Thursday, June 25, 2020
June 25, 2020: BoschStudying: Irvin Irving
[Like most of us, my lockdown has offered the opportunity to check some TV shows off of my list. One of the best I’ve seen is Amazon Prime’s original show Bosch, based on the longstanding series of police procedural detective novels by Michael Connelly (who is part of the show as well). The best part of Bosch is its characters, so this week I’ll AmericanStudy the five most important!]
On the most typecast of Bosch’s five leads, and the humanity and depth we see nonetheless.
On The Wire, Lance Reddick portrayed Lieutenant Cedric Daniels, a tough-as-nails, unsmiling commanding officer who gradually worked his way up to deputy chief, chief, and even commissioner before complicated political issues forced him out of the latter role; at the start of the series he was married, but that marriage ended up failing and by the series’ end he was in a committed relationship with another character from within the law enforcement ranks (State’s Attorney Rhonda Pearlman, played by Deirdre Lovejoy). On Bosch, Lance Reddick portrays Deputy Chief Irvin Irving, a tough-as-nails, unsmiling commanding officer who has gradually worked his way up to chief and even a run for Los Angeles mayor before complicated political issues forced him to end his campaign for the latter role; at the start of the series he was married, but that marriage ended up failing and as of season six he is in a committed relationship with another character from within the law enforcement ranks (crisis response team translator Jun Park, played by Linda Park). Reddick is so damn good in both roles that I’m not complaining about the similarities at all (plus I really don’t want him to yell at me), but still, it’s pretty striking when you line ‘em up like that (and Reddick himself has remarked on his frequent typecasting).
I wouldn’t be writing a whole post on Irving if the typecasting were the whole story, though; and just as I’ve argued for the other central characters this week, across Bosch’s seasons Irving has indeed been developed in compelling ways that both extend and challenge his more familiar role. Partly that’s due to Reddick’s own talent and charisma, but it’s also been the result of two interconnected, intimate familial plotlines. At the start of season one Irving’s son George was a uniformed police officer, and it seemed that his story would be the likewise familiar one of a privileged child both benefiting from and seeking to escape his father’s shadow. But in season two, George Irving was killed by a group of corrupt cops with whom he had gone undercover—and while that plotline did relate directly to the season’s overarching mystery and procedural stories, it also and to my mind most importantly allowed us to see a vastly different side of Irvin Irving as both a policeman and a father. That is, partly Irving responded to this tragedy in the ways his typecast identity would suggest: getting angry and going after the criminals responsible (in partnership with Bosch, which was truly a delight to watch). But Reddick was consistently able to show us the pain and grief underneath that badass exterior, offering a compelling parallel to the darknesses that so often drive Bosch’s investigations.
In the most recent season (six), Irving’s relationship with Jun Park added another, even more human side to these elements of his character and arc. Jun revealed to Irving that she was unexpectedly pregnant and that their child would be a boy, and through a series of largely unspoken but hugely powerful reactions and choices Reddick conveyed all the emotions and layers to what that news meant for Irving (this scene doesn’t seem to be online yet, unfortunately). A central plot thread of season six dealt with Jamie Hector’s Jerry Edgar dealing with his own perspectives on fatherhood, both through his interactions with a grieving father and through his own relationship to his growing sons, and as usual with this great show these multiple threads reflected and enriched each other without any overt commentary. But at the same time, there’s something to be said for the depths and potency of a single moment and conversation—and in that conversation between Irving and Jun, Reddick reveals all the layers and humanity beyond any stereotypical sides to this character or typecasting to his roles and career (to be clear, Park’s performance was great too, and indeed necessary as her character has consistently been to draw out this wonderful new side of Irving and Reddick).
Last BoschStudying tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? Takes on this show or others you’d call especially lockdown-binge-worthy?