Amazon finally opted to pick up Sneaky Pete after the new show circulated through the networks last May with no takers. CBS came the closest to considering the show, in the end it was Amazon Studios that saw Sneaky Pete’s potential. The new series is post-Breaking Bad from co-creator Bryan Cranston, about a fresh out of prison con man by the name Marius. Wonderfully played by the talented Giovanni Ribisi, Marius decides after hearing his loud mouth cellmate Pete blab on and on about his upbringing that he’s found the perfect cover even as mobsters await his release to collect on a debt.
His cellmate seemingly had the perfect grandparents, the perfect childhood, and perfect summers. Even the apples were to die for, at least so he tells Marius over and over again. Flashbacks show Pete as a youngster running along a beautiful glistening lake, with the sun shining perfectly, and playing on a tire swing. Everything is so idyllic but also annoying to Marius.
Pete thinks Marius is jealous, well, because he admits finally that he is. He didn’t have a father, his mother was hardly around, and so Marius wound up with a dozen foster parents where maybe only “three of them weren’t there for the crappy check.” In other words, Marius’ childhood was nothing short of a dysfunctional disaster.
Marius wants so badly for his cellmate to shut up already, but then, as the two get their hair cuts side by side, Marius notices that they both look sort of similar to one another. Marius gets the great idea to simply slide out of jail once he’s served his time and into Pete’s shoes, taking on his persona after he steals a picture of Pete’s grandparent’s home.
Too bad the real Pete is still in jail serving time for robbing a gun range at gun point and is not up for parole until another two years. Conveniently, the real Pete’s family members haven’t actually seen him in 20-plus years. This makes things quite easy for con man Marius to whistle his way right into the grandparent’s home, claiming he’s the long lost Pete who’s finally come home. He soon discovers that Pete’s grandmother Aubrey (Margot Martindal), grandfather Otto Bernhardt (Peter Gerety) and family really are a swell group of bondsmen, but that he should be careful because the cousin Taylor (Shane McRae) is a cop.
Marius or fake-Pete jumps into the family business with both feet. He’s hardly been back and he’s already helping cousin Julia (Marin Ireland) chase down criminal Abraham Persikof (Domenick Lombardozzi) who’s skipped bail. They find out that Persikof is creating a trail: plane tickets, credit card statements, and anything to throw off those seeking to bring him in. They eventually track Persikof to a nursing fundraiser (Persikof’s mother’s a nurse) and escort Persikof’s mother away. Julia has Persikof at gunpoint and threatening that she will “shoot” if he doesn’t come with her, as she’s apparently supposed to arrest him. This quickly doesn’t work when Persikof sees passed Julia’s inexperience.
But then Marius/Pete, the more skilled bad boy with a little more criminal experience, gets involved. Their tag-team efforts brings Persikof under arrest. Sitting at the table Marius remembers a sad moment in his own childhood about the family he never had. We get the feeling that he is enjoying being Pete, perhaps realizing that his former blabbering cellmate was indeed being quite honest about how awesome his family truly was.
But Marius has his own personal issues to deal with, separate from his new Pete identity. His brother Eddie (Michael Drayer) has gotten into some hot water with a bad man who is played none other than by Cranston. He threatens to start snipping off Eddie’s limbs if Marius doesn’t get the money that’s owed to him.
The show beautifully closes with grandma coming into to barn where Marius/Pete just got off the phone with his brother to gather the eggs from her hens before “a fox” comes into their home to take what’s not his. It looks like Marius isn’t fooling grandma, who the real Pete did mention was his favorite.
Sneaky Pete is a great pilot that is surprisingly swift paced, easy to digest and leaves you wanting more. I hope to see the rest of the first season and am glad that Amazon Studios was smart enough to pick up such a great show passed up unfortunately by CBS and other networks. Oh well, Amazon Prime fans like myself who are waiting for new shows to start up again on the networks are just fine with streaming the show. I just hope they release more episodes soon because I get a feeling Sneaky Pete will be another binge session.