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'Mr. Inbetween' is a Hitman Story That's…Fun
September 22, 2019  | By David Hinckley

Ray Shoesmith remains, without question, the funniest hitman on television.

His knack for seamlessly blending humor with bloody dead bodies makes Mr. Inbetween, airing Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX, one of the small gems of contemporary TV.

Ray was created and is played by Scott Ryan, an Australian who was either born with or has honed the art of droll menace. In the interest of full disclosure, Ryan did give it a test run in the 2005 film The Magician, from which Mr. Inbetween is loosely derived. In any case, it’s hard to explain and fascinating to watch.

Mr. Inbetween only runs 20-25 minutes an episode, and its seasons run just six episodes, which makes it further fascinating that much of the time, not much seems to be happening.

We’ll see Ray taking his young daughter to school and chatting with her about how another girl is bullying her on social media. 

Ray suggests she instill fear in the bully, a tack at which Ray has considerable experience, and his daughter has none. When a later scene suggests the bullying has escalated, Ray tells his daughter he will take care of the problem for her.

Were the bully a few years older, we could be planning a memorial service. Presumably, Ray has some intermediate level persuasion techniques for tweens.

Although we don’t know for sure.

In the grownup world, we see Ray watching TV with his age-appropriate female friend and engaging in light banter over a subject that most couples have at some point discussed.

The scene centers on a land mine that Ray knows enough to step around gingerly. But the real point, as with the daughter scene, is to normalize Ray’s life. He spends most of his time dealing with the totally normal interactions that comprise most people’s lives.

And then the other part of his life shows up. The part where he solves problems for various people by terminating other various people with extreme prejudice.

Even that vocation gets a twist in the Season 2 opener – when Ray has to call a client to ask why the client contracted a job out to two of Ray’s rivals, just because they undercut him on price.

Eventually, they work out a satisfactory solution over the phone while we watch the client’s bikini-clad girlfriend casually snort a line of cocaine.

Most of the people we meet in Mr. Inbetween wouldn’t be called model citizens, which is no surprise given his profession. Most of them also don’t look like movie stars, which is no surprise either. That combination gives the show some plausible grounding even as we might wonder how someone could be a caring Dad and a decent boyfriend when he spends some of his nights shooting creeps in the head.

That’s Ray Shoesmith’s dilemma, too, and maybe it’s part of the reason he’s in a support group. Okay, he’s selective in what he shares with the group. But if it’s any consolation to his fellow group members, we know more of the truth than they do and we too are still not sure how he pulls it off.

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