Underground Season 2 Episode 5 Review: Whiteface

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That was what you'd call a game changer.

There was so much to love and so much to hate (in the best possible way, of course) about Underground Season 2 Episode 5.

An hour that began with humor as a result of horror-stricken, hypocritical theater patrons after they realized they were being mocked by black people in whiteface, ended in unrest, uncertainty, and tragedy.

Frederick Douglass - Underground Season 2 Episode 5

Whiteface was the name of this installment, and it came up quite often in various ways.

Cato had previously been accused of trying to blend in with the rest of society, which is predominately white, with his newfound wealth and his age-old arrogance. He has been flaunting his wealth but can't say he's the type to want to blend in with white people. 

Cato waxed poetic about the best way to appeal to white people. He spoke of them as a collective entity, foreigners, who he spent his entire life figuring out because he had to as a way of survival.

Georgia also tied into that. After being taken into custody, Elizabeth found her papers and realized that Georgia has been passing as white this entire time.

Underground 2x5

It seemed to throw Elizabeth for a loop and had her questioning how Georgia could be so actively involved in the cause and not be her authentic self. I guess that's what the issue was.

That's where Elizabeth's naivete comes into play. As Georgia told her, it's survival.

That revelation confused me because was there ever a question that Georgia is black? At best, it's evident that she has some non-white blood (and back then "whiteness" wasn't nearly as broad as it is today, those of Mediterranean descent weren't deemed "white" for example). If I recall correctly, the one-drop rule still applied, so it didn't matter how light Georgia was, she was still black.

Georgia: Is that what you think? that I do this because it's easy?
Elizabeth: I don't know what to think. You won't talk to me.

So why did the fact that Georgia has been passing catch Elizabeth so off guard? Was it just that she was still passing despite being North?

It's such a confusing concept.

Georgia can pass nearly effortlessly because she's "mulatto." Rosalee, who is also biracial, could but hasn't been able. Ernestine is on that fine line of possibly being able, yet she can't. Then you have someone like Pearly Mae who was biracial but could never pass.

Why Georgia - Underground Season 2 Episode 2

Where are the lines drawn? If the concept of race is so messy and complex then why do we still insist on putting people in boxes? Why do sides need to be chosen? The expectation to choose a side still exists. So does passing. That was something that went on well into the sixties and seventies and still happens today.

Passing as a white woman affords Georgia more advantages than being a free black woman. The more advantages she has, the better it is for her and all the fugitive slaves she helps.

Recounting how she carefully constructed memories of a white mother for passing but fears every night that she'll forget her actual mother was so heartbreaking.

When I close my eyes at night and try to remember my real mother, it gets harder every time and I'm terrified that one of these nights I'm gonna close my eyes and see nothing. The minute that these men took up the cause, the minute they called themselves abolitionists, they put a target on their back. I lived with one most of my life. there's nothing easy about this secret.


Jasika Nicole has this quiet, soft way of delivering lines that just wrecks a person. So many feels.

What happened to Georgia, and the threats she's receiving from law enforcement now that they know she's black is one more thing that pushed Elizabeth over the edge.

Elizabeth has been drawn to John Brown's more straightforward methods, and now it appears she's chosen a side. At least she's honest with herself.

It's hard to untether how much I care for the cause with how far I'm willing to go for it. While I admire Georgia's resilient efforts towards peace, the fervor and forthrightness of John Brown's followers is hard to deny. It speaks to the anger that has consumed me since John's death.


Everything has piled up, John's murder, everything with Rosalee, the latest with Georgia, and now being attacked and threatened. Taking off with Lucas was inevitable.

Fortunately, she had some amazing moments with Rosalee before she left. I'm happy there was confirmation that Elizabeth didn't know Rosalee was pregnant prior to Rosalee's injury.

Underground 2x5e

If she did, she would have done exactly what she was doing in this hour, practically begging Rosalee not to keep going on with her mission to free slaves including her mother and brother.

