This review contains spoilers.
2.4 I Defy Thee To Forget
“Jesus H. Christ. Is this what the Protestants call a honeymoon?”
The dust is settling from last week’s intense episode, and the people of Copper must face the uncertain (and mostly grim) realities brought on by recent changes. This aftermath-focused offering provides a nice balance to avoid burnout on the heels of so much drama. Its exploration of the new scenery is punctuated by brief bursts of strong emotion, lest we forget just how screwed up everybody on this show is. Not that that could ever happen.
Elizabeth takes more of a central role in this episode than she ever has before, and it works out surprisingly well. As she faces up to the consequences of her mistakes, I am suddenly rooting for her after disliking her for almost the show’s entire run. It may be because she doesn’t shirk the responsibility for her actions, or because she finally has a few BA moments. Or maybe it’s because any conscientious person can only enjoy so much of watching somebody’s life fall apart. In any case, her story is becoming increasingly compelling. The scene where she goes out and makes sassy comments at everybody only to return home and immediately have a panic attack and take some opium was particularly well done.
Morehouse, meanwhile, spends most of the episode a drunken wreck, to humorous results – which is horrible because it’s actually really sad. Morehouse’s move toward forgiving Elizabeth at the end was a nice sign that redemption is possible, even in Copper-world. Now let’s hope misunderstanding doesn’t get in the way of it.
After being mostly absent this season, the Annie plotline returns, and guess what? She doesn’t flirt with Corcoran once the whole episode. This makes her, like Elizabeth, a lot easier to root for (I might argue that it also is less interesting, but I think I’m in a minority of people who liked Annie last season). The dynamic of Annie as a fill-in for Maggie puts her in a new, less sexualized role that emphasizes the nicely issues between Ellen and Corcoran.
This brings about two of the episode’s best emotional scenes. When Annie tells Corky, “I don’t know why I do what I do. Please don’t give up on me yet,” it evokes strong images of the confusion of childhood exacerbated by trauma. But even as she tugs at heartstrings, there’s a niggling doubt about Annie’s intentions. The argument over Annie leads to a second high-impact scene when a teary Corcoran tells Ellen that he can’t get past what happened: he has to leave. This is probably a good choice, but it will be hard for him, especially as a nineteenth-century Irish Catholic in a society that doesn’t welcome separations or divorces. I suspect that Corcoran and Ellen are not truly breaking apart their relationship just yet.
Francis and Corky finally face off again as the coppers track down his counterfeit ring in their search for Phinbar Byrnes’ killer. Francis is really frightening in this episode, and something still seems off about his behavior. Is it because he’s gone crazy? Because he’s hiding something? I don’t know, but he has a definite sociopathic vibe about him lately. The cops beat Francis, but when Corcoran arrives he tells them to get him a doctor. All he can think about when he sees Francis is him with Ellen.
Freeman and Sara aren’t in the episode much, but when they are, there’s good news: the Morehouses have found Sara’s mother. Elizabeth insists on going to Virginia to get her (and makes a smart comment about men and their pride, too).
A quick shout-out to the oft-overlooked O’Brien, too. He’s one of Five Points’ most solid characters. In a show like this that makes him less likely to be talked about, but he really does add sensibility and humour to Copper. This episode he had a particularly good scene when he implored Francis to tell him he didn’t kill young Byrnes.
In other news, Donovan and Eva are working together, and Eva is apparently pregnant. An interesting historical note, too: Lincoln’s image is already on bills while he’s still president. I didn’t know that was even allowed. Next week looks to be action-packed as Francis and his new friends, including a seriously insane boss-man, take over the precinct.
Also, here is a GIF series of drunk Morehouse snuggling that dog. You’re welcome.
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