This Damnation review contains spoilers.
Damnation Episode 8
Bessie was an impetus in tonight’s episode, but she wasn’t crucial to the overall success. No one’s good in the virginal or biblical sense of the word, and I’d think the writers would’ve better addressed this discrepancy. Up close and from a distance, the locals aren’t without sin, and once again the title, “The Goodness of Men,” was lost on me.
The title brought to mind Anthony’s eulogy from Julius Cesar when he said, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.” Sam Riley was the first causality, and by most accounts, he was a good man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
What happens in Holden that doesn’t occur anywhere else? Is there a purifying lake or hot springs that washes away sins and iniquities of a destined few that the capitalists want to bottle and monetize? The answer is no. Damnation at its core is about a land grab that’s complicated by stubborn farmers.
Eight weeks and counting of flashbacks, the jigsaw puzzles that are Seth and Creeley Turner reveal more pieces to help the viewer understand who they are in Iowa. The flashbacks could be more economical, which would allow more present-day action and forward momentum. I don’t need weekly pendulum swings into the past to understand that Seth’s father is despicable, greedy, and sick with delusions of a better life. His adult sons are on opposite sides of a rich, powerful, and noteworthy man, the kind he aspired to be, but wouldn’t live to see that day.
Seth’s masquerading as a pastor is an ode to his first love’s father, a country preacher, who fell victim to his father. Additional details emerged in the time machine of Creeley’s gullibility and betrayal that sent him to prison. Is Cynthia’s father the good man the writers had in mind when writing this episode to show his influence on Seth? Perhaps the hanging scene in the town square was the inciting incident and justification for the title. Simple townsfolk did nothing and watched as bad men were about to hang innocents. When good men are outnumbered and feel powerless, evil men do what their hearts desire.
Is the show heading towards a grand redemption for the brothers in the season finale? It would make sense because of their difficult past at the mercy of their father and his band of misfits. If that’s the case, what will motivate them if the show’s renewed for a second season? Once they’ve mended their broken relationship, will they team up to fight the Black Legion and industrialists? The show thus far has banked on keeping their angst alive and a reasonable distance between them. It’ll be interesting to see if my armchair predictions happen.