We’ve reached the end of the second season of Underground and it seems like just yesterday that we were wondering what the future would hold for our remaining Macon Seven. Some characters have reaffirmed my hatred (See: Cato’s janky ass) while others have pleasantly surmounted my low expectations and have evolved into complicated figures of badassery like Jessica De Gouw’s Elizabeth Hawkes. And of course, we had Aisha Hinds as Harriet Tubman just being all awe-inspiring and magical in every scene she was in this season, even going so far as to anchor an entire episode on her perfect performance.
And that’s where we start off this week, with Minty keeping watch up late at night when a strange man knocks upon her door. Harriet Tubman is cautious as always and discovers that the man is George Sterns of John Brown’s Secret Six. He’s there to deliver a special message for Harriet. John feels it necessary that abolitionists raise the ante and fight fire with even more fire. He’s planning on arming the slaves in the revolt. Harriet likes this idea. There’s only one caveat: John wants Harriet to lead the raid herself.
We’ve seen Harriet struggle with passivity versus bombast this season, thinking it better to lead from the background and not cast too direct of a light on herself. Minty believes she is doing her god’s work and she doesn’t want to fall into sin by failing to remain humble. It’s intriguing to see this play out onscreen knowing what we know about the real-life Harriet Tubman and her work as a spy and leading men during the Civil War.
Back at Georgia’s house Daniel is recounting the ordeal he has been through including being blinded with lye by his master for teaching other slaves how to read. Our heroes are initially apprehensive to overtake this plantation and it actually takes Elizabeth to make them come to their senses. They escaped the Macon plantation not once but twice, freed Noah from lynching with mere seconds to spare and thwarted countless attempts on their lives. This should be a piece of cake!
As we learned last week, the master had been keeping Daniel’s infant son in his quarters as to keep Daniel and the rest of la raza from trying to escape. It will be up to Noah, Elizabeth and the others to sneak in, get the baby and get out with minimal lives lost. This is Underground, however, so of course that plan goes to the left almost immediately. Noah manages to escape the master’s bedroom undetected after a close call, however, the master wakes up after the fact and takes a house slave hostage. Now we have a good old stand-off on our hands.
Lucas, a man we have seen is not afraid to get his hands dirty, is trying to negotiate with terrorists when finally Elizabeth walks right in with her Wilson’s Leather petticoat and puts a bullet right through master’s dome and back out into his crystal credenza. When I tell you I hollered! Not really, because my neighbors keep asking me to keep the noise down over here, but I did let out an audible gasp. I didn’t think old girl had it in her. Remember when the widow Hawkes didn’t even know how to fire a gun?
Alano Miller as Cato has been having a hell of a season. As a character that I wasn’t altogether sure was coming back from last year it was good to see him return only to be quickly reminded again that Cato is actually the worst. He’s giving one of his self-aggrandizing monologues that he seems to do every episode while he sits post-coital with some raven-haired ingenue. He’s prepping her for another one of his diabolical plans that made me roll my eyes so hard Anderson Cooper gave me tens across the board. The lady starts reading through her lines, “I’m Patty Cannon, etc etc” and won’t the real slim shady please stand up, please stand up, please stand up.
There have been a lot of storylines and new characters to juggle this season so it’s only natural that some storylines would be given the short-end of the stick but I don’t like where we end up with Ernestine and her story. I totally get that the writers need to drag her arc out in order to time things correctly with what has been going on with her daughter Rosalee and son James, however, having Ern run all around the South and somehow run in circles was not the ticket. Ernestine quickly grew to be a fan favorite and I hope that next season gives Amirah Vann more to do then sniff a dirty dishrag and scowl.
Same goes for Christopher Meloni’s August Pullman who we see mourning for the loss of his wife and slave (like how he loved him enough to mourn him but not enough to free him while he was living). Ern offers to take away his troubles with that codeine-soaked dishrag and August takes a long hit. And then another. And another. And another still. In fact, he gets so lifted he can barely function which Ernestine takes as her cue (again!) to run away. Only she’s high on that stuff too so they both are just kind of running around in a stupor until they stumble upon the crispity Macon plot of land where a house used to be. Don’t do drugs, kids.
I’ve given James a tough time this season because I am not a big fan of precocious child actors and James as a character can be incredibly daft to the severity of the situations in front of him but the season finale redeems him somewhat. James is just a child trying to make sense of this big world the best that he can. In an exchange with his big sister, Rosalee, he worries that he will never get to see his mother again. Rosalee assures him that is not the case as all of the moxy and intellect they possess comes from their mama. She assures him they will all find their way back to each other soon. In a later scene the writers give Rosalee and Noah as close to a conflict resolution as they can with Rosalee attempting to apologize and explain that her past actions came out of fear. She tells her fiance that she loves him but the best Noah can muster is the admission that he’s still working through how to forgive her. Noah, remember when Rosalee risked her life to come rescue you from being murdered? Forgive the girl is all I’m saying.
Turns out, shooting the master of a slave house brings a lot of bad attention your way and Noah, Elizabeth, and the others have attracted the attention of the Kentucky militia. Just when it seems all hope is lost, Noah gives a rousing rally-the-troops speech and they set out into the dead of the night armed with rifles and knives. This action sequence is intercut with the action happening back at Georgia’s house. It seems the real slim shady Patty Cannon has arrived and she plans on capturing the Black Rose right then and there.
She and the rest of her goons have the place surrounded and this time it’s time for Georgia to be the brave one as she sticks around to fend off the intruders in the hopes that Rosalee and James can use that extra time to escape through the tunnels. And they would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for that damned Cato! Cato knows the entire layout of the house from his time being a creep there last episode and he’s not going to let Rosalee just bounce. And as if matters couldn’t get any worse, Rosalee’s water apparently has just broken and that baby is coming fast and furiously. James, puts on his big boy pants finally and not only assists with the delivery but helps to keep Patty’s goons from breaking in as they sit cornered in the basement.
While all of this madness is going down, Cato steps to Patty and informs her that he knows where Harriet Tubman is at that very moment. They leave the goons behind and she, Cato and the biographer take the horses and ride out to the location. Why Patty Mayonnaise thought it was a good idea to turn her back on this untrustworthy fool is beyond me but Cato does the viewers a favor and shoots Patty dead. With her out of the picture his plan is to usurp her position with his faux-Patty in tow and continue slave-catching and running things like Putin runs the White House (allegedly). I guess this can work but why does he even want to do this? Just go back to your Philadelphia mansion and do your whiteface productions or better yet go free Desi and high-tail it back to Europe. Oh, well. Cato’s gon’ Cato.
Noah and his team were successful in making it back alive (mostly) but when they get back to the safe house they realize urrbody gone. The faint sound of a crying baby can be heard coming from the basement and when Noah gets down there he finds James cradling his son in hiding. Seems the goons took Georgia and Rosalee turned herself in. As the season comes to a close Noah holds his newborn son and through tears of equal-parts sorrow and joy he decrees his son “is free!” We cut to several months later and Elizabeth Hawkes is doing that post-coital morning conversation thing with a gentlemen and we see later down by the river that everyone is starting to gear up for the Civil War. I’m sure the South will fight fair and if they lose will be amicable and put the loss behind them maturely.
Until next season…