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'The Red Road' fan react: Between a graveyard and a church

Season 2 | Episode 2 | “Graves” | Aired April 9, 2015

There is a nice symmetry in tonight’s The Red Road. Both the beginning and the ending are mysterious and cryptic, and the middle is packed full of enough metaphors and symbolism to fill much more space than I have here.

The episode opens as Phillip Kopus digs around in the dark, trying to unearth the money he stole from Mac last week. It’s dark and ominous, and as Phillip finally locates the bag, he also locates what looks like a tooth. He pauses for just a second before he strides out of a space marked “Sacred Ground – Burial Ground,” closing the fence behind him.

This is just one of many instances in this episode during which Kopus seems to demonstrate an innate duplicitousness: He’s a bad guy. No, he’s a good guy. Wait, he might be a conflicted guy. No, he’s definitely a good guy … or is he? No one can tell.

Last season, The Red Road asked us to consider Phillip’s deeds, but this season, we are meant to consider his spirit. When the “half-ass lynch mob” arrives to seek revenge for Mac’s murder, his betrayal of Junior seems evident.

Even as Junior swings the bat, begging Phillip to confess, Phillip won’t relent. He looks Junior dead in the eye and says, “If I confess, I’d be lying, and I can’t lie to you, Junior.” Junior doesn’t really believe Kopus killed Mac, but he needs to put it on somebody, and Kopus has become “that guy” for a lot of the characters.

Phillip is almost completely othered by everyone in his life, and is an outsider everywhere he goes. As Phillip has tar poured over his head and torso, it becomes apparent it’s meant to do far more than physically hurt him. Tarring is a traditionally American punishment, popular in the Revolution as retribution for traitors, spies, and deserters, and the irony is not lost that it is being administered by the leader of Lenape law enforcement.

Phillip is treated poorly everywhere he goes, but it’s hard to sort out if he does this to himself, or if he really is this isolated by others. The moment Jean sits next to him in the clinic is one of the only real connections he’s made.

Check out that chemistry between Philip and Jean on The Red Road

Phillip and Jean are downright magic on screen together, and I hate to say it, but compared to Jean and Harold, these two are like a bonfire next to a Bic lighter. Phillip’s voice softens, his body language changes, and he offers Jean an apology so earnest that it will crack your heart wide open.

Jean is doing everything in her power to assuage her guilt over last season’s hit-and-run—she’s giving blood when she runs into Phillip, and she accompanies Harold and Rachel to Mac’s funeral. She recognizes it’s in poor taste, but she is so desperate to make herself feel better that she’s desensitized to her family’s feelings.

Harold uses the wake as an opportunity to convince Junior to come in to talk to the FBI. It will give him a professional leg up with the captain and be a huge coup for the department. Their presence at Mac’s wake is gross and turns my sympathies away from them and the folks of Walpole.

Junior’s been missing since Mac was murdered, so Harold’s request was for nothing, but Jean meets an intriguing woman at the wake who takes an interest in her illness. She seems to understand, and Jean takes to her instantly. Days later, Jean visits the woman at her house, hoping to receive a magical cure.

The woman’s cure is to “let the voices in,” but Jean is worried about losing control. Perhaps she’s worried about her family committing her again. Or that she’ll maim another Lenape kid. Whatever it is, she gets over it and gives herself over to the voices.

Jean’s “letting them in” scene is short and not overly done with gimmicks or tricks, but it’s acutely effective. In fact, I find The Red Road‘s depiction of mental illness to be endlessly fascinating. There is never an overt explanation about what I’m seeing or what she’s feeling, and Julianne Nicholson is really adept at showing rather than telling. It’s a thing of beauty.

Jean tries to make herself feel better on The Red Road

Phillip attempts to attend the wake too, but the entire tribe has turned on him, dumping all their accusations about Mac’s death squarely on him. They are pouring all their anger and fear about the upcoming changes onto Phillip, and he’s martyring himself for their cause.

He stays long enough to explain to Marie that Mac might have been involved in the casino deal after all, and that his murder may be a result of competing casino owners worried about the Lenape encroaching on their profits. He warns her that she may be in danger, but he is an invisible man at this point, and he’s dismissed as a murderer.

Philip tries to warn Marie about the upcoming danger on The Red Road

With Harold’s help, Phillip visits Jack in prison, which is how he comes to the information about Mac and the casino. I’m conflicted about Jack and Phillip’s relationship. On the one hand, Jack brings out a menacing growl that I enjoy, but Jason Momoa does both scary-angry and wounded-angry really well.

Jack brings out the hurt in Phillip and that, in turn, brings out the hurt in me. Kopus doesn’t play into his father’s intimidations, however, telling him, “You’re gonna die in this place, and that makes me happy.”

Philip visits Jack in prison, and hopes he dies there on the Red Road

Jack tells Phillip that he was conceived in the back of truck between a graveyard and a church, and this brings into focus Phillip’s inner struggle like never before. He grapples with his morality constantly, warring with his instincts and his convictions.

Worth mentioning:

  • Jean does a good deed and tries to help a grieving husband, but the husband admits he murdered his wife, and then commits suicide.
  • Rachel and Junior have a very G-rated reunion at her kitchen table.
  • Marie is now interim Chief of the Lenape.
  • Harold and Kopus are going to have to reteam to save Junior and solve Mac’s murder.

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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