Sunday, April 30, 2017

REVIEW: 'Guerrilla' - Jas, Marcus and Dhari Clash Over the Goals of Their Cause in '103'

Showtime's Guerrilla - Episode 1.03 "103"

The gang moves to a secret location in the countryside and starts training to be soldiers. But the strain of being on the run begins to take its toil on Jas and Marcus' relationship. At the country house, the gang meets Eliette, a French Canadian radical who inspires Jas. In London, Pence and Cullen are getting desperate: the gang are becoming notorious and there's a rival force trying to steal the case. Pence turns to Kenya for help.

Jas, Marcus and Dhari were friends from before all of this political action happened. That's why Jas and Marcus broke Dhari out of prison. They believed he was being unfairly imprisoned for his political beliefs. They saw freeing him as the thing necessary to ignite this movement. Since then though, the three of them haven't exactly been on the same page. They've struggled to make their demands and ambitions known. Whenever they've taken action, it's to help some other organization so that they can then finance their own cause. But Jas, Marcus and Dhari all come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences in the world as it relates to this issue. All of them believe that the discrimination and persecution they've faced is worse and more important than the others. They all have shared pain but their circumstances are remarkably different as well. That has led to many clashes amongst the three of them as they try to build momentum. They each have firm beliefs about how far they are willing to go for this cause. But they haven't been able to find that unifying message just yet.

Jas is often the person in charge whose actions earn the respect or horror of the community around her. It was her idea to break Dhari out of prison and she was the one who attacked the party of rich citizens. She's the one taking action. She doesn't want to be cooped up in the same house while the men go off trying to make a plan. She wants to be the person making the plan. But she's running into problems with that because very few people are allowing her to do so. Everyone wants to be protective of her. The police don't believe she had these thoughts on her own. They believe she's been corrupted by evil men filling her head with lies about the world. Marcus doesn't want her to get involved in the criminal aspect of the operation more than she has to. He's horrified by what she did at the party and wants to know every single detail about her adventure out on the town. Jas didn't push for the same when she knew that Marcus did something crazy for the cause that same night. She gave him time to process and decide if he wanted to tell her about it. He's not giving her the same courtesy. It shows the differences between the two that ultimately do fall along the gender lines. He wants to be the protective boyfriend who takes care of Jas while she wants the freedom to do her own actions.

It's all about being taken seriously in this world. When the team meets with their German allies again, Jas is actually in the meeting. She's the one actually defining the conversation. She's the one arguing for a better prize when everyone else just feels grateful for what they are being given. But she's still kicked out of the room. That may be a sexism thing. Or may simply be the Germans being smart enough to recognize the deal will be better for them once she leaves. Either way, the deal isn't that great even though it also includes a new safe house out in the country. It's a new location that gives the team time to breathe and truly think. They can leave the city to really gather their thoughts and clarify their message. And yet, their time away only seems to divide them further. Marcus is against killing while Jas and Dhari want to be more unpredictable with their actions. They are being grouped together by the police who are using the media to try to appeal to their "better selves." Jas' mom doesn't want to go along with Pence's plan but Marcus' parents do. They want to label Dhari as a bad influence. They're comfortable going on television to say all of that in the hopes that it'll bring their son home safely.

But again, this hour is all about the costs this political crusade has on these personal relationships. Jas, Marcus and Dhari are turning on each other because they don't feel like they are getting the support and appreciation they feel they deserve. Marcus wants Dhari to feel grateful because he was able to turn his life story into a manifesto that is sweeping across the community. Dhari just wants to be at the center of the action. He doesn't care where it is or what they are doing. He grew up poor and frequently taken advantage of by the government. He doesn't know how to be patient. And thus, he's getting very furious with Marcus - believing that he doesn't speak for him and his experience of the world. Jas feels that pressure as well. Marcus has the ideal of turning this into a civil political debate that will change these institutions. But Jas and Dhari feel more pressure because they believe they have more to lose because they are either poor or an immigrant. They don't think Marcus is the best voice for this cause. It's the position he wants to be in. He wants to be the man who changed London. But it's a selfish desire that is hurting the relationships closest to him. He does see the error of his ways by the end of the hour. His thoughts are now firmly stated on paper but he asks Jas to be the person to deliver their message to the rest of the world.

And yet, the actions of Jas, Marcus and Dhari are affecting more than just them. Pence believes they are actively taunting him by staying in the shadows for so long. He's growing more and more frustrated that no one in the city is coming forward with information regarding where these three criminals are. He doesn't want to change his tactics either. Intimidation and force have always worked for him in the past. He sees no need to change things now. They aren't working in this investigation. So instead, he flexes them with Kenya where they work magnificently in his favor. That's clearly a power trip for him to feel in control of his life again. It's him continuing to abuse the community so that he can feel better about his life. In the process, that hurts people like Kenya and Fallon. Fallon is the person left behind. Jas and Marcus went off to do all of this in the name of Julian. They want the police to be held accountable for his death. And yet, that realization sends Fallon's world spinning even more. She doesn't want all of this trauma and chaos to happen because of Julian. She's feeling abandoned right now and just needs some comfort from her friends and family. It seems unlikely that that's going to happen though.

Some more thoughts:
  • "103" was written by John Ridley and directed by Sam Miller.
  • Jas, Marcus and Dhari meet another guerrilla warrior at the safe house - a woman named Eliette. She and Jas bond right away because they are similar as people. In fact, Jas even says that the way Eliette speaks reminds her of her father - which only further strengthens that bond of new friendship.
  • Pence is refusing to take any responsibility over his son's drug and alcohol addiction. He's compassionate when he's around the house. He doesn't want his son sitting in his own vomit or urine. He sees that as unseemly and gross. He's horrified by the treatment options and doesn't want to accept any of it. He wants to blame his wife who is around their son more often for the way he turned out.
  • Fallon's brother, Connor, gets caught up in a police sweep. She immediately turns to Pence and Cullen believing they were responsible because they are targeting her and will do anything to learn about Jas, Marcus and Dhari. But instead, Cullen proves to be very helpful in getting Connor out. Him being nice to her seemingly opens the door for a more open relationship moving forward - especially if Fallon doesn't agree with what her friends are doing.
  • Kenya knows that Pence isn't a good influence and shouldn't be a part of her family for very long. And yet, she also feels trapped by her circumstances. She's been very helpful for him in the past. And now, he only wants to exploit her more because she's done such great work. She hates doing this but fears that he'll hurt her if she doesn't try to help him.
  • The conversation that Pence has with Jas' mother is really interesting as well. She's not intimidated by him. In fact, she calls him out for being an outsider and immigrant too who is simply going along with all of this purely because he's white and in a position of power. That obviously hurt him.
  • Kent is only briefly seen in this episode during the closing montage. He's presented as the man in the community who objects to the actions that Jas, Marcus and Dhari are taking. That's a fitting description. But it's still odd to see so little of Idris Elba in this show.