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'The Red Road' season premiere fan react: God bless America

Season 2 | Episode 1 | “Gifts” | Aired Apr 2, 2015

SundanceTV knows how to dial in to emotional tension, even if The Red Road tends toward a slow burn. As gripping and intense as it can get sometimes, it offers two distinct visions of a bleak situation. Last season, Philip and Harold had to forgo these divisions to help Jean, Harold’s wife, whom they both care about. But it doesn’t look like those bonds could stand the one-year time jump.

Tonight’s premiere offers a few moments of exposition from the shootout with the Albanians at the end of the finale, then jumps forward a year. Philip is home from prison, and Harold is enjoying the spoils of the shared story they cooked up.

There was a lot to unpack in tonight’s premiere. Even though there’s not a lot of breakneck plot propulsion, there is plenty to keep you invested—Jason Momoa being among the best things about this hour of TV.

He animates Philip with such dexterity, you can’t believe that a man of his physical dimensions could be that emotionally flexible. He is the supernova star around which the rest of this show orbits, and sometimes it is hard to take your eyes off him.

Here are the most important moments from “Gifts.”

“Then I guess he’ll probably live, won’t he?”Philip

In the show’s opening, we go back to the moments following that intense gunfight with the Albanians. Philip and Harold had to work together to save themselves, and it seemed that they were becoming allies, exchanging a loaded look as they wait for help to arrive.

Philip is being interrogated by way of brutalization, by other officers. They assume he is working with his father, Jack. Philip denies this, reciting the story that he and Harold, no doubt, rehearsed as they waited for the police to arrive.

Harold, meanwhile, is being debriefed by his superiors, and is congratulated. He’ll most likely get a promotion for his heroic efforts. He tries to put a good word in for Philip, but it’s not enough to make a difference in either of their situations.

Jack is in the ICU after Junior shot him, but Philip doesn’t even ask if Jack is alive. The interrogating officer mentions this to Philip, saying that his cop-killer dad is barely hanging on, but, “If there’s a God in heaven, your dad will be dead by morning.”

Philip shrugs and says, “Then I guess he’ll probably live, won’t he?”

“Indians can pick it up.”—Town kid

In the year that Philip was away, the Lenape have received Federal recognition. This means more money and more sovereignty over the mountain they live on.

This also means the people of the town won’t have access to the land on the mountain, and they intend to take advantage of their last days. They head up the mountain with their kayaks, ATVs, and rifles, and leave a huge mess in their wake, fully aware of how disrespectful it seems.

Harold, with only days left in his jurisdiction over the mountain, polices the crowd, trying to keep things under control. When a teenager throws a can on the ground, Harold asks him to pick it up, and the kid replies, “Indians can pick it.” The tensions between the Walpole town and the Lenape are fraught, which will only serve to heighten their rivalry.

Martin Henderson as Harold on

Philip decides to do his own sort of policing, and throws wired logs on all the mountain access roads to deter townies. This unravels a whole other set of consequences that lead to him being fired from his construction job, and later, a tense standoff between Mac, the Lenape chief, and the police officers in the town.

“I want to do something useful around here.”—Jean

Jean struggled with her schizophrenia last season, and Harold had to commit her after she ran over the Lenape boy on the mountain. This episode offers quick snatches of insight into her illness, but overall, it’s unclear if she’s recovering. It’s hard to tell if Jean understands her own behavior, or if she is just fueled by her manic feelings of guilt and regret.

She is fighting to maintain normalcy at home, keeping a strict routine and helping her daughter fill out college applications. She’s hearing voices now, and she can’t make her brain communicate with her hand. She winds up scribbling all over the paper, then tossing it out.

She’s resentful when Harold and her daughter treat her as though she’s fragile, shouting at them, “I’m tired of concentrating on myself all the time. I want do something useful around here.”

There are moments, like at Harold’s poker game, in which she seems like she might be winning her fight for normal—but we’ve yet to delve back into Bryan’s death or her feelings for Philip.

Julianne Nicholson as Jean on

“God bless America.”—Philip

The Federal money is attracting more and more Lenape, and Philip has to move into a dead neighbor’s house now that his mother, Marie, is taking in the folks as they arrive.

Harold comes to check in on him, to warn him to stay away from his family, and to establish some general boundaries. Philp instantly recognizes he’s not a friend.

Philip glances at his chest and his new ranking and states, incredulous, “We lie, we cheat. You get a promotion, and I get prison. God bless America.”

Consider this a thesis statement.

“God made me a Lenape, asshole, not Mac.”—Philip

Philip’s stint in prison caused Mac to disenroll Philip from the Lenape without Philip knowing. Philip gets in trouble for the mischief with the barbed poles, and his foreman calls around to check his references. He fires Philip, who is now a man without a tribe or a job.

When Philip goes to confront Mac about expelling him, he finds Mac dead, with a bag of money lying beside him. Curious, since Mac said earlier in the episode, “Money is a white man’s weapon.” This is probably foreshadowing some Big Bad down the road, so remember it.

Maybe Mac’s murder is connected to the encroaching casinos and the Native Americans who support it, but Philip has the money. So it’s his problem now.

Jason Momoa as Philip Kopus on

How did you feel about tonight’s premiere? What did you find most interesting? What should I add to my list?

The Red Road airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on SundanceTV.

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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