Underground is back, y’all! Season two premiered last night so let’s get started…
We open with an image of a well-coifed black man and… is that… why yes, it is! Bokeem Woodbine just blessed my whole year with barely any lines of dialogue. He plays a skilled worker who we see receive payment at the Fellow Plantation in Louisville, Kentucky, before returning to his humble surroundings where he appears to be teaching himself how to read by candlelight. The man appears to have some sort of plan in the works. These scenes are cut with Beyoncé’s "Freedom" featuring Kendrick Lamar. The song continues as we follow Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett Bell) running through the Kentucky woods with Henry who’s been hobbled by an ankle injury. With the exception of Kanye West’s "Black Skinhead" being played during the opening of season one I haven’t been much of a fan of the modern soundtrack that often undercuts the intensity of the scenes. This song, however, is a perfect choice and I may have paused my TV during it to run outside and play ding-dong-dash on my white neighbor out of inspiration.
Just when it seems our girl Rosalee is cornered on all sides by these racist bounty hunters, who to our wondering eyes should appear but Aisha Hinds as Harriet Tubman.
“My arms are mighty tired and I aim to end this quick.”
Ms. Tubman stay strapped and she suffers no fools. She’s here to let these white men know that she isn’t here for their racist shenanigans. Looks like we have a Mexican standoff on our hands as Rosalee pulls a gun out as well.
Next we visit Marc Blucas’ (Buffy’s rebound guy) John Hawkes as he defends Aldis Hodge’s Noah Macon in court. Hawkes argues that because Noah is technically stolen property (and not as Ben Carson would allow us to believe an immigrant working a temporary Georgia internship before he moves on to a cushy job with Google) that the trumped-up murder charges against him should take a back seat to the theft of a white person. And furthermore, because Noah has been locked up for the better part of five months (!) that his safe return to his rightful owner is of utmost importance lest the “property” be further damaged. Go ‘head, John, using the white man’s law against them. I see you.
Speaking of Noah, he’s been spending his time fashioning what appears to be a wedding ring for Rosalee while he grows out his Philly Freeway beard. He looks down but not broken and I’m just glad we can live in a world where Hodge and Queen Sugar’s Kofi Siriboe both occupy time and space. #lookatgawd
John is back at the safe house where apparently Rosalee and Harriet were able to pay those guys off. John reminds Rosalee to be careful because these guys sometimes want “the money and the trouble.” Ain't that, America. Harriet also reminds Rosalee of the dangers ahead and that blood is thicker than water.
We catch up with Ernestine on her new plantation and she appears to still be haunted by her murder of Pearly Mae and the death of her son, Sam. She’s checked out emotionally from life which… who could blame her… but she’s also self-medicating just to make it through the day. The repetitive nature of back-breaking work- slaves tilling the soil daily on the land while they sing spirituals was my favorite scene and the editing and cinematography were stunning. I don’t know how we made it, y’all, but we did. #sortof
Rosalee is working as a nurse with forged freedom papers and she uses this opportunity to sneak into the supply closet to find medicine for Henry’s leg. Miguel plays as we catch up with Elizabeth Hawkes as she meets the ladies of the sewing circle for the first time. I usually roll my eyes during her scenes and this time was no different but at least we got to see some badass ladies with screen presence who know how to shoot a pistol and make some “fantastic jam”. Oh, and they also oppose slavery vehemently. #internationalwomensdayaintshitwithoutintersectionality
Two of the guys Noah’s doing hard labor with have a half-baked plan to escape which he quickly thwarts. You see, he has his own plans on escaping the very next day and offers them an opportunity to be free with him. I loved how he demands they put some respek on his name by name-dropping the Macon Seven. Noah is a born leader so they wisely decide to put their trust in him.
Unfortunately, Buffy’s rebound loses his court case because the judge is on his Darth Cheeto and decides he can disregard federal law. Noah is to be hanged and John has been found in contempt of court. Rosalee is horrified, angry with herself for trusting John could get the job done. They devise a plan to rescue Noah at the last minute and I don’t know why they didn’t just ask Harriet because the Hawkes keep trying to dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools. That rarely works.
Ernestine and her man sneak away from a beautiful union ceremony/celebration to have steamy drugged-out chexuals. She can’t stop seeing the ghost of Pearly Mae and for the moment at least she is able to quiet the demons inside of her. This is short-lived as she’s forced to sit in silence as her partner is berated, beaten and called “boy” the next morning right in front of her. The psychological scars from slavery cut just as deep as the physical ones. Her lover rewards her silence by striking her firmly across the jaw in anger. Later, her ghost reappears and forces her to take stock of her situation and suggests she just end it all.
Noah is literally seconds away from execution when he hears the familiar sounds of whistling in the air. Rosalee is all decked out in her Hit ‘Em High Hit ‘Em High Hit ‘Em High get-up and she’s come bearing bombs. Suddenly bombs go off and people scatter. The beam holding Noah in his noose explodes and there’s John with horse and buggy there to carry our hero to freedom. But the marshals are quick to the chase and are able to overpower the men. Noah is taken again.
So that’s where we’re left until next week. Noah is headed God knows where with some guys that are definitely not U.S. Marshalls. Rosalee is beside herself with grief. Ernestine seems to have checked out for good and the Hawkes…
As John and Elizabeth celebrate John becoming a judge on the steps of the courthouse John is shot in the head by a nameless assailant. Looks like our white ally is a goner.
Ain't that America, indeed.
Jordan Kauwling is an early thirties Philadelphian but she tells everyone she's in her late thirties because she doesn't understand how math works. When she's not busy writing, singing, eating all the falafel or unsuccessfully finishing another craft project you can catch her talking junk on Twitter.