The Son Episode 3 Review: Second Empire

The first son of Texas parts with a parcel of land on episode 3 of AMC's The Son.

This The Son review contains spoilers.

The Son Episode 3

“Second Empire,” shows that, while Texas oilmen don’t always get what they want, they can get what they need. The first son of Texas is building his second empire out of the blood of old dinosaurs the way he built his first out of the blood of his old enemies. Most of his old enemies, the ones who survived, now number among his oldest friends. They know his history and, while they may not have forgiven it, it’s taught them not to repeat mistakes.

Eli (Pierce Brosnan) and Phineas McCullough travel 10 hours to meet with an Austin, Texas, investor who never had any intention in sinking money in south Texas. It wasn’t too long ago that the territory was stolen from Mexico and, with the remaining rebels wanting to take it back, it is too much of a new venture risk. The financier took the meeting with “the colonel” just to chat about their shared knowledge of obsidian arrow heads and the supernatural powers of the darker races. The old Texas millionaire knows a Mexican with a nose for quail. He’s a renegade, in everything but business.

Eli is a true business maverick and, as the show’s two arcs reveal, a well-heeled renegade. I knew the opening scalping was going to turn out to be a revenge fantasia, but still was very disappointed. That would have been the perfect way to close a deal before the opening credits.

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Charles is the indulgent son, giving his father room to vent about wannabe braves, but not enough room to grow. The southern part of Texas hasn’t been proved to be a consistent source of oil, but that doesn’t mean south Texans have to be crude. There is enough space for everyone on the plains, if only the first son of Texas might free up some real estate for more entrenched interests. Some of the locals were born Mexican and became Americans without having to move. Some of them want to assimilate into the life, others don’t recognize the United States as a anything but a robber nation. They also don’t agree on whether hurting the main thief is worth what invariably turns out to be self-inflicted pain.

Toshaway (Zahn McClarnon) shows young Eli some of the ways of the Comanche. And the young Comanche woman Prairie Flower (Elizabeth Frances) shows him some other ways to go native that he keeps with him for the rest of his life. In 1849, young Eli trains as a warrior, taking hits and humiliations, earning himself the moniker “Pathetic White Boy.” The kid is not so pathetic that he doesn’t inspire the jealous of Charges The Enemy (Tatanka Means), a brave who is so in love with himself he doesn’t stop and smell Prairie Flower. Once they are married, he has the right to cut off the nose of anyone who tries to get a sniff. Eli, who has been getting nocturnal visits, is ready to get his nose bent out of shape.

You ever put a man down who wasn’t hurting you? Cos if not then you have it pretty easy, an old Texas frontiersman tells Pete McCullough (Henry Garrett) during over some good breakfast whiskey. Pete is riddled with guilt. He doesn’t show it. He might not even know it. The good son of the first son of Texas puts up a brave front, if not as nativist as his father’s, and does what he’s told. He may bury his feelings, but he’s got two bodies buried on the property that are screaming to be unearthed. While he may want to do what he sees as the right thing, his father’s enablers are much stronger at keeping those things out of sight.

Jeannie McCullough (Sydney Lucas) watches over everything. Seen but not heard, she is in every window learning how to be a good McCullough and still be the kind of good person who doesn’t go to hell when they die. She knows something is going on, and she knows no one is going to tell her what it is, but even that is an education. You get the feeling that when she finally steps up to the family plate she will not need a learning curve.

Everyone wants to be remembered. And not just for the bad stuff they’ve done. As Eli is winding his way down to the last roundup, he’s coming to grips with the fact that his bad deeds outweigh the good deeds. And he’s too old to try and shift his weight now.

“The Plum Tree” was written by Kevin Murphy and Cami Delavigne, and directed by Kevin Dowling.

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3.5 out of 5