It was inevitable that “Rise Up” would be a bit of a step down after last week, but it still managed to take The Purge in an unexpected (and welcome) direction.
Last week’s episode was great, so you had to imagine this week’s wouldn’t be. And “Rise Up” wasn’t great, but it was at least appropriately named. We’ll get to that in due course, but suffice it to say that despite being a bit muddled and a bit more prone to wheel-spinning than I’d perhaps like, “Rise Up” did manage to take The Purge in a new and unexpected direction.
Anyway, Miguel and Penelope were on flashback duty this week, and we learned some intriguing things about both. For a start, the creepy bloke who purchases Penelope at a discount during the Carnival of Flesh is a one-eyed abusive ex-boyfriend named Henry. The one eye is courtesy of Miguel, and it’s also implied that Miguel’s military service was penance for the one eye. Oh, and Penelope’s social worker was also the leader of the blue-tinted Purge cult.
These past-life revelations were, on balance, a bit more interesting than anything that happened to either Penelope or Miguel during “Rise Up”. The former is arguably the weakest character, at least in how she flip-flops on her principles in a way that feels unconvincing. One minute she’s all-in on divine martyrdom, next she’s appalled by the whole business and thinks Purge Night is totally misguided. Make your mind up, girl. You can’t have your cake and sacrifice it.
Miguel, to his credit, is a bit easier to predict. He had quite enough of Rex the Cowboy, so duffed him and brought him into the Carnival as a captive. He also ran into an old military buddy while he was there, and was shocked to see him willingly participating in the shenanigans. I like Miguel and his naïve principles; it’s just a shame that The Purge seems to like him just as much as I do, and mostly treats Penelope as his action-hero muse.
Between Miguel and Jane, there was a lot of righteous indignation in “Rise Up”. The latter is rolling with the Matron Saints now, and they have principles of their own. So principled are they, in fact, that they’re eager to brand pesky men with the word “Pig” to ensure that they’re paying for their abuses of women long past Purge Night. I like the idea, but I’m not sure it gives you the moral high ground, and neither is Jane. Then again she paid an assassin to bump off her boss, so she’s one to talk.
It was with Rick and Jenna that things got interesting, and where the title started to make some real sense. After Catalina warned Jenna last week that it was dangerous at the Stanton’s Serial Killer Murder Party (a wry observation if there ever was one), the assumption was that Albert had some sinister plans for Jenna and her unborn child. But it actually turns out that Catalina plans to start a revolution and let the wealthy, smug elites of the NFFA know what time it is. I’m all in on this, but Jenna isn’t quite so keen, as it’ll mean that her lover-girl, Lila, gets caught in the crossfire. I think I can predict where that particular piece of plot is going (Jenna runs into the fire, so to speak, to nobly rescue her extramarital accomplice), but then again I thought I knew where this storyline was going in the first place, and it turns out I didn’t.
I don’t know much, really. That’s partly a consequence of The Purge being a bit muddled and inconsistent, but it’s also a result of The Purge doing some genuinely intriguing things with the premise, so you have to take the rough with the smooth. “Rise Up” wasn’t quite the dynamite television that “Release the Beast” was, but it might well light a spark that really ignites the rest of the season. One can hope.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.