This review contains spoilers.
2.8 Ashes Denote That Fire Was
“Ever since a copper offered me an egg, I have learned to have good days.”
In contrast to the St. Patrick’s Day revelry in the streets of Five Points, this week’s episode of Copper is a sombre affair marked by musings on life and death (mostly death). The events of the day are structured around the wake of Ellen Corcoran, where the major characters all make an appearance at some point.
Yet the episode is strangely hopeful – more so than usual for Copper. The Irish wake is a place of drinking, joking, and storytelling. Though there’s certainly some grimness to it, at the same time it is in some ways a celebration of life and a rallying of community. Corcoran is unusually poised and quick to forgive: Eva, Annie, and Francis all have potentially dangerous conversations with him, but each ends well.
Eva claims her baby is not Corcoran’s, which is suspect based on what we’ve seen so far. It’s the first time the subject of the baby’s father has actually been discussed, so we can’t rule out the possibility that she’s telling the truth, but more likely she’s lying to protect Corcoran.
Annie is living in New Jersey with a family on a farm. She says she is doing well, and she actually refuses Corcoran’s offer that she return to live with him. Corky is newly single – the old Annie would jump at this chance! True, she has slowly been moving past Corcoran this season, but not enough to justify this turnaround. And how did she find this kindly family to live with all of the sudden? Maybe I am just jaded from this show, but it seems fishy to me. If it’s not intended to be fishy, then it’s a rather sloppy wrap-up to the Annie issue. Believability aside, though, Annie’s appreciation for Corcoran (“Thank you for never giving up on me”) is sweet.
Then there’s Francis, who says he really did love Ellen—and he loves Corky, too, and would kill or die for him any day of the week. Aww, gotta love that bromance. Corcoran says he knows, but there’s no real indication that he’s ready to offer Francis long-term forgiveness.
Kennedy escapes prison on the day of his hanging and goes after Elizabeth, but luckily, the Morehouses keep a well-stocked larder of drugs. Let that be a lesson to you, kids: dope saves lives. Kennedy hangs, and Morehouse takes the opportunity to wax philosophical about war, suicide, and the brevity of life. There is definitely some PTSD going on there.
Dr. Freeman struggles to save the lives of the many ill, and even gets an order from the captain for some cops to donate blood. He’s doing a good thing, but race issues, guilt over deaths, and Hattie’s issues adjusting to Five Points turn things sour. Hattie makes the interesting statement that the Southern white slave owners are more civil than the poor whites of Five Points, and points out some ways that living on the plantation was better than it is in New York City. We’re taught to place a high value of freedom so it’s an opinion viewers are unlikely to have considered, but it rings true. Noble ideas are not always comfortable, and it raises questions about what we are willing to sacrifice for basic rights like freedom.
On the whole, the episode is measured but full of substance for those who like a good think with their Sunday night television. That shouldn’t be a problem for most who have stuck with Copper this far.
Next week, Freeman and Morehouse team up to rock the medical world. Plus there’s whorehouse drama, and Elizabeth moves on to the hard stuff.
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