This review contains spoilers.
2.3 The Children of the Battlefield
Season two’s raging deluge of interpersonal drama finally spills over in this, its third episode, and the results are fantastic. The Children of the Battlefield is Copper at its best, better than we’ve seen it since last autumn. Dark and heartbreaking and even inspiring, its characters, who drive us to love and hate them in equal measure, move through their broken world in a way that is horrifying for its realism.
Elizabeth and Morehouse’s wedding day has arrived, and just like the rest of their lives in upper-class New York, the day is beautiful and glitzy but has a dark underbelly. During the party after the ceremony Elizabeth, who is in need of a serious intervention, goes upstairs to get doped up on opium. Morehouse is not at all concerned. He is livid, however, when she confesses to conspiring with Kennedy.
All in a moment, their relationship shatters. It’s been a long time coming, but the anger and desperation brought to the scene by the fabulous actors ensures that however the audience may have prepared, it is inadequate. Personally, I have disliked Elizabeth for most of the show’s run and was gleefully awaiting this, but when it happened, there was no satisfaction. It was just sad.
Corcoran is still working on the case of the missing boys, and finally getting somewhere. He follows several leads and eventually discovers that McGrath is responsible. The policework part of the episode isn’t boring, but it can’t hold a candle to the characters’ personal dramas, and ends up peripheral to them. The case causes Corcoran to ditch the wedding, where he was supposed to be Morehouse’s best man. Poor Morehouse plays it off well, but he is disappointed.
The case also ruins Corcoran’s plans to attend the wedding with Ellen, which doesn’t come as a surprise; they had an actual good moment together when discussing the date, so of course it had to go wrong. The conversation that night turns, as it always does, to Corcoran’s Civil War service and Maggie’s death.
In the end, Morehouse and Corcoran both leave their women and go to the whorehouse, where they sort of make up and decide to go be gay together. Well, not really. But I’m pretty sure that scene where Corky kicked out Morehouse’s prostitute and climbed on the bed was the birth of a new fandom pairing.
Francis is still getting into trouble, and it looks like he really means it now. To prove his loyalty to the boss, he agrees to knife a cop. The man he kills is not Corcoran but Phinbar Byrnes, the likable young guy. Captain Sullivan sends all the cops to round up all the bad guys (very specific about it, he is) to catch the culprit, so Francis had better watch his back.
The bright spot in the episode is the Matthew and Sara Freeman story. These two continue to undergo exemplary character development. Sara, after a first season marked by untapped potential, is quickly becoming the show’s most interesting character. So many fictional stories seem to hold the view that emotional strength involves being always in control of one’s feelings and never showing weakness. But are people like that strong, or simply untested? Sara displays the sort of strength that comes from facing one’s own emotional vulnerabilities—the most admirable sort of strength, because she is facing her darkness and overcoming it.
The scene in which she attacks the lamppost (and in that dress!) will go down in Copper history. It’s an affecting symbolic move played out in an unusual yet entirely believable way, playing to our shared emotional irrationality. Adding to that is the touching moment when Matthew and the passers-by help her tear the lamppost out of the ground. There’s a wonderful sense of community and release to it. It’s something we all need at the end of a rough episode.
How is Copper going to follow that episode? Even if it can’t match it, we have lots to look forward to next week as the characters deal with the aftermath of this week’s trials. Plus they’re throwing Annie into the mix, and she’s sure to shake things up. It’s going to be a long week!
Read Kylie’s review of the previous episode, Aileen Aroon, here.
Please, if you can, buy our charity horror stories ebook, Den Of Eek!, raising money for Geeks Vs Cancer. Details here.