This The Purge review contains spoilers.
The Purge Season 2 Episode 2
The Purge has traditionally been concerned with that 12-hour period of mayhem and nothing else. There might be a little preparation beforehand as people flee the cities and lock themselves behind strong doors, but for the most part, what happens after the Purge has never been addressed before now. What happens to all the bodies? Who puts out all the fires? How crazy would hospitals be in the wake of an all-night fiesta of violence?
The answer to all these questions are revealed in “Everything Is Fine,” which is an episode title that doubles as a mantra for the various survivors of the previous night’s Purging. For most people, the day after the Purge seems to be a time to forget that the previous day ever happened. Out of sight, out of mind, and nothing to worry about for another 364 days. However, recovery takes time, for both people and infrastructure, even if all around the grieving, wounded, and psychologically broken the machine of commerce grinds ever onward.
Jessica Lowrey does a good job of making Purge-related recovery business interesting. The cold open, in which a cleaning service rolls up to a giant mansion to clean up the single murder inside—it looks like a man is stabbed in the back, perhaps by his own wife—a ballet of what passes for normalcy in this weird world. This crew cleans up what would be a horrifying crime scene without even blinking, right down to removing the butcher knife from the back of the corpse, cleaning it with disinfectant water and polish, and sheathing the blade while unceremoniously tagging and dumping the corpse into a black bag to be left on the curb alongside the rest of the trash. All that the lady of the house has to do to forget about what happened is move her plate very slightly to cover a single drop of blood on a white linen place mat.
Things are not so easy in the other parts of the world. Money solve their problems, but they don’t have any. The streets that Ryan walks through on his way to the safe house are like something out of a zombie apocalypse movie, and if the streets are bad, the scenes of Marcus at the hospital are even worse. Ryan dodges bodies and wrecked cars as he moves through the streets, where Purgers are headed home to resume their normal lives. Marcus walks into a nightmare of screaming, bleeding people with horrible burns, gunshot wounds, and missing limbs, and those are the lucky ones who’ll survive.
It’s two sides of the disaster coin. Fires rage out of control while large white trucks move through the city to pick up bodies for proper disposal. Marcus returns to work at the hospital. Ben returns to school, walking back into the frat house covered in blood but expected to return to something like normalcy by the next day. There are chances to grieve, but the message is clear. Grieve, then move on. Society will move on, with our without its individual members, and no single person is bigger or more important than the state at large. If you were hurt in some way by the Purge, then you either recover or you don’t, and no one seems particularly concerned about that.
Even Esme’s boss Curtis (Connor Trinneer) tows that line as a member of the NFFA’s surveillance organ. Esme is his best spotter, and one of his better employees, but he can’t be caught bending the rules, even for her, as she seeks to investigate the death of beloved college professor Drew Adams via the many smart devices in her home (the NFFA, like most conspiracy theorists would believe modern governments do, is listening to you via your smart TV). Like the attack on Marcus, Professor Adams wasn’t chosen at random, this was a specific hit by people looking for specific information in the form of a file. Esme has a hunch, and even if her boss doesn’t want her to follow said hunch, she’s going to do so anyway, otherwise The Purge would be short one of its two big mysteries for this season.
James Roland’s script does a solid enough job explaining the NFFA legal system, and just how the New Founding Fathers take care of crimes on a non-Purge day, but it can be a little bit heavy on characters talking to themselves and stating thoughts out loud. That’s a pet peeve, but it’s forgivable as there are still a lot of back story things to get out, particularly Marcus receiving an explanation of just how the Ivory Road works (it’s like the Silk Road, but for arranging assassinations rather than buying drugs with Bitcoin). It’s a bit messy, but it still works better than Ryan’s out-loud detective work tracking the cash truck from the bank to the airport, considering he’s talking to no one and it’s conceivable that a middle-aged doctor wouldn’t be hip to the world of hidden apps and the dark web.
“Everything Is Fine” lacks the full-bore intensity of a Purge night episode, but it makes up for it in mystery and explanation. It’s fleshing out the world and setting up some potentially interesting twists down the road without the distraction of a murder spree. They may still get to the murder spree portion, but for now, it’s not needed. The world around The Purge is interesting enough, and horrifying enough, to make the murder and blood look like a children’s Halloween party.