This The Purge review contains spoilers.
The Purge Season 2 Episode 5
The concept of Purge tourism has always been an interesting idea, and one that hasn’t nearly been touched on enough in the Purge media universe. There was talk of Purge tourism, but there are nuts-and-bolts concerns that are addressed in this week’s cold opening, in which a Brazilian bride is planning an American Purge bridal shower trip with her six bridesmaids over her Maid of Honor’s objections. The trip comes with weapons, a hotel stay, and bodyguards for all involved, but the bridesmaid asks a very important question: what happens for those people who cannot make the trip back? With every plan, there is a risk for something to go wrong, no matter how prepared you might be.
Witness Ryan’s crew of bank robbers. They have a plan. They send Tommy’s friend from within the bank to plant a shut-off device in a wealthy family’s Purge safe. He fails, partially because the people who are getting their valuables removed in the event of a Purge are rich enough to have NFFA friends who are high enough to disregard things like bank rules. Therefore, they have to go to plan B, and that is break into the mansion, plant the device, and keep an eye on the family to make sure they get in and out without being caught. It’s still a crime, but without guns, it’s a lesser crime, so they won’t all end up on death row. Until Tommy’s loose cannon friend from the bank pulls out a gun. That’s the first sign that Ryan’s quick trip in and out will not be as cut-and-dry as planned.
Nobody’s plan works the way they want it to.
Doug (Jaren Mitchell) can’t tail the family from the mansion to the golf course, because as a black man in a wealthy golf course, hanging out in a car with the lights off is going to attract attention from security guards, and that gives the family enough time to leave for home and come back and catch Ryan and company in the act of planting the device. The flake from the bank, being a flake, wanders off from his one job (watch the front door) to explore the house and is shot through the back of his head or his troubles. Ryan (Max Martini) and Sarah (Chelle Ramos) then try to fight their way out, only for the home’s owners to trigger their Purge alarm system and grab guns from the panic room to hunt down and eliminate the break-in crew. For Ryan, the plan could not have gone worse, and escaping from the situation involves making a deal with the Devil that somehow makes prison look good by comparison.
Even Esme, who should know enough to be careful, isn’t careful enough, and it’s just a sign of how insidious the NFFA are in their surveillance methods. She takes all the precautions a normal person would, and then some, but she neglects to check her purse for implanted bugs, so her meeting with the hacker who agrees to help her suss out just what’s going on with all these dying people and her missing surveillance footage inadvertently gives the NFFA enough rope to hang them both. Esme’s non-flashback scenes don’t have any real stress to them, not like Ben and Ryan, but when that reveal happens, it’s an immediate sinking feeling in the gut that someone so experienced at spying on others has no way to figure out if people are spying on her.
It’s almost as big of a punch as Esme’s flashback sequences. Esme is a torn older daughter, forced to choose between her sister and her father, and Lindsey Villareal’s script packs a surprising amount of emotional weight into the story, particularly when Esme makes the decision to abandon her father on Purge night and listen to him screaming in anguish as he’s taken care off by some good citizens. Her father is established clearly as a bad man, but it is still hard to watch, and that is a credit to Paola Nunez’s performance. The other more emotional moment, when Marcus confronts his wife about her infidelity and how it led to his open contract, is also well done by Rochelle Aytes and Derek Luke. This is a world in which every action, no matter how small, can lead to someone trying to Purge someone else.
Witness also the terrible double date with Ben, Lawrence Kao’s Andy, Kelen and another girl, in which Andy’s date bites her tongue throughout the date to avoid ending up on Andy’s Purge list without even knowing he actually has one. Andy’s obsession matches Ben’s, but because Ben actually indulges outside of Purge night (and because Andy seems like a big talker who doesn’t back it up, Andy’s constant talk about the Purge is a turn-off, even if it leads Ben into drinking a little too much and letting Andy in on a little secret that gets Andy stabbed a bunch.
In Christoph Schrewe’s hands, Ben’s desperate action becomes stomach-churning, and as Ben first escaped the dorm then tried to get back in to recover his missing wallet, that tension just grows and grows until it peaks with a horrifying reveal (to Ben). He’s lashing out more and more, making more mistakes, and for all we know, his body count is growing with every passing day (it’s not revealed whether or not he killed that coed he was stalking after the Remembrance Day party) and it’s becoming more and more of an impulse that he cannot control. That much is clear, and in that post-Purge moment of clarity, Ben seems to be aware of this.
Like Esme, Ryan, and Marcus, Ben has crossed into a place he can’t retreat from. They’re all stuck where they are, and it’s either move forward or get caught up in the past and lose all chance to move forward. Desperate times lead to desperate measures, but desperation is a great way to get yourself thrown in prison or worse in a world where ultimate justice is dispensed once a year in a government-sponsored mass execution… or a thousand summary executions that are covered up by the all-seeing eye of the New Founding Fathers.
Actions have consequences. In the world of The Purge, those consequences are usually being killed, one way or another.