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'Guilt' Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: I'm Coming Out – GBH News

Last season on Guilt, brothers Softie and Cheekbones hit a guy with a car, desperately covered it up, and accidentally put themselves in a position to take the fall for a murder actually committed by the old man’s grifter neighbor. In the process, Cheekbones basically ruined his whole life, as if he were the protagonist of the weirdest country song ever (one who really deserves to have his wife leave him, his business ventures crumble, and then get sent to jail). If you need a refresher, my recaps for last season start here. Anyway, THIS season, he’s about to once again become a free man. Did he learn his lesson? Only time will tell.
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Anyway, despite what you might assume, we’re not starting this season off with our very own Scottish Cain and Abel equivalents. No, we’re at a lovely, swanky dinner party, celebrating the host’s first year sober. After a rather pointed toast for our friend, who I will be calling Floral Shirt because of his frankly egregiously floral shirt (look, I set the bar too high with Remington Steele Reserve’s recap name last season; they can’t all be winners), wherein his wife admonishes him to stay boring, everyone laughs and cheers. Everyone, that is, except Floral Shirt. No laughter for him; no, his face is awash in a different emotion: Guilt.
And we soon find out why. Later that evening, as his wife sleeps beside him, Floral Shirt sneaks out of bed and makes his way into a very swanky club, returning much later that night to be caught rummaging around in his own basement. Is he high? Oh yes. Does he also have a massive bag of cash? You bet.
Floral Shirt, not doing himself any favors: No, see, this is good! This is us getting out of debt; rehab was expensive.
The Soon to be Formerly Mrs. Floral Shirt: Our debt isn’t that bad, and also, I’m very much not over how high you are right now. You grew up so safe that you think danger is glamorous. It’s not. Relationship over.
Floral Shirt: I… uh. I don’t know what to do now?
Floral Shirt is saved from having to answer that question in the most messed up way possible: from upstairs, the couple hears the sound of shattering glass. Floral Shirt pushes his wife into a dark corner, and brandishes a bat at the stranger coming down the stairs. Unfortunately, that stranger has a gun, and doesn’t hesitate at all before shooting Floral Shirt right in the head. While he’s looking over the body, The New Widow Floral Shirt whacks him on the head with a golf club, and picks up his gun while he’s down. Scary Stranger isn’t about to take that lying down, and comes at her, which ends just exactly like you think it would: Widow Floral Shirt panics, clutches her hand tighter around the gun, and shoots Scary Stranger. While he slowly bleeds out, coughing his life away on the cellar floor, Widow Floral Shirt, shocked and with literal blood on her hands, heads back upstairs to sit in the remnants of last night’s dinner party. Maybe she’ll call the cops, explain what happened, and after a lengthy legal proceeding, return to the vestiges of her normal life, but somehow, with this show, I doubt it.
Anyway, across town, Cheekbones is wandering around prison looking annoyingly good despite the regulation sweatsuit he’s wearing. But he doesn’t wear it for long: he’s being released! Freshly dressed in a swanky suit once again, he makes his way into a flat; definitely not the luxurious modern house he once shared with Long Suffering Lady Cheekbones. Based on the records on the walls, and the pile of mail by the door, I have a sneaking suspicion this is the home of Softie, who’s probably off gallivanting around Europe with L’Americain or something.
And speaking of our friends from last season, we’re headed next to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, where a nervous young woman holds her hundred day chip and tells the group that she’s still not really ready to tell them anything. As the rest clap supportively, we get to see a familiar face in the crowd: none other than Remington Steele Reserve! Genuinely so proud of this fictional goober, and TBH, he really deserves a recap rename given his sober status. For continuity’s sake, let’s go with Remy. Here’s the problem. Our pal Remy seems poised to break one of the most well known rules of AA (don’t hook up with other people in your group), based on the intense heart eyes he’s sending at Nervous. After the meeting, the pair walk out together, and if I’m not mistaken, Nervous is sending heart eyes right back! She even does that thing where she casually slips her relationship status (divorced) into the convo! Does this leave me, a person who loves dramatic TV relationships but is also rooting for both of them to keep progressing in their recovery very conflicted?
