Season 1, episode 2 | Aired Thursday, Sep 27 2012 at 11:18 BST on
The Playboy Club's back for another instalment, and we get the same razzle dazzle to open the episode. Carol-Lynne's belting out another classic, while those city workers who found Bruno Bianchi's key are blagging their way in. That can't be good.
All the talk in the dressing room is about a letter from Hef, which has announced that one of the Chicago bunnies is going to be on the cover of Playboy - they have to submit five pictures if they want to be considered, and the winner will get $2,000. Alice rules herself out, as does Janie (telling everyone to drop it. Seems she's touchy about the subject.)
Nick's in the club too, of course, raising his eyebrows so much in an attempt to look suave that I'm worried he's going to end up with permanent wrinkles. Anyway, he's hoping to get back with Carol-Lynne, while Bill's revealing that Bruno Bianchi's gone missing - and there could be a new mob boss soon. Speaking of which, it seems that John Bianchi's turned up again to cause some problems.
Maureen spots the name "Clyde Hill" on the board thanks to those darn city workers, and flashes back to the murder fiasco (just in case you forgot about the stiletto stabbing - clearly The Playboy Club doesn't quite trust its viewers to be able to follow a plot). Nick goes to speak to John, who wants him to help look for Bruno, but Nick's refusing even though Bruno paid for him to get through law school and everything.
Maureen shows up to offer them some cigarettes (and respond to John's comment that she's a "thing of beauty" by replying: "Actually, I'm not a thing." Subtle.) Anyway, she asks to talk to Nick in private and fills him in on the Bruno-key imposters.
They both know that if the city workers start talking, it'll lead straight to the body. So Maureen goes to offer them cigarettes, asks to see their key, and then tells them that if her bosses find out they don't really own it they'll be in big trouble. Luckily for Maureen, the city workers head straight out.
Then she just has to get rid of the name "Clyde Hill" from the board, which she does just as John comes for a little chat. He wants to know if she has any information about Bruno, but she insists she doesn't. John leaves, adding that Nick is a "heartbreaker" and she should be careful. Haven't enough people told you this yet, Maureen?
Speaking of Nick, he's trying to make up with Carol-Lynne but she's not letting him off the hook, however much he insists nothing happened with Maureen. Elsewhere, Maureen's examining Bruno's key, and when Brenda finds her at it she claims she was planning to wear it in the pictures to try out for the magazine cover. As much as Maureen and Brenda claim they're fine competing, there's some clear jealousy there - see, I want to see the relationships and conflicts between the Bunnies more.
The next morning, Carol-Lynne stalks around the Playboy Mansion waking everyone up, handing out manuals and announcing that training will begin at 2. When she gets to Maureen, of course, it's time for the sweetly evil smile to come out.
Maureen needs the training because she's "pretty terrible" at her job (and, for that matter, at cleaning her room). When she discovers that Maureen is applying for the magazine cover, she warns that only official Bunnies can do that - and she's not one until she's started training.
What's worse, though, is that she's spotted Maureen's Bunny costume in a bag at the end of her bed. It's only the costume she was wearing during that whole murder pickle! And it's covered in blood! Weirdly, Carol-Lynne doesn't see this, merely docking Maureen's pay by $50 as a fine. Then she takes the costume away, leaving Maureen all wide-eyed and nervous.
At Bunny training, though, Maureen does well - she's the only one who read the manual (are you crazy? I would do anything Carol-Lynne told me to do, she's terrifying). Janie's still determined not to pose for the magazine cover, but Max thinks she should - he likes some photos he took of her in a bikini. Janie's refusing, though.
More important, though, is that Pearl (who I imagine is in charge of the club's cleaning and laundry, though I don't think we've met her before) can't save Maureen's Bunny costume - it's ruined. Finally, Carol-Lynne notices the stains and asks if it's blood. Pearl disagrees - it's "a whole bunch of blood". Carol-Lynne makes a shocked face like she's watching Jaws.
Of course, she has to confront Maureen about the costume, but is fed the lie that a "street man" tried to rob Maureen's cash box while she was outside having a smoke. Apparently, he punched her in the nose, which was the source of all the blood. Then Nick came along to help clean Maureen up, but she didn't have sex with him, honest.
Weirdly, Carol-Lynne appears to accept this explanation despite the lack of any kind of bruising or injury on Maureen's nose. She agrees to let Maureen try out for the cover, but snaps when she's called "ma'am". Poor Maureen can't get anything right.
Carol-Lynne has a little heart-to-heart with Pearl and decides to get back together with Nick (boo!) She gets some new bright red shoes and a bright red bunny outfit for Maureen, but warns her that "bad things happen" in Chicago. She should watch her back and cover her tracks.
