What an extraordinary hour of television.
Underground is a thrilling, emotional journey that tugs at the heart-strings and deftly captures the human experience. This installment was no exception.
Underground Season 2 Episode 2 gave us twists, revelations, and truly poignant moments. It's not often that a show can successfully pull off making you laugh, cry, hold your breath, reevaluate and self-reflect all within one night.
The arrangement of this installment was especially great. The way it flowed from one story to the next through the lens of each character made each arc feel like a chapter in a larger story.
I'm enjoying the glimpses into Daniel's life. He comes across as a simple family man with a lovely family. Then it hits you; life was far from simple for a black man during the 19th century.
Daniel was so proud because he was able to teach himself how to read and write. Something that now seems so simple was a dangerous act of rebellion.
Daniel's Wife: Did you just...?
Daniel: I been teaching myself to read. Writing is just describing the sounds that the words make.
Daniel's Wife: What does it say?
Daniel: It says how I feel about you. It says why I taught myself to do this. [Holds up paper] It says, love.
Daniel's Wife:It's amazing. I want to keep it forever. [Rips up paper] But this could get us killed.
It was heartbreaking watching Daniel proudly share a piece of paper that said "Love" with the love of his life with her going from being surprised to touched to fearful in a matter of seconds.
If anyone finds out that Daniel can read and write, he could very well be killed. How humbling is it to think that what many of us believe is a right was once a luxury?
Even those of us who may be descendants of slaves take reading and writing for granted. So many people fought and died for the right to education. Many risked their lives. People like Daniel. I cannot wait to see how his role unfolds during the season.
Bloody hell. Jessica de Gouw is incredible!
With moments of the beginning, I was all prepared to call it early by saying Elizabeth would be the character stealing the hour because she was so amazing. Then I banished the thought, not because she wasn't amazing, but because the entire cast is brilliant, and each person owned their moments.
You can't have a scene-stealer when everyone takes your breath away when given their moment to shine.
John's death was going to be the catalyst behind Elizabeth coming into her own during the movement. His death was going to have ripple effects on everyone within his vicinity.
Personally, I couldn't even give credence to how huge an impact and how devastating a loss John's death was in my review of Underground Season 2 Episode 1, because I was shell-shocked for hours after watching it happen.
So was Elizabeth.
The imagery of her so frozen in shock as she was damn near catatonic was powerful. Sitting there in a bright blue dress on the stairs of courthouse with his blood inches away from her, she had to process the injustice of her husband being brutally killed right beneath the words, "Let Freedom Ring."
I wanted to reach through the screen and do whatever I could to console her, but honestly, how do you console someone when that happens? What do you do? How do you respond?
It's one of those questions that has no real answer, and we live during times when brutal murders happen with such frequency that not having the answer is frustrating.
You know what I realized? Ain't no sense to this world. There be the bad and there be the good too. Lucky me, I'm on my way to freedom wearing a good man's suit. You just gotta have a little faith and things be alright. Get you some sleep.Valentine
John was like the beacon of hope. He was the bright light because of his idealism. He truly believed he'd be able to make the world a better place through law, books, and intellect. The season asks the question, "Are you a citizen or a soldier?"
John was a citizen. He was a good citizen who wanted to do good and perform his duty to humanity the best way he knew how.
But Elizabeth is a solider. At least, she's finally had the motivation to officially push her over the edge. Up until this point, Elizabeth had been easing, slowly but surely, into the moment. She dipped a toe in, then a cautious foot. She waded around a bit.
Now, Elizabeth has jumped all in. She was always the more pragmatic one of the pair. She came across earnest and sweet, but there was always a fire in her and a bit of darkness, too.
John grounded her a bit, and she grounded him. They balanced each other out. Without him, there's nothing keeping the darkness at bay. She's grieving and jaded. The world just proved her right.
She does have Georgia, though. If anyone is going to keep Elizabeth's head on straight during this difficult time, it's going to be Georgia.
They had some of the best scenes of the night. Some of the best dialogue, too. Their exchange of words outside of the courthouse was particularly poignant.