Anyway, despite clearly being VERY interested in her offer to meet up, Remy shuts it down right away, because of the rules. I admire his fortitude, but also, we’re like 10 minutes into episode one: anything could still happen! Meanwhile, Cheekbones makes his way into a swanky office building to try and hustle his way back into the good bad life, immediately resolving the “is Cheekbones reformed” question once and for all by threatening one of the menacing bad guys I’ve mixed up in the time between seasons.
Cheekbones: Look, here’s the thing. I took all the blame, but I could have brought you down with me. I kept quiet for two years. I’m not being greedy, but I deserve something for that.
Menacing Bad Guy I’ve Mixed Up In The Time Between Seasons: I’ve already given you the best thing I can: I haven’t killed you or run you out of town. And you can stay, as long as you stay irrelevant.
Cheekbones: I just need a piece of who I am; who I was. Like, we’re literally sitting in what was my business right now! You owe me!
Menacing Bad Guy I’ve Mixed Up In The Time Between Seasons: Even if that were true, I couldn’t possibly work with you now! You’re dirty and I’m legit! You’re still on the way down.
Well, that’s a bummer. I’m sure Cheekbones will just let it go and make a new, humble life for himself and not pursue this need he apparently has to burn Edinburgh to the ground.
Next stop? Chatting with Remy, who’s now running a legal business out of an abandoned preschool (bleak). Remy also explains that Softie is indeed off gallivanting with L’Americain, but not in Europe: they’re in Chicago. Giving Cheekbones the keys to his empty flat was about as much of a peace offering as Cheekbones expected from Softie (and honestly, more than he deserved).
Cheekbones: Here’s the deal, friendo: you once suggested we become partners, and I’m shocked to say that that actually makes sense to me now. Also, I feel… guilt… for the way I treated you. This is a chance to make up for it. I heard you were doing ok; now it’s time for you to do better.
Remy: Let me tell you how I spend my time now. I go to my meeting, I work, and then I go to night school. Now that I’ve been clean for two years, I get to see my kids on the weekend, and I have a license to produce legal documents. A license YOU now lack. You don’t feel guilt, you just want to work under my license.
Cheekbones, shifting into jerk mode: That license doesn’t magically give you expertise, which is why you’re working out of a daycare. I’m giving you an opportunity, dude.
Remy: If you work under my license, you work under me. This is your last resort, and as always, you underestimate me. You’re right, this place does need work. And you’re going to do it. As a trial run.
And shockingly, Cheekbones agrees. While he rolls up his sleeves and starts painting over the colorful animals on the walls, I’m left kind of hoping this is just Remy Tom Sawyering Cheekbones into fixing up the office for free. Unfortunately, I think our former detective friend is honestly too kind-hearted for that. Time will tell. Cheekbones gets down to work, and much later that night, he’s just discovered that he’s run out of paint when Remy calls to check in. Hearing that Cheekbones has finished the project (a lie that I suspect presages what’s to come), Remy agrees to work together: he wants a better life, and believes Cheekbones can give it to him.
Meanwhile, Widow Floral Shirt, still bloodied and out of it, calls her papa. Who could it be? You guessed it: none other than Menacing Bad Guy I’ve Mixed Up In The Time Between Seasons, which we’ll go ahead and shorten to Menacing Dad. In short order he’s made his way over to her home, and starts asking the relevant questions.
Menacing Dad: What about his family?
Widow Floral Shirt: They gave up on him a few rehabs ago, but I think they’ll still eventually come looking for him.
Menacing Dad: A detective will file a missing persons report. It’ll say he left suddenly, was troubled, took his passport, emptied his account, and was seen at the airport.