Rosalee is driven and determined to reunite with her family before the baby is born. It's understandable. It's also very dangerous.

I could empathize with Elizabeth's frustration. Rosalee is her family, the only family she has left, and she doesn't want anything to happen to her or the baby.

Rosalee: Every time I saw myself holding that baby, Noah's baby, he was right there with me. My momma was right there with me. I need them not just for me, for both of us. I feel so scared. I can't do it alone.
Elizabeth: Rosalee, listen to me. You are not alone but if you kill this baby trying to get the rest of them back, you will be.

But Rosalee has her own family and wants them all together. I can't help but wonder about Elizabeth's last words. If Rosalee jeopardizes her baby's life, does Elizabeth feel like she can't or won't be Rosalee's family anymore? That one line sounded that way to me.

For now, Rosalee has Noah. It's not too often that I find a romantic relationship that I'm passionate about. I typically waver between indifference or disapproving. But how can you not love Noahlee?!

Their reunion was hands down the happiest and best moment of the hour. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait all season for it.

Underground 2x5d

Noah's proposal was one of the most romantic moments I have seen in quite some time. God, he has a way with words, doesn't he? Swoon-worthy moment.

I'm still upset that Rosalee hasn't told him about the baby. How long does she think she'll be able to hide it?

She's too focused on getting Ernestine back. She wants Noah to go with her. For a bit, I thought Noah would convince her to stay, but he doesn't have if in him to say no to her.

That's what they make you think, that freedom is a place. But it ain't. We make ourselves free by the choices we make. Rosalee, my first choice as a free man is you. I'll follow you anywhere.


He believes in her the same way that she believes in him. I'm loving their role reversal.

Noah went from asking her to run with him to telling her he'd follow her anywhere. They're true, equal partners.

Speaking of partners, I am so upset about Francis! He genuinely cared about Cato.

If isn't lost on me, that he wanted to leave before he had to watch Cato do something stupid and get hanged, and Cato ended up being the one who had to watch his friend die.

Francis: I'm not going to be in attendance of this one.
Cato: And why is that?
Francis: Because I feel like I'm watching a man carefully tie his own goddamn noose and I haven't been in America long enough to want to watch you hang.

Ughhh. I hate it so much. Francis had such a calm presence. While Cato is in no way wrong for wanting to bankroll the movement, Francis' position wasn't wrong, either.

He even went so far as to bring Devi back in an effort for her to get through to Cato. Now she's at the mercy of Patty.

What the hell was Cato thinking?

Schmoozing - Underground Season 2 Episode 5

His gathering of like-minded individuals to schmooze them into forking over cash for the movement was great.

I loved hearing the story of how he got his scar, and he could not be more accurate when talking about how capitalism is a downfall and money makes the world go round, so to speak.

He even charmed William Still and Frederick Douglass. John Legend was the perfect person to play a young Frederick Douglass.

Underground 2x5 a

It was great that they emphasized not being so extravagant and showy because discretion is crucial. Cato has become very showy and cocky.

Maybe that's why he didn't turn Patty and August away when they showed up to the party. Otherwise, why the hell would he let them stay?

I just, I'm so angry about that. How the hell did they even get in? They needed an invitation. Didn't he have security or something?

Double Trouble - Underground Season 2 Episode 5

A notorious slave stealer and the same slave catcher that was chasing him showed up at an event with sympathizers to the cause and former slaves and free blacks. They should have vacated the premise immediately. He should have kicked them out and never looked back.

Patty is the type who would sell a free black person into slavery for a profit. She's also the type who manipulates black people into turning on one another.

Which is exactly why she wanted to speak to Cato. Cato and all of his hubris wouldn't send her away. He jeopardized lives and the movement by letting Patty stay.

Cleaning Up Nicely - Underground Season 2 Episode 5

It cost him Francis' life and the life of his men, also Devi's safety and his own. Not to mention Patty and August have Columbus-ed his house. So much for his freedom.

