Copper episode 8 review: Better Times Are Coming

Period crime drama Copper delivers an episode with a twist in its tail. Here's Kylie's review of Better Times Are Coming...

This review contains spoilers.

1.8 Better Times Are Coming

It’s Election Day on Copper, and as Americans are acutely aware in the final days before Decision 2012, that means a whole lot of drama. But even a whole episode’s worth of the usual Copper conflicts – murders, untrustworthy partners, adultery, Annie being a creepy reverse-paedophile – can’t hold a candle to the hard-hitting last two minutes of the episode. 

I was actually prepared to dub Better Times are Coming a mediocre episode. The same thing happened to me in episode four, which ended with Eva killing Molly. I was all prepared to say ‘Nothing much happened in this episode, they should have done something more interesting’ when bam, they drop a huge twist in the end. Clearly the Copper writers are intent on making my reviewing life difficult. 

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So let’s start with the biggest news of the episode: Corcoran’s wife Ellen is alive, and he finds her in an asylum, seemingly unable to recognize him.  I’ve already applauded Copper for progressing this central plotline rather than letting it simmer forever like a lot of shows, particularly crime shows, tend to do. But it bears repeating: it’s really nice not to have to wait forever for something significant to happen, and finding Ellen with two episodes still to go in the season ensures that there will be plenty of time to explore this development. 

Corcoran found Ellen by following the increasingly-suspicious Francis’ trail, and the matron of the asylum called her “Mrs. Maguire.” We already knew that Francis was putting Corcoran off his wife’s track when he bribed the pawnshop owner to tell Corky that Ellen had sold him her locket to feed their daughter. Back then, though, it seemed like he was trying to protect Corky from tearing himself apart over it, not that he actually wanted to prevent him from finding his wife. How long has Francis known about her? Did he follow the trail in Madame Grindle’s ledger on his own, or has it been this way all along? And more importantly, why? 

Speaking of Francis, he’s now lost Mary Lockwood, his second fiancé, and you can’t help but feel sorry for the guy even though it was pretty stupid of him to get engaged to her in the first place. Also, Eva tells Corky that Molly was afraid of Francis because he had violent tendencies. This seems to be a move to frame him for her murder. But Dr. Freeman does discover that the same type of bullet killed Mary and McLean. 

That’s so much information, I honestly don’t know what to do with Francis anymore. It took a while, but he has really developed into a character worth watching. That’s one of the neat things about Copper: the people in it are always surprising you. I look forward to being surprised by Francis again, because right now, I haven’t got a clue. Feel free to post your Francis theories in the comments if you have them! 

All this happens against the background of the election and we are reminded that voting used to be dangerous business.  Personally, I’d take Big Bird drama over rampant street brawls any day. 

The news of Lincoln’s re-election means Kennedy is all set to burn down New York City with Greek fire, but Morehouse has managed to foil the plot for the time being. More worthy of comment is the appearance of a new Confederate agent in the preview for next week: John Wilkes Booth! I wonder if we’ll get an appearance from Lincoln before his assassination? 

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In other news, Elizabeth and Morehouse are still flirting, Finbar “Little” Burns undergoes copper training, and Annie is (supposedly) going to live with the nuns. They should make that a spinoff series: Annie Traumatizes the Nuns

Things were a little slow for much of this episode; the ambiguity surrounding Francis was definitely the highlight, up until that surprise ending. Given the reveal of Ellen, next week should be a real treat.

Read Kylie’s review of last week’s episode, The Hudson River School, here.

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