This The Purge review contains spoilers.
The Purge Season 2 Episode 8
Perhaps someone smarter than me could watch the second season of The Purge and determine just what Ryan’s end-game is. Perhaps someone with a better sense for the big picture saw that shift in allegiance coming. I’m clearly not that person.
Throughout the second season of The Purge, I had assumed that Ryan’s big mission on Purge Night really was a cash grab, and that all the twists and turns along the way were simply complications of a pretty simple plan. As it turns out, Ryan’s actual secret plot goes right over my head, like how Ben’s insanity went unnoticed and unknown by his frat brothers until it was far too late.
Perhaps The Purge might be easier to see, as far as the big picture goes, if it was the sort of show that could be binge-watched. Friends have binge-watched the first season and enjoyed it, and after discussion, decided they’d be interested in binging the second season as well. Perhaps the pacing of weekly television, and the tendency for limited series like The Purge to tell a self-contained 10 episode story, run counter to one another, or are more rewarding when episodes can simply be finished off over the course of an ambitiously couch-bound day. All that to say that when Ryan revealed his group’s true mission at the end of the episode, I was, perhaps wrongly, caught by surprise.
The rest of the episode’s stories aren’t particularly surprising, aside from one insane special effects moment involving Marcus and Darren that will no doubt make viewers cringe around the world. It’s a shocking thing that comes out of nowhere. Darren is checking the tires of the car, Marcus is slipping a pipe wrench out of the trunk of the car… it goes a little sideways—Patrick Lussier is definitely twisting things to make it seem like Marcus is about to murder his only son—but then the reasoning for the shattered arm is revealed.
If you’re in the hospital, you’re immune from The Purge, and even the NFFA won’t infringe on that sacred space. Still, a shattered forearm (there’s no way that’s a clean break) is probably a pretty bad way to make sure your son is in the hospital. After all, if you shoot him in the foot, you get the same hospitalization and an easier injury to explain away given all the Purge-related gun practice.
Still, it’s a chance for Lussier to show off his B-movie director credentials, which run throughout his IMDb profile. The scenes prior to the beginning of The Purge, particularly with Ben, are simply brilliant stalker scenes. He skulks around and gets the upper hand on pretty much everyone, sneaking around in the back of frames before pouncing. Ditto Ryan and Esme’s respective schemes; the airport tarmac showdown comes out of nowhere and is executed brilliantly, without ruining any of the tension established by watching Ryan and company slowly put their plan into place. The way Ryan dispatches his Ziv-mandated guard is especially brutal and nasty, in a good way.
“Before The Sirens” is more set-up than satisfaction, Ryan’s betrayal of Ziv aside. Ben and Turner has always been the end game for the frat brothers storyline, particularly once Kelen was dispatched. Esme and Ryan is all about pulling off the one big job, one big heist, or blasting one big burst of information to go out to the world at large. Marcus and Michelle have been building up to this neighbors versus neighbors confrontation since the beginning of the season, though James Roland and Lindsey Villareal’s script sneaks in some nice moments for Derek Luke and Rochelle Aytes to share as a couple, as well as between Vivian (Charlotte Schweiger), Curtis the NFFA supervisor (Connor Trinneer), and Esme.
As established, The Purge season 2 has mostly been building up to this one night, giving us the back story first and then bringing things to a climax rather than spreading out both back story and climax across the entire season. As a shift in form, albeit a small one, it’s worked very well, and the rising action has been executed very well across the whole of the season. The build-up has been a solid ride, and the upcoming execution of those feels like it’s going to be as satisfying, if not more so, than the first season’s big ending.
The stakes, rather than shrinking, have been growing. Ryan’s no longer looking to just get some cash, he’s looking to take on the NFFA. Esme’s no longer looking to solve the issue with her dead mentor, she’s looking to take on the NFFA, too. Michelle and Marcus are going to fight their entire neighborhood rather than another singular Purge assassin. And, of course, Ben is going to kill his entire frat, rather than just a few people at a time, and waiting for The Purge doesn’t really matter to him anymore.
But since it’s Purge night, might as well go out and have a little fun, right Ben? Let all the copycats inspired by the campus killer run across the real thing out in the wild world of the NFFA.