It’s been almost a year since the crime epic from hell, Too Old to Die Young, dropped on Amazon Prime. Created by Danish film auteur Nicolas Winding Refn and acclaimed comic book writer Ed Brubaker, the show confused audiences with its slow pace and inconsistent running time, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes. However, it’s cryptic meaning and gruesome depictions of the dark side of Los Angeles satisfied a certain audience and gained the enigmatic show a cult following. Despite there being no plans to make a second season, the series has a number of things to further develop.
Throughout most of the series, the lead protagonist is undoubtedly the would-be vigilante cop turned detective Martin (Miles Teller), who moonlights as a hitman for the crime boss Damian (Babs Olusanmokun), but he becomes disillusioned when he realizes he’s killing people for unpaid debts. He soon meets the mysterious Diana (Jena Malone), a victim’s advocate who orders the deaths of the victims’ most heinous perpetrators. Her sole hitman, Viggo (John Hawkes), is slowly dying of an undisclosed illness.
When Martin investigates one of the murders Diana organized, she starts to think he may be the perfect successor to Viggo. As the show continues, it becomes clear Diana has an otherworldly connection, and she has been shown by ‘The Beings” that Martin must take over for Viggo, which makes Martin like a prophet.
The show subtly carries religious themes, such as redemption and resurrection; therefore, it’s no mistake that Martin is brutally murdered in the eighth episode by Jesus (Augusto Aguilera), a Mexican-American cartel whose mother was killed by Martin long ago. Martin’s murder implies that he acted as a false prophet for Diana as well as the audience. Martin plays himself off like he’s a caring vigilante who wants to shed blood in order to protect the innocent, but he dates an underaged teen (Nell Tiger Free) and lies to protect his slain partner’s (Larry Gross) image.
Martin has been masquerading as a moral man to Diana and as a lead character to the audience. By killing off the perceived lead in the eighth episode, one would think continuing the show would seem obsolete, but Refn and Brubaker pull the rug out from under what a TV series should be. Diana still needs her prophet, and the writers have so much potential material to work with from this point.
Yaritza (Cristina Rodlo), the wife of Jesus and his potentially reincarnated mother, at first may feel like a sexist depiction of a female character with her few lines and tight outfits. As the runtime progresses, it becomes clear that this is because of the show’s intentional slow pace. It’s revealed over time that Yaritza is an inhuman entity known in folklore as The High Priestess of Death, posing as Jesus’s mother in order to get close to the cartel and save several victims of sex trafficking.
After Martin’s death, Diana starts to see visions of a woman who says she can give hope to the otherwise hopeless environment, and in the final two episodes, the series teases Yaritza taking Martin’s place as Viggo’s successor. The series ending with Yaritza finding her way to Diana seems likely, but that never happens despite the build. Episode 10 ends in a way that would make it a great season finale but a very disappointing series wrap up. Yaritza and Diana not meeting is like ending the first season of Killing Eve with Villanelle and Eve not physically crossing paths and then the series ending after one season.
In episodes 9 and 10, Diana frequently sees young children encrusted in pink gold and refers to them as “The Beings,” and they appear to be what’s responsible for all of Diana’s psychic visions. ‘The Beings’ are also seen by Yaritza as she watches Jesus slowly end Martin’s life. These “Beings” first appear at the of episode 8, and it seems like they are featured in order to add to the already surrealistic story.
In order to give any kind of closure to the audience, the show needs to expand on them since they come off as a very important plot revelation, but it’s done in short glimpses and without context. The chance to see where these “Beings” come from, how far their control over the characters extends and what their true purpose is would be divine in another season.
At the end of episode 10, Yaritza presents herself as The High Priestess of Death in front of several cartel members and sex traffic victims in a bar before shooting down several of her husband’s loyal soldiers. It’s hard to to imagine that Jesus won’t find out that his beloved wife is working against him, and after seeing how cruel he can be, it’s even harder to think he may not exact his vengeance for her betrayal. It would be chaotically beautiful to create a season about Jesus finding out Yaritza is against him and tracking her down all while she lays low and gets trained by Diana. This along with the points above provide enough material for a future season.
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One of last decade's strangest shows, Too Old to Die Young, baffled most, but it requires a second season in order to satisfy its cult following.