I genuinely thought Cato had Patty and August at a disadvantage. He possibly could have if not for August.

August is in a dark place. He could have gone home to his kid, and he's wrapped up in this mess with Patty all because he has a vendetta.

It takes a special kind of entitlement to feel scorned because a human being wouldn't let you hurt them or sell them for profit. Honestly, the nerve.

Underground 2x5b

Donahue continues to intrigue me and make me think he's somehow connected to the cause. He was subtly trying to persuade August to go back to Ben.

Then he brought up August's father as if to question why August chose the occupation he did. How did a man who is the son of someone honorable enough to not fall in line with Andrew Jackson end up doing what August does and in Patty's clutches?

I love Donahue so much.

August: I ain't one much for history.
Donahue: Yet, here you are hunting an old bounty.

Now, because of Cato, Patty has her sights on Ernestine. In fact, everyone has their sights on Ernestine. It's a matter of who will get to her first.

But the kicker is, that badass Ernestine that we lost is back, and she's not one who needs saving because she's already plotting how to save herself.

I'm so beyond thrilled. It was killing me seeing Ernestine wallowing and broken.

Her suicide attempt was a come to Jesus moment because she got her head back together shortly after.

This ain't about me speaking. Y'all don't really want that. 'Cause then half of y'all standing here would have to admit to taking the devil's blood. This ain't even about what I have done. It's about shaming others so they don't do anything you don't want them to do. This here ain't family.


She did not have time for the preacher's shaming ritual and told him and everyone else off. That certainly got Clara's attention.

I was wary when I realized Ernestine was going to give Clara a crash course in the art of seduction.

It's something she is not proud of, so why subject someone else to that? But she gave Clara all the advice she needed, and it has its merits.

Clara: I want you to teach me. I want you to teach me how to get master to do what I want.
Ernestine: Why?
Clara: What Hicks done to me....I ain't got no power to stop it, and I want some.

If that is the best way that someone in their position can protect themselves, is it wrong to shut her down? Clara wanted to feel powerful. There is something empowering about a woman shamelessly owning her sexuality.

For what it's worth, Clara seems to really connect with Matthew. Their horse scene was sweet, and their kiss was just as cute.

Matthew, from what we learned, is not a bad guy. If it keeps Clara safe, is their relationship so bad?

Underground 2x5c

Deep down, I knew that Ernestine could use Clara's budding romance to her advantage. So I was absolutely delighted when she said as much by the end.

If that thought crossing my mind the same as it did Stine means I'm capable of plotting like she does, then so be it. Ernestine is badass. I'm glad she's back in the game.

Clara: It worked! He asked me to come by the stable again tomorrow. It ain't gon be long 'fore he do whatever I ant him for do.
Ernestine: Good. 'Cause you gon use him to get me off this island.

Is it safe to say that a little Icelandic group by the name of Kaleo are having a kickass year?

"Way Down We Go" has been the go-to song for some of the best and most angsty TV moments of the year. Sometimes it heightens the feelings during the moment like here (or on Lucifer), other times, it doesn't quite work with the scene (sorry, Grey's Anatomy).

It's such an awesome song and was a great music choice for that final moment. It gave me chills and left me eagerly awaiting the next episode in anticipation for what's coming. 

What did you think of "Whiteface"? Who will get to Ernestine first? Are you annoyed that Noah still doesn't know about the baby? Hit up the comments below and let us know what you think.

You can watch Underground online right here via TV Fanatic.

Whiteface Review

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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Underground Season 2 Episode 5 Quotes

You ain't got no family but we.


It's hard to untether how much I care for the cause with how far I'm willing to go for it. While I admire Georgia's resilient efforts towards peace, the fervor and forthrightness of John Brown's followers is hard to deny. It speaks to the anger that has consumed me since John's death.