Sunday, December 8, 2019

REVIEW: 'Reprisal' - Doris and Burt Finally Meet While Threats Seemingly Come From Everywhere in 'The Horpus Horrendous'

Hulu's Reprisal - Episode 1.10 "The Horpus Horrendous"

Big Graham is back. The 3 River Phoenixes have to cover for one of their own, and Ethan finally chooses a side. Earl is called away to deal with a crisis at home. The Harlow siblings are reunited, and Doris surprises Queenie.

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 season finale of Hulu's Reprisal.

"The Horpus Horrendous" was written by Josh Corbin and directed by Jonathan Van Tulleken

The season opened with Katherine being unable to pull the trigger and kill her brother. The season ends with Doris killing Burt. That is the most significant character journey of the season. It brings a sense of resolution to what was the core thesis of the show. Doris wanted revenge for being left for dead. This finale opens by detailing how she survived that brutal ordeal. It actually proves that Queenie is the keeper of so many secrets in this world. She has been closely aligned with both Burt and Katherine. She has helped all members of the Harlow family. She has also done so much damage to them as well. She is a complicated figure who always wants to believe she is doing what's best to protect those she cares about. So many people trust her because she believes in the sense of community found in this place. However, she only takes one gun away from Doris when she goes in for her face-to-face meeting with her brother. Burt isn't able to tell a story or make an offer for peace. Doris went there to kill him and she did exactly that. That has been her sole motivation this season. So many people got hurt as a result of that. Families have been torn apart. It's all a result of her actions. As such, she may have to reap some of what she sowed this season. She may have to deal with her own retribution because of the lives she has destroyed. That's fun and engaging. It ensures the protagonist is just as complicated in this amoral and dangerous world. She also heads into battle alone. She remains isolated in that way. Again, the season has continually pointed out that Burt and Katherine aren't all that different. They may follow the same tactics in order to get what they want. Burt is just more vicious and brutal upfront. He has been afforded that luxury because he's in power. He tortures Witt for information and lets him fade out to death brutally afterwards. He is upset with Meredith for withholding the truth that Ethan is the mole. But he still responds immediately to that confirmation. He has the power and influence to make people fear what he is capable of doing. Even when he meets his sister for the first time in years, the audience knows he's armed because his cane doubles as a weapon. That was introduced earlier when he was torturing Witt. He was never given an opportunity to pull out or use a weapon though. In the end, it's all about Doris and her triumphant revenge coming to fruition. Of course, it's awkward how so much of this finale is about the various plot complications that keep all of these characters busy. At times, it truly did feel like the show was trying to juggle too much story. As such, some key plot points were dampened simply because there wasn't enough time spent on them to make them valuable. This finale diverges even further by having threats come from every corner of the world. Big Graham returns and threatens Bernice. That motivates Earl to drive back home to protect his family. He convinces Cordell to stay even though Doris really doesn't need him in the end. Meanwhile, the Ghouls kidnap Lyla which fuels Joel into going on a rampage to basically take out this organization with Bru. That too showcases the strength of the Brawlers while also pointing out that the Ghouls were never all that serious as a threat. And finally, the Brawlers come after the Phoenixes which forces Ethan to come out as the mole. Matty is faced with a crucial choice about how to respond. He chooses to be loyal to the men he has served alongside the entire season. Ethan makes the same choice. He stays with the people he perceives as being loyal and trustworthy to him instead of Doris who has only lied to him about what she wanted. He saw Doris as the maternal figure he desperately needed. But now, he and the Phoenixes may be out on their own. In fact, the season ends with an incredibly divided world. Doris may be victorious but it comes at a cost. What does she have in her life after all of this? Burt hoped to use that to force her into submission within the Brawlers once more. It didn't work because she always had the upper hand. However, the rest of the characters are scattered. That is a precarious conclusion. One that ensures danger is always on the horizon in this world. It just may present a path forward that may not easily consume all of these characters in the same way that this season's story did. That's perfectly fine. It just means the show has to find that purpose and hook right away should it return for a second season. Again, it certainly has the story engine to justify spending more time in this world. It just has to be a little more thoughtful with the execution of its storytelling without losing its stylish flourishes.