This The Purge review contains spoilers.
The Purge Episode 8
Like Penelope and Miguel, I am a Purge survivor. No, really! If you’ll indulge me my inner Sophia Petrillo, picture it: Louisville, 2014.
It’s a hot August day, when fliers start appearing on telephone poles around town. The leering face of the masked man from the original Purge film dominates the flier, which promises “Louisvilles The Purge” from 8:00 PM until 6:30 AM. In hindsight, it seems silly, but at the time, it was taken seriously as a real threat. Five months earlier, a mob of 200 teenagers formed up at a major park on the city waterfront. The group rampaged up and down major streets, beating, robbing, and vandalizing property before the incident dispersed. Several people were hospitalized. Given that incident was fresh in the mind of the city leaders, the fliers were taken seriously and police presence was ramped up throughout the city. Local sporting events were canceled or moved to different dates. Businesses closed early. The Purge was unavailable to rent or buy at local businesses. And, seemingly, the world stayed home to Tweet and listen to police radio broadcasts via the internet.
In a lot of ways, that incident—which resulted in nothing more than the usual Friday night mayhem mixed with people shoplifting and yelling “The Purge!” while fleeing—helped to solidify the thought that The Purge was actually a fairly realistic depiction of how people would react to such an event. Granted, nobody went out to commit mayhem, but everyone stayed home and watched on television and focused on every crazy event that happened. It was a spectator sport, and we all took part.
That reality seems to be a crucial part of The Purge‘s universe. Sure, you have Purge Parties, and gatherings like the one thrown by the Stantons to raise funds for the NFFA. But it seems like most people just look for a safe place, like Pete the Cop’s bar, to ride out the storm. If you have the resources, like Rick and Jenna, you seal yourselves into your home and don’t come out until dawn, no matter how many people come by pounding on the doors. Unfortunately, Jenna opened the doors and let Lila in, now no one is going to be sleeping at night.
Once that seal is broken, then danger lurks around every corner, and “The Giving Time Is Here” does a good job at making that a reality. The house creaks and bumps, every footfall brings about the creak of a stair, and in the distance outside, gunfire and screams and cars pass. In my situation, there wasn’t a lot to listen to other than the usual drunk yelling and passing cars, but The Purge has done a great job of filling the space behind characters with sound. There’s always car sounds, screaming, gunfire… there’s rarely anywhere that’s quiet, and when it’s quiet, it’s uncomfortably so. When you’re at Pete’s bar, it’s lively, but it feels more comfortable because you’re safe with other people (who have been disarmed) and it would take a considerable action by outsiders to break that peace, but if you’re Rick and Jenna, impatiently waiting for daybreak, every little noise could be another neighbor breaking into your home to kill you much like the last one did.
Rick, Jenna, and Lila didn’t have a surprise twist ending, but I don’t use that to discredit Thomas Kelly’s script. It worked, and watching the flashbacks helped flesh out Lila’s character a little bit more. She still falls under the rough header of psychotic ex-girlfriend, but her behavior is fitting given her status as a spoiled little rich girl. Lili Simmons has great eyes, and she does well with the equal parts anger and fear she directs towards Rick. Her ending scene is appropriately tragic, but both Hannah Emily Anderson and Colin Woodell do well in selling the shock and horror of the scene. It’s a nice twist to see Jenna support her husband in the end, and to have him not take Lila’s generous offer of financial independence, given his poor beginnings, establishes the character a little more firmly.
Focusing on two aspects of our assembled Purge crew helps the episode feel more propulsive, and helped Rick and Jenna’s tension build and build without breaking.
The few times we did cut away to Pete’s bar, things were equally nervy. That Pete has run afoul of the NFFA isn’t a huge surprise, but I did like the official reveal of the role Good Leader Tavis is actually playing, and that bus confrontation was handled very well. Director Michael Nankin pulls the rug out from under Penelope almost immediately, though Joe is there to save the day. At least, save the day for the moment. Joe’s ultimate motivation is now in question thanks to a brilliant closing act shift in perspective. That tracking shot through the van, and the horror on the assembled faces, was a wonderful bit of television. He’s been saving lives all night, and killing aggressive parties all night, but… what’s his idea of safe, and why aren’t the people in his van there yet?
Or, perhaps, the only safe place from The Purge is in the ground, but that seems to be anathema to Joe’s general philosophy. Either way, it’s a very interesting (and surprising) twist. Perhaps it’s to be expected; someone that violent can’t be all good, and yet it was still wasn’t expected. At least, for now. I can’t help but wonder just who is giving Joe the ability to turn off people’s protective devices and the ability to track people down when they’re in trouble. Perhaps Joe, like Tavis. is a participant in some sort of government-funded Purge program, as seen in The First Purge. He is unemployed and in the prime of his murdering years, so… I guess we’ll find out prior to the end of the series.
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