Widow Floral Shirt: And why would a cop do that?
Menacing Dad: Because I said so. You tell your friends he relapsed and you kicked him out. You’re sad, but it’s a pattern of behavior: you have to move on.
Widow Floral Shirt: And what about the other one?
Menacing Dad: He’s got an army tattoo, smells like booze, and owns a gun. We’ll make it look like he died by suicide. The money?
Widow Floral Shirt: I don’t want it. I don’t need it.
Menacing Dad: I mean, not like that you don’t. But clean it up, make it look legit, and it’s enough to fix the damage he’s done, and give you a break from men like that.
Widow Floral Shirt: This isn’t a chance for us to reconcile; I’ve managed without you for a long time.
Menacing Dad: Yes, and that’s clearly going great. Look, I noticed that the other guy hasn’t been dead as long as your husband. I know what happened. Anyway, go upstairs; there’s going to be some people around but you just stay away. Give it four hours, and when you come back down, you’ll have a fresh start. And thanks. For calling me.
Widow Floral Shirt: Who else does this?
Menacing Dad: I know you don’t believe me, but *I* don’t do this anymore.
The next morning, while everyone involved tries to clean up their messes (literally: there’s a lot of blood removal happening, in addition to Cheekbones’ attempt to get the remaining paint off his hands) Nervous opens up a bit more in the AA meeting. She talks about the slow march of alcoholism taking hold of her life day by day, and the incident that really took her over the edge (an encounter with her ex’s new wife). Afterwards, Remy hands her a coffee, and their hands brush DELIBERATELY in the process. Have to say, if you told me I would be getting a regency period drama style romantic tension from this season of Guilt, I’d have laughed right in your face, and I’ve never been so delighted to be so wrong footed.
Remy: Look, maybe we CAN meet up outside of here.
Nervous: Really?
Remy: Yeah, it’ll be fine.
Nervous: Fine?
Remy: It’ll be GOOD.
I hope so, I already ship it! Anyway, meeting over, we head to the office, where Cheekbones is waiting, and ready to do his damndest to take over the operation. Unfortunately for him, Remy is one step ahead: as they’re chatting, a delivery arrives.
Remy: I wanted to do my part to get us off to a good start. We need a niche. Something to get people in the door. And I’ve figured out what it is: £99 wills.
Cheekbones:
Remy: See, once they hear about our deal on wills, they come in here, and we hear about all their other problems: estrangements, broken marriages, etc. They keep coming back for more, and we’re SET.
Cheekbones: Uh, WTF is this thing on the business cards, pal?
Remy: That’s an owl! Duh! They’re the Roman symbol of justice 🙂
Cheekbones: Yes, but why are there so many of them?
Remy: Cheer up bud, there’s also one on that coffee mug!
Cheekbones’ incipient owl-induced breakdown never really gets a chance to manifest, thankfully, because at that very moment, Menacing Dad swans into the business.
Menacing Dad: You know, I keep thinking about our conversation yesterday. Am I going soft? Maybe, but you know what, you’re right: you do deserve a little something. Here’s a bottle of booze and a bag of money. Clean that, take your usual cut, and give it back.
Cheekbones: I thought you were legit now?
Menacing Dad: I am, that’s why I’m here.
Remy: I’m… not involved in this.
Menacing Dad: Oh, hey champ. You’re looking good, compared to the last time you were near me. Let’s keep it that way.
Cheekbones, for some reason saying the quiet part loud: This isn’t you helping me, this is something else. I just don’t know what yet. Where’s this money from?
Menacing Dad: Just clean it and give it back!
And after he leaves, naturally, the new business partners get into it: Remy, of course, thinks they shouldn’t do this obviously illegal thing. Cheekbones, unsurprisingly, wants to do it: he can finish in a day, and they’ll have enough cash to get business cards that aren’t festooned with owls.
Remy: This isn’t what this place is supposed to be!
