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'Brotherhood' the best Showtime's dramatic series

“Brotherhood” is Blake Master’s intense east coast family drama returning to Showtime on Sunday at 10 ET/PT for a third season. 

The Peabody Award-winning show is a savory Irish-boiled dinner set in Providence, Rhode Island.  “Brotherhood” embarks on its third season and is one of those rare gems that flies low under the radar, but hands down is one of the best scripted dramas on television today. 

If you have not watched before, do all you can to catch up (online-at Showtime’s site). “Brotherhood's” hook is in the mesmerizing and ambitious Caffee family dynamic in the world of local politics, crime, family, hate, love and betrayal.

With a face like a Roman statue, Tommy Caffee (Jason Clarke) is a rising politician, and his brother Michael (Jason Isaacs) is his albatross: The anti-hero and small-time hood with ambitions too.

This season will see cracks in the indomitable matriarch, Rose, played to the hilt by the brilliant actress, Fionnula Flanagan. Themes of aging, ailing and fighting the managed health care bureaucracy hit home this season.

Fionnula Flanagan Rose - Photo courtesy of Showtime

Fionnula Flanagan "Rose" - Photo courtesy of Showtime

The show’s creator, Blake Masters, uses the scenic and decaying backdrop of Providence as the locational muse that contains the insulated world of the Caffees, both above board and in the shadows.

The fictional Irish neighborhood of the Hill is facing encroachment from Hispanic and other immigrants and the political powershifts and fallout are the realm of state legislator, councilman Tommy Caffee, currently frustrated by his political errand-boy status.  It is also home to hoodlum brother Michael, dealing with a frustrating brain injury as he asserts his dominance over mobster Freddie Cork (Kevin Chapman) as he eeks out a criminal fifedom.

When the second season ended, Tommy Caffee told his brother Michael that he knew about the Mob hit that left him brain-damaged but did not warn him.

No spoilers here: The current season opens with a surprise twist in the Eileen (Annabeth Gish) and Tommy fractured marriage dynamic, and reveals that Cousin Colin (Brian F. O'Byrne) from Belfast has broken through further with Rose, as he tries to broker a peace between to the two brothers still smarting over the fraternal betrayal.

Politics and cronyism thicken the stew for Tommy who uses some fortuitous leverage and veiled threats to do the bidding of his “master” speaker Donatello (Matt Servitto) in power plays between the legislator and the morally ambiguous city Mayor.

This season will paint the bigger arcs of why Tommy serves in public office, and what his true political ambitions are and where the line is drawn for what he will tolerate and turn a blind eye to. 

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