Changes are afoot in Charleston while Tom and the boys delve into a dull side adventure..
What They Say:
The Pickett Line – A family of outlaws intercepts the Masons on their rescue mission while doubts over the construction of an alien weapon ignite a conflict of interests.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a weak episode that finally dealt with the issue of Hal and what’s going on with him, which was just painfully drawn out, we now have a situation where Tom and his small merry band are going off in search of Anne and the baby themselves. This takes us back to the smaller kind of episode we had in the first season when it was just a few people and everyone was very much in a clique within a larger group which interacted with each other but mostly kept tight. Though the season has done decent when it comes to the larger story elements with Charleston, the Volm and the reconnect with what may be some residual elements of the American government, it’s really falling down again and again with the character stories as they’re so thin and wispy that they fall apart far too easily when dealt with in any detail.
With Tom and his sons on their journey, things aren’t exactly going smoothly as there are plenty of Skitters and Mechs out there roaming around the further they get out into the lands, but as is usual the most dangerous thing are other people. With them on horses and going through the countryside, it doesn’t take long to come into a group of survivors out there that have taken to bandit style existence, which is not a surprise as it’s a decent way to live and procure supplies from those that are weary and just trying to pass through. They make it a bit worse in how they appear by doing it in ski masks, and they’re not exactly interested in the basic ideas of civilization that Tom tries to peddle them, though is heart isn’t quite in it either. But that’s just so he can get things back on his own terms where they have the advantage, which they definitely don’t have at the start.
It is welcome that when they do make their move on the bandits residence that they do it with some amount of skill and ability, taking them down fairly cleanly and without a lot of pain, but with a few problems along the way. There’s some comical aspects to how the bandit family reacts to things, including an incredulous look at Tom when one of them gets shot, but they do manage to keep things pretty focused on what they want so they can get back on the road. While Charleston has had a lot of survivors stream in, we haven’t seen the impact of them and how they’ve survived out in the country until coming there. Getting a look at this family and those around them isn’t all that deep or fascinating, but it’s a nice little change of pace to things overall from what we have seen with those that have been part of larger groups.
There’s a lot of back and forth with all of this as the balance of power shifts, and some basic manly man dialogue that goes on about surviving and so forth, but it’s largely just another small character story that feels forced and drawn out amid the larger stories that are going on within this world. Like some of the other stories of this nature, it’s just padding that’s already unnecessary and draws out the story all the more. Subplots like this are the ones that, while they may appeal to sum, just generally annoy me since it only reinforces the bad stereotypes of series like this and doesn’t truly add anything to the larger narrative.
While all of that is going on out in the countryside, some things are afoot in Charleston as well, first with Peralta making some changes to the town that won’t go over well as she’s trying to relocate Pope and his little Pope-town in order to accommodate more of the survivors. But that all gets pushed to the side for awhile as Cochise has returned with the other President, who has managed to survive thanks to Cochise and his particular physiology. While the President has spent time with him and is behind him now in what he’s offering for a weapon, Peralta is in the mindset that they need more answers first before really agreeing to go ahead any further. With Cochise wanting his own goals and agenda to be dealt with as quickly as possible, it does make things a bit more complicated. The tensions among those in the know and what they’re trying to protect is simple but clear.
We get a bunch of silly little dramatic moments as Pope sets into effect a work slow down and some push back against the powers that be, but we also see some smaller reveals to the larger storyline as Cochise and Peralta show the President the device that they’re building. That fills in a few more gaps about what the energy grid the Esphini are creating will be like and the impact it will have on the world once it goes into effect, which had been previously left out since general knowledge would cause quite the panic. But it also sets off some alarms of distrust among others as they realize that the Volm may not be what they seem and it puts Pope into a position where he might be the dark horse hero once again. It’s not a surprising turn of events for Pope, who has largely just be kicking up trouble throughout the season with no real impact, but he’s also looking for a larger role in the world and there’s a chance that he could get it now.
The interesting material for this episode is all in Charleston as we get to see what’s going on with the Volm a bit more, a new change in power with the arrival of the President and even an amusing twist in his own situation, and a growing sense of tension that things just aren’t right. Though it’s spaced out without all that much real tension to it, it’s the small moments and reveals towards the end that makes it interesting to see where it’s going to go or if it’ll just be another feint. When it comes to Tom and his story, the less said the better as it’s just bland material through and through, even up to the end piece that puts him in yet another stupidly bad situation.