And you thought your holidays were bad. Christmas was but a backdrop on Underground Season 2 Episode 8, which was directed by none other than Christopher Meloni (August).
What does a Christmas look like on this series, you ask? There were multiple deaths, explosions, extortion, snakes, and boundless badassery.
I love Underground in all shapes and forms, but I get particularly hyped up when there is a lot of action and badass characters doing badass things. So, this installment had me giddy.
It’s difficult to choose who kicked the most ass because everyone was bringing something to the table. I’ll start with Noahlee.
Why the…fudge, would Suzanna force Rosalee to wear a corset? How the heck was she supposed to get it over her enormous belly? I’m relieved that that was the extent of her torture and punishment (in addition to the barely noticeable brand on her face). Rosalee being pregnant, means that other slaves (like poor Hattie) face the brunt of her punishment.
Rosalee fell right back into business as usual; that surprised me. I expected more. Fortunately, that gave her access to areas of the house that she needed to have access to. It also gave her the opportunity to reveal to TR that she (and James) are his half-siblings, and she also was able to see James in his new element.
James has become the favorite child. It was interesting (and appalling) to watch Suzanna so clearly favor and dote on James while speaking so poorly to and of TR. She even compared him to a slave by using the n-word. Oh, Suzanna, I can’t say that I’ve missed you.
James’ new position in the house has in no way led to him and TR rekindling their friendship. TR resents James and James likes it that way.
I saw Noah, he said he coming back for you. I ain't tell him, but I'm staying. This is my family now.James
James has it good at Macon. He didn’t regret turning on Rosalee, but he did feel bad for her. When they finally had their moment together, he was able to unleash all the anger and hurt that he felt about her leaving. He relayed a message to her from Noah.
I loved the scene between Noah and James. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized he had never actually met Noah. Noah wasted no time getting to the point about his plans to save Rosalee and their child, and him, too because he's family. I thoroughly enjoyed his candor with this little kid.
I also enjoyed Noah’s interactions with Corra. He had a valid enough reason to assume Corra turned on them, but she didn’t hesitate to shut him down even after he manhandled her a bit.
Corra had some of the most amusing quotes of the night. She sussed out that Noah knew nothing of the baby, and she spent the rest of the time making snarky comments and innuendo about it. I also loved them performing recon on all the slaves that were heading to the big house for a special dinner.
Who can you trust? You can't even trust family.Corra
Noahlee were at their most hardcore in the moments nearing escape. Noah actually killed Overseer Bill in retaliation for his harming Rosalee. R.I.P you miserable, drunk bastard.
Rosalee, after seeing that Noah was holding Suzanna by gunpoint, knocked James out and took off. I was not surprised when TR came out and had them at gunpoint to defend his mother.
I was shocked, however, when Rosalee burnt Macon down. An explosion! Is this the end of Macon plantation then? What happened to all the slaves inside of the house? What will happen to all the slaves left? Will they flee? I have so many questions. I love a good explosion though.
I ain't leaving this plantation with you still breathing.Noah [to Bill]
Bill wasn’t the only one to not make it to the end of the hour. R.I.P., Smoke, you daft, pretty son of a gun. Patty's boy toy didn’t have very much presence, and after this installment, I understand why. Was he just around for sex? I only ask because he was rubbish at his job. Ernestine outwitted and outplayed him at every damn turn like it was Survivor.
The guy never stood a chance. For starters, he talked way too much. I quickly understood why Patty told him to put his mouth to better use whenever he actually spoke. When he wasn’t fussing and griping, he was telling Ernestine entirely way too much information. If I wasn’t on her side I would have wanted to strangle the guy.
Smoke: Patty asked us both with driving this property. It wouldn't be favorable if she got stolen just 'cause you and I can't work together.
Ernestine: Who's Patty? Patty Cannon? What she want with me?
Smoke: Well, she has business with your daughter.
August: I said, shut your mouth.
He merely served as a third wheel in the unspoken foreplay, or strategic chess match, or whatever the hell it was happening between August and Ernestine. It was every bit as awesome as I had hoped and anticipated.
I predicted I would be glued to the screen watching Ernestine and August interact with one another, and I was. They’re just so fascinating to watch, but that’s what happens when two of the most intriguing characters of the series share screentime.
Smoke wasn’t without a funny line or two because when he commented on both of them struggling with their addictions, I laughed. Little did he know, it sort of bonded the two in a way.
I guess you ain't the only one with a vice. It's like I'm traveling with a church revival group.Smoke [finds drugs]
Even while drunk, August kept up with Ernestine better than Smoke did. He probably should have taken lead because he knew what he was doing, but he didn’t want to.
August almost seemed amused at Smoke failing so epically at every turn. But, one of the best moments, was watching him and Ernestine drink and commiserate over the ways in which they failed their children.
They share similarities and it makes one wonder, if not for his need for financial security and her being in bondage, would the pair have been friends? I could see them as friends or even partners. By the end of the hour, I wondered if they had officially slipped into ally territory. Both characters are so cunning and difficult to read that I couldn't be sure.
August is a character who doesn’t require dialogue in order to have a lasting impression. He has not had very much dialogue the entire season, so, it made his exchanges with Ernestine all the more special.
