The Spool / Reviews
Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 nearly earns staying in power
Jeremy Renner returns to the series after his near-death experience somehow even better, but Kingstown struggles under its collection of plots.
GenreCrime Drama
NetworkParamount+
SimilarA Model Family, Agatha Christie's Poirot B: The Beginning, Bad Guys: Vile City, Baywatch Nights, Black Butler, Bodies, Breaking Bad, CSI: Miami, D.N.Angel, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens, Mirai Sentai Timeranger, Miss Marple: A Pocketful of Rye, Miss Marple: The Body in the Library, Miss Marple: The Moving Finger, Sherlock Holmes The Long Night, The Shadow Line, The Singing Detective,
StudioMTV Entertainment Studios,
6.8
Read also: popular streaming services that still offer a free trial>

It is, perhaps, unseemly to admit. Still, the fact that Jeremy Renner, who plays morally conflicted series protagonist Mike McLusky, survived a near-death experience does give Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 a draw that the crime show might not otherwise have.

What’s immediately apparent in the series opener—and more than a little surprising—is how good Renner looks onscreen. While Mike, the character, is burdened with the weight of Kingstown’s concerns and his sin, Renner, the actor, seems lighter somehow. It doesn’t undermine the performance, though. Instead, it adds a dimension. For the first time, Mike seems like he’s rushing. It gives him—and season 3—a stronger sense of immediacy. It’s as though he’s seeing a different crisis, one bigger but not as immediate, coming down the road, and he’s rushing to set his house in order before it arrives.

If anything, Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 would do well to better match its star’s energy and anxiety. The series has plenty of activity but no real sense of forward momentum. In real life, bringing change to a place like Kingstown would be a miserable challenge. So it is realistic when things barely change or do change only to be threatened by figures from the past, like Merle Callahan (Richard Brake), darkening Kingstown’s doorstep.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 (Paramount+)
Tobi Bamtefa is the show’s best weapon. (Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount+)

Unfortunately, realism isn’t always the best for drama. With so many unresolved plotlines and rivalries, Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 often feels bogged down. It isn’t slow, per se, but it seems resistant to resolutions of any sort. For instance, Milo (Aidan Gillen) fakes his death last season, guaranteeing he’ll be back for a rematch. While we wait, though, the show gives us a new crime boss (Yorick van Wageningen) who has a very different energy but more or less immediately takes up the same space with the same kind of sense of being untouchable.

That kind of mounting claustrophobia can be quite effective in film. For a weekly television series, on the other hand, it can tip from “the walls are closing in, and he has nowhere to turn” to “the walls have closed in, but we’re still talking about them in the exact same way.” In a strange way, Kingstown might be better off if it didn’t strive for prestige television and instead settled for a grittier take on network crime shows.

Aesthetically, the show largely already has. Kingstown feels increasingly like a backlot set. It is a hermetic world that exists onto itself with its own sense of physics and time. When Iris (Emma Laird) has her efforts to once again leave town foiled, yet again, it feels like confirmation. There’s a larger world behind the city line, but no character can ever truly be free of Kingstown. The visuals and camera moves don’t feel especially different from what you might see at 10 pm on NBC. This isn’t intended as a putdown. TV can be many things, and Mayor of Kingstown being a show bridges the gap between something like a Sons of Anarchy and a The Wire feels like a pretty intelligent destiny.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 (Paramount+)
Despite his cheerful disposition, Richard Brake seems likely to be trouble. (Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount+)

From a performance standpoint, the show is essentially already there. Watching Renner and Laird circle each other, trying to show one another genuine affection while their issues turn what should be easy into an awkward dance, is affecting. Kingstown isn’t a subtle show by any stretch, but it’s good about not throwing a spotlight on things. Instead, it frequently lets hand gestures, brief embraces, and uneasy silences fill the space.

It also seems to know what to do with the boom factor. A raid on a white supremacist “stronghold” has good standoff shootout blocking for just long enough before a character significantly escalates things. Similarly, the season deploys two different car bomb scenes, well-timed to surprise. Additionally, the second builds on the first, raising the stakes and ensuring it doesn’t feel like just another explosion.

That leaves the plotting. It’s in Kingstown’s best interest to slim down some. Ditch the complications that doesn’t add complexity. Instead, look to stories that are still mean but a little less laden with interlocking players. As it stands now, in Season 3, the show is in danger of being overwhelmed by all the tracks laid with so few concrete resolutions. By trimming things and finding more screentime for the show’s best player, Tobi Bamtefa’s gang leader Bunny, the series could settle in for a satisfying long run. As things are now, though, it’s rough under the edges in far too many wrong ways.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 will see you in its offices at Paramount+ starting on June 2.

GenreCrime Drama
NetworkParamount+
SimilarA Model Family, Agatha Christie's Poirot B: The Beginning, Bad Guys: Vile City, Baywatch Nights, Black Butler, Bodies, Breaking Bad, CSI: Miami, D.N.Angel, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens, Mirai Sentai Timeranger, Miss Marple: A Pocketful of Rye, Miss Marple: The Body in the Library, Miss Marple: The Moving Finger, Sherlock Holmes The Long Night, The Shadow Line, The Singing Detective,
StudioMTV Entertainment Studios,