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Underground - War Chest - Review

“The plan is simple: We figure a way off Massa’s land. We protect each other on the run. And we make it so once we get north, ain’t no on has no cause to bring us back.” It is simple and leaves room for adjustment to the unexpected. I get the feeling that this particular undertaking will benefit from simple.

Moses reports to Noah that what Noah gave him is a song that seems to be a code. The only part that he’s been able to figure out is the end, which mentions crossing the River Jordan where you go in a slave and come out the other side a free man. It’s enough to get them all to commit to the plan.

The focus of this episode then becomes pretty straight forward. They have to find a way off the property. This is where Sam proves his usefulness. He will come up with a way for them to get across a bridge without being seen by fashioning a way for them to go under the bridge.

With that issue well in hand, Noah has a solution for on the next problem; stealing a gun they can use for protection. This is the part of the plan that worries me the most. It just seems like a good way to take the penalty from a whipping to a death sentence. Is Noah putting their group in to more trouble than is necessary?

There is one other thing Noah wants in place before they run. Moses’ next job is to write freedom papers for them all so that once they get up North, no one can drag them back. Pen and paper are the next item on the check list.

While Noah and his group go about preparing to run, Rosalee begins to wonder whether this is all her life is meant to be. She asks her mother if she’d ever considered a different life and the answer is chilling. The different lives that Ernestine thinks of are all worse than the one she has made for herself and Rosalee in the big house. Rosalee is pretty smitten with Noah and he with her. He’s so taken that, without thinking about it, he asks her to run with him. After that room full of owners made it clear what they’d like to do with her, I’m guessing she’ll say yes.

I, like many, had guessed that Rosalee’s father was Tom Macon. What I was completely unprepared for was how domineering Ernestine was when she and Tom met as lovers. Ernestine makes sure she’s obtained a promise that her son will not be sent to the fields before they have sex.
How did Ernestine become the dominant force in that relationship? It makes me want to find out more about Ernestine and Tom. I can’t help but wonder if this anomaly ever really happened.

Cato continues to make Noah sweat. This time it’s by appearing by a trader’s wagon while Noah is attempting to buy paper and pen. Cato convinces the Overseer that Noah is there for contraband. Luckily Noah was smart enough to hide the paper in a whisky bottle. Cato doesn’t give Noah up, but he wants to know the plan. Given that Noah is a pretty smart guy, he doesn’t tell Cato the whole plan, just about the gun. Just to prove he’s a stand up-guy, Noah invites Cato to help with this task.

The gun theft happens during a party being thrown by the owner of a nearby plantation, Mrs. Shaw, who throws one every year for the slaves. She claims she does it out of a Christian duty but in reality she does it for the perks. One of these perks is sex with one of the slaves. Noah tells Cato that every time he’s been to the party, he’s been the chosen one. The plan is for Noah to take care of “Bareback Shaw” while Cato goes for the gun. Except that it’s Cato who gets picked, and the fight that’s been brewing between these two men finally breaks out.

The Hawkes find themselves facing some hard truths about helping slaves escape to their freedom. They meet Mr. Still at a hotel (or brothel, I wasn’t sure.) A crate was delivered to the offices. It contains two slaves, one alive and one is dead. Slave catchers storm in and make it clear what the penalty for helping escaped slaves is. It’s a great way to make sure the couple makes this decision with full disclosure of the dangers.

The catchers don’t find the slave they’re looking for so they leave. Once again it’s Elizabeth that turns the situation. She realizes that the slave catchers have set a trap for them more than the slave they’re trying to help. They come up with a plan to both help the slave and get the slave catchers arrested. Welcome to the Underground Railroad.

This episode took us past the introduction and setup phase and got us into the meat of the story. I’m enjoying the caper feel that we saw here. Here’s the checklist of what we need and this is how we’ll get it. I like the discussion among the group about how they might solve a particular problem. Not everything is planned in advance. The characters get more and more interesting by the moment.

What did you guys think about the episode?

About the Author - Prpleight
Prpleight is a screenwriter and senior software engineer with solid geek cred. When not writing code, screenplays, or watching TV (sometimes she does all three at the same time), she uses her broadsword Bessie to battle evil. She's been a frequent contributor to the SpoilerTV discussion boards for several years now.
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