Saturday, December 7, 2019

REVIEW: 'Reprisal' - Burt Returns to the Brawlers By Declaring War Against the Ghouls in 'For Love of the Archipelago'

Hulu's Reprisal - Episode 1.06 "For Love of the Archipelago"

Ethan fears being found out, as Burt comes home and declares war. Having lost control, Joel does what's best for his daughter. Doris and the Monster Ring prepare to take the fight to the Brawlers. Out on her own, Meredith is forced to save herself.

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.

"For Love of the Archipelago" was written by Lisa Long and directed by Eva Sørhaug

Joel warns Matty that war is fought in unexpected ways that go against however a person plans for it. As such, it is vital for the Phoenixes to secure the money and keep it flowing throughout the uncertain future. That's advice that comes from a man who has gone through all of this before. He is making these preparations to avoid the most devastation. However, he fundamentally understands that surprises and losses will be felt. That can be a metaphor for the show as well. It presents its stories in unique and unusual ways. It has various actions take place only to then reveal some deeper meaning behind it all. That contributed to an uneven and lackluster start to the season. The action really came to a boil in the previous episode. This one though strives for more depth even though it felt like the show was perfectly fine having its one-note characters operate under one-note motivations. It seemed clear that Bash killed several Ghouls because he was upset over Percy's death. There didn't necessarily need to be any further explanation than that. The season had already proven that he was quick to act and had the muscle to do a lot of damage. But this episode starts with Bash first approaching Percy to convince him to join the Brawlers. It is this huge speech about the importance of family. He can have the bond they once shared together in the military. Percy may have never joined the Brawlers officially but everyone still treats him like family. That's how deep this concept goes. It may just be a genuine idea though. It's not one that can withstand a whole lot of pressure. Even Burt seems disillusioned by the whole idea. The narrative had established that he has been missing with no one knowing what happened to him. That was a lie. Queenie has always known where he was. She can go get him and bring him back following this tragedy. She knows that the Brawlers need his leadership in order to navigate this war. She can't count on Joel or Bash to get the job done. Their priorities may be elsewhere. However, Burt no longer sees the importance of the Brawlers. He founded this gang in opposition to how his father lived his life. He had such contempt for his father and the way in which he didn't seem to strive for anything significant. He has a new perspective on the issue now that he has failed as a farmer. He has also failed as a parent. That is devastating to Meredith but never really informs Burt at all. He simply falls back into the same routine as before. He can rally the troops and they believe in a sense of greater purpose. They lift him up as someone who has the wisdom to build this empire and make it last. He is just an ordinary man though. He isn't special. He just has that perception. He can certainly use that to his advantage. It helps everyone fall in line. And yet, Doris is the true disruptor in this world. She can invade the Brawlers' home territory so easily. She may not even need a guy on the inside. The world hasn't changed that much since she left. In fact, the items she leaves beyond send a message clearly that this war isn't what anyone was expecting. But there remains significant consequences to it. It is just difficult to care because the Ghouls haven't presented as an engaging or meaningful group in this universe. The same applies to the connection between Meredith and Gertrude. Intimacy is heavily implied between them. That is abundantly clear during the split screen conversation over the phone that highlights how their mouths can be joined. And yet, the show also thinks that's enough to inform something more to the audience. It isn't. It's purposefully being obtuse to avoid having to explore the romantic angle. That's unfortunate because that would help better define the betrayal Meredith feels at the end of the hour that forces her into being a killer as well. It's a lot of effort to present this war as different than anyone expected. However, it may not be worth all the effort to tell this story in an unusual way where it only makes sense when the relationships are developed later on. Right now, there has to be some sense of personal stakes to the piece. That may only present in Joel sending his daughter to live with Rita and Ethan being thrown by Doris suddenly appearing to give him a new phone. There is a strong underlying message about gang life offering the same sense of family that defines military life and experience. However, that mostly plays as explaining how the various characters have the skills to survive in this brutal world even when faced with more daunting and sinister threats.