The Purge is good, but I can’t say it’s anything more than that just yet. “The Urge to Purge” is obviously a strong one, but is it enough to build a show around?
“The Urge to Purge” is obviously a strong one, but the urge for extramarital smooching is stronger still – that’s according to Jenna (Hannah Emily Anderson), anyway, an ostensibly happily-married mum-to-be who just can’t help lip-locking with Lila (Lili Simmons). Maybe it’s all part of Jenna and Rick’s (Colin Woodell) plan to schmooze Lila’s wealthy far-right father, who decides to back their business this week even if it isn’t his usual thing.
His usual thing, it turns out, is being a prick, although that’s hardly a twist. To celebrate the investment he has a ten-year employee dragged in, gagged, and executes him for stealing copper wire. It isn’t a surprise to see the powerful use the Purge as an excuse to exert more power and control over people without it, but wrapping it in the context of a business deal makes for a decent-enough metaphor. Rick and Jenna’s supposedly altruistic intentions make them more susceptible to compromise. Does it matter who they get in bed with, figuratively speaking, if the consequence of their union is that the downtrodden will be uplifted? But is it going to matter that they got in bed, quite literally, with that man’s daughter? So many questions!
Pricks are everywhere in “The Urge to Purge”, as Jane (Amanda Warren) finds out when her lecherous boss (William Baldwin) conveniently Skype’s in just as the Uber-style hired assassin (AzMarie Livingston) should be arriving at his door. Knock, knock… but who’s there? Pizza delivery? Hitman? It’s impossible to tell at this stage, but nobody smugly cold-calls their employees in the middle of the night unless they’re up to something. Jane can sense that, but then again she’s already met him halfway by hiring a contract killer in the first place. She’s in no position to judge him or, indeed, Alison (Jessica Miesel), who decides to ensure her promotion by luring Mark (Adam Stephenson) out of the safe zone and shanking him to death with a pair of scissors.
There’s an element of tragedy and dramatic irony to all this, as mere moments before Mark had cheerily revealed to Jane that he was quite happy for Alison to receive the promotion ahead of him. This continues to be my favourite storyline, because it feels truest to how real people, especially those in thankless, competitive corporate roles, might use twelve lawless hours. Can you really blame someone for trying to off their boss? We’ve all thought about it.
But the most useful storyline, even though in “The Urge to Purge” it didn’t really advance much, is Miguel (Gabriel Chavarria) and Penelope’s (Jessica Garza). These two got the flashbacks this week, which revealed that their family were part of the Staten Island experiment detailed in The First Purge – given a government stipend to stay on the island, indoors, their parents were among the first victims, which gives Penelope’s slavish devotion to cultish sacrifice a bit of contouring. How do you rationalise having witnessed the senseless murder of your mother? You either rebel against it, like Miguel, or you succumb to it, like Penelope, trying to fit the errant tragedy into a divine jigsaw in the hopes of seeing the bigger picture.
It’s stupid, obviously, and the flagrant disingenuousness of the glowing cult bus actively annoys me, especially as its wheel-spinning has taken up three episodes without much consequence now. But it’s also believable; people still insist the Earth is flat and global warming isn’t real, and that victims of a deadly hurricane inflate their death statistics to empower rival political parties. That bus would be fucking packed.
Penelope, though, is no longer aboard, having disembarked into the waiting arms of toothy nuns whose habits have luminous piping. There’s more grim irony in that the same nuns, having bundled their victim in the back of their vehicle, give the oblivious Miguel directions to the bus. The search continues in a somewhat contrived fashion, then, but that’s okay. Miguel’s hurried tour of the city gives the most entertaining glimpses of a citizenry driven nuts by freedom, which is what people like about The Purge franchise in the first place.
Hopefully next week we’ll hear more about the animals that were released from the zoo. That’s the kind of Purge Night rebellion I can get behind.