Oh Purge, I love you so. Being a ten episode event, you expect that the timeline is going to be…let’s say advanced. In last night’s episode, they slammed their foot onto the gas pedal in a variety of ways, to various degrees of quality. It feels like the whole episode, titled ‘Rise Up’, took about 20 minutes to whiz by. That is not necessarily a good thing however, as characters are now changing their minds in extreme situations in record time, which unfortunately leaves you scratching your head instead of pulling you deeper into the story of this particular Purge night.
The first example of this is with Jane and the Matrons. When we left them last week, they were speeding to a distress call with a reluctant Jane in tow. We see them break up a domestic violence situation, preparing to brand the confused abuser (but its Purge night, he protests) with the word “Pig” across his forehead. It is a terrible case of domestic abuse, and Jane is not onboard to take things to the extreme the Matrons are. You know, Jane, the woman who hired a hitman to take out her boss? Anyway, she has been changed after personally witnessing how violent Purge night actually is (RIP Mark) and wants to see justice done to this man in a legal way. It doesn’t work of course, and Jane leaves them to finally get to David’s house to see if he’s dead (I am guessing no). Also weirdly, the victim doesn’t want to leave her husband right away, and you think as a viewer that they are going to show us how this level of abuse takes its tool on a person’s mind and how it can be hard to leave someone that has you under that level of control. But instead she changes her mind with almost no convincing from the Matrons. I am glad she got away, but that is just not how things like that usually go in the real world, so it felt unnatural.
The other example of people changing their mind’s in record time goes to our friend Penelope. From deeply held cult beliefs to deprogrammed in less than a couple hours (in show time), that has to be a record! To be fair, she is now being held captive after being bought by a man named Henry at the end of last weeks episode. Turns out, Henry is her old, abusive, drug-addicted boyfriend. Through flashbacks, we see her meet and fall under the spell of Henry, which ends with Miguel beating him to a pulp and costing him one of his eyes. Apparently his punishment for this crime was joining the military for some reason, so thats why he left Penelope all alone. Henry is taking his sweet time getting rid of her, which allows Miguel to finally arrive at the Carnival after overtaking Rex the Cowboy with minimal effort in his truck. In the end, Miguel and Penelope are finally reunited, only our Marine badass is captured and also sold to Henry, looking for revenge. Penelope is a lost character. She has completely abandoned her cult beliefs, except she hasn’t as she is still chanting their beliefs. Which is it? They need to pick a lane and stick to it.
Things are also not going well for the Stantons and their Purge Party-goers either. Just as Rick and the rest of the NFFA are about to indulge their inner 1% (or did they?), Carolina the maid and her band of…revolutionaries start taking everyone out! That came out of nowhere, as Rick and his new hand-crafted NFFA knife and Jenna escape the house through the basement. Jenna pleads with Catalina to spare Lila, but she very sharply says “No Stanton is safe tonight”. My guess is this is the last we see of her, so kudos to Catalina for breaking up that party before it got ugly. Again: did they though? I think Rick helped Purge those three people and now he is going to go full psycho and Lila will have to save Jenna before the end of the series. Then they can live happily ever after.
Finally, we end yet again with a tease of our Purge Punisher. I am losing hope we will ever get more than glances on this guy, and that is a shame. I could be wrong, as we leave things this week with him getting out of his truck to confront a group of Purgers. He is the most intriguing character on the show, mostly because we know zero about him. Maybe finding out more would ruin that, but I would like the chance to see.
This was not a strong episode, especially after the last three were as consistent as one could hope for. Things moved way too fast to get everyone where they need to be for the second half of the series, and every character and storyline suffered for it. It can be perfectly summed up by the random scene of Purgers driving down the street in yet another armored vehicle, masks on, led by a person with a flamethrower, music blaring. Style over substance, which is something this show had been avoiding so far.