This review contains spoilers.
1.5 The Siege
One of the hardest things for people to do on television is write a smart kid character. For whatever reason, either kids are insufferable (The Walking Dead‘s season two Carl) or world-weary (season three Carl) and nowhere in between. However, Joey Matthews (Kyle Catlett) is not one of those kids. For whatever reason, he may be the smartest person on the show, or at least the smartest person of the four people – 3 killers and 1 girl taped up in the basement – in the big white hideout. Joey shows cleverness throughout this week’s episode, and that only increases as it goes along, but there’s never that little nudge that reminds us some adult wrote the kid’s role. Joey is, by turns, brilliant and gullible, defensive and naive. Long story short, he’s a kid, and weirdly well-written.
The noose seems to be tightening around the throats of Jacob, Paul, and Emma. The more the three squabble amongst themselves, the less they pay attention to Joey. That comes back to bite them as they have difficulty keeping track of the kid. After he makes a brief phone call to his mother, trying to get back in touch with her, the caretakers separate him from the phone. However, that call is just long enough to get Ryan, Mike, and the local cops in the right direction.
At the same time, Joe Carroll has used his lawyer to pass a message to the outside world via press conference. The code is a snippet from Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, but it means something to Carroll’s followers, and that message puts a lot of complicated plans in motion involving fleeing the farm, picking up Joe’s ex-wife Claire, and moving all the bits around on the chess board, since Ryan is getting too close for comfort. This gives Kevin Bacon ample chances to show off how intense he is.
Director Phil Abraham made great use of the helicopter the show rented this week to ferry Ryan around. There are some great overhead shots of the copter flying through Duchess County (or somewhere in Georgia, since I believe that’s where they film the programme). It’s a nice touch, and it gives the show the sort of scope it seems to want to have. It’s meant to feel a bit like a movie, given the star power attached to the lead role, and it is those sorts of shots that help provide that feel. Abraham also created a great deal of tension this week, making good use of the shaky cam and drawing out the suspense from the clash of disparate elements all coming together at the farmhouse.
It really turned out well, despite a few dull moments. The episode seemed to build really organically as things went on, tying in some elements I didn’t expect to see and keeping things just fluid enough that every unsurprising death (the disposable cop), there’s an unexpected death to balance it out. The script from Rebecca Dameron really luxuriates in the show’s violence, and it contains a few really good reveals to balance out the continued chase. It also pushed boundaries other than violence with the emerging, intriguing relationship between Paul, Jacob, and Emma.
This might have been the sharpest episode since the show’s debut episode, if only because it seemed to have an idea of where it was going and what it needed to set up for next week’s continuation. Given the ending for this week, I’m very interested in seeing how things work next week (and beyond). Perhaps they might redeem the show’s very clever premise after all.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Mad Love, here.
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