The series premiere of Feed the Beast ended with Tommy and Dion standing in the street, Dion with a busted finger and the chaos of the Bronx swirling around both of them, determined to get Thirio off the ground. For Tommy, it’s a chance to get his life going again. For Dion, Thirio may just save his life, and the life of those he loves. The stakes, as they say, are high.
“Father of the Year” begins to put the restaurant into motion, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Tommy seems to be struggling at his job; he’s misremembering customer orders and backing his car into construction pylons. Later, when his boss confronts him with a few customer complaints, Tommy blows up, saying he’s sick of the job and that he doesn’t need it anymore.
Then there’s Dion, who has another run-in with the Tooth Fairy — this time Dion brings along a little espresso and biscotti to ease the tension — and is given a tighter deadline for the restaurant than he’d like. The Tooth Fairy is pleased with this notion that Dion has secured an investor for Thirio, but not so pleased that he’s willing to give him a long leash. He tells Dion he has 48 hours to get him a signed contract with the investor.
Meanwhile, a flashback shows us that TJ wasn’t always so quiet. In fact, around his mother, he was quite talkative, throwing out business ideas and trying her coffee. The two clearly shared a connection, and seeing TJ in this light only underlines his trauma in the present day. So, when TJ gets away from a few bullies by ducking into the girls’ washroom and he shares a moment with a fellow “outsider” who’s drawing a mural on the bathroom wall, the tenderness of the moment is amplified because of the pain we know he’s endured.
After Tommy quits his job, he comes home to a manic Dion who can’t believe Tommy hasn’t asked his father to invest in the business yet. Dion says that dealing with Tommy’s father is like dealing with cold water; you just have to jump right in. So, after coercing Tommy that there’s no time like the present, the two take off to see Mr. Moran.
After Tommy fumbles the pitch, clearly intimidated by his father (and for good reason, as we’ll find out later), Dion steps in and tells Mr. Moran that he can’t be expected to invest until he’s tried the food. So they set up a tasting for that night, where everything will hang in the balance.
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Meanwhile, another visit with a father is just as intimidating. The Tooth Fairy visits his father in prison, and it’s clear that the elder mob boss isn’t too pleased with the way his son is running things. He thinks he’s being too soft, and that he’s not informed about what’s going on in the business, including a shipment of drugs from a rival Asian mob set to come into the city at any moment.
NEXT: I knew you were trouble when you walked in[pagebreak]
In preparation for the night’s tasting, Dion hits the market with TJ in order to pick up ingredients, and to leave Tommy alone with Pilar, fellow grieving spouse and obvious love interest. At the market Tommy gets a little coke from his butcher friend and hears about an Asian shipment coming in soon, showing us that there’s a lot of underlying connections here.
Eventually, Mr. Moran shows up and the three loft residents, TJ included, do their best to woo him into investing in Thirio. Moran’s a tough sell though, putting ice in his wine, insulting the courses, and just generally agitating everyone around him. It’s all a power play though; he does decide to invest, saying that soon the Bronx will be gentrified and Mr. Aidan Moran might as well be the one to get the process started. There’s one condition though: He gets to see his grandson once a week.
Tommy balks at the idea at first, largely because his father is racist and apparently never approved of Tommy’s interracial marriage, but also because the man seems to always have other sinister motives. TJ agrees to the deal though, clearly wanting to help his father and Dion succeed. Thus, Mr. Moran, and his strange, jumpsuit-wearing caretaker, hand over a contract he’s already had drawn up.
Tommy wants a lawyer to look it over before they sign it, and Dion thinks he knows just the person. He goes to see the lawyer/hookup from the first episode, but she refuses to look at the contract for free. Really, the scene is there to reveal another bit of information: As she heads back into her apartment, closing the door on Dion, we see that her father is the agent who’s trying to get the Tooth Fairy off the streets, and is using Dion as a mole.
With her no longer being an option, Tommy takes the contract and turns to Pilar, since she owns and operates a restaurant with her sister. She and her sister take a look at it and decide that there’s a lot of shady stuff in there that could screw the guys in the long run. But when Pilar comes to tell Tommy about it, Dion convinces her to stay quiet, that if the restaurant doesn’t get off the ground it’ll ruin Tommy’s attempt to bounce back from the death of his wife. Stupidly, Pilar agrees to stay silent, especially after seeing Tommy open up in group therapy and talk about how the restaurant has him starting to feel like himself again.
Of course, the whole shady deal needs to happen because Dion needs to save his own skin. He’s got the Tooth Fairy coming after him with harsh deadlines, and the agent once again picks him up off the street and threatens him, telling him that he needs Dion to move quicker and get some good intel on the Tooth Fairy and his criminal activities.
Things are already close to going off the rails though. After TJ gets home from his visit with grandpa, and after Mr. Moran throws some shade at Tommy’s parenting and the strong personality of his dead wife, Tommy notices bruises on his son’s torso. We know from earlier that those are bruises from TJ’s classmates, and Dion knows this too, but Tommy immediately thinks it was his father’s doing. And of course, TJ isn’t saying a thing about it.
So, Tommy drives to his father’s house to confront him about it. When he asks his father if he hit his grandson, Mr. Moran replies with a cold “if I did, what would you do about it?” Tommy lunges at him and throws a punch, saying he won’t let him beat TJ like he did him, but it isn’t long before Mr. Moran gets the upperhand and lays a beating on Tommy.
There’s trauma running through this whole family. Tommy was abused as a child, TJ watched his mother die, and Mr. Moran is clearly wrapped up in some shady business. And that’s not even counting Dion, who’s going ahead with the signed contract, which he’s presented to the Tooth Fairy, despite getting a call from Tommy screaming that he refuses to get into business with his father. Like I said, things are already going off the rails.