Cheekbones: It won’t be. But also, when that guy asks you to do something, he’s not really asking, if you catch my drift.
Remy, in detective mode: Well, if he’s really gone legit, this isn’t his money, and there’s a lot of it, so someone’s going to come looking.
Cheekbones: Yeah, so we have to clean it or get caught with it.
Remy, rustling through the bag: Whoever it is doesn’t know it’s missing yet, or they’d be here: there’s a tracker in the bag.
Cheekbones: So… we could see who’s looking for it.
And so Remy dumps the cash on the table for Cheekbones to sort, puts the tracker back inside, and prepares for shenanigans. Meanwhile, at Widow Floral Shirt’s house, she’s spent the day going through all the papers in her husband’s desk, and to be honest, it seems like she might actually need that money after all; looks like a LOT of unpaid bills. Apparently she agrees, because she bites the bullet and calls up her dad again.
Widow Floral Shirt: There’s debt I didn’t know about; he’s been forging my signature. If it’s safe, I’ll take it.
Menacing Dad: Thought so. I’m working on it. How are you?
And with that, she hangs up. Fair enough. The next morning, Menacing Dad heads right over to the law office to go over the logistics of getting his cleaned cash from Cheekbones.
Cheekbones: Pal, I know how this works: I invented this process. Weird to see you running your own errands now.
Menacing Dad: Do you like westerns, Cheekbones? I do. They’re my escape. But last night, I couldn’t focus on my movie because I kept asking myself why you asked me where the money was from. Why did you do that, when you know how it works?
Cheekbones: Because of Remy. It’s his license, and I feel responsible for him.
Menacing Dad, buying that line of crap about as much as I do, i.e., not at all: Most people don’t come out of prison better.
Cheekbones: It’d be hard for me to come out worse, lol.
Menacing Dad: Where is he, btw?
Cheekbones: AA.
Menacing Dad: Do you trust him?
Cheekbones: More than I trust you.
Fair enough! Anyway, as it happens, Remy is decidedly not at AA. Instead, he’s having that tea with Nervous and talking about their former shared interest: drinking. As they get the check, he volunteers that he works in legal services, and when she doesn’t reciprocate with any details, he tells her that’s totally fine: they should only share what they want to. Aw! Agreeing to meet up again in the future, they go their separate ways.
Meanwhile, Widow Floral Shirt’s busy having a face off with the door to her death basement when the door rings. Who is it? Cheekbones, who’s there to talk to her about blind trusts. As they chat, she asks for his card, which does indeed have a veritable parliament of owls printed on the front and back, which is even more egregious when you think about it; back printing costs extra! Anyway, Cheekbones explains, he’s here because Widow Floral Shirt is the beneficiary of a blind trust made by “a bunch of hack lawyers” and set up by Menacing Dad. He figured out the trust was hers because of the aforementioned hackery.
Cheekbones: Is Menacing Dad… an associate of yours?
Widow Floral Shirt, definitively: No.
Cheekbones: Look, I used to live in a house like this. It comes with pressure. The kind of pressure that might lead your husband to work with a guy like Menacing Dad behind your back; to do things in your name.
Widow Floral Shirt: My husband and I are separated. This is my house. Why are you here?
Cheekbones: I’m setting up a new trust, and I’m doing my due diligence to make sure everything is above board.
Widow Floral Shirt, calling his bluff: Should I… talk to the cops?
Cheekbones, flustered: Nooooo, definitely not. They wouldn’t be able to help with something like this.
Widow Floral Shirt: I can’t help but notice your business is many towns over. You’re a long way from your owl sanctuary.
Cheekbones, mortified: My partner designed those cards. He drinks. Anyway, thanks for your time.
