When asked what my favorite genre of film or television is, I would never land firmly on an answer. Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who belong to Sci-Fi, and so Sci-Fi tickles my brain. I grew up with Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games based in fantasy, so Fantasy has stuck to me since my formative years. Then you have Rocky, Top Gun, and Die Hard all residing in the Action genre, which is broad enough to cover the rest of my favorite genres, as well. Quarry, though, falls into my favorite sub-genre: spy fiction.
Well, sorta. Quarry contains as much drama as it does action. While the plot centers around a Vietnam vet who must pay off a war buddy’s debt by becoming an assassin, the series also handles heavy topics like racism, marriage, PTSD, and other moral hot-button topics and quandaries from the ’70s.
Let’s dig a little deeper into Quarry.
Vietnam was a difficult war to return home from. Morally, citizens found it questionable; to make it worse, soldiers committed acts that could be, at best, as morally questionable. Mac Conway (Logan Marshall-Green), who earns the alias “Quarry”, may be one of those soldiers. His past, present, and future are entirely mysterious. Quarry, as you might guess, is the hero of our story.
Many soldiers leave a wife at home while they serve their country. This soldier was no different. Joni (Jodi Balfour) spent a year waiting for her beloved Mr. Conway. As soon as he got back, he barely kissed his wife on the cheek, and then went back. Poor Joni had to spend another year walking the widow’s watch. She also became a journalist in the meantime, but that fact isn’t discussed or shown very often.
Charlie has his angels; The Broker (Peter Mullan) has his killers. The Broker finds men who are specially tempered, by war or other misfortune, to kill without remorse. The Broker is not as interesting as Buddy (Damon Herriman), though. Buddy earns his rightful place in the “Character” section, and I mean that in every sense of the word. He keeps a library of weaponry, enjoys karaoke, and prefers men. That’s right, we get a gay hitman played by a Justified alumni. I’m amply excited.
Two events provide the crux of our show, pertaining to money and sex, in that order. When Quarry comes home, he comes home with his war buddy, best friend, and major plot point, Arthur. Just as many factual soldiers discovered upon their homecoming, jobs were not plentiful. They were less plentiful for soldiers accused of a war crime. Arthur was approached by The Broker and offered $30,000 for a job—or more accurately, several jobs. Then Arthur died on the job and the money went poof. Arthur and Quarry forged their friendship during war; protecting Arthur’s family became Quarry’s top priority. This means paying the money back the only way Quarry can afford to: working off the debt.
Quarry’s first job assigned by The Broker made it personal, though. The first man assigned death by Quarry’s hand would be a man like any other—who was sleeping with Quarry’s wife. Marital problems are to ensue.
Marital problems and exasperated PTSD.
Quarry is multifaceted, to be sure. With every turn in the plot, the focus moves to another conflict. This may be its greatest strength. To be honest, I would prefer to see Quarry become someone who enjoys his new found vocation and excels at the getaway. Intellectually, I know building round and full characters with deep connections to each other makes the better show, but I would rather see a well-done heavily action-based Cinemax show.
The season ends with Quarry accepting his new job. Hell, he even enjoys it. After paying off Arthur’s debt, he’ll start his own tab.
The series ends with Quarry becoming the new Broker.
If you’re looking for a complex look into a complex time, complete with complex characters, Quarry might be your show. If you’re looking for Mission: Impossible, you might also, eventually, get that. I hope.
If you’re interested in the series, Quarry airs Fridays on Cinemax. If you’d like to see what else Cody is watching, you can check his Trakt page to keep up-to-date with all of his shows.