Warning: Here Be Spoilers!
If you haven’t finished 91 Days, there will be big spoilers in this review. Proceed with caution!
So after several weeks, this Friday brought us to the end of the dark, revenge-driven, Prohibition-era mob drama, 91 Days. You can find my single episode reviews here, under the 91 Days tag.
When we begin our story, Avilio – the only surviving member of the Lagusa family – lives in a dark, dismal apartment. When he receives the letter naming his family’s killers, he suddenly has his chance for revenge.
At first, things go luckier than he ever could have planned. Avilio’s childhood friend Corteo brews high-quality bootleg alcohol, and this gives them an excuse to begin working with Nero Vannetti – one of the sons of the Don who ordered the Lagusa family dead. Soon, Avilio becomes one of Nero’s most trusted.
It’s not long before Avilio’s motivations get muddled. He still has a powerful desire for revenge, but his relationships with Corteo and Nero are distractions from this. He works hard to help protect Nero even as he destroys his family from the inside and, realizing too late that not everyone can survive getting caught up in the mafia, tries to disentangle Corteo from the mess he’s created. Meanwhile, one rival family is destroyed and another – the Galassia family – seems to be ready for the Vannettis to fall as well. Nero’s brother, Frate, doesn’t survive the Galassia meddling, while his sister, Fio, kills her husband Ronaldo Galassia to stop him from destroying her family.
When an ultimatum forces Avilio to shoot Corteo – who’s been deeply broken and urges his friend to kill him – he is no longer able to keep up his act. He finally makes his move to kill Don Vannetti and succeeds, though he is forced to reveal both his identity and his plans.
With Nero the only one of the Vannetti’s left to run Lawless, he finds and captures Avilio, pushing him for answers. Unsure of what to do next, Nero and Avilio head toward the ocean together. Avilio finally tells Nero the truth – he didn’t want to kill him.
As the two walk along the coast, Nero pulls out his gun, looking troubled, and shoots into the distance. Shortly after, he’s seen driving away, alone.
I liked 91 Days. A lot. Throughout the season, this was one of the shows that constantly kept the whole staff going “Oh my god, did you guys see it yet?!” My top 3 episode endings were Corteo killing Fango, Fio shooting Ronaldo, and then Corteo’s death. Corteo’s death in particular was built up so well.
One of the things I enjoyed most about 91 Days was that there are points where it implies that maybe everything will turn out okay. As Avilio and Corteo spend their last day together, drinking coffee and visiting the zoo, I wanted to believe that someone might get at least a partially happy ending, no matter how unlikely it seemed. Instead, Avilio’s quest for revenge taints everything it touches. Tragedy might have happened without Avilio, but he is unquestionably the catalyst for the quick parade of destruction that spreads through the family.
Toward the end, Avilio recognizes how unimportant his search for revenge really was. He has succeeded, but he isn’t happy. The hole within him hasn’t filled. At one point, briefly, it seemed to be filled by the companionship of both Corteo and Nero. On their first road trip together as they try to avoid Orco’s mercenary, Avilio seems to soften.
The final trip Nero and Avilio take is reminiscent of that first. They eat in diners and when Nero finally lets Avilio free from his bonds, we’re treated once again to his haphazard driving skills. Avilio is finally forced to face the truth about his life, his revenge, and the future he never imagined.
There were some mixed reactions to the ending. Personally, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t my favourite ending of all time, but up until the very last moment I didn’t know exactly how it would end. The show went out softly – Avilio’s death is surprisingly undramatic, paralleling the ultimate insignificance of his search for revenge. In the end, it was all for nothing. Almost no one has survived, and almost no one is happy.
A few people have suggested that Avilio didn’t really die. We don’t see his body, and the final shot is only of the footprints being washed away by the waves. However, I think it’s safe to say that he did. Even moreso, I think he wanted to. Nero tells him “You don’t need a reason to live. You just live,” but Avilio has been dead inside for a long time. There is no future for Avilio. There hasn’t been one for a long time.
Regardless of mixed feelings about the ending, I think it’s safe to say that 91 Days told an excellent story this season. I’m happy with it, and for those of you who watched it along with us, I hope you were too.