Georgia: So, what? You take my gun from your purse and you make someone take responsibility? A judge? A deputy?
Elizabeth: You said it. We have to disrupt their happy little lives.
Georgia: That's not what I meant. This is not justice. It won't make anything good and fair.
Elizabeth: John would've stop--
Georgia: You wouldn't be doing it for John. You'd be doing it for yourself.
Elizabeth: Leave me alone, please.
Georgia: I am not going anywhere.
Elizabeth wants vengeance. She's embittered and grieving, and honestly, I can't say that I blame her one bit. When she bitterly talked about how John dedicated his life to justice and the legal field and no one seemed to give a damn, I felt for her.
And damn if she wasn't hitting the nail on the head talking about how everyone's response to brutality and violence. Everyone wants to talk about how senseless it all is, but no one has a fix. No one wants to own up to the roles they play.
I have sat on this bench waiting for John to get out of court a thousand times. When he had a case, he would throw himself into it so completely that he practically lived here. That's what I loved about him. He really believed he could make a difference. He devoted his life to this place, and not one goddamn person cares about getting justice for his murder. A good man, the best man, was shot in broad daylight and everyone is calling it a senseless act. It's just...it's just an excuse so nobody has to take responsibility for allowing this world to be senseless.Elizabeth
It's easier to chalk it up as "senseless" and pretend like it won't happen again (even though it constantly does) than it is to address the real problems head on.
If you acknowledge a problem then you'd have to address it. If you address a problem, then you'd have to actually do something to try and rectify it. It's easier to keep on the blinders.
But at what costs? And it's a luxury that not everyone can afford to have. I suppose that's what separates the citizens from the soldiers.
I loved that Georgia knows how to ground Elizabeth. She guides her right back to thinking more rationally, and she'll probably guide her down the right path. She doesn't discourage Elizabeth or invalidate her feelings, but she comes from a place of knowing all too well that the world isn't a great place, but there are proper channels to go about changing it.
Georgia is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.
The relationship between Rosalee and Harriet a.k.a. "Moses" is fascinating. Harriet has taken a liking to Rosalee and appears to be molding her into her own "second in command."
You know what I saw when I had my spell? You. On the riverbank. Boat in the distance. You had this look of accomplishment, and you know who ain't there with you?Harriet
She had all the faith in the world in Rosalee, giving her sage advice about trusting her instincts and sharing her premonitions.
Rosalee did an amazing job on her own delivering her cargo. I loved that she knew something was off about Ida and avoided her.
I only hate that Harriet's premonition didn't include Rosalee being shot by Patty Cannon and potentially captured.
How shocking was it to find out that Rosalee is pregnant?! What a fantastically shot scene of her taking off her shirt, only to reveal her pregnancy. My mouth dropped. Did yours?
I noticed that she appeared a bit bulkier, but I chalked it up to her binding her breasts and wearing men's clothes because they made it easier to move around.
No wonder she wants to get Noah back so badly. He probably doesn't even know.
I wonder if anyone else does. Does Moses know that Rosalee's pregnant? I don't imagine she'd let Rosalee go on the way she has been if she does.
Elizabeth: I keep thinking about children.
Rosalee: No, no you need to rest.
Elizabeth: For so long, not being able to have any was like an open wound. A pain in my entire body. This work that we do, I thought it would help close it, but now, I can't help but think that if we had a child, I would have something left of him. It was foolish of me to think that there's such a thing as closing wounds. They bleed and they bleed. This one...my dress is so clean. I didn't even--I didn't even touch him after and now he's gone.
What about Elizabeth? She talked about wishing she had a child because she'd have some piece of John left with her. Maybe she doesn't know that Rosalee's pregnant.
I wonder how she'd react if she did. She seemed a bit hurt and put off that Rosalee couldn't come to John's funeral. Rosalee, for her part, didn't seem to know how to act around Elizabeth.
