Friday, December 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Reprisal' - Doris Approaches Two Men She Deems Perfect for Her Mission in 'The Emboldened Conflict'

Hulu's Reprisal - Episode 1.03 "The Emboldened Conflict"

Doris channels her past to recruit a crew with some unusual persuasion. Ethan gets a Brawlers history lesson. Joel works hard to preserve a fragile truce. Meredith acquires what she needs to one day get away.

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 Hulu's Reprisal.

"The Emboldened Conflict" was written by Nate Crocker and directed by Jonathan Van Tulleken

Abigail Spencer is giving an absolutely inspired and slightly deranged performance in this show. It's the kind of work that makes the viewer sit up and notice. The storytelling clicks whenever Doris is on the screen. It's the kind of performance that can lift up an entire show. This series certainly needs that. If it didn't have that engaging center, then it would probably be best to quit now. Mena Massoud, Rodrigo Santoro and Lea DeLaria have had some intriguing moments as well. But there is still an overabundance of plot that is spinning its wheels as it is trying to sort everything out. Because of that story depth, it feels like not enough time is spent on any individual character. That's disappointing when it comes to Doris. It means she is still just trying to assemble a crew so that she can take on her brother and the Banished Brawlers. She can craft a compelling tale about always being underestimated. People don't fear her. They certainly accept that she is crazy and unpredictable. However, they don't think that she has the guts to actually kill them. No one quite knows if they should trust her. When she approaches Cordell and Earl, it's clear that she is desperate for help with a job and they aren't interested in her kind of partnership. She may eventually force their hands. It's all about a demonstration of strength. They go back-and-forth in showing just how far they are willing to invade the personal spaces of the other side. Doris follows Earl and Cordell after their raid on Bolo's. She makes a bunch of public approaches. Earl and Cordell operate at dark in the cover of shadows. That is most effective to them. It still all leads to Doris killing a guy in the office space for their sham business. That is a chilling and effective moment. Again, it's the most inspired sequence that takes place in this hour. It's just a drag getting to that point. That's annoying and problematic especially considering this hour is shorter than the preceding two. There is the sense that all of this can come together in a meaningful way. Matty and Johnson tell Ethan the history of the Banished Brawlers and why they want to be part of this gang. Ethan is forever frightened and out of his depth. Witt simply convinces him that this is the best place for him to be. And yet, Ethan is forever nervous that any moment could be the one in which his life will change and he will be imprisoned for killing a man. That was the fear driven into him by Doris. He doesn't know what he's doing with this gang. It's clear that something more is going on. Everyone lives in fear of war breaking out. That constant discussion though makes the narrative feel very one-note though. It's forever this threat that could one day happen. Cooler heads have prevailed so far. However, tensions are always rising. Joel has to take action in order to prevent bloodshed once more. Everyone should celebrate the success of this endeavor. They don't have to worry about the cops. They feel strong and protected in this area. They are always looking to expand. Threats are coming from every side though. It's hard to be on top and stay there for awhile. Ethan sees firsthand the appeal of the Bang-a-Rang. People want to be a part of this community. It's enthralling to them. It's a strange and foreign environment to him though. One where everyone is keeping a secret. The urge to escape may be real and palpable. However, the artistic details of this world can't cover up that it's basically a generic gangster drama where the tentative peace between two rival fractions is fraying with each day. That's not really all that engaging or new at the moment. Nor is the idea that the daughter of the gang leader is toying with everyone's emotions and playing both sides without a care in the world. That's dangerous but it's also reckless just to make a point of complication. It doesn't seem like a genuine perspective that is further enhanced by everything else also happening at the moment. There are many unique characters in differing positions in this crazy universe. The mesh isn't complimentary. Instead, Doris has two men working with the Banished Brawlers even though Witt's travel seems a little too easy every time he leaves her side.