This The Son review contains spoilers.
The Son Episode 5
“No Prisoners,” raises a red flag. Not on the series, which has been picking up steam as tension mount a fast horse, but on the first family of Texas. A red flag means no prisoners will be taken in battle. The episode explores loyalty in both the 1910 and 1849 arcs. The budding Mexican revolution that seems to be taking place on the McCullough property turns out to be costly, but the expense can be written off as an investment in oil futures.
The episode opens with death photography. Morbid reminders of massacres and slaughters, they make for great post cards at souvenir shops. A photograph of Eli McCullough’s (Pierce Brosnan) posse standing over their spoils of battle have made it around their square of Texas, and it’s not fit for the Christian schools. But the grainy images aren’t only a reason to get expelled. They are photographic evidence of the continuing crimes that go unpunished by lawmen trained in looking the other way.
The rebels keep themselves in the peripheral vision of the law. Mexican-Americans outnumber white voters in the border town but they still feel overlooked. The Garcias share more than a property line with the McCulloughs. They have a history that goes beyond the nationalistic competition. The Garcias are divided because they harbor sympathies as well as fugitives. But they have a good heart and can be counted on when the chips are down.
Pete McCullough’s (Henry Garrett) family is also divided. Some want to sell the property that has so many bodies buried on it, some still see the potential. This mirrors the 1849 arc when the Comanche tribe is forced to choose whether to go north for food, or defend their land from encroaching threats. The buffalo haven’t left tracks for months. The Comanches have to choose between honor, starvation, and the real estate they’d give up to the Tonks. The Tonkewa like to eat Comanches. Toshaway (Zahn McClarnon) lost the hunger of his youth, but agrees with the council that it is time for war.
With all due respect to Brosnan, I find myself more interested in young Eli’s storyr. Jacob Lofland as young Eli Young is beginning to look like a proper Comanche. Smeared with war paint, carries the white man’s burden to the enemy of his enemy. Given the choice to destroy his adopted family with blankets soiled with small pox, he chooses to remain loyal to the kidnappers who made him an orphan in the first place.
The injustice the white man heaped on native Americans isn’t the only commentary The Son indulges in. Like many frontiersmen, conservative also means conservation. Eli knows that the land is drying up, that’s what man does to things. Turns soil to sand, fertile to barre, fruit to thorns. Of course, all that will mean nothing to him if he gets an excuse to drill holes in the earth to tap the blood of dead dinosaurs, but that’s a cost of doing business.
Those who live by the sword die by the sword, but those without a sword die a lot faster. I had a feeling the Chopin playing kid wouldn’t make it to Princeton from the second his mama told him he was the light of her life. The danger that came to the door looks like it will unite the family. They know the dangers and they’re not that different from the dangers anywhere else in a world on its way to war, but they remain home-proud. Everyone in the family did their part when they had to. But, really it was Pete’s daughter Jeannie McCullough (Sydney Lucas) who saves the day. She also just might have stepped in the sticky stuff that will save the family future. When she sped off to get reinforcements, she inadvertently discovers where the oil is, if she can retrace her steps.
“No Prisoners” is centered by the action of the battle scene, but takes the time between shots to shed light on the conflicted loyalties and inner workings of what makes for an oil tycoon.
“No Prisoners” was written by Brian McGreevey and Lee Shipman, and directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi.