Friday, September 27, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Politician' - A Family Emergence Distracts From Payton's Campaign in 'The Harrington Commode'

Netflix's The Politician - Episode 1.02 "The Harrington Commode"

Amid escalating concerns about his vice presidential pick, Payton gets plunged into a family crisis that stokes long-seething resentments. 

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's The Politician.

"The Harrington Commode" was written by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk & Ian Brennan and directed by Brad Falchuk

This hour states plainly that Infinity doesn't have cancer. She is as healthy as any other student at school. It's a concern Payton has had since he announced her as his running mate. He needs to know the truth as well. He can't just fall back on plausible deniability should this come out as a major scandal during the campaign. In fact, everything continues to go well for him. He seems to be running the much more effective and efficient campaign. He and his staff come up with outlandish ideas and then make them a reality shortly thereafter. That leaves Astrid and Skye on the sidelines wondering why they aren't doing more events. But everything also has an ulterior motive. The blood drive may only change one vote. That's how small the Haitian community is at this school. The rest of the event is built entirely around Payton and his team running the tests to prove whether or not Infinity is lying. Of course, the audience probably suspected that because it's clear that Infinity and Dusty Jackson are the ripped-from-the-headlines versions of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard. The parallels are striking and blatant - especially for any viewer who has seen Hulu's excellent and Emmy-winning limited series The Act. As such, it was important for the show to put this revelation out in the open right away so that it could hopefully explore more meaningful material elsewhere with this pairing. Payton, McAfee and James understand that this is a potential problem. One that could derail their campaign and all of their ambitions. Of course, the campaign isn't the only thing of merit going on in the world. In fact, it may not even determine whether or not Payton gets into Harvard. He was wait listed before the race was even over. And now, two faculty members approach him with an acceptance letter if he promises his family will fund a new department with an emphasis on Slavic languages. That is a somewhat cheap joke. But it mostly highlights how Payton lives his life in a constant state of dread and anxiety over how any potential action will play when he is inevitably running for President of the United States. He sees the importance of getting into Harvard on his own merits. He can't simply break the rules in the ways that wealthy families always do. In fact, that will be the assumption right away that he'll have to contend with. He is already dealing with people who view him as entitled and out-of-touch with the struggles of families with less money than his. Of course, Payton and his family have their own problems. Georgina wants to divorce her husband so that she can run off with the horse trainer she has fallen in love with. That declaration forces him to jump out of a window. It's horrifying that this isn't the first time Georgina has caused a reaction like this. That proves that her love can be so powerful and mesmerizing. People are willing to hurt themselves if they can't have it. That can be very dangerous though. It's mostly played as a joke even though the show wants some serious emotional pathos from River's suicide. That has to be the emotional through-line throughout the season. Payton has to remember his friend and that love in order to feel emotions during this turbulent time. Otherwise, he may be pure ambition. That can be scary and terrifying. It's enough to earn the respect he has long sought out from his father. He manages to embarrass his brothers while getting them cut out of the family. He has the love and support of his mother. And yet, people are willing to make big sacrifices on his behalf. They do so fully knowing his ambition is terrifying. It may not work out either. As such, it may be a fool's errand to risk so much in support of Payton. That is an enticing angle for story. It's simultaneously hard to root for Payton while also understanding just how effective his style of campaigning can be. He may be on a road towards success simply because he has the drive to make these dreams a reality.