The least interesting part of the show is Nick. He's hoping to get the Mayor's blessing when it comes to his race, but corruption's all about - the Mayor tells him "nothing's free in Chicago". Nice line. Turns out his wife's hoping for a new car, so Nick gets himself down to Johnny Bianchi's haunt and agrees to help find Bruno if John will donate a car to his campaign. Sorted. Nick is a political mastermind!
Of course, Nick spends his evening at the Playboy Club, where Billy asks him how it's going with Carol-Lynne. This allows Nick to deliver the fabulously cheesy, politically-inspired line: "The polls are closed. It could go either way." Ouch.
Anyway, Carol-Lynne goes into her office to find a bouquet of flowers from Nick with the message that he wants her back. Creepily, he then appears in the doorway, saying he means it. Carol-Lynne depresses me by falling into his arms and they begin to kiss and undress, just as Alice takes pictures of Maureen for the cover contest. (She seems a bit uncomfortable about this - I know Alice's husband is gay, but is she too? I might have missed that.)
At the Bunny meeting the next day, Mildred, Kate, Brenda, Maureen and, to her surprise, Janie (whose pictures were submitted by Max) are named as the five finalists. They have to go and get interviewed by Hef, which allows us to hear platitudes about how great it is to be a Bunny - subtly, one of them is paying for her medical classes because her dad said she couldn't be a doctor. Maureen talks about how awful her home life was but now she feels like she finally belongs...
Later, she makes up with Brenda, who admits that she really needs the money - she wants to own some nice real estate some day, which black women aren't meant to be able to do. Maureen is very impressed with all this and they end up hugging. Isn't that cute?
Maureen heads back to the dressing room to read the newspaper for news of Bianchi. Of course, Nick arrives, calmly revealing that he used to be a "fixer" for the Bianchi family so he knows how to make things go away (yeah, because throwing a body in the water is really clever, and how come you didn't even think about locating that key, Nick?) Anyway, he's not impressed that Maureen made up the story about the mugging without telling him.
Maureen's pleased that Nick's finally told her something "real" about himself, whatever that means, but Carol-Lynne is less impressed when she finds the pair mooning about together (though of course nothing is happening). When Nick's kissed her and gone, Carol-Lynne threatens Maureen that if she doesn't back off, she'll find out more about those "bad things" that happen in Chicago. Oo-er.
I have to confess that I'm really disappointed with Carol-Lynne's progression. I loved her in the last episode, but now she's just run straight back to Nick and become all jealous. I want her to get her tough, exciting spark back instead of focusing on Nick all the time.
Anyway, it's time to announce who's going to be on the cover, and it's Janie! She's really not happy about this at all and goes to scream at Max for submitting those bikini pictures. It turns out she can't have her picture published and she can't marry him because - wait for it - she's already married!
Turns out she's run away from an abusive husband who has no idea where she is (but he has a subscription to Playboy). Instead of sympathising or comforting her, Max storms off. Nice, Max, real nice.
Of course, with Janie out of the picture, it's none other than Maureen who wins the cover (which Carol-Lynne tells her, dripping with sarcasm, is because of her "honesty"). She reminds her to cover her tracks as she never knows when trouble is coming - but what's she talking about?
Alice has been having dinner with her gay husband and his parents, but it turns out her father-in-law has a key to the Playboy Club and wants to visit, which makes things very awkward. When they get there, Nick is talking to John, who wants him to question people at the Club about Bruno's disappearance. As they shake hands, one of the Bunnies takes a photo.
Alice's husband Sean, ever enterprising, grabs the photo and hands it over to Nick, warning that it could look bad. Then he reveals that he's currently working for another campaign - Bob Bradley's run - but it's clear he wants to be part of Nick's race. We'll see what happens there, I guess.
That night, Maureen admits that she feels bad taking on the cover because Hef chose Janie first. But Janie says she can't let her husband find her. Maureen thinks this is funny because Janie is hiding from someone, while she really wants to be found - by her father.
Yes, it's what every girl dreams of - their estranged father seeing them, probably partially undressed, on the cover of Playboy. (I have to point out here that I have no problem with any women posing for Playboy or being Bunnies if it's what they choose, but really, do you want your father to see that?) Anyway, she thinks that Carol-Lynne will fire her but Janie disagrees - Maureen's a cover girl now, plus Carol-Lynne is really scared of her.
Maureen shares out her cover money with Brenda (who doesn't know about it because she's asleep), before hiding Bruno's key in a tub of vanishing cream. But uh oh! John Bianchi seems a bit suspicious, and he's asking for all the information he can get on Maureen. They're going to get to know each other a lot better, apparently...
Despite myself, I'm enjoying The Playboy Club's soapiness more than I thought I would. I could still do without Nick's campaign (or kind of Nick in general, to be honest), and even the mob story seems a bit unnecessary. I'm still rooting for more Bunny relationships, conflict and action - delve into that, and The Playboy Club could still deliver.
What did you think of the episode? Leave your comments below?