This review contains spoilers.
2.13 The Place I Called My Home
This is it, folks – the final episode of Copper. It was announced last Thursday that the show would not return for a third season. The Copper team did not learn of the cancellation in time to give the story a proper conclusion. So not only is there no closure, but the episode ends with some pointed loose ends and a bit of a cliffhanger, clearly indicating that the show was intended to go on.
If I were going to be really fair, I would ignore the recent cancellation news and give this episode an objective review free of nostalgia, grief, and righteous fangirl rage. But I’m not sure I’m capable of that kind of self-control, and I don’t think people are overly interested in objective reviews right now anyway.
In the wake of Lincoln’s assassination, Corcoran, Freeman, and Morehouse decide (drunkenly) to chase down the escaping John Wilkes Booth and his accomplice David Herold. In a journey rife with cute and moving bromantic moments, they travel to Virginia and revisit sites from their wartime days along the way. Flashbacks offer glimpses of their time at the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, where Morehouse lost his leg. (These are two battles I don’t think were covered in history class, so yay, learning!)
It’s the first time we’ve actually seen any of the Civil War fighting that has loomed so large throughout the series. Finally witnessing this traumatic, monolithic event in their lives is a bonding experience between the viewer and characters. It also softens the effect of the mania that has overtaken them in the past few episodes. Corky in particular has recently taken a leaf from Francis’ book and strayed down the road to sociopathy. It’s nice to end the series on a bit of a positive note, with no hard feelings toward the boys.
The three of them fail to catch Booth and Herald, beaten to it by a military team. But their journey to the plantation in Virginia, though it brings bad memories and encounters with some really creepy racist people, has a cathartic effect and builds up their bromance to stand the test of time.
In the end, O’Brien and Francis bring news that Tammany wants Corky to take Donovan’s job. The idea of seeing Corky in a position of such power is tantalyzing, but it looks like we’ll never know how it plays out. Likewise, when Corcoran goes in search of Eva but finds the Paradise empty except for the dead bodies of Lola and the bartender, we are left hanging with a final image of Corcoran looking frantically off the balcony, then a pan to the city skyline. That’s the end.
I don’t feel much like saying anything negative about Copper today, so I’m going to go easy on the obligatory pointing-out-flaws stuff for this episode. We could have done with more time at the plantation exploring all the emotional ties the men have there, and less time watching them ride through the forest on horses (not that they didn’t look fine doing it). The part where the teenage girl died was affecting because of the protagonists’ reactions, but it could have done with more exposition (the bouts of anguish were not quite so effective when repeatedly interrupted by the thought, “Who the hell is she?”) Also, is it really better to kill somebody by suffocating than by putting a bullet through her brain? The flaws were salt in the wounds, because I think – or at least I want to believe – that if the Copper team had known the end was coming, they would have given it their all and made the series finale perfect.
And that is the last bad thing I will ever say about Copper. Because although it wasn’t perfect – and what is? – it was smart and beautiful and emotional and I loved it to bits.
It was a show that knew what it is to be American and what it is to be human. It made Civil War buffs cool, mutton chops stylish, and history sexy. It had an incredible ability to take a soap-opera worthy string of tragedies and make them achingly real. Never sugar-coating, never compromising, it was dark but sensitive. Though it was set a hundred and fifty years ago, the political, economic, and personal turmoil it depicted hit close to home in a way that was a little painful but also oddly comforting.
To all you Copperheads, I salute you. This is such a fun little fandom full of smart, creative people. It’s been a privilege traveling to 1860s Five Points with you.
Read Kylie’s review of the previous episode, Beautiful Dreamer, here.
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