Saturday, September 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Politician' - Payton Becomes the Target of Several People's Hatred in 'The Assassination of Payton Hobart'

Netflix's The Politician - Episode 1.06 "The Assassination of Payton Hobart"

As Payton confronts hard truths about his ambition following an election day bombshell, he reconnects with a former ally - and becomes a target.

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 Assassination of Payton Hobart" was written by Ian Brennan and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

There is a significant difference between running for public office and actually doing the job of representing the people who voted for you. Sure, there are some politicians who evaluate every single action and decision through the prism of how it plays politically especially if they are running for reelection or have grander ambitions. Payton has been singularly focused on becoming the President of the United States. That's been his sole ambition for the majority of his young life. His lack of substance though has been the sole point of his character this season. He's an empty shell of a man who doesn't have any solid principles or allows himself to feel any kind of genuine emotion. Every aspect of his life is carefully constructed based on how it helps him achieve his ultimate dream. He's not running because he has a vision for how to make his school a better place. He just sees that as the common trajectory for modern-day Presidents. This is where they started their journeys to success. It was an accomplishment Payton needed to check off his list. But he feels absolutely devastated that the election is essentially taken away from him. Sure, that's a somewhat lame conclusion for this entire story. It mostly wants Payton to continue feeling stressed and paranoid even though he should be celebrating this victory. That means Astrid exists as a character just to serve as a complication for Payton on this journey. That isn't satisfying or interesting. Meanwhile, other characters exist simply to create multiple people who would have the willingness to kill Payton. That's what this hour is fundamentally about. Payton personally feels victimized because as a politician he always has to be aware that he is creating enemies who could one day try to assassinate him. That only heightens the paranoia and uncertainty of this world. Payton certainly doesn't need more to stress over. But the show continues to throw more at him. It's much more compelling though to see him standing in front of the school board with absolutely no clue how to pitch practical solutions that work for the school. He simply sees a bunch of adults who don't get his vision. But he's not proposing anything sensible that can actually get done. He has these bold ideas but no idea how to make them work within the structure of this system. That runs the risk of destroying any kind of career ambitions he might have. He needs to know how to work the system so that he can play it to his advantage. For a lifetime studying the lives of politicians, he strangely feels out of place in this moment. He doesn't know what to fight for or how to actually get anything done. He just remains furious and throws tantrums when things don't go his way. That highlights just how spoiled he has always been. And now, that energy promises to destroy so much for him. Yes, some of his paranoia is justified because Skye, Dusty and Ricardo are all actively trying to kill him. He doesn't get much release from joining the school musical. Perhaps that comes from it being Assassins which puts him even deeper into the fear of assassination attempts. He and Infinity are the stars. But that fundamentally showcases a willingness to just play with peoples emotions in order to get elected. Now, Payton is publicly being seen with Infinity and Alice once more. It's not a big deal. He felt pressure to put distance in these relationships in order to get elected. But now, he wants to relax comfortably into them once more. That showcases that all of these people are damaged with no true sense of themselves. That extends to some of the adults as well. Georgina wants the opportunity to feel love. That is just cruelly taken away from her once more because of Payton even though it's not truly his fault this time. But these lingering resentments are only continuing to fester and grow. That has become explosive here and promises to get even more so by the conclusion of the season. That's insane and basically comes across as plot twists to keep the narrative intense even though it's very sensible to want to see Payton actually perform in this office. The audience should know if running was worth it in the end. It shows that there is more to politics than campaigning. The show just may be moving a bit too briskly with characters and twists that don't seem all that relevant or meaningful.