By episode 4, watching Trust is hardly an exercise in hanging on the edge of your seat from narrative suspense. We know that long-haired, wide-eyed Paul Getty (Harris Dickinson) has lost control of his fake kidnapping scheme, and is now very much in the clutches of the 'Ndragheta mafia group of Calabria. We know that J.P. Getty (Donald Sutherland), his miserly grandfather, is hesitant to give up any funds. Plus, the ending of the story is readily available: If you mosey on over to Wikipedia, you can find out all the gory details of Paul's captivity.
Since most of the plot information is readily availablem the joy of watching Trust comes in watching the characters figure out – and convince J.P. Getty – of what we already know: That Paul is really kidnapped. As a result, watching Trust won't make you ache with suspense overload. But it will make you feel fury. Because the "That's All Folks!" episode of Trust was about a woman speaking the truth to a stubborn, obstinate man who won't take her seriously, almost on principle. It was a show about men refusing to believe women. It was, in a phrase, "too real."
It's a little understandable why, at first, people doubted the veracity of young Paul's kidnapping. After all, in the world of Trust, it had begun as a fake plan. Paul's mother, Abigail Harris Getty — whose every anxiety flashes over Hilary Swank's face like lightning — is the first to think, "Maybe he's actually missing."
Without having concrete evidence, however, Abigail is written off by her husband, Lang Jeffries (John Schwab), and essentially everyone else, as being histrionic. Finally, Abigail obtains evidence proving Paul is in immediate danger. During a meeting with a mafioso in an empty movie theatre, Gail is given a photograph of Paul tied up with a dead Berto, (Giuseppe Battiston). Tangible proof! But does this change anything for her situation? No, not really. Because Gail's not dealing with rational people with hearts. She's dealing with J.P. Getty, her former father-in-law, who will do anything possible to ignore the pleas for humanity that come from the women in his life.
After all, it's women who first try to tell Getty the truth. When Getty first receives the ransom demand for $17 million dollars, he crumples the message up and throws it in his cold egg salad, entirely convinced the demand is fake. Then, Gail calls with the facts. "The kidnappers have just made contact. This is real," she pleads with Getty's secretary, Robina. "I've been in contact with the kidnappers. The ones who don't exist."
Gail speaks with the urgency of someone who knows she's about to be dismissed. Perhaps if she can speak with more conviction and anger, Robina will give the phone to Getty. It doesn't work. Getty, who's been listening, calls her bothersome and pronounces that his right hand man, James Fletcher Chace (Brendan Fraser), will deal with her in the future, as if she is a pesky mouse and Chace the exterminator.
Eventually, Getty is faxed the photo of his grandson in captivity. Staring at the evidence alongside Chace, Getty looks perplexed. Could his stubborn worldview be crumbling. Could Gail have been telling the truth? He's only able to speak in questions. "So what are you saying? You believe this to be genuine? This business is not a hoax? My grandson really has been kidnapped?" Getty says, incredulously. Chace confirms: "What I'm saying is, when people start getting killed, it's not a hoax anymore." Since the information is coming from Chace, Getty takes the situation more more seriously. He opens negotiations, as Gail had desperately wanted.
Not that the other women in Getty's life have any more luck moving Getty to behave like a human. Throughout the episode, his mistresses and secretaries communicate in side-glances as if to say, "Seriously, dude?" at Getty's miserly antics. When Getty smugly agrees to pay only $600 in ransom money, citing Italian law regarding extortion, his "favourite" mistress Penelope Kitson (Anna Chancellor), sharply questions his rationale. "You don't think it would be open to misinterpretation?" she suggests. She is correct: Paul's kidnappers are angry. Perhaps if it were Chace gently saying, "You don't think it would be open to misinterpretation?" Getty would have considered his measly $600 offer a bit more seriously. As last night's episode proved, nobody can change Getty's mind. But if someone were able to — it certainly wouldn't be a secretary, daughter-in-law, or mistress.
Trust is particularly agonising because it depicts a woman completely in the right, and also completely powerless. Since Gail doesn't have the $17 million necessary to save her son, she is entirely dependent on swaying one monolith of a man. Gail is treated like a raving lunatic, but really, she's the only person screaming "Fire" in a burning building. Surely this feeling – of being rational and reasonable and still being written off by men – is one that many of us have experienced, whether it's in fighting for our reproductive rights in Congress, or being mansplained at a work meeting. So while Gail's situation is extreme, the dynamics she encounters are all too common.