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'The Red Road' fan react: Wounds and salves

Season 2 | Episode 4 | “A Cure” | Aired Apr 23, 2015

This week, The Red Road drills down on sickness. The episode is titled “A Cure,” but there is nothing about this 60 minutes that seems curative or healing in any way. In fact, everyone just seems to get sicker and sicker, except Jean, ironically.

The episode opens on Rachel and Junior in the woods. Rachel flinches, then turns to Junior to ask him what he’s just said, but he didn’t say anything. And so it begins for Rachel—this is cruel irony, for Rachel to start showing signs that she might have inherited her mother’s schizophrenia just as Jean seems to be doing better.

Jean might finally have a chance to be a mother to Rachel, but Rachel rejects it outright. When Rachel takes Jean’s pills to stave off the schizophrenia, she has a seizure in the bathroom of the PBA dance. It’s an act of sheer desperation because, as she’s seen and read in Jean’s journals, everyone suffers when you get sick like that. Rachel tells Jean, “I don’t want to be anything like you,” and it cuts deep. Jean’s clipped sob and Harold’s pitying look sums up their family dynamic in one fixed shot.

Junior has been living on the mountain this entire season, so he can seem removed from the series’s storylines. He can come off as a shallowly written character at times, a clichéd image of the modern Native American. Delivering lines like, “Get off my land,” as he aims his rifle doesn’t help his case much, but in this episode, he acts as the entry point by which Chief Levi Gall gets in on the main action.

Levi is an intriguing character, to say the least. He holds his own with Phillip, eliciting a winking menace from Phillip that is both charming and dangerous. I like Levi as an antagonist to Phillip, and I especially like the added layer of tension that comes from Marie’s previous relationship with him.

Levi is Junior’s father, of course, but he is also the man with whom Marie ran off and joined “the cause,” leaving baby Phillip with his sociopath father, Jack. Levi brings out a lightness in Phillip, but not in the sense that Phillip is rid of a sense of dread. It’s just redirected. Maybe it’s just an absence of heaviness that I’m sensing. Perhaps Philip enjoys having another villain in town—someone else for the tribe to despise and blame.

Jack used to be that person, but his year in prison is making him soft—maybe. The Red Road knows what they’re doing by giving us more Tom Sizemore: His Jack Kopus is a masterpiece of manipulation, ignorance, regret, and desperation. Harold goes to see him after a cryptic note from Captain Bill lands in his lap. Now that he’s the new Captain, he’s got to dig into what drove Bill to commit suicide and, according to Jack, it’s all about the ubiquitous blue sludge.

The sludge is killing the Lenape, but Bill looked the other way as the car company filled the mines to the brim with the toxic waste. Jack was blackmailing Bill, which probably resulted in Bill’s suicide and confession to Jean about killing his wife.

Bill knew (and Jack Kopus and Jean’s father, David, also know) that it’s only a matter of time before what’s killing the Lenape eventually runs into the valley. Jack tried to get Bill to buy his silence with $20,000, but he asks Harold for old pictures instead.

He wants pictures of Marie and Phillip as a boy—one in particular of a six-year-old Phillip and a football trophy. When Harold seems skeptical, Jack quotes Psalms to him, “Every day my shadow declineth. I am withered like grass,” suggesting his year in jail has softened him to his own mortality.

Jack seems proud of Phillip, boasting to Harold that he’s “a strange creation, and I made him.” He even refers to himself as Dr. Frankenstein, suggesting Phillip is the monster sum of a bunch of cast-off parts. This is a problematic metaphor because Jack is such an unreliable narrator, and I’m skeptical of this nostalgia shtick. Surely we aren’t meant to side with him about Phillip. Or are we?

Jason Momoa as Phillip Kopus on SundanceTV

Sorting Phillip out is a complicated matter. On the one hand, every other character is demanding the audience think he’s a bad guy. Sky distances herself even further from him with her moves against Marie this episode, and essentially severs all ties, calling him a drug dealer, “and I don’t know what else.” Even Marie’s interaction with Phillip suggests we should be leery of him, but these messages conflict with what I see and hear from him on the screen.

The only time Phillip isn’t being villainized is with Jean, yet even then, he’s constantly second-guessing himself. Phillip goes to her house to discuss “police business” but lingers when he realizes Harold isn’t there yet. Jean is as surprised as we are to see him standing in her doorway, and he looks about as out-of-place as a nine-pound hammer in a bassinet.

But still, I am rooting like hell for these two. These two characters are best when they share the screen—the knowing looks, the coy jokes, the tentative familiarity. It’s one of the most provocative relationships on TV right now.

I’ve left out a few important plot points to make room for my musings, so here are a few things you need to know about this episode.

  • Sonya, Mike’s widow, shoots Phillip as he’s trying to leave money for her and the baby, claiming she knows he shot Mike.

  • Sonya then leaves said baby on Marie’s doorstep.

  • Sky is pursuing an impeachment for Marie, because of her attempts to bring the casino to the mountain, and wants Marie’s job for herself.

  • Junior is seduced by his city-slicker Algonquin dad, and rides off to Connecticut in a brand-new truck.

  • Jean’s dad seems to be involved in Sludge-gate somehow, and that’s probably why he’s moving. He knows everybody is about to start getting cancer, even the white people.

What’s the cure and what’s the sickness? Figuratively, of course.

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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