Underground Season 2 Episode 4 Recap » VSB

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Underground Season 2 Episode 4 Recap

WGN screenshot


This week’s episode is all about choices. The choices that we make. The choices that we sometimes convince ourselves we have no other option but to make and the disparity that lies between those who choose to hide behind their choices and those who choose to stand in their truth. Cato is the latter, a character you’re either going to love or hate. A pragmatic agent of chaos who makes no apologies for his behavior and isn’t afraid to call others on their hypocrisy. He’s selfish, stubborn, quick-tempered and unloyal— in a word— he’s human.

Underground gives Cato a backstory this episode and while there’s very little here to make him seem sympathetic, Cato is a man that is oft-times misunderstood. We are also given a multilayered performance by Alano Miller and one thing is for certain, Miller did not come to play with you hoes, he came to slay. Step aside, Cersei Lannister! Television has a new scene-stealing, back-stabbing “big bad” in town. Cato seems to be playing 3D chess while everybody else is playing Chutes and Ladders. I could not look away.

The women of the sewing circle are planning their next power move in their fight against slavery while Rosalee returns badly beaten and nearly unconscious. I think Rosalee deserves some rest after the ordeal she went through last episode so I was a-okay with Jurnee Smollett-Bell being pretty much sidelined this week. Same goes for Ernestine who we don’t see at all this time around. I don’t know how much more suffering I could take from her character. Maybe next week we’ll find out she’s off the bath salts and recovering nicely but I doubt it.

Elizabeth Hawkes, a character I’ve been rough on in the past,  is beginning to warm on me. I know she is a stand-in for white feminism and all the lack of intersectionality comprehension that goes along with it so I applaud the writers fleshing out her character a bit more. One of the men pushing for a war between ideologies inspires her to take a stronger stance on opposing slavery by fighting fire with fire. She wonders why a white man would risk his life and livelihood for black people in such an in your face manner.  This makes sense when you figure her introduction to abolition likely came from her late husband and his desire to fight against injustice through the legal system. You see how that turned out though, Lizzy!

He spins a tale about his inaction adding to the suffering of a young slave boy who is made to watch his father starve to death. Hold the phones, though, because this story is one of pure imagination. The reality is that he doesn’t need a personal reason to fight for what is right and Elizabeth receives a timely sermon on the dangers of apathy. Message!

We learn that the mansion Cato’s men took Noah to is located in Philadelphia and he’s a little bitter about being left for dead last season. Cato’s feeling himself and wants to prove to Noah that he isn’t any better than he is once his true nature is revealed. Noah sees right through Cato’s basura. He pulls his card and lets him know he’s Drake in a world of Kendricks. Ouch. Both men have blood on their hands, though.

Noah states he would do anything to bring back the fallen members of the Macon Seven so Cato makes Noah an offer he can’t refuse: agree to go back into bondage and he’ll pay for the freedom of seven slaves. His life for the life of others. After taking just about two seconds to think it over, Noah regretfully declines. The confrontation between the two is spliced between flashbacks to Cato’s past. He’s been living the high society life in Paris, Ireland and England (set to a Dizzy Rascal soundtrack that made me milly rock on any block in my living room) Cato comes from a wealthy background and he uses the power of his wealth to court a high class British woman of Indian heritage named Devi. She’s one of those one-dimensional female characters that have little agency outside of how she challenges the male lead to recognize his potential. That “potential” here is his ability to use his past pain as a conduit in prize fighting.

She grows tired pretty quickly of his grandstanding and wants to know the man behind the self-created persona Cato creates. Snooze. Still, I was rooting for these two cray kids to make it. Their love story is blown through pretty swiftly here, more than likely due to the time constraints of the structure of the season, and seems doomed from the jump. In the fighting ring, Cato has his Oberyn Martell moment and loses a fight due to his ego and a non-regulation sucker punch from his opponent. As he lies on the ground, shaken, Devi looks on, pleading with him to get up. Cato knows, at his core, he ain’t shit, so he decides to break off their engagement rather than deal with her seeing him as broken.