Smoke could barely get a grunt out of him most of the time. He has been a man of few words since Patty freed him, but for Ernestine, he managed to reveal some of his deepest concerns and fears.
He wanted to have something to teach his son. He wanted to give his son something. He is single, poor, and doesn’t have much to offer, but he’s still a parent who wants to give his son the world or leave a good impression.
August: I just wanted to teach him something, but I ain't never got...I ain't never had nothing. Ain't have nothing to...
Ernestine: Don't matter what we got or don't, for we got to give it all to 'em. They'll always be our babies. Time don't get to take that away. We don't even get that right, no matter how hard we fail at it. Maybe, the only way to fail them is to give up on it altogether.
It was one of those great moments where the poor, working class white male and the black female slave could connect with one another over their crappy places in society and lament over feeling inadequate as parents.
It was a genuine moment between these two characters who have this inexplicable connection. So, by the time Ernestine was fighting to escape Smoke, which led to August killing the man, it wasn’t entirely surprising that the moment happened.
It did not make the scene any less gasp-worthy to watch unfold. It was one of those times where I wished the lighting were better so I could get the full effect because it was a seriously action packed scene. August not only smoked Smoke (after impaling his neck first), but he gave us one of the most brutal deaths of the series. Sheesh.
Ernestine had previously mentioned something about the direction they were going in as it related to slave catchers when she was traveling with August and Smoke. They were headed North instead of South.
August killed Smoke to protect Ernestine, fixed her dislocated shoulder, and somehow put her in a boat after she passed out. Now, they’re heading south. Based on the slight smile she had, are we to believe she and August are in a good place and that she wants this? It seems that way.
Is it that she wants to head back to Macon for James or in hopes of reuniting with Rosalee? What exactly is that supposed to mean? I’m dying to know. August and Ernestine continue to be a mystery, and now that they’re together I’m even more befuddled than usual.
I can't make sense of this new allyship, but I don't even care because IT. IS. AWESOME.
Ain't nothing wrong with a little sin for the greater good.Harriet
We need to tell about how freaking fantastic the Sewing Circle is. Georgia, Elizabeth, and Harriet working together was one of my favorite aspects of the installment.
Georgia was working hard to get the money together for Rosalee, Noah, and her family, even when it was to her own detriment. Word had gotten out about her passing, and no one wanted any parts of whatever she was doing, which made if hard her to raise money and affected her boarding house business as well.
Harriet was the perfect person to come into the fold and spend time with the two women. She gave such great advice to both of them, and you could tell they both respected her immensely.
Robbing a church on Christmas is wild and diabolical. When Elizabeth was sitting in the pew looking as mischievous as ever, I smirked, because I knew something good was about to happen. She didn’t disappoint.
Releasing snakes as a distraction, was both genius and amusing in its clear shade throwing. Harriet is such a little shit and I love it.
When Elizabeth walked out of the church with the donation box, ignoring the preacher telling her that she was going to hell, I could not stop laughing.
By the time Georgia pulled out her gun, like the BAMF that she is, I was cackling like a Disney villain. Of course, Elizabeth couldn’t be outdone by her bestie because she marched herself over to Laney the braggart's house and threatened her. Sweet Elizabeth has taken to extorting money out of Laney, by blackmailing her and threatening to tell her husband about her many affairs. Elizabeth promised to continue doing that if Laney doesn’t fork over money every month.
I don’t know how long she can keep up with that, but kudos to her for her ingenuity. She has money to help Georgia, which is all she wanted. Elizabeth and Georgia are so good for each other, and I love their relationship. This is Underground, however, so just when you’re riding high on all the good action and progress made, something always comes out of the blue like a sucker- punch.
Elizabeth: You're not the only one who heard rumors, Laney. I've heard a few about you and Max Collins, Trevor Forrest, and I can't remember the name of the French masseuse.
Laney: So, what, you're going to tell Dan unless I give you a donation?
Elizabeth: I am. I'm going to threaten to tell him every month when I come back for another donation. I think there's a good person in there, Laney. I think you need help finding her.
This time it was Cato showing up at the boarding house. Dammit, Cato.
Cato managed to obtain Donahue’s notes on Patty and showed them to her in, I guess, an attempt to gain favor. As expected, Patty was not pleased to read what Donahue had to say because he pointed out her inadequacies, particularly that she has yet to catch Moses.
So where are we on Donahue? Is anyone else still thinking he's somehow related to the cause? Is this biography he's making more about giving hope to slaves?
What is Cato's angle here? He didn't have to tell Patty anything about the Underground Railroad. Is it just that he’s positioning himself for a role as her confidant? He even sang her the song which acted as a map of all the stops. I loved that it was a call back to the opening song in the credits.
Also, Daniel is not looking too good after being attacked in the beginning of Underground Season 2 Episode 7. When will his role in this come together with the rest of the storyline?
Did you enjoy all the action? What are your thoughts on Ernestine and August relationship? We’re you shocked that Rosalee burned down the big house? Hit up the comments below and let us know what you think.
The season is nearly coming to an end. If you want to catch up, you can watch Underground online right here via TV Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.