It's awkward for both of them. Technically, they're family, but they don't know each other. Their bond was through John, and now they're bonded through his memory and their investment in the movement.
I'd love to see their relationship grow because they are two seriously badass women, and they both could use the support.
Would Elizabeth resent Rosalee for being able to have a child that she can't have? Would she be overly attached to this child that shares some blood with her late husband? It should be interesting.
Rosalee a.k.a. Black Rose (awesome code name by the way) could be down because of Patty.
Patty is certainly an interesting character. She's notoriously ruthless. She's going to be one of those "love to hate but hate to love kind" of characters.
She's the frustrating type because as a woman she should know what it's like to be part of a disenfranchised group, treated horribly, and as if she's inferior. Yet she makes her living capturing more disenfranchised groups of people.
Go retrieve my black rose.Patty
On one hand, she's in a foul business capturing slaves and treating them like dirt. On the other hand, she has quite the reputation for a woman during that time. Her entire crew is men, some of whom she uses for sex before dismissing them like old news, all respect and are terrified of her.
She's bad, yes, but she's also badass. And of course full of herself like any good villain.
Biographer: To be the most notorious slave catcher, one would think you'd have caught the most notorious runaway.
Patty: Harriet Tubman. That's not a question.
Biographer: Fair enough, I suppose my question is, why shouldn't I be writing the book about her?
She has the biographer following her around to write about her life and tell her stories. I loved the biographer, especially when he point blank asked why should he be writing about Patty when he could be writing about Harriet.
If he makes it through the season alive, he's bound to be good for some witty one-liners.
I just knew Patty was behind Noah being captured. I was shocked to find out that she wasn't.
As I said, it's hard to give one person kudos for stealing the night when all the characters are so amazing. I wanted to give it to Elizabeth, initially, but then Noah came in like a force leaving me entranced every time he appeared on screen.
Underground may be a historical drama, but it's also a suspense thriller and a damn good one. If Underground is an action thriller, then Noah is the action hero.
Seriously, his scenes played out like an action movie, and I loved every second of it. Also, some of his snarky comments and overall demeanor reminded me of Aldis Hodge's role as Alec Hardison on Leverage.
Anything that gives me Leverage feels is good in my book.
I am always in awe of Noah's ingenuity and determination. He has so much heart and drive. He never gives up.
Hey guys, sorry, the wagon was a little cramped so I decided to stretch my legs.Noah
Noah finding a way to destroy the wagon was absolutely genius. The others spending hours trying to fix it instead of just asking him for help was hilarious.
Rosalee has a baby that is motivating her to get Noah back. Noah has a ring. That Scotsman tried his best to get in Noah's head, but nothing can ever discourage him.
Who are these people anyhow? The accents threw me. A Scottish man? Where on earth did he come from and why was he somehow tasked with going after Noah?
It would be interesting if Underground explores the roles of immigrants and the relation to slaves. Immigrants, depending on where they migrated from, were not treated well at all, but there was still a troubling racial hierarchy that put them just above slaves.
You doing it wrong. You know I could have fixed it a couple hours ago. Been back on the road to wherever ya'll taking me, right now. But that's alright.Got myself a nice bit of sleep. It was lovely [laughs]. Ya still doing it wrong. Y'all think y'all too good to talk to me? Ya ain't. You out here handling the cattle with your rundown wagon, trudging through the mud, and the heat. Seems to me that make you the slave. And that man in the carriage? Oh he the master.Noah
And sometimes they took that and ran with it. That's why I enjoyed Noah's point about them doing all the hard work when the wealthy, well-dressed, "whiter," more Americanized man sat in his fancy carriage and did nothing.
It once again drew quite the parallels to present day issues. Disadvantaged individuals convinced that some wealthier (presumably white) person somehow has their best interests at heart and said best interests coming at the expense of other disenfranchised minority groups.
Noah: Everybody back up! You remember what I told you? First thing?
Hostage: Give him the ring. Do it.
Noah: Anyone moves, anyone tries to follow me, and your master gets it.
Cato: The problem is he's not the master. I am.
