Dunn Purnsley was introduced in Season 2 at odds with Chalky, and this week, he goes down fighting him. Is this the way it had to end between them?
This year we see a resolution of that initial confrontation. That animosity was never really resolved; it was put on the back burner. I don't think Dunn ever got over the beating he received in the jailhouse. He survived it and he held his tongue until Dr. Narcisse offers him a different avenue to pursue
Was it the situation with Alma and Dickie Pastor that brought out his resentment?
It was a bit of a blindside for Dunn. He didn't know he was being set up by the Pastors. The brutality of that scene—the language, the gun to the forehead, the nudity—it was something he couldn't tell Chalky. The shame of the situation made Dunn keep his mouth shut about exactly what happened. The end result is what gets Chalky so upset. It's business. Chalky has a club on the Boardwalk now; he wants everything to be smooth, and here he is with a death on his hands because of Dunn's frolicking. From there on, Dunn is no longer "Dunn," he's "Sweetback." The name changes in Chalky's mind and mouth. The wound opens between Dunn and Chalky, and Dr. Narcisse sees that and worms his way in. Separate and divide, that's his ideology.
What does Narcisse offer Dunn that Chalky doesn't?
I saw it as Dunn striking out on his own. He's been shown a way to make his own money, to step out of Chalky's shadow. He's an opportunist and in the ‘20s, you try make a living anyway you can. It's not like black men at the time had many options. What Narcisse offers seemed like a viable, lucrative option and he was going for it.
Dunn arrives at Daughter's rooming house when Chalky is at his most vulnerable. Did he go with the intention of killing Chalky?
I think so—if only he could have gotten him in that car. I believe Chalky had the angels on his side that day. If he had gotten in the car, I think the story would have turned out differently. And even though he didn't get in the car, I think Dunn would have choked him out, if only Chalky's amour hadn't saved his back. Chalky's had some grace on his side—I think he would have been a goner in the jail scene too if only his boys weren't there.