Damnation Episode 2 Review: Which Side Are You On?

Damnation begins to resemble the story of Cain and Abel in its second episode. Our review is here...

This Damnation review contains spoilers. 

Damnation Episode 2

Humans and animals are presented with options in life. Both species have to choose sides or travel along one path or another, and in doing so suffer the consequences of their choices. Parents consciously and subconsciously favor one child over the other, which creates an emotional and spiritual divide among the siblings. The chosen one can do no wrong in the eyes of the adoring parent, and the overlooked offspring might become insecure, jealous, or competitive.

Seth and Creeley are brothers who demonstrate this natural phenomenon. Seth would seem to be the runt of the litter who fought his way to the top, and Creeley, the feted pig stuffed unconscious on mother’s teat. The older brother ought to be literate and confident, but it’s his younger sibling who emerged accomplished and fighting for various causes.

How did the siblings find themselves in Holden County, if not for an ongoing competition on opposite sides of the same issue? Sibling rivalry is as old as time, yet the manner in which humans manipulate one another evolves with each successive generation. 1930s America was a simpler time, before what we’ve come to know as cultural, financial, and societal progress, and the inevitable steps backward.

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Sam Riley’s crucified body was meant to be provocative and tap into the religious fervor among the locals. The imagery and story of the Crucifixion of Christ pit the good versus the corrupt in power. Building on that theme, is Seth then an avenging angel in town to battle his fallen angel brother? Are they a retelling of Cain and Abel? The lines are drawn between the masses and the moneyed elite. What better way to get everyone’s attention than to invoke a defining story from the Bible?

What stirs deep in the human soul that sends a person along unsavory paths in life? Connie Nunn pushes the envelope with a vaudevillian performance in which the actress mistakenly channels Glenn Close’s Fatal Attraction character. I think there’s a better way to deal with the misogyny of the era. Her performance isn’t over the top. However, the way she’s portraying it draws unnecessary attention to herself. Granted, she can’t be a demure wallflower. Enlisting a little stealth would go a long way in accomplishing her goals. The best villainy sets the stage with an initial show of force and then continues on a psychological level unless and until someone needs a reminder. Connie and Creeley both need to find a balance in the coming episodes.

Damnation is a period drama that requires viewers to pause what they know of modernity and embrace the historical fiction. We’re beyond the Wild West, but not too far because there are hired mercenaries and lawlessness. Americans are still trying to figure out who and what they are as a people. The action of the combined farmers’ and miners’ strike is the central drama that plays out for all to watch. Shopkeepers and business owners usually take the side that lines their pockets with cash. I want the farmers and miners to prevail by season’s end. I’m firmly on the side of the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the easily tricked.


4 out of 5