Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 Review – Renner Leads a Needed Reset in the Crime Drama

Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 Review
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While Jeremy Renner continues to gain attention for his superhero work, his other work shows his acting chops. While Mayor of Kingstown suffered for being too dark and depressing in its first season, the show mellowed out considerably in the second season. Still, with enough plot threads to sort through and a changing cast, Season 3 required a light reset. While there were doubts the show would ever return, Season 3 proves its most compelling narrative yet.

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Mayor of Kingstown stars Jeremy Renner and Tobi Bamtefa.
L-R: Jeremy Renner as Mike McLusky and Tobi Bamtefa as Deverin ‘Bunny’ Washington in episode 1, season 3 of Mayor of Kingstown streaming on Paramount+ Photo Credit: Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount+

Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 Plot

After the death of his mother, Mike McLusky (Renner), the fixer must get back to work. His ties to the Crip leader Bunny (Tobi Bamtefa) feel partially mended. At the same time, Mike’s found peace between the police and some other gangs. His brother Kyle (Taylor Handley) continues working with former partner Ian (Hugh Dillon) and SWAT leader Robert (Hamish Allan-Headley). Together, Mike’s makeshift alliances take the fight to emerging white power groups (Richard Brake) and a new Russian boss (Yorick van Wageningen).

Mayor of Kingstown stars Jeremy Renner, Hugh Dillon, Hamish Allan-Headley, and Taylor Handley.
L-R: Taylor Handley as Kyle McLusky, Derek Webster as Stevie, Hugh Dillon as Ian, and Jeremy Renner as Mike McLusky in episode 1, season 3 of Mayor of Kingstown streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Credit: Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount+

The Critique

The early seasons of Mayor of Kingstown featured many of the darkest scenes in television history. While the overarching story was compelling, the execution became muddled in its grotesque display of corruption. The focus on highlighting the inefficiencies and problems with the prison system remains the central driving force of the series. However, rather than languishing in the darkness of the American soul, Season 3 finds a way to balance the anger at its core and make legitimate observations about the prison industrial complex.

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That’s not to say the Mayor of Kingstown completely turned over a new leaf. There are still hyperviolent deaths and executions in the story. Yet having Taylor Sheridan hand over the series to a group of younger writers also helped the show become a sleeker, more emotionally effective vision. It was easy to frame Mayor of Kingstown as a darker Sons of Anarchy, but to start Season 3, it feels like an improvement. While Season 2 started to cut down the runtimes, Season 3 embraces an all-killer, no-filler approach.

Mayor of Kingstown introduces Richard Brake in Season 3.
Richard Brake as Merle Callahan in episode 1, season 3 of Mayor of Kingstown streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Credit: Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount+

Gone are some weak links in previous seasons, most notably Dianne Wiest and Aiden Gillen. Instead, the cast returns with the always upsetting character actor Richard Brake and Yorick van Wageningen as a vengeful Russian. Again, Renner stands out amongst the cast and brings some of his best work to the screen. Putting strong character actors around him this season also gives him a chance to let the emotion flow.

Bamtefa continues to shine as a comedic presence in the series, but he also taps into the gravitas of his situation. He might not be a star coming out of the series, partly because of Renner’s gravitational pull, but he flashes brilliance that hints at an exciting future. Michael Beach remains underwritten in the first few episodes, but his performance feels more compelling.

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There’s also more subtlety brought out among the side characters. While its not uncommon for a series to populate the speaking roles with limited time, these conversations actually matter in Season 3. Additionally, the material given to them matters more. While the first couple of seasons tried to tell its audience about the abuse prisoners suffered, no development occurred to make us care about what happened to the vast majority. Already, Season 3 mends these fences and actually sells the argument the series was born to make.

Mayor of Kingstown Season 3 introduces Yorick van Wageningen.
Yorick van Wageningen as Konstantin in episode 1, season 3 of Mayor of Kingstown streaming on Paramount+ Photo Credit: Dennis P. Mong Jr./Paramount+

Conclusion

As Mayor of Kingstown enters a Justified style shift in antagonists, it has a chance to take another leap. The first three episodes give a strong hope for the future. Still, the dark events on screen will turn off some viewers. It’s not often you see some of the horrors that Kingstown unleashes on its characters. Renner gives us plenty of reason to return to the series, and rising threats provide ample drama. While we only caught three episodes of its new form, we’re excited to continue on this season. That alone is a massive shift.

7/10

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Mayor of Kingstown airs on Paramount+ and Showtime starting on June 2, 2024. Three episodes were provided to Fandomwire for review.

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Written by Alan French

Articles Published: 48

Alan French began writing about film and television by covering the awards and Oscar beat in 2016. Since then, he has written hundreds of reviews on film and television. He attends film festivals regularly. He is a Rotten Tomato-approved critic and is on the committee for the Critics Association of Central Florida.