The Purge continues to make great use of its TV format in “Take What’s Yours”, delivering compelling, bite-sized nightmares on the second hour of Purge Night.
Surviving Purge Night is one thing, but what do you do for the rest of the year? That’s the question slyly posited by “Take What’s Yours”, the second episode of The Purge, which includes a deadly, televised gauntlet set up by a car dealership to move more vehicles; an assassin, Bracka (AzMarie Livingston), hired in a roundabout way to facilitate career advancement; and volunteer medics who have taken a course on how to survive and help people on the dreaded, lawless night.
This is the kind of shit I wanted from an episodic version of The Purge, and I’m thankful we’re getting it, even if we’re not getting quite enough else to justify ten episodes – not yet, anyway. But the normalisation of the abnormal is what has always been compelling about this high-concept premise, and if America, as seems likely, is taken over by a mental far-right government, it’s nice to know in advance how people are going to try and rationalise it.
I can definitely picture, for instance, a pro-Purge speaker like the one listened to by the enigmatic masked figure in “Take What’s Yours”, who rolls around in a truck full of weapons idly gawping at an app with a woman’s picture on it. “The Purge is the ultimate night of freedom,” he explains. That’s only one small step away from your cookie-cutter televangelist, if you ask me.
And why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to off your lecherous boss? That’s what Jane (Amanda Warren) is up to in “Take What’s Yours”, after flashbacks explain how she worked hard to secure a position at David Ryker’s (William Baldwin) investment firm only not to be given a promised promotion – presumably because she rebuffed his creepy advances. That’s why she’s spending Purge Night eyeing an app to see if he has been killed yet, and unloading her feelings onto the killer hired to do the deed.
I like this storyline because it’s the most symptomatic of how The Purge has been normalised, and how it has seeped into the mentalities of even those people who try their best not to engage with it. According to Alison (Jessica Miesel), everyone keeps lists of who they’d like to expunge if they were only brave enough to do so, and you can believe it. I’ve got one of those lists already, and the Purge isn’t even a thing here. Yet.
Speaking of Alison, what is she up to, exactly? Her snooping around and leading questioning seems to suggest she’s privy to Jane’s plan, but might it also mean she has one of her own?
Rick (Colin Woodell) and Jenna (Hannah Emily Anderson), meanwhile, don’t get to enjoy any more threesome flashbacks in “Take What’s Yours”, although we do come to learn that the third participant’s name is Lila (Lili Simmons), and she’s the daughter of one of the staunch NFFA supporters who’re hosting the creepy serial-killer themed masquerade. Nothing much of note happened here this week besides some combustible romantic shenanigans, but it’s brewing, you can be sure.
It was Miguel (Gabriel Chavarria) who got the most action, being forced to run that live gauntlet while still on the hunt for his sister, Penelope (Jessica Garza). He supplied most of the violence in “Take What’s Yours”, fighting off a number of masked assailants in some cool scenes that felt like letting off steam after close to two episodes of setup. Later, following a tip from those volunteer medics, he made his way to a password-protected bar where politics are banned in the search of more info, but didn’t get as much as he might like.
Penelope, then, is still trapped on the bus of devout religious nutcases who believe that sacrificing yourself during Purge Night is a service to some nebulous higher power, although it’s difficult to tell if she’s still a believer or she’s just trying to save her chums by offering to take the hits. Almost all of this storyline was confined to the blue-tinted bus in “Take What’s Yours”, but it’s still probably the most intriguing detail in The Purge – at the very least it’s the most outlandish outgrowth of coming to accept an annual evening of primitivism as perfectly fine. It’s another thing that I believe would probably happen, if this shit were real.