped by Frank (Joseph Lyle Taylor) and Joe (Desmond Harrington), two thugs who think he’s the real Pete Murphy. He’s taken to a wooded area in Connecticut and threatened (at gunpoint) with finding $11 million supposedly stolen by Pete’s mother. If he doesn’t come through, the thugs will start killing off Audrey, Otto et al.
“I think there’s a kernel of something of humanity there in that he wants something truthful,” Ribisi says of Marius. “But he’s a product of the environment where he came from. Being something else is all he’s known in order to survive. There’s really a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde factor in that way. It’s a show about a con man, but I think one of the things Bryan [Cranston] says is that it goes a little deeper into understanding an individual who leads that kind of life.
“A lot of the show has to do with the magic arts — sleight of hand, which Marius has spent a lot of time working on and mastering. He’s always playing five, six moves ahead.”
And, even after all Marius has been through with Pete’s family, Ribisi says he’s not so sure Marius has any real feelings for them.
“Personally, I don’t know,” he says. “He knows there’s probably something there but I don’t know if that’s easy for him. The whole show is 17 days so far [in Marius’ life] through two seasons, so it takes a while to make that connection. There’s probably the seeds of that … but the family is also moving closer to his side of the fence — they have their own skeletons in their closet and their own histories are catching up to them as well.
“In the event that the show continues [for another season] this is what we’re going to focus on more — the skeletons in the closets of the other characters and who they become.”