The Purge Season 1 Episode 1 Review: What Is America?

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Let the Purging commence!

There wasn't much in the way of new information laid at our feet at the beginning of The Purge Season 1 Episode 1 before it was time to get to maiming.

As I mentioned in my earlier review for The Purge based on all available episodes, it would have been interesting to see more time dedicated to the purported low-crime world that results due to Purging. Not yet, it seems.

Preparatory Cleansing - The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

So what did we get in this opening installment?

There was a lot of exposition and the introduction to what I'm deeming the gullible people. The gullibles are those who are making their way out to the streets for the first time on Purge Night when they don't ordinarily leave the house, let alone partake in Purging.

The most confusing of the bunch are what I was initially calling the "busload of idiots" before taming that take to the "blue bus."

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Penelope, sister to the Marine on a desperate search for her throughout the city and resident action hero named Miguel, lost her marbles at an early age when she lost her parents during a Purge.

There is more to that story, but the reveal is coming a little bit later this season, so I'll let that come naturally if you haven't already read about it. In her desire to join her beloved parents, she's joined a nutcase with the belief that sacrificing yourself to Purging criminals paves a safer and speedier and holier way to the Invisible.

The Blue Bus - The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

While the Invisible wasn't explained, that has to be the future's and or the blue bus cult's idea of Heaven. At some point, there will have to be an explanation about what makes Blue Robed Leader so sick that she could lead the wide-eyed youngsters to their death as she does. 

We are the scarred, the beaten, the souls irreparably damaged, and it is that shared pain that allows us to understand each other so deeply. Tonight, that suffering ends, my darlings. I will be your guide into the invisible where there is no pain, only love. The Giving Time is near. Let us ready.

Robed Leader Woman

All crimes are prosecution-free for 12 hours on Purge night, but what she does takes a lot of preparation. You'd think that what she's doing during that time might come under some scrutiny. Pushing them out the door amidst some prayers seems like only the very end of the overall crime she's committing.

Everyone looks so excited about giving of themselves to the impure and the criminal to somehow make themselves more purified for the Invisible, but when that poor bastard was off the bus at the end and waiting for the hatchets to fall, it didn't look like he expected, did it?

Purify my flesh, prepare my soul, the Giving is near, the Invisible awaits.

Blue Bus

The googly-eyed kiddos on the bus will probably be killing each other to stay on the bus by the time the night is over. 

Penelope has a chance to be saved by her heroic brother, though. Will she make it off the bus and away from her group of pink bunnies or hatchet-wielding mask wearers alive? All odds point to yes.

Is Anyone Safe? - The Purge

After all, her brother is out there searching her down. He's saving other girls and Purging more idiots in the street to get to her, so he'll have to find her so the two of them can do some tag-team Purging to survive the night. 

Isn't that The Purge formula? 

McMansion on The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

The Purge formula also digs the wealthy New Founding Fathers of America getting together to celebrate their grand idea.

The twist of this particular festivity is the hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Stanton, supposedly keep track of their guests politics so as not to offend them by putting weapons in their hands and forcing them to partake of the festivities. 

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But the unsophisticated couple on the way to the party are on the precipice of falling down to the side of the NFFA. They just don't realize it yet. The signs are all there.

Mr. Bettencourt: We're making a deal with the devil, babe.
Mrs. Bettencourt: We're taking the devil's money and we're going to do great things with it.

While their aim is to do good works on the behalf of the disenfranchised, they're willing to take the money of a bad man to do it. It's too easy to be influenced by whoever gives you money to take it from someone with whom you don't see eye to eye.

Joking about Purging neighbor Ross so they don't have to deal with his annoyances anymore also assures they have thought about doing things less than savory even if they've heretofore taken the high road in life. Although Ross may not be there when they get back. 

Ross is a target this Purge season, as he's using plywood for protection to the Bettencourt's more fortress-like containment. And let's face it, if the guy (and half the city) was still nailing that crap to the wall minutes before Purging, how secure can it possibly be?

The Bettencourts - The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

When an otherwise happily married couple can't stop drifting in and out of visions of a three-way, though, you know they are not only open and willing to do things they've never done before, but they have followed through with the behavior.

At least there was a reason their sexual exploits were on their mind on Purge night and a night of a significant business transaction for them; they were heading to her parents' house. Their three-way was with Lila Stanton.

Lila was expected to be out of the country and absent from the party, but even if she wasn't, it didn't seem like Jemma understood the rules of the party. She said over and over they needed to focus on the transaction as if that would magically open the doors and windows and let them out of the house.

They're stuck in there for the 12-hour duration whether they like it or not, and the rules are slim inside. In fact, she probably shouldn't bank on any of them. When Lila walked down the stairs, my Purge formula added up that Jemma's only friend at the part by the end of the night will be Lila. 

Come Hither Lila - The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

As much as I'd love to trust the husband and wife duo, their connection doesn't seem strong enough to bear the weight of their odd Purge night out, and the conversations between them as they made their way through dressing and over to the party put Jemma at a disadvantage.

With what the Uber driver had to say about the Stanton house, it's hard not to think there is more at play in the McMansion than the couple realizes. And Mrs. Stanton? She's right off her rocker.

We wear these masks to commemorate those who paved the way and Purged before it was legal. They risked their freedom because they knew the incredible, life-changing, healing power of violence, of killing!

Mrs. Stanton

If I had been given a mask with a damn stick, I would have screamed. Couldn't they make all the masks with strings? Come ON rich people. Guests need to hold their drinks AND a mask? What a load of BS.

Discovering the NFFA equates serial murderers with all that is good in America made the idea of seeing day-to-day life in the off-season (364 days and 12 hours a year) even more exciting. It never crossed my mind that the Purge had come from that mindset. You?

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Finally, we have Simple Jane and her team at the office who have to work the night to get a China deal closed for Billy Baldwin. Snooze-fest with terrible acting.

Let's Make a Deal - The Purge Season 1 Episode 1

Jane did everything the guards told them not to do from the moment she entered the building, and her story is so ridiculously sheer it's difficult to watch.

By forcing the team to work on Purge night, David the Dullard will find himself the victim of a Purge by his top executive, Simple Jane. 

Not only is Jane killing him, but so is Amanda Warren for having to work with Billy Baldwin and having to dumb down her acting to meet his skill level (*this is not a true sentiment on behalf of Amanda Warren). This story and the acting is so wooden it's painful.

Maybe it will pick up as the series progresses, but as they're locked in that building with few opportunities to interact with the rest of the Purging world, I am not holding my breath.

What did you think about the premiere of The Purge? Will you be watching more or will you be purging this off of your rotation?

Hit the comments and share your thoughts!!

What Is America? Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (22 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Purge Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

We are the scarred, the beaten, the souls irreparably damaged, and it is that shared pain that allows us to understand each other so deeply. Tonight, that suffering ends, my darlings. I will be your guide into the invisible where there is no pain, only love. The Giving Time is near. Let us ready.

Robed Leader Woman

Mr. Bettencourt: We're making a deal with the devil, babe.
Mrs. Bettencourt: We're taking the devil's money and we're going to do great things with it.