Thursday, March 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'DMZ' - Alma Reunites With Her Son and Struggles to Adapt to an Ever-Changing World Around Her in 'Advent'

HBO Max's DMZ - Episode 1.02 "Advent"

As Parco and Wilson shore up last-minute support before their first debate at City Hall, Alma makes a desperate appeal to the holder of the DMZ's ultimate power source.

"Advent" was written by Roberto Patino & Carly Wray and directed by Ernest Dickerson

A lot of power resides in a name. Alma is gifted with a new one by Odi, which allows her to step in and offer new inspiration. Skel is reminded of his old name by Alma, which awakens new feelings that result in volatility. Wilson understands this concept as well. In fact, the powerful people in the DMZ have used their influence for personal gain. They see it as a form of respect. They offer a society that would be completely foreign anywhere else. They are truly allowed to prosper now. And yet, so much chaos and despair continues. It's not free of its own set of problems. The people inside have to decide what to do and who to trust. Parco is a showman. He talks about unity and a strong force to repel the outside influences creeping their way in. A red line signals where the DMZ starts. Those boundaries were determined by the two warring sides. Everyone in the DMZ was caught in the middle. Not everyone chose this life as Wilson proclaims. That simply fits into the story he tells to build more power for himself. It affirms the narrative of personal freedom. Everyone has the ability to decide for themselves what to do. They need leadership to give them that space to live as they want. Parco only offers a regime where he is at the top and everyone else must support his leadership. Neither of these choices are great. That makes it enviable when a new candidate steps into the spotlight. Of course, that too is mired with problems. Alma has never cared about politics. She has only been concerned about finding her son. That reunion happens. She finds Christian. He is no longer the boy she remembers. It was inevitable he would change in the eight years away. However, he has fallen under his father's influence. He views her as taking away all his power. She repressed his spirit throughout his childhood. As such, he was never able to be truly free until the world completely imploded. Literal explosions inspired him to run away and embrace something new. That's not the story that plays out onscreen. Alma is grappling with her own memories from that fateful day. Skel provides her with new context. It isn't confirmed. It's simply what Skel believes to stand more firmly in the man he is today. He just happens to be an assassin taking the gold deposits Wilson has hidden around the city. The peace amongst the power players is very tentative. That unstable environment leads Parco to believe Alma will never survive. It won't be long until she leaves the lives of her family once more. Instead, she stands firmly in a different betrayal altogether.

The narrative never allows Alma to be stationary for very long. That's a consequence of so much happening quickly. For years, she has carried herself on one mission. And now, she has to grapple with life without her son. Christian wants nothing to do with her. Instead, she has to force him into seeing things clearly. That may only support his argument that she is trying to rip his power away. She only sees the danger. She wants to provide him with love and comfort. She shares that empathy with Odi. In that relationship, Alma may be trying to recreate what she actually misses in being a mother. She cares for a child as if he were her own. He helps her navigate this world too. The action simply requires him to keep moving. That's the lesson Odi's grandfather wants him to remember even after he's gone. He remains literally haunted by that figure. That's over-the-top and unnecessary. It should be fascinating to see if it continues now that Odi has a fresh start with Z. They can reinvent themselves together. They are both at City Hall during the climatic debate. However, Odi isn't welcome when Alma meets with Oona. She recognizes her power as a doctor. The clinic is failing because it's only one location with limited supplies. Meanwhile, gangs are tearing each other apart. They have the freedom to conduct themselves however they want. That only invites more brutality. It's apparent on every side. Parco and Wilson will kill to get what they want. Alma offers ideals as Z. That's the inspiration she hopes to share. She is a stranger though. She is already being propped up as a success who must be followed. She convinces Oona to provide more water to the city. That ensures more equity is produced. It's not good enough for one segment of society to be closed off and only fend for themselves. Alma supports Wilson in the election mostly because she wants to pull her son away from Parco's influence. Meanwhile, Skel is caught in his own star-crossed romance. Again, it's a lot of story happening quickly. That's a consequence of a limited run of episodes despite a deep foundation of stories to explore. It firmly states how plenty of people can step into greatness when given the opportunities to succeed. Those moments are often too rare and fleeting. Alma steps into the spotlight. She rallies the crowd as Z. She provides a service that is desperately needed. She offers change. It's all done with selfish motivations though. It's a disruptive force meant to play to a few people in the crowd more deeply. That's the nature of politics as everyone understands it. It's all a simple fight to appease those who have no personal connection to the candidates but will feel the most impact from the decisions made.