‘Full Circle’ review: Interlocking stories of cops and hoods

Actors Terry O'Quinn, Stacy Keach, Kate Burton and Chris Bauer of “Full Circle.”
Actors Terry O'Quinn, Stacy Keach, Kate Burton and Chris Bauer of “Full Circle.” GETTY

Two years ago, Neil LaBute set out to map linked romantic relationships that came “Full Circle” in 10 episodes for DirecTV. This year, he applies the template to other relationships. Some of the same emotions are in play: hatred, jealousy, vengeance, fear and a teasing glimmer or two of sincere affection.

DirecTV correctly calls this year’s drama “new season” of “Full Circle,” as opposed to either the second season or a sequel. With the new season, premiering Wednesday, “Full Circle” becomes even more of a legitimate anthology series than Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story” because the cast is entirely different than the first season, as are the linked stories.

Bud O’Rourke (Stacy Keach) has been cooling his heels while his lust for vengeance boils for 18 years in prison. He was put there by his ex-son-in-law Jimmy Parrera (Terry O’Quinn), a former cop who’s been hiding out from Bud’s minions and is known by Chicago cops and gangsters alike as “Jimmy Pariah” because he ratted on his father-in-law in an effort to eradicate pervasive corruption in the police department.

Jimmy’s old partner Richie DeStefano (Chris Bauer) is under orders from Bud to either convince Jimmy to go over to the dark side, or kill him. Even if Bud weren’t about to be paroled for phony health reasons, Richie needs Bud’s help to stay alive. And if he doesn’t follow orders on what to do with Jimmy, he’s a dead man anyway.

The actors are clearly having a terrific time with dialogue and character creation. O’Quinn is the embodiment of a kind of world-weary serenity, a man who has made his peace with fate and, accordingly, is above being vulnerable to threats. Bauer’s Richie is his polar opposite, a man whose pervasive terror about his own fate seems to all but ensure his doom, one way or another.

What was true about the first season holds for the second: Regardless of the links between characters and their stories, “Full Circle” never feels claustrophobic or insular. Instead, the experience of watching the series becomes universal, the more we get to know these flawed and complicated characters.

‘Full Circle’

8 p.m. Wednesday, DirecTV Audience Network