Sunday, October 11, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Good Lord Bird' - Onion Ventures Off to a New Town With Dangerous Consequences for His Actions in 'A Wicked Plot'

Showtime's The Good Lord Bird - Episode 1.02 "A Wicked Plot"

Separated from Brown's army, Onion and fellow slave Bob leave the fight in Kansas only to cross paths with pro-slavery "red shirts" who escort them to the slave-trading town of Pikesville, Missouri. Onion is taken under the wing of Pie, a mixed-race prostitute working out of the local hotel, who instructs him in the ways of the world despite her discovering his dangerous secret. Onion soon finds himself enmeshed in a mounting slave insurrection where he learns the consequences of his own actions.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 Showtime's The Good Lord Bird.

"A Wicked Plot" was written by Mark Richard & Erika Johnson and directed by Kevin Hooks

John Brown and Onion both have the instincts of wanting to help as many people as they can. For Brown, it's part of a righteous crusade. He must rid this land of slavery in order to be in compliance with the Bible and its teachings. For Onion, it's a survival tactic. Some people can clock him for not being a girl. That isn't a universal reality though. As such, he is allowed to be more of a chameleon. However, he still finds himself in numerous precarious situations. Now, the premiere ended with Brown's sons, Onion and Bob wanting to escape from the battlefield. They don't make it too far in this journey. It's not long before Brown himself comes running back into battle with his guns loaded preaching the gospel. His sons recognize the importance of freeing the slaves. And yet, they too are conditioned not to see them as equals. Some of them have formed bonds with Onion. However, he is primarily seen as favorable because he represents a good luck charm for Brown. As such, he must be protected at all costs. He isn't living his true identity though. Bob knows the truth but still allows Onion to prop up the idea that he is a young woman simply trying to make her way through this land. They believe it's better for them to go off on their own instead of waiting for the Brown children to return to them. They don't inherently trust the word of white people. They have been abused too many times. For Owen and his brothers, they think they are operating in good faith. They don't want to take Onion and Bob into town with them for supplies. They think it's better for them to wait in the woods. But it's a terrifying prospect for two Black people to be discovered on their own. It's dangerous even when Bob and Onion take off with the wagon. They don't actually get to the destination they were hoping to find. Instead, Bob is forced to work in a pen while Onion is sold off into prostitution. Onion is lucky to a certain extent because he trades something of value to Pie. He can teach her how to read and write. That's an enviable skill for so many. It can open the door to new opportunities. Pie already has a thriving business. She is the madam at the local saloon. She takes Onion under her wing. And yet, she also props up the oppressive system of slavery that exists in this area. She won't let anything threaten her hold on power and influence. The men at the saloon respect her. Chase romanticizes their bond. He believes they can escape to a picture perfect life on a ranch. That isn't real though. It's again a perception he has built up in his mind about what these relationships could be. It's not based on reality. She can't stand him. She doesn't even want to make the deal that he offers here. Meanwhile, Onion is trying to do right by Bob. He just happens to make deals with others that he can't uphold. He promises to write letters setting these slaves free. He doesn't have access to paper though. Pie is the one who crushes this dream of freedom. She is more interested in her own preservation and financial stability. Those qualities are absolutely important. It doesn't have to always be tied to the further subjugation of other Black people though. She makes it known to the judge that this uprising is bound to take place. Several slaves are hanged for simply wanting to be free. That's how terrifying this idea coming from the northern states is to these locals. They refuse to bow down and have their way of life radically changed. Onion and Bob happen to be in the crossfire. It's not long before they are reunited with the Brown army. That is their salvation once more. It builds up the idea that they are safer with John Brown than anywhere else in the world. And yet, he can't promise them anything substantially better. He doesn't care to know them either. He is a man bound to his principles who refuses to see anything else. People can take advantage of that. Onion and Bob are alive while Pie dies going back for her money. The local preacher sees the error of his ways because of a well-crafted argument about needing to love everyone as equals. But again, these attitudes aren't popular at this point in time. It's scary no matter where Onion goes. He may have good intentions. However, those have consequences too. He has to be more tentative with his actions. That's the disappointing lesson he has to learn. A better world is beyond the reach of so many because it's hard to change the hearts and minds of an entire population. It's worth pursuing that hard work. It may pay off eventually. For Onion and Bob though, it's simply about accepting what's good enough in an era of bad choices and opportunities. They fight with Brown. They aren't friends. That's what the situation remains to be though.