Instead of leaping ahead into the future after last year's finale, which saw the Byrdes make an arrangement to launder money through a river-boat casino with the help of hillbilly heroin dealers the Snells and the relentless Mexican cartel, Season 2 spends a large chunk of its early episodes rehashing past misdeeds. There are corpses to be buried, deals with gambling commissions to be made, and ethical lines in the sand to be drawn. At one point in the first episode, a distraught and annoyed Wendy tells her husband, "We do not kill people." Wanna bet that rule gets tested?
Though the sleepy vacation community in Missouri has shifted into the less profitable fall months -- as the season's stone-faced posters put it: "There's no off season" -- the town is still crawling with the Byrdes' allies and foes. The show does a decent job of reminding you of what pieces are still on the tobacco-spit stained chess board: There's the unhinged FBI agent with a grudge, the bartender who fled with some of the Byrdes' cash, the distraught preacher with a newborn baby, the goofy real estate agent with dreams of becoming a motivational speaker, and the increasingly fed-up (and fucked-up) Byrde children. They all get their moments in the shadows.
Like any series with a high body count, new characters are also dutifully introduced. Ruth's sneering ex-con father Cade (Trevor Long) gets released from jail and immediately alienates almost everyone he interacts with, pissing on his parole officer and pissing off his daughter at the same time. He's a stock villain, cruel to his enemies and abusive to his loved ones, but Long and Garner do their best with their repetitive stare-downs and tearful confrontations.
The other new foils are more sleek and buttoned-up: Chicago-based drug lawyer Helen (Janet McTeer) is a menacing attorney straight out of countless legal dramas and Robert Mercer-like political string-puller Charles Wilkes (Darren Goldstein) could have walked off the set of House of Cards. Given the touch of seedy working-class noir present in the first season, it's frustrating to see the show add to its ever-expanding roster of white collar villains. This isn't Billions.