This Damnation review contains spoilers.
Damnation: Episode 10 (Season Finale)
Does God forgive all those who repent and seek redemption, including murderers and scoundrels? It would seem that Damnation would have viewers believe so in the season finale, “God’s Body.” The characters are all guilty of something – pride, fornication, greed, racism, and debauchery. Apart from farming, drinking, resisting industrialization, and the occasional traveling carnival, the locals haven’t much else occupy their time. It’s tempting to create backstories and character motivations where none exist. If the majority of the residents in Holden County are simple people, it makes the differences in power and resources all the more extreme.
On closer re-examination of the storyline, I’d now say that the show is an ensemble David vs Goliath, which would be keeping in line with the Bible motif. In this retelling, the bulk of the farmers are David, while the industrialists and their assortment of henchmen are the perceived unbeatable giant. The series also has “love can conquer” all and a “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” subplots. Sheriff Don Berryman loved Bessie’s performer mom when interracial relationships could’ve ended both their lives. Creeley and Bessie are re-enacting a similar dangerous relationship.
Connie and Amelia both lost their respective spouses to horrible deaths which set them on vengeful paths. Revenge brought Connie and her trigger finger to town. Amelia and Seth arrived to correct what they perceived as moral and social injustices. The battles between good and evil aren’t always believable, and sometimes borders on cartoonish, which is a drawback to the show. I’d like have had a few more memorable scenes between episodes. Granted, if this is a true ensemble world, it’d be asking for the impossible. No one likes a showoff.
I had to infer that brotherly love is the reason behind Creeley’s coming to Seth and the allied farmers’ aid, not so much as he’s avoiding the Black Legion, Edgar Hyde Pearce, or Tennyson Duval. The about-face isn’t inexplicable inasmuch as we’re to accept it to facilitate the next plot point. Their reconciliation felt contrived because of what we learned in the flashbacks and Creeley’s present-day predicament.
The shootout at Martha Riley’s farm seemed dire. The farmers were outnumbered, but ultimately prevailed by the grace and power of God, the writers would have us nod in agreement. I don’t mean to be cynical. Damnation doesn’t include magical realism or the supernatural. The religion and faith elements need to be better integrated. I don’t necessarily want biblical plagues or a young minister laying hands to heal the sick or return a comatose field hand from the brink of death.
As God’s Body, the townsfolks that are willing to take up arms, are united against the forces of evil. The past is but a fading memory, and everyone is forgiven their transgressions against each other and an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful deity in the sky.
There was a musical theatre moment when an unlikely-to-speak-out character asserted himself to remind his neighbors what was at stake. Confessions were passed around like a Sunday collection plate at church, which then opened the door to a rushed cliffhanger with requisite red herrings and actual clues. Isn’t it usually the case in life that after a period of suffering, we find joy, only for it to be then snatched from our hands? I look forward to discovering if I’m right in what I think will happen in Season 2.