I would have thought by now, well into the third season of the dystopic fantasy drama, Drumpf Dynasty, we would have seen the emergence of a true antagonist to the antic leading man in this improbable story of power run amok.
Season one, subtitled “This American Carnage Will End,” operated as any drama must – introducing us to the danger, then drawing out unsuspected story lines and introducing ephemeral characters. For a time, one suspected that the show would have a precipitous ending after one season when the larger than life chief investigator, Big Jim, is fired and then prepares to tell all. All the while, the script was preparing us exactly for that letdown – not so much the work of the madcap leader, but the people around him would never speak the words of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale: “The Emperor Has No Clothes.”
The ironic and confounding title for season two, Razdelyay i Vlastvuy – Russian for “Divide and Conquer” – gave us a further hint. The emperor was not the boss of all bosses — there were other powers more in control and the debt had to be paid. Personally, I saw season two as a bit of a snooze. We got a comprehensive view of the madcap palace and the people coming and going, mostly going. All the while, you expected something to happen, but nothing did happen.
Now as the third season winds down, there are more tantalizing elements. We learn that the emperor is isolating himself, his self-control is evaporating and his elemental cruelty and indecency are increasingly evident to even the people who have embraced his fantasies for so long. The story has been improbable all along – you keep believing that someone, anyone with a modicum of star power will take the simple step of pulling at the right thread, which will quickly unravel and level the emperor standing there, fat and naked, for the world to see.
Personally, I thought that season three, “This is the end of my presidency,” really would be the end of the series – that they wouldn’t renew – especially after Craggy Bob delivered the goods for all the world to see. I expected Craggy Bob to be a more solid character, but Robert DeNiro apparently wasn’t available and the role fell to a lesser actor. That reminds us once more – the original idea of emperor is supposedly more important than the reality of any fool who happens to be seated on the throne. Now, I’m not so sure that the writers have found a way to write the finale, even when they give you more clues.
The most recent surprising element comes from General Jack, the retired military man who could blow the whole story sky high. Jack lets us know that he has seen the emperor as he really is: “a man of limited cognitive ability, dubious behavior,” a danger to our allies, a menace to the idea of democracy. That is one step away from doing it, but then General Jack tells us that he believes in “devoir de reserve.” That’s French, not Russian. It means “the duty of silence.”
I was really confused by this episode. It points to a season four, and maybe beyond—none of which are needed. It tells us that General Jack knows the emperor is butt-neked, and that we all know this is true – all of us, blue team, red meanies and the people who claim to be chartreuse. But General Jack says that the time isn’t right – he knows that the emperor is not his own man, is not always fully “Being There,” is trading on his power for the future, is a coward, and his inner child will destroy anything in his path. But General Jack tells us this just isn’t the time.
What I learned and everyone should know from ancient times, through vaudeville and sitcoms, is that there is a “rule of three.” Audiences are attuned to it and they get exhausted afterward. “Veni, vidi, vici,” said Caesar. “I came, I saw, I conquered,” check, the emperor has done that. Aristotle described the three elements as dramatic unity of time, place and action. Check, season three is for action. “Meet me at camera three,” Jon Stewart used to say. This bullshit has gone on long enough.
I have a question for General Jack and everyone else who could pull the plug on a show that has captured the stage and is now eating up the scenery: we are exhausted and driven mad with the emperor’s antics. Enough is enough. My compulsion to watch Drumpf Dynasty has dissolved away. I’m sick of it. If not now, when?