This review contains spoilers.
2.11 Good Heart And Willing Hand
Everyone’s running on high-octane this week, meaning the episode could only end in blood. Though the Copper characters’ lives aren’t necessarily worse than usual (if ‘worse’ is even possible), the season’s worth of strain seems to be knocking everybody off their hinges, from a half-crazed Corky to even the normally sensible Dr Freeman.
The main thrust of the episode is Corky, Francis, and O’Brien’s search for a way to take on Donovan for the murder of the Bartletts, Lansing, and Theresa. It’s great to see this trio of vigilante crime fighters together again to take on injustice. (For the sake of enjoyment of the moment, we’ll pretend Francis isn’t still acting like a serial killer.) It’s also a treat to spend so much time with Corcoran; he seems to get pushed to the wayside by the other characters a lot this season.
It turns out that Morehouse is the secret owner of Eva’s Paradise after Donovan convinced Norbert to make the purchase. This will probably work in Eva’s favour once this all blows over, assuming she and the rest of the cast isn’t dead before then. Corky and Co. come up with a clever plan to stall the voting which could give Donovan the aqueduct contract and allow him to raze half of Five Points, then Corky goes to take on the man himself.
The final scene is fascinatingly strange. Corcoran puts four guns on the table, one of which is loaded, and demands that he and Donovan take turns picking one up and pulling the trigger on themselves. Between psychoanalyses and philosophical musings, the two men play four-gun Russian Roulette.
Why doesn’t Corcoran just shoot Donovan the moment he gets the chance? He says he is willing to put his life on the line for Five Points, but how is putting a gun to his own head doing anything to help? Donovan calls him insane and Corcoran doesn’t deny it, but I think what’s happened is that Corky has stopped caring about anything. He claims to love Five Points, but his actions don’t show it. He just needs a crusade to keep himself going.
The deadly game ends with one gun left on Corcoran’s turn, and he turns it on Donovan. Then, black. That’s how the episode ends – there isn’t even a bang. [Next episode spoiler warning] The preview, though, reveals that Corcoran did kill Donovan. An interesting choice, to let us learn something so important from a preview. The effect is disconcerting.
Freeman, on the other hand, proves himself a civil man, but he gets closer to the edge than ever before. He works obsessively to find a treatment for the deadly bacteria, presumably trying to distract himself from his recent beating by a group of white men led by the shopkeeper whose window Freeman smashed. His mood leads to accusations of racism against Francis and O’Brien and snapping at Sara – both uncharacteristic of him.
After hearing some wise advice from Sara about overcoming hatred, Freeman confronts the shopkeeper. He articulates perhaps better than ever before how difficult it is for him to live in a world full of base people who look down on him even though he is, he says, better than them (and arrogant as that sounds, I’m not arguing with him). Then he gives the shopkeeper a healing salve, says he doesn’t give a shit if he uses it, and storms out. It’s kindness and loathing wrapped up into one inscrutable mess, and you’ve got to love Freeman for it.
When he isn’t playing death games, Corcoran tries to fit in some time to help Eva as her trial proceeds. Her lawyer makes a very convincing case that she is a berserk overprotective pregnant lady. Meanwhile, Morehouse take a moral stand against his father and the destruction of Five Points.
Elizabeth finally gets a much-needed intervention, but not quite in the ideal form: Norbert holds her head underwater and then threatens to ship her off to California if she doesn’t shape up. It does seem to work, though. Elizabeth and Morehouse have a nice talk in which they acknowledge their mutual faults and end kissing. But kicking a drug habit isn’t that easy, and I’ll be surprised if that’s the end of it.
Next week, Corky is no longer the hunter but the hunted in the aftermath of Donovan’s death.
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