Bosch Season 1 Episode 5 Review: “Mama’s Boy”


There is a lot of “Mama’s Boy” that feels like the latter chapters of True Detective, an hour primarily about the weird mother/son relationship between Raynard (whose real name is David, apparently) and his mother, who he takes care of in between murdering people. After Raynard/David’s escape in “Fugazi,” it felt like Bosch was beginning to pick up momentum and truly begin to flourish – after “Mama’s Boy,” I’m a little fearful for what the second half will hold.

The real issue with the events of “Mama’s Boy” is how they’re depicted; for such a predictable story – right down to Raynard murdering a young, gay male at the end of the hour – one would think a show would look to turn that story into its own, injecting some semblance of personality into the proceedings. It’s what ultimately made True Detective a worthwhile watch: the saccharine final hours couldn’t quite eclipse the earlier episodes of the show, dominated by fascinating existential observations and an acting performance for the ages. Though Titus Welliver, Jaime Hector, and crew are solid, they haven’t been able to elevate the by-the-numbers material of Bosch into something more evocative – “Mama’s Boy” is a great example of why, an hour that is packed brim-to-brim with flat characterizations and trite proceedings.

First of all, the mystique of Raynard Waits (like Errol Childress, to make one last TD reference) is not so mysterious at all. He’s got a creepy, Norman Bates-without-the-physical-attraction thing going with his mother, manipulating her into being blind and docile so he can have a safe place to put on make up (to cover up his broken nose, which doesn’t ever seem to bother him – and broken noses are pain-ful), and then go about his business murdering people. The only interesting element is his attachment to home, but rather than explore that in interesting ways, we get the mother who is nowhere near capable enough to be useful for anything, a possible device for Bosch to kill off later in its pursuit of turning Raynard into a serial legend. For “Mama’s Boy,” we just get a completely unnecessary scene of Raynard strangling a drug-addled young male: are we supposed to find this creepy, or unsettling? The final scene of “Mama’s Boy” is just plain empty, adding nothing to the persona of the killer except that he treats murder as an intimate affair (totally original characterization), rendering him a weightless vehicle for crooked smiles and potential bloodshed, a dramatic device that Bosch has no interest in developing as an actual human being, outside of the trope-laden psychopath traits.

If “Mama’s Boy” had something else to offer with Bosch or Edgar, it might be able to overcome some of the Raynard silliness. Instead, Bosch spends the episode running around a fake confession from Albert’s father, who apparently was sleeping with his daughter? The pictures he finds in the drawer aren’t explicitly clear, but they seem to suggest his father is guilty of being a pedophile (dirty white trash man has child fetish? Again: how original!), exactly the kind of “twist” that sucks a viewer out of anything involving the Delacroix family (particularly the daughter, whose position as a viable human being takes a big hit, when she subtly tries to defend her obviously sick father). Plus, it’s an hour spent on a red herring, something Bosch had avoided previously, all in pursuit of… an incest story, hardly the way to bring color or resonance to a murder mystery.

Everything about “Mama’s Boy” is just flat; it’s a show going through the motions, and looking (and mostly sounding) pretty while it does so. It’s unfortunate, because the actors are in place to turn Bosch into something much more atmospheric and evocative – but “Mama’s Boy” is only interested in retreading familiar material, without bringing much new or unique to the table with it (Edgar freaking out over his shoes is funny, but once again – Edgar dresses nice, we get it), culminating in an instantly forgettable episode of television.

[Photo via Amazon]

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