Mike Valentine, Delly West & Moss Yankov In Netflix’s ‘Florida Man,’ Explained


Mike Valentine had always stayed away from Florida. He had too many memories attached to the place that he hoped to avoid. But when Moss Yankov, his mob boss, asked him to travel to Florida to find his girlfriend, Delly West, he could not say no. While “Florida Man” begins with Mike’s search for Delly, it ends up becoming a hunt for gold. A pirate’s treasure from 1715 was said to be located in Central Florida. As a gambler, Mike enjoyed going to extreme lengths for his addiction, and he could not brush away the possibility of finding a chest full of gold. But his journey to Florida was not just about a girl and gold; it was also about confronting his childhood and the family he chose to stay away from.

Mike Valentine: Why Was Mike Distant From His Father?

Mike never wanted to go back to the place he was born because of the traumatizing memories he had. He particularly disliked his father, even though they were quite alike. Sonny was also an ex-cop who traded in illegal businesses to make money. Perhaps the fact that he was just like his father made him hate him a little more. He had grown up with a father who never showed him love and warmth. When Delly offered to bring his father onboard, he vehemently refused because he knew his father would double-cross him to take the gold all for himself. He never cared about his relationship when it came to business.

While Mike wanted to get rid of his addiction, it was not something that he truly worked hard for. He cared about Iris, but even she was not a good enough reason for him to leave the chase and walk the path of honesty. At an al-anon meeting that Mike and Sonny spontaneously decided to attend to distract the crowd from their actual intention, Mike discussed his childhood. He could never get over his mother’s suicide, and he blamed his father for enabling her. As a child, he remembered how his father always kept his gun in a locked case, but the day she committed suicide, the case was left unlocked. His mother was suffering from cancer, and she decided to end her life and shoot herself dead. Mike blamed Sonny for her death.

As a 13-year-old, he was forced to clean the bathtub after the body was taken away, and that, he believed, was when he completely changed as a person. After listening to his confession, Sonny explained how he was absolutely helpless during that time. He had witnessed the unbearable pain that his wife had to live with. She would often beg him to kill her to relieve her of the pain. After watching her suffer for days, he left his gun unlocked to give her the opportunity to decide her fate. It was not easy for him to make the decision, but he did so out of love and never intended for Mike to ever find out. Mike was supposed to stay out late that day, but unfortunately, he returned home sooner than expected. Sonny believed that instead of understanding the situation and the pain his mother was in, he simply made the entire incident about himself. To Mike’s defense, he was, after all, just an extremely shocked thirteen-year-old, and maybe Sonny should have been there by his side to explain the entire situation to him. But instead, the distance between the father and son continued to grow over the years, to the point where he started to hate Sonny altogether.

Mike’s affair with Delly was perhaps the only promising aspect of his life. She was a breath of fresh air in his miserable days. He could watch her dance all night and make love to her till the break of dawn. She was equally lost as he was, but she gave him some hope in life. She was someone who could decide to leave everything, no matter how complicated the situation was. Delly made Mike believe in the impossible and gave him a reason not to surrender to his circumstances. The pain of losing her once made him realize that he cared for her, and when he suddenly found her lying on his bed, he was beyond happy and relieved. Even when everyone around him discussed how she was not the right choice, in the end, Mike realized that she was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

Delly West: Why Did Delly Escape To Florida?

Delly West’s life completely changed when she suddenly lost her father, Arthur. She had no idea that her father was laundering money until her mother spelled it out for her. She started a bar with the money she borrowed from her father without ever wondering where the money came from. She used to live in a bubble where things always fell into place, and she had no reason to complain. She was driven with a new sense of purpose when her mother informed her that her father had been murdered by a mobster who came to Chicago and pushed him off the roof of a building. She no longer had the money to live her lavish lifestyle, and avenging her father gave her a reason to go on.

When Delly realized that Bogdan Yankov was already dead, she believed that fate had played its magic. She met his son, Moss, at the memorial service, and they eventually fell in love. From being her daddy’s little princess, she had become the mobster’s girlfriend, and she could once again indulge in the luxuries of life. While Moss had the money and power, there was something about Mike that she could not ignore. He was compassionate, and since their situations were quite similar, they found a reason to bond.

Delly always had to depend on a man to make her reality better (her father and then her boyfriend), and perhaps that was the reason why she decided to escape to Florida alone to reinvent herself. In Florida, she truly found her true calling. She faked her own death and convinced Mike to bet on the gold that was hidden somewhere in Central Florida. Instead of being controlled by the men in her life, she learned to use them to her benefit after reaching Florida. Her goal was simple: she wanted to stay alive and find the gold, and she did not care about the team she was on. Everyone around her downplayed her intelligence, but at the end of the day, she had figured out the gold mystery before anyone else. “Florida Man” is essentially the story of Delly West and how she managed to get what she wanted in the end. She had rightfully stated that it was her story, and everyone around her was simply a part of it.

Moss Yankov: Why Was Moss Insecure?

It was impossible to predict how violent Moss Yankov could get from his innocent face. He did not look like a stereotypical mobster, but he had learned a few tricks from his father. Moss wanted to convince the people around him that he was capable enough to take his father’s position. Even though Moss could be brutal, he was not too bright to think through his actions. He enjoyed the attention more than anything else, and he jumped at the chance of inviting people to Delly’s memorial service to simply get their respect. Delly gave him the ego boost that he always needed, and he was not ready to part with it. Even though he demanded respect from those who once worked for his father, everyone around him knew how easily he could be manipulated and that he would not last long in the business.

Moss had always been jealous of his sister, Dori, who, unlike her father and brother, worked for the government. He could not accept that his sister was more resourceful and capable than he was. Perhaps he always planned fine comebacks for her, but when it came to delivering them, he always failed. Moss’s biggest fear was to be taken lightly, and he did all that was in his power to create a dreadful image. But even that did not help to cover for his lack of intelligence. He wanted to believe that he was just like his father, but clearly, he was lost.

The problem with “Florida Man” is that there were too many characters, and all of them lacked layers that could have made them all the more interesting. The focus was on creating a sense of chaotic bizarreness, and in the process, the characters felt a little neglected and superficial. Delly West is the only character worth admiring in the entire series. Delly West’s personal history and her development from an innocent Chicago girl to someone pulling off a heist in Florida makes her so convincing. She was unafraid of consequences and could cross the bridge to save the life of her lover in the end.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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