Shut Eye, on Hulu, is a clever little number that starts off with one premise only to shift gears partway through and turn into something else entirely. The first episode “Death” begins with the idea that “bujo” is allowing the non-romany gadje to fleece believers in Los Angeles.
The Haverford’s moved from Las Vegas to work their scams. Donovan is Charlie; the one who obey’s the rules set by Rita and Fonzo. When Charlie first met mother and son Romany gypsies who control LA, they beat him severely. Now, Haverford does as he is told.
At first glance, Shut Eye is not anything special. The cast, however, is impressive. Strickland as Mrs. Haverford, Zayas as the gangster type that Charlie is leading on, Rossellini as the matriarchal head of the Romany family Chriqui as the hypnotist love interest of Linda.
The first part of the show has Charlie fleecing customers and Linda performing tricks at an afternoon party. She tells her potential mark, Nadine Davies, that Charlie develops tricks for magicians.
Haverford’s sister Sylvia tries to scam one of Rita and Fonzo’s members and not only gets a black eye for her trouble but ends up with the letter M carved on her cheek.
Charlie also gets a black eye and a concussion from one customer’s boyfriend whom he accuses of cheating. Right after he is punched and kicked in the head, Charlie is hypnotized by Gina, the lover of Linda.
Things get a little convoluted at this point but after Gina is forced to release Charlie he begins to experience precognition. Nothing too spectacular, but the scam artist “hears” things that will happen within the next few seconds.
He experiences it at the hospital, where his head is checked out, and later, when he elaborates on the Bernal scam. He “hears” gunshots and warns his gangster customer in time to save the man from being shot.
Immediately after the drive by he tells Eduardo that his son does not have asperges but an ear problem. (Charlie hears this at the hospital, twice. Once as a precognitive “vision” and the second time when the event actually plays out.)
This new direction changes what started as an underwhelming tale of psychic scam artists into something entirely different. The characters of the series are not overly deep, Fonzo feels like a villainous caricature versus the real deal and the affair between Linda and Gina feels forced.
Even Charlie felt a tad two dimensional until the attack leaving him with new powers and a hairline fracture. It will be interesting to see just how this twist will help Haverford to put one, or more, over on his keepers.
Shut Eye is enjoying the freedom of being on a streaming platform vs a regular network. The language is very rough, with the “C” word being used rather freely and the violence is quite impressive. The cutting of Sylvia’s cheek looked very real, the blood welling rather realistically when Rita carves up Charlie’s sister’s cheek.
The first episode, after the game changing inclusion of second sight, has set things up nicely. It will be fun to see how a matter of a second, or two, will enable the Haverford’s to outfox their keepers.
Shut Eye is on Hulu right now and all 10 episodes are available for viewing.