This Damnation review contains spoilers.
Damnation Episode 6
Tonight’s episode shed more light on who and what made Seth and Creeley into the men viewers have seen in fits and starts over the previous five installments. Their father was a small-minded, greedy, and macho man who’d be coined as toxic masculine in present-day vernacular. It’s difficult to connect the title, In Wyoming Fashion, as representative of the chapter. What was unique in 1924 in Wyoming, during the time of the flashback? Since the beginning of time, certain cities, states, countries have etched their place in history for various reasons. The Sistine Chapel, The Parthenon, London Tower, Wall Street, and The Black Sea bring to mind specific timelines, places, and people. The writers erred in labeling this episode.
The brothers’ father was an unremarkable man who hasn’t said or done anything memorable in the time machine voyages. In absence of their mother, their father wanted his sons to be brutal, unforgiving, and above all else, his definition of masculine. His father believed if he spared his rage, fists, and pointy-toed boots, he’d spoil his children. In their father’s eyes, murder was a rite of passage into manhood. Neither sibling was and is an alpha male, a definite failure if their father had lived to see them into adulthood.
It’s unlikely that Seth and Creeley will ever come close to being the type of man that would stir pride in their father. Seth is allegedly responsible for the deterioration of their relationship, which includes Creeley taking the fall for murders his brother committed. Apart from the selfish desire not to be imprisoned, I’ve yet to see corroborating evidence that Seth is guilty of framing Squealy, his previous nickname because he didn’t have the stomach for raping and pillaging as did his father and brother.
Something happened along the way that changed their personality and outlook on life. Seth morphed into traveling conman, while his brother began serving a life sentence. Their current physical and emotional development is a role reversal that doesn’t feel realistic. Creeley was a timid, shadowy young man, who couldn’t get out of his own way. Seth wanted to emulate their father while covering for his brother. I’m missing necessary details that would reveal their spiritual shift into approximations of the other.
I’ve not been incarcerated, yet I know from reliable sources that prison changes a person. How did Creeley survive in prison without his brother looking out for him? There are several bricks missing from his wall during this temporary reprieve in the employ of Martin Edgars. When he ought to be dominant and commanding, he tries his hand at smart-alecky. I want him to be a product of his time, and the sum of his experiences. He’s not. Former ruffian Seth has become soft and indecisive. If not for Amelia, I don’t know if he’d have had the marginal success thus far on their journey.
Why are the striking farmers and other workers important to Seth and Amelia? What motivates them to risk their lives for strangers? Amelia gives the impression of a rich girl defying her well-heeled pedigree and parents. Will there ever be enough distance between who she was raised to be and who she wants to become? I don’t buy Seth’s Robin Hood persona, especially because he once enjoyed abusing and killing innocent people. Am I to believe that masquerading as a preacher is meant to atone for his past sins?
In Westerns of yore, the writing, performances, and cinematography filled the screen beat by beat and held audiences captive. I await a similar payoff from Damnation instead of what’s been awkwardly-timed and staged vignettes in some episodes.