What is going to happen?
It was about halfway through what felt like a long hour, that it hit me that Underground Season 2 Episode 9 is the penultimate installment of the season.
It was good, don’t get me wrong, but I did zone out a few times as I pondered the overall plot of the season and what has taken place.
Episode by episode, there have been fantastic moments. I can’t emphasize that enough. Looking back on the season with the sudden realization that it’s at the end mark, however, has me wondering just what have we gotten out of it all?
What have we been building up to? In the grand scale of things, the larger picture has been the buildup to the inevitable Civil War. On a smaller scale, what do we have? Rosalee finally reuniting with Ernestine? A Patty Cannon and Harriet Tubman face off?
I have yet to see the promos for the season finale, so I’m personally not clear on what it could look like, but shouldn’t we have an inkling as to what to expect?
Penultimate episodes usually build up to the finale, even if the rear of the season hasn’t, but in this instance, I didn’t feel that at all.
There was an opportunity for it. I found the hour dragged in an unexpected way that had me zoning out, and it wasn’t even as long as Underground Season 2 Episode 6, which not only exceeded an hour but was riveting from beginning to end even in its quiet moments.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the editing, either. It was unnecessarily convoluted to have each character's sequence out of order or repeated.
All that aside, the hour did have a few great moments. For one, there were unexpected but appreciated scenes with pairings I never quite thought about interacting (Cato and Elizabeth), and of course, the anticipated Noahlee blow up.
What can I say about Cato? He’s an interesting character who has gone right back to being unpredictable and hard to place. Is he working Patty or is he working with her? Is he still devoted to the cause the way he was when he returned to America, or is he just working through his anger however he can, others be damned?
Cato is like that shady cousin at family gatherings. You still invite him because he’s family. You put up with him when you have to, but you don’t leave your purse or wallet around or tell them too much because they’re untrustworthy.
It pleased me immensely that Harriet saw right through him even though he was shuffling around like the protagonist in Powder, pretending to be meek and docile.
Harriet: What you doing in here?
Cato: Ain't this Ms. Georgia room?
Harriet: That it is.
Cato: You cargo, too?
Harriet: Naw, I just tidy up from time to time for Ms. Georgia. Now that's two questions of yours I answered and I only asked you one.
When she caught him rummaging through Georgia's office and fishing for information, she had the same expression my mother has when she catches my brothers and I getting into mischief. Yeah, we still do that from time to time.
I love Harriet so much. She was not having any of Cato's interrogating and shiftiness.
What exactly is Cato’s plan? He knows that Rosalee and Noah are returning to the boarding house. Between the way the scenes were cut and Cato being Cato, I couldn't tell if he was trying to get out of there and back to Patty or if he was trying to draw things out by the time Noahlee got back.
When he slit his own wrists to buy more time was it to keep investigating for Patty or have reinforcements? I’m going to give Cato the benefit of the doubt and say he’s not turning on his frenemies or helping Patty 100%.
Cato and Elizabeth interacting was something I never realized I needed so much. Their entire exchange mesmerized me.
In fact, it was the first time Cato didn’t appear to be acting. They connected over being angry and afraid and losing loved ones. It was one of the best scenes of the hour.
Cato: What happened to you?
Elizabeth: They shot my husband in the head right in front of me. The world made sense, and then in the blink of the eye, it didn't. I'm still grieving and I'm still furious.
Cato: That ain't all though is it? Now you know something you can't unknow. Something niggas been knowing for a long time. All that sadness and anger in the world... ain't nothing that compare to the--
Elizabeth: Fear. It's the only thing that's been constant since they shot John. The idea that they could...knowing that they can do, have done and will do what they want.
Cato: That kind of fear can't sit, and it only has two places to go...
Elizabeth: In...or out. I'm not sure which is better.
Cato: Pull it in then push it out. Get so scared you gotta scare them back. Become the monster that came to eat you.
For someone like Elizabeth, no longer teetering on the edge but slipping into a dark ruthlessness, Cato's words resonated with her much like Lucas’ did.
I still can’t say that I blame her. That jackass coming into the boarding house to talk about John and threaten her was too much. He deserved the slap, and I understood her impulse to do something to retaliate.
Georgia is so calm in the face of any storm, and she made valid points about Elizabeth. Elizabeth has only been dealing with some of these atrocities recently. Georgia has lived them.
Georgia wanted (and did) call Elizabeth out on not having it as bad, and being so full of rage because it is new to her. And I get wanting to call out her (white) privilege or address the pitfalls of (white) feminism, but I cringed at how dismissive and insensitive Georgia came across.
Like Elizabeth said to Cato, she is still grieving. Even Harriet didn’t fault her for her actions. Plus, everything Georgia said could have easily applied to herself as well, if she were being compared to a darker black woman who didn’t have the privilege of being able to pass like Georgia does.