At a rally against slavery the women of the sewing circle are reading statements to a rowdy crowd of onlookers. The widow Hawkes has inspired Georgia to give a speech but she is overcome by a fear of public speaking and rushes off of the stage. Elizabeth jumps in to finish her words and is rewarded with a rock to the face by some stranger in the crowd which sparks a riot. I didn’t cackle loud enough for my neighbors to hear me when she got hit so I guess we’ll call that progress. Elizabeth picks up a bottle, ready to square up, but Georgia steps in and tells them they need to blow that proverbial taco stand. You ladies are going to have to get your petticoats dirty sooner or later, doll.

Noah and Cato have a good ol’ fashioned fist fight in which the former is raining down blows like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out but the odds are still in Catos favor as he has the hired guns to do his dirty work. Once removed from the scene of that beatdown, Noah meets with George Still who praises him for his heroics but Noah doesn’t see it this way. He is living with the regret of his decisions and the knowledge that he is every bit as selfish as the next man. He’s going to have to let go of these feelings if he’s to move forward because men like Cato and the men in the letter Daniel intercepted seem more than willing to make all of the choices for them.

Jordan Kauwling

Jordan Kauwling is an early thirties Philadelphian but she tells everyone she’s in her late thirties because she doesn’t understand how math works. When she’s not busy writing, singing, eating all the falafel or unsuccessfully finishing another craft project you can catch her talking junk on Twitter.

  • Mary Burrell

    I see i can watch this on Amazon i will make an attempt to see what this is about. I think i have gotten over my slave fatigue.

    • rikyrah

      I can understand about slave fatigue.
      The first season was so brutal. Every episode had something that would make you get in your feelings. But, it was still brilliantly done.

  • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

    Very Interesting Recap. It shows that stories deal with the complex emotions of people. We are humans, so we exist in our diverse personalities, motivations, and actions. The show Underground has a resonance not only with people who live history, but those who enjoy drama, action, adventure, and great story lines.

  • AnzieM

    Cato broke it off with Devi because he realized that even though she talked of being on his side (both of them being minorities), she also was invested in the stereotype of black brute. So when he was knocked out, and she was screaming for him to get up he stayed down to prove a point to her because he saw her blood thirst. After the count he got up and knocked his opponent out to show her he wasn’t going to play her game. When she challenged him at the train station (or whatever that was, stagecoach station?) by saying she thought he wanted more he replied “I do” – letting her know that living as her pet black prize fighter man wasn’t what he was up for. But he had to swag it out by leaving her his apartment-such a Drake move.

    • Michelle Thomas


    • Tyb

      This was my interpretation also.

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    • MsCee

      When he hit her with that “I do” I was like dayum…my heart, my soul.

    • Yay Radley

      Wasn’t he playing Noah all along, though? I thought I heard him say that those slaves were actually headed to Canada. So the irony is that flawed, selfish one Cato is the only one actually freeing people, whereas the self-identified “righteous” Noah has only managed a grand total of one — and made a conscious decision not to free more when the choice was between their skin and his own.

  • Just finally watched and I can’t wait until more of Cato unfolds. He should be thankful to Noah because he ended up extremely wealthy and in a position of power. He had to understand that they were running. He is not brute as he seems. He let Noah and the slaves go. He is, however, incredibly cunning. I love that about him.

    He could of did Devi better. She thought the fighting was giving him an outlet to his anger (he did attack the man in the bar). His realization during the fight was valid, but walking away from the woman you chose to marry without a conversation… nah.

    Devi was complex and loved him after he revealed who he was and what he was. It’s understanding that she was pushing him (GET UP!) rather than exploiting him.

  • MsCee

    This was my least favorite episode of Underground. Ever. Maybe it’s because I despise Cato or maybe because I just hated this episode. I’m not sure.

  • KeyBrad

    I want to know how Cato got all the way to Europe…did I miss that part?

  • Africameleon

    fyi… i posted a response to this article – which was great btw – a few days ago, but it didn’t appear in the thread.

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