Friday, December 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Reprisal' - Doris Begins Her Quest for Revenge Following Two Significant Deaths in 'The Tale of Harold Horpus'

Hulu's Reprisal - Episode 1.01 "The Tale of Harold Horpus"

Years after being left for dead by her brother and his gang, the Banished Brawlers, Katherine Harlow reemerges as Doris and begins to plot her revenge. Meanwhile, a kid named Ethan is in over his head when he joins the Brawlers' world of the Bang-a-Rang.

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 series premiere of Hulu's Reprisal.

"The Tale of Harold Horpus" was written by Josh Corbin and directed by Jonathan Van Tulleken

There is a lot going on in this premiere. It verges on too much for the audience to keep track of. That may be problematic. It throws the viewer into the deep end expecting us to adapt to this hyper-noir world that combines various genres that may conflict with one another. It's a world of fantastic gangs that may feud with each other at various points. It's a way to tell a familiar story in an off kilter way. That is appreciated. But again, there is a lot to juggle in this first episode. It may eventually present as important and meaningful character work. Right now, it's simply the burden of the audience to accept gangs within gangs, elaborate clubs hiding in plain sight, and a quest for revenge 900 miles away. The journey starts with Katherine Harlow witnessing the depravity of her brother and his gang, The Banished Brawlers. In that moment, she is unwilling and unable to pull the trigger on him. She can't kill him. He is more than willing to kill her though because she may present as opposed to everything he may be trying to build. He is an elusive figure after that moment. Katherine had to completely reinvent herself. She started over anew in Detroit as Doris. She made a nice life for herself. She got married. But she holds secrets as well. This may only be a marriage for the money. That can finance her quest for revenge against the man who left her for dead. She is determined to make an impact. She clearly does throughout this premiere. She kills her stepson simply because he stands in her way. She doesn't have that strength or resolve when it comes to facing off with the intimidating gangster trying to run her out of town after her husband dies. Big Graham is an imposing figure who beats people into submission. That may work for a moment with Doris. However, she is now more than willing and capable to kill in order to advance her own agenda. That may be the biggest takeaway and personal journey in this hour. She couldn't pull that trigger at the start of the series. By the end of the first hour though, she is just as lethal as seemingly everyone else in this world. That may be a requirement in order to be a part of this universe. When Ethan presents himself to the Banished Brawlers, he is quickly labeled as fragile. He essentially has to prove himself worthy by holding his own in a bar fight with rival gang, the Ghouls. Now, it doesn't seem worth the effort. The Ghouls are only seen in this rundown bar. Meanwhile, the Banished Brawlers and their subgroup, the 3 River Phoenixes, have this elaborate club full of musical performances and pin-up models. When Matty explains the system and his responsibilities alongside Ethan and Johnson, it's clear he has a great deal of importance because the influence of this gang is far-reaching across the South. That shows just how expansive this enterprise truly is. The main location may be one source of income. It's the place where all the main characters seem to gather. However, a conflict is brewing because of Matty's foolish actions. Ethan is caught in the middle of it. He is secretly working for Doris but may have conflicted feelings about that. Again, it's a lot of exposition just thrown at the audience hoping to stick and make an impact. Joel manages things in Burt's absence and he also happens to be caring for a young daughter. Meredith is Burt's daughter and she seems much more rambunctious and reckless than the other performances at the Bang-a-Rang. And Doris may truly have compassion for her late husband. She just doesn't want to ruin the illusion by bringing up their traumatic pasts especially since she already knows exactly who he has been. This life was good for awhile. But it won't serve her in the long run for the series. She needs to join the world down south as soon as possible though in order for all of these plot threads to start connecting. That is crucial in determining whether or not this world features characters actively worth engaging in. They may simply be a group of people where wild things continually happen to disrupt the natural order of their lives. That can be entertaining but not that deep.