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'The Red Road': Season 1 postmortem

WAtthepowwowhat started as a show about a racial feud in episode 1, The Red Road quickly turned into a show about family dysfunction and lost loves. “Arise My Love and Shake Off This Dream” introduces the tensions between the Lanape tribe and the police with the case of a missing NYU student, whom we know Phillip’s lackey, Mike, murdered and dumped in the lake. This seems more important at the time than it actually is, but it gives a pretty clear snapshot of how the two factions are pitted against each other. The murder adds texture to the love stories that are developing alongside the action.

Episode 1 is also where we meet the interminably dreamy, and sometimes menacing, Phillip Kopus. If you have read even one of my episode recaps, then you know what a shameless crush I have on Jason Momoa. He performs this character in such a new and interesting way; his performance has audiences spellbound. All at once he is menacing, charming and vulnerable, and he delivers even the most threatening and vicious scenes with a twinkle and a smirk. He is by far the best part of this show. Silent and brooding, he carries (and steals) every scene he’s in. If you won’t take my word for it, believe producer Bridget Carpenter (Friday Night Lights, Dead Like Me, Parenthood) when she tells EW, “He’s a soulful and deeply prepared actor and this is the finest work I’ve seen him do. It’s unbelievable.”

After watching all six episodes, the relationship between Harold and Jean Jensen is what I feel needs the most attention in season 2. As the show moves to the finale, their relationship becomes more and more complex, and is further complicated asharold and jean Harold gets in deeper trying to cover up what happened in episode 1. He also must reconcile his alliance with Phillip. Episode 2, “The Wolf and The Dog,” hones in on this deception; it’s here that Harold’s true colors start to show and the show’s thematic intentions start to develop. This moment in the show is where we start to see that none of the characters are all good or all bad, and that there is no such thing as THE good guy.

It’s impossible to watch this show and not think about our culture’s obsession with an antihero. Thinking about these characters forces us to think about what makes a person good or bad, and every character in this show fluctuates between the two. At any given moment in the six-episode series, the characters slide in and out of the good guy/villain archetypes and spend a lot of time in the gray areas between. In episode 3, “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky,” Lisa Bonet makes her official debut as Sky Van Der Deen, prodigal daughter and lawyer who returns to advocate for the tribe and present herself as a possible love skyandphillip2interest for Phillip. Through her character, the audience gets a glimpse of Phillip as a wounded, fragile man, instead of the threat he’s been so far.  The writers didn’t reveal much of their time together, aside from a sweet moment by the fire after an off-screen date, when her urge to kiss Phillip is palpable. Jean and Phillip’s clandestine past is probably playing into the reserve with which the writers explore this relationship; next season, viewers will have to choose whom to root for.

Episode 4, “Bad Weapons,” is probably a reference to the figurative weapons these characters use to hurt each other. Jean has come and gone from the mental hospital and is working with a new schizophrenia diagnosis, and we get a little more insight into Jean’s twin, Brian. When Rachel finds the suitcase with all of Brian’s tapes, we understand this family has been grappling with mental illness for a long time. It’s poignant to watch Rachel process what she hears on those tapes, because you can see her softening toward her mother. The tension thickens going into episode 5, as all the characters are reaching the limit of what they can tolerate from each other.

jack and phillipThe next-to-last episode, “The Great Snake Battle,”  offers what seems like a resolution to most of the conflicts, but is really just making room for what is to come in the last moments of the finale. Phillip sets in motion a plan that will frame his father, Jack, for murder, and we feel sorry for Phillip because he must work through his feelings about his terrible father. Even Tom Sizemore admits to having trouble reconciling this character’s actions with his intentions, and the audience doesn’t yet see him as much more than a rotten jerk.  Harold and Jean suffer moments between them that are so hard to reconcile that I don’t feel like I ever get a sense of the two as a couple. phillip and haroldHarold claims he’s done everything to protect Jean, but he begins to reap what he sows in this episode, and he doesn’t react very well.

As Harold grows harder, it seems Phillip is softening, and the finale offers viewers a chance to see all the tension that built up over the course of the season come to fruition. Creator Aaron Guzikowski and EP Bridget Carpenter describe “The Snaring of the Sun” as “a reckoning,” and it’s here that the heroes’ passions peak, as all the people in their lives suffer because of what they’ve done. Harold’s secrets about Brian come to light, and Jean and Phillip share a kiss thatjean and phillip has been a long time in the making. So, while some questions have been answered about the past, a million more have come up about the future.

The scene in which Jack arrives at the party to confront Phillip, and Junior shoots him, could have been the climatic ending, but there is still unfinished business between Harold and Phillip. The fight scene that ensues between our heroes and then between them and the Albanians was breathtaking. It illustrates the complicated dynamic that has been forming all season. It felt amazing to see Harold and Phillip work together, for once, and the look they exchanged as the dust settled foreshadows an evolution in their relationship.

Wijackwithagun2th only six episodes, we are all left wanting more. You can catch up on all the episodes at SundanceTV, take quizzes, and watch folklore animations (like the one below) for every episode.

Tweet me your lingering questions, or use the comments section below to lament your longing for The Red Road. And be on the lookout for the next marathon of all six episodes in June.

For more of my tids and bits, visit my blog, Honest Reviews Corner.



TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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