Saturday, March 3, 2018

What I’m Watching: Waco (Series Finale)

Waco: Season 1, Episode 6 “Day 51” (B+)

This was a very powerful and well-made concluding hour, one that brought things to a devastating end after what really felt like a balanced portrayal of a situation that escalated way too fast and was never going to lead to a peaceful resolution. The degree to which things had gone beyond any sort of place from which the Branch Davidians could come back was made clear by Gary losing his temper as he was on the phone with Steve telling him that David was working on his manuscript but refusing to show it to anyone, explaining that he was giving them every olive branch he could think of and he could hardly blame the FBI and the ATF for wanting to go in after so long. Gary didn’t feel that way, of course, and he was just as horrified as Richard was when he tried in vain to help the women and children who were in the bunker unable to escape after the tear gas turned into a fire. It was too late for Rachel and Michelle to change their minds and decide to leave, and only David and Steve had the choice to end their own lives when capture seemed like the only option. Thibodeau did make it out, the only recognizable face with such a huge death toll on the inside of everyone else we got to know on this show. Radio host Ron’s list of so many instances involving a standoff leading to tear gas, then fire, then death was haunting, and while the contemporary problems of society have more to do now with shooting unarmed African-Americans, it’s still worthwhile to remember that this didn’t need to end this way. How else it could have turned out, I’m not sure, but I do think this was a strong series. Coupled with “Manhunt: Unabomber,” it offers a stirring recreation of infamous political events from the 1990s. I’d love to see Kitsch, Shannon, Sparks, and any of the rest of the cast recognized for their performances come Emmy time, but I’m not sure that’s likely.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Taylor Kitsch as David Koresh