Elizabeth: He kidnapped me and tied me to a tree.
Georgia: And I wish that hadn't happened to you. I do, but it could have been worse, a lot worse. You walked out of those woods alive but if it had been me...You wanted to know why I pass? It's because a sense of safety transforms the spirit. Look, it's got you thinking you're invincible.
Elizabeth: That's not fair.
Georgia: Maybe not, but any retaliation threatens the safety of the runaways who come through our station and that has to be our priority.
Georgia finally reached a breaking point with dark Elizabeth, after Elizabeth set the jackass' stable on fire and nearly got herself and the man's child killed.
A surprise save by Cato kept her alive after she went back in to save the kid (which also makes me think not only was his connection with Elizabeth genuine, but he may be on the right side of this).
Elizabeth didn’t seem the least bit remorseful about her actions (just like she gave zero damns about extorting money from Laney). The “heartlessness” of hers led to Georgia kicking her out.
I do not know where Elizabeth goes from here or what this means for her relationship with Georgia. Is she out of the Sewing Circle? I hope not. I already miss the Sewing Circle. We haven't seen nearly enough of them.
Much like Cato and Elizabeth, I also loved Noah and Harriet sharing time together. Harriet, ever the woman of faith, was able to get Noah to acknowledge that faith is what got him through fleeing 600 miles to freedom.
It was a real treat to see two of the most awe-inspiring people in Rosalee's life interact with one another. Noah didn’t say much about it, but he was wrapped up in the magic of Harriet like the rest of us.
I couldn’t place their timing though; she was at the boarding house, she made that journey, then she ended up with Noahlee. What was the timeframe for all of that?
It seemed like she had been traveling for days, or maybe it was just that the sequence felt so long. Time spent with Harriet is still great even when it’s drawn out.
I loved how gentle she was with her horse, and her prayer in the church was a great reminder that even someone as great as Harriet deals with imposter syndrome.
Rosalee: I'm sorry.
Noah: No, you ain't.
Rosalee: I am.
Noah: Stop. Stop lying to me. Just stop lying. You sat right there, right there. You let me put that ring on your finger, and I went 600 miles wondering what I did to make you so distant. What did I do? This whole time you didn't want me touching you 'cause you was hiding.
I’m happy that Noah got to say his piece about the baby situation. Rosalee did risk their child, and her plan was half-baked.
I love how Corra kept pointing that out. She was great with the snarky quips and shade. R.I.P Corra. You deserved better than to be dragged across the floor leaving a trail of blood and mixed feelings like a scene from a horror movie.
Noahlee had it out after so much of the hour spent with Rosalee making little attempts at apologizing and Noah making passive aggressive remarks and innuendo speaking through James. You know a person is upset when they barely speak. It’s the quiet before a massive eruption of anger.
When Noah talked about how he felt seeing Rosalee in peril and then hearing her words, you could hear the sorrow in his voice. By the time he told her that she treated him like a slave and was just like her father if was like being punched in the gut.
I completely understood why he felt that way. Rosalee has family, but Noah doesn't. Rosalee and their child are his only family, and she jeopardized herself and their child to save her family without even knowing what happened to her family.
They are also partners, and she didn’t give him a choice. Choice is the real freedom. The ability to decide things for yourself means everything to people who didn’t have a choice I anything.
Noah: You ain't give me no choice. Rosalee, you treated me like a slave!
Noah: You just like your father.
In a sense, she meant well, but she did manipulate him. She also has his head spinning wondering if he was the reason they weren’t in a good place.
Another great aspect of the episode was Daniel finally being integrated into the larger arc. His master along with others genuinely feared John Brown's man coming to steal their slaves.
The paranoia was so bad families were being ripped apart as slaveholders moved their labor further south. Listening to Daniel's daughter describe everything happening to a blind Daniel was a nice choice.
Daniel's Daughter: They gon sell us too, Daddy. They gon split us up.
Daniel: I ain't gon let that happen.
Daniel's Daughter: What you gon do?
Daniel: I don't know yet.
So was the blurred scenes of him traveling through a new town in search of the right person to direct him towards a safe haven for runaways.
I was surprised when Daniel pushed so hard with that cobbler who claimed he wasn’t into politics (don’t you hate when all hell is clearly breaking loose, and someone says that… I don’t know, slavery is a little bit more than politics, it’s so far beyond politics at that point, but whatever). It was so risky, and the cobbler wasn’t giving him much to go on.
I was even more surprised when the cobbler led him to Georgia's boarding house. I was also relieved and grateful. Finally!
Excuse me, sir. Can I help you?Elizabeth
There's only one episode left of the season. What do you expect to see in the finale? Were you surprised to see Daniel walk into Georgia's boarding house? What is Cato up to? Will Noahlee make up? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Want to catch up on the second season? You can watch Underground online right here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.