RUDE. And speaking of Remy, he’s busily lurking behind a pillar under a bridge where they’ve dumped the money bag. Meanwhile, a powerfully built older chap is packing bags into his car outside a church. And at the local police station, the same dirty cop from last season dutifully puts Floral Shirt into the missing person database while across the room, one of his colleagues starts her day at her locker. You’ll never believe it: that colleague is none other than Nervous! And elsewhere, in the kind of living room that can only belong to someone’s retired mum, Widow Floral Shirt plays cards with her mother, before awkwardly confessing that she called Menacing Dad for help.
Floral Mum: Look, just because I don’t want to talk to him doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. He can be… useful.
Widow Floral Shirt: It won’t happen again. And you’ll be pleased to hear that Floral Shirt is gone. Look, he wasn’t that bad.
Floral Mum: He wasn’t great either! You can do better.
Back at the police station, Crooked Cop dumps a bunch of files on Nervous’ desk and asks her to take care of them for him.
Nervous: Seriously? I’d have to stay all night!
Crooked Cop: Well, that’ll keep you out of trouble. Anyway, how’s… that… going?
Nervous: Fine.
Crooked Cop, possibly actually trying to be helpful?: In this job, anything like that, any weakness, people can use it against you.
Nervous: Yeah, I know that, bud. I’m being careful.
Crooked Cop, genuine: Well done, pal, I’m proud of you.
Weirdly sweet, I guess, but I still don’t like him. Anyway, once again Widow Floral Shirt has a chat with her father, Menacing Dad. He’s trying to convince her that it’s ok for her to take this money to make up for all the crap her husband put her through, and also that she shouldn’t have tried so hard to separate herself from his creepy legacy.
Menacing Dad: You’re me. You’re my rightful heir, if you want to be.
Widow Floral Shirt: No thanks.
Look, crime is bad, but I wouldn’t hate it if Widow Floral Shirt took over the crime empire and the threatening of Cheekbones. I’m honestly not sure if he’d mind it either, if you know what I mean. Anyhow, things continue apace with everyone else. Floral Mum threatens a grifter who’s bilking the other residents of her retirement community out of cash on the false promise of real estate investments (a real classic). Cheekbones goes for a run. The family of the man who killed Floral Shirt are informed of his death (spoiler alert: they’re gutted, and they don’t believe he’d harm himself). And at the police station, a young officer asks Nervous if she’s seen Crooked Cop. See, he made a mistake in that missing persons report he filed earlier. Nervous offers to fix it, since she’s here.
Other Cop: How did he get DI over you?
Nervous, resigned: He used what he had.
Ugh, I didn’t think I could like Crooked Cop any less, and yet here we are. What a jerk. While Nervous redoes Crooked Cop’s dirty work, Remy finally spots someone coming to get the money bag. It’s that big guy from the church, of all people. And across town, Menacing Dad and his goon knock on the door of that grifter who was bothering Floral Mum earlier. Seems she doesn’t have any compunctions on calling on her ex for his particular set of skills, because in short order said grifter’s leaflets have been attached to his body. With a knife.
And while all that is happening, Cheekbones meets a woman with a fluffy dog while on his run.
Dog Lady: My dog is a westie. It’s a breed that was kept secret for hundreds of years. Do you know, it actually is possible to keep a secret if you try hard enough.
Cheekbones: Someone told me the other day that I can’t feel guilt. And he was right. I need something deeper. When I was younger it was fear. Fear became greed. And in prison, I tried guilt, but it didn’t work. I need something new, something powerful, to drive me. And when you came to see me, I found it. Revenge.
HAHAHA OF COURSE. OF COURSE THIS CLOWN IS HERE FOR REVENGE. I’d expected nothing less, and boy howdy do I hope he gets it. Anyway, what a way to start the season, eh? Will Cheekbones actually succeed? Will he ruin everyone else’s life along the way? We’ll just have to wait for episode two for some of those answers.
Writer, marketer and content producer with an abiding love for the weirder side of the internet. Producer and Host of WGBH’s Drama After Dark.

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