Tuesday, May 18, 2021

What I’m Watching: The Underground Railroad (Penultimate Episode)

The Underground Railroad: Season 1, Episode 9 “Chapter 9: Indiana Winter” (B+)

This episode was particularly devastating because this incredible utopia had been created that seemed so safe from the rest of the ugly world around it, and that was all so violently shattered. Ridgeway wasn’t even part of it, there to rescue, in a sense, Cora from likely death. He was just doing his job, determined to find his most elusive target but not stalking her with a vengeance. Seeing the church surrounded by hundreds of white men with guns was terrifying enough, and they didn’t even wait for the Black people inside to come out before they started shooting. There’s something so scary about the idea of there being no way out, and, to their credit, the community did band together to create a distraction so that they could attempt to escape. Royal getting shot was a crippling moment that almost couldn’t even be experienced because Ridgeway showed up at that exact moment to remind Cora of the only fate that might be worse than what was happening right then. Having all of this happen after Cora told her story about being a wanted woman in church and the corn shucking contest showing pure joy, not to mention the passionate romance that had its brief run between Royal and Cora, made it all the more lamentable. The one bright spot at the end was that Cora managed to get the upper hand with Ridgeway and trap him down somewhere that he couldn’t hurt anyone before making sure there was no way he would once again be able to pursue her. The anguish Homer felt was real even if his allegiance was to the wrong person, and Ridgeway wanting to have his final words heard as a sort of dictation and testament had a poignancy to it. The flashback to Royal giving Cora the gun reminded me of a similar scene from the penultimate episode of “The Sopranos” that I always argue should have been the final scene of the series. I don’t know what to expect in this show’s finale, but after this episode, it’s hard to know what could possibly come next.

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