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Underground - The White Whale - Review: "Season 2 Is Confirmed"

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The end of this episode left us with the good news that Underground got a season two order. After seeing what they are hinting at for season two I'm happily looking forward to it. But lets look at this episode first. I hope I manage to make some sense.

Ben survived the stabbing. Unfortunately, his father was more caught up in his need for revenge than his need to get the money to pay for his son’s surgery before going after Rosalee. The blurb on my cable system said that in this episode everyone must pay for their sins. That wasn’t a source of comfort for me with regard for Rosalee and Noah’s survival. But it did turn out to be the case for many of the characters.

John lets Rosalee, Noah and Elizabeth know that people in the area know that Noah and Rosalee are in the county, and it’s far too dangerous for them to take the next step in the journey. They come up with a plan.

We see the basics of the plan put into place but it takes most of the episode for us to find out what these pieces mean. For some reason Rosalee, not Noah, winds up helping John dig a hole in a dark area. When John learns that Sam was Rosalee’s brother he breaks the bad news to her.

I was guessing that Rosalee was helping dig because Noah was so recently shot but it didn’t seem to stop him from lifting Rosalee out of the bathtub and carry her to a bed.

Initially, August headed to John’s place because Tom told him that he could go to John if he needed help. He needs John to provide a promissory note so that he can wire the money for Ben's surgery. In the crawlspace, the captured Risdin tries to signal to August for help. It works. August quietly leaves the returns through the access tunnel. August didn’t have time to run into town to drop the note off at the bank and make it back to the Hawkes property before. Ben’s welfare dropped off August’s priority list. The Bad Wolf won.

The escape plan starts with Elizabeth going to the marshal’s office to ask for Kyle. While she’s “leaving a note for him” at his desk, Noah storms in with a gun. Noah frees the captured slaves, and, as he ushers them out of the door, he gives them a name to ask for if they need help.

Noah sacrifices himself to save a teenaged boy. The boy gets away, but Noah is knocked out. We meet Patty. I have been convinced that Patty was Paddy, as in paddy wagon. But, nope, Patty is a woman and one I wouldn’t cross. She figures out that Noah must be getting help from a white person and threatens to torture Noah until he gives her the name.

This is when the rest of the escape plan is revealed to us. Noah tells Patty that Marshal Kyle Risdin is the Underground Railroad representative in the area. The hole John and Rosalee dug was on Kyle’s property. Elizabeth wasn’t leaving a note on Kyle’s desk she was planting evidence against Kyle.

The name Noah gave the slaves, he set free, to use was Kyle Risdin. Kyle won't be able to contradict these accusations because John kills him. He and Elizabeth will continue to run their station on the Underground railroad.

August catches up to Rosalee and she shoots him in self-defense. I thought August was going to pay for his sins by bleeding to death in the middle of the woods. But Patty and her people find him. He wakes up in a jail cell. Patty informs him that, while slave catchers can do whatever they want to the slaves, they can’t kill white people. Patty has turned August in for killing Johnson, the leader of the group of slave catchers August had been working with.

Tom has built a whole fantasy where he and Ernestine move to Washington DC. They’ll have dinners out in a private club he’s heard of. He begs Ernestine to forgive him for what he did to Sam, but doesn’t get it. Ernestine exacts Tom’s payment for his sins by hanging him. They stage the scene to make it look like a suicide.

Ernestine must also pay for her sins. Suzanna Macon, now in charge of her family plantation, is finally able to repay Ernestine for making her children look to Ernestine as though she were their mother. It seems to have never occurred to Suzanna that, that’s a side effect of letting someone else do all the heavy lifting of motherhood. Ernestine’s skill at hiding her emotions is evident in her lack of reaction to this turn of events. Though I think it’s also that Ernestine feels she deserves to be punished for her sins.

The heroes of the piece found themselves looking back on the decisions they made and the actions they took over the course of the season.

Elizabeth questioned the wisdom of agreeing to go along with John in becoming part of the railroad. She thinks if she knew what was going to happen she may not have made the same choice. Noah tells her that watching her with Boo makes him believe she would have.

Cato lives. Not quite sure about including Cato in this section. Was his abandonment last week enough to count as paying for his sins? Rosalee refers to him as broken. Does that help the scales balance? Regardless, I am mighty curious as to whether he appears next season. If nothing else he was an extremely entertaining character with depths that the show wasn’t able to plumb fully.

Noah admits to himself that he convinced the others to run with him more to ensure his own freedom rather than really caring that they were all free. In retrospect, Noah doesn’t believe that freedom will really mean anything until all slaves are free. This is what led him to sacrifice himself for that teen. He seems at peace as he stands in a cell at the marshal’s office.

Rosalee, the character that’s undergone the most change this season, determines that she can’t return to the scared girl who kept her head down and looked away from what was happening around her. She decides to return to the South to rescue other slaves.

The show got their season two pick up! I had been concerned about how a second season would be handled. I wondered how they would approach a second season. None of my speculations seemed like they could produce a season as successful as season one. What they set up has me excited for season two.

I found this episode a very satisfying close to one of the most well written, well executed series I’ve watched in a long time. What were you highlights for the season? What do you think about the setup for season 2?

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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