The reveal that Cato was the real "master" was jaw dropping. Wow. Cato is such a deliciously complicated character, and this reveal only makes him more so.
He must have used the money he found to buy his freedom and acquire some prestige. How else did he get this motley crew of people to fall in line with him? And who is the wealthy guy from the carriage?
Also, why does he want Noah so badly? Is it just a revenge thing? Cato has always been the character that is only in it for himself. Where he is, unease is sure to follow.
You never know where he stands or what he has up his sleeve. The man would sell his own mother up the river for a yellow Starburst and pocket lint. And you know yellow Starburst are the worst!
My dearest Ernestine is breaking my heart.
She's still getting high off ether. She's still in this abusive relationship with Hicks.
The cycle of abuse as a result of this violent structure is as fascinating as it is tragic. Overseer breaks Hicks. Hicks breaks Ernestine. Ernestine breaks Clara.
I ain't mean to hurt you; you know that right? Them pretty eyes. That low honey voice. I would do anything for you. I know you feel the same. There's a girl gon need ya help. You gon help her for me?Hicks
Hurt people, hurt people. That's why it's a cycle. It just keeps going.
Covering women's health issues and abortion is another way in which Underground is timely.
I loved how Clara explained how everyone has something to say about her being pregnant. Some are always vocal, others claim they'll help because they don't want her to abort it, but if she kept it, the help will be no where to be found, or others will look down on her because she requires it.
She's also looked down on if she wants an abortion too. There's no winning. Hicks got her pregnant and doesn't want her to keep it, so he set her up with Ernestine, so that Ernestine could give her medicine to abort.
Except, after talking with Ernestine and hearing about Ernestine's love for her kids, she didn't want to abort her baby. Hicks, however, forced her to anyway. While Ernestine watched.
It was one of many scenes during that night that just highlighted how helpless and hopeless the times could be. Where was the solidarity from Ernestine in that moment? Was she just too far gone? Has she given up that much?
This time, her late husband haunted her. Once again, her parenting was under attack. Whether or not she loved her children was called to question.
Ernestine: I couldn't let what happened to you, happen to Sam.
French: You let your heart go cold. He felt it. Rosalee, too. That's why she ran.
Ernestine: No, my children know how much I love them.
French: That's right, you loved them so much that you opened your legs whenever the master called, to protect them. Killed for them. You loved them so much that after James you made sho you couldn't have no more. Your children are the worst thing that ever happened to you. And here you are picking raspberry leaves for that girl and her baby.
Ernestine has convinced herself that everything she's ever done has been for her kids, but there is some part of her conscience that has doubts.
We find out so many things. There is confirmation that Sam belonged to her late husband. We find out that she was really in love once.
He must have died in a tragic way if it scared her so much she did whatever it took to get into the big house. She did whatever she had to in order to protect her kids, but in her quest to keep them safe, she became emotionally detached from them.
French: I used to love the taste of those berries on your lips back when you was carrying Sam.
Ernestine: Funny how a memory can take hold of the senses. The smell. The taste. Maybe it means something.
French: What those berries taste like?
Or at least she gave them the impression that she was. It's a fascinating character study of a fascinating character.
In fact, everything about the Roe plantation is fascinating.
It's such a stark contrast to the Macon plantation and how plantations are portrayed elsewhere. The bright colors, the head wraps, the sense of community, are all things that are so unique.
The fact that many of the slaves wear traditional Gullah attire, and still have strong accents, and their own names is so intriguing I love every time we catch a glimpse of the plantation.
Somehow, the slaves there have managed to still uphold their own traditions, culture, religion, and customs. It makes me wonder if it has always been this way, or is their plantation somehow so small or in the early stages, so their identity hasn't been stripped of them yet.
It's also interesting that we have caught a couple of glimpses at the overseer, but we haven't seen the owner at all. It's such a refreshing change of pace.
So what did you think of "Things Unsaid?" Which revelations shocked you the most? Hit up the comments below and let us know what you think.
You can watch Underground online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.