“The Giving Time Is Here” narrows its focus, allowing the tension to build, and an unexpected twist takes The Purge in a surprising new direction.
This recap of The Purge Episode 8, “The Giving Time Is Here”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The night is darkest before the dawn, as people say, and with only a few hours of The Purge remaining, it makes sense that “The Giving Time Is Here” would take this opportunity to remind folks of that. But as everyone eagerly awaits the end, it’s all too easy to forget that nobody knows quite when that is. Rick (Colin Woodell) is optimistic: “Well, tonight’s almost over,” he says to Lila (Lili Simmons). She, of all people, puts it best: “Gotta be honest, I’m not feeling great about tomorrow, either.”
Speaking of Lila, she gets the flashbacks in “The Giving Time Is Here”, beginning with a memory of getting cold feet about her upcoming nuptials. Catalina’s (Paulina Gálvez) presence in these scenes is supposed to speak to the deep betrayal Lila feels at her hired help having staged an armed uprising, but what I was mostly thinking is how comically entitled it is to feel aggrieved about your servants kicking off, especially when your parents – their employers – are flagrantly ultra-right-wing nutcases who host parties themed around serial killers.
Lila’s privilege – and her inability to cope with rejection – underpins “The Giving Time Is Here”, especially when Jenna (Hannah Emily Anderson), who isn’t doing a good job of processing the evening, explains to her unequivocally that their extramarital dalliances are over. The Purge has done a good job with Lila; as such an obvious stunner it’d be easy to make her clueless, but there’s always a manipulative twinkle in her eye, even in times of crisis, and you know that when she offers Rick the deal that her (apparently) late father promised him, it isn’t just down to altruism. Then again, perhaps her nose for business isn’t exactly sensitive, either – it’d be difficult to enter into any kind of partnership with a man who requires four attempts to make a grilled cheese sandwich.
But Lila has serious issues. That “wedding” she was nervous about earlier? Well, it turns out it wasn’t a wedding at all, but a bizarre coming-of-age party in which she was presented with a surprisingly compliant older dude whom she could decide whether to stab, shoot, or poison to death. She chose the gun, which I don’t suppose matters; that she chose at all is condemnatory enough. But the irony is that despite all this she’s still clearly unequipped for the emotional realities of being in a position of power, especially now that she no longer has her father’s wealth and influence to wield. When she tries to aggravate Rick, she succeeds, and is immediately shocked by the reality of having to personally face the consequences of her actions.
Of course, and as is typical of her sort, she completely overreacts to things not going to plan and decides that the best course of action is to shoot Rick, believing that without him Jenna will realise her true feelings. In his absence, they can raise “their” baby together, as Lila, rather hilariously, believes that since she was there at the conception she’s somehow responsible for it. This is another situation that she has profoundly misjudged, and Jenna stabs her in the ribs with that ornate NFFA dagger – subtle!
Miguel (Gabriel Chavarria) takes Penelope (Jessica Garza) to the cantina, where Pete the Cop (Dominic Fumusa) is always on-hand to drop world-building knowledge, such as the fact that despite the New Founding Fathers of America repeatedly insisting that crime is way down as a result of Purge Night, the reality seems quite the opposite. The Purge has found a use for Penelope, which is mostly to ask naïve questions; nobody, I don’t think, has yet asked a cop whether they’re being forced out of business thanks to the ostensible eradication of crime. It’s obvious when you think about it – the subtext of Purge Night being a clumsy tool to control the population and exterminate the underclass has never exactly been subtle, so why wouldn’t the NFFA lie about its benefits? But one of the things I appreciate about the show rather than the films is how these minor details can be raised and discussed rather than being left to implication or imagination.
In “The Giving Time Is Here”, Pete is really a font of knowledge. After her distinctive blue cult robe draws some unwanted attention, Penelope gets changed, and Pete takes the time to explain to her that the whole operation is funded and supported by the NFFA; it’s another cynical way of tricking the “disposable” into casting themselves onto the upturned spears of social change, with those in power only having to open their pockets, not even lift a finger. Penelope is understandably outraged about this – how would you feel if the only ideology you’d ever found solace in turned out to be fraudulent? – and resolves to find the bus and free its occupants. After spending half the season doing very little beyond sitting on a neon party bus, I suppose this is the chickens coming home to roost, narratively speaking.
So, predictably, Penelope makes a stupid decision. While everyone in Pete’s Cantina is distracted by an In the Line of Fire-style assassination attempt, she makes a call to rendezvous with the cult and tell them the truth. This… goes wrong. But she’s saved by Joe (Lee Tergesen), who had been chilling in the cantina earlier, suspiciously without Jane (Amanda Warren). And plot twist! It turns out that Joe isn’t the do-gooder avenging angel he has been presented as thus far. Grabbing Penelope by the hair, he says he’s going to take her “somewhere safe”. Haven’t we heard that before?
I could lament the fact that Penelope is once again locked up in a vehicle that Miguel has to chase after, but I won’t. Besides, it makes for an interesting, unexpected development. Everyone Joe has “rescued” thus far is bound and gagged in the back of his truck. And “The Giving Time Is Here” ends with him adding two more to his collection: Rick and Jenna. So many questions! How does he know who to track down? How can he disable everyone’s security systems? Is Penelope ever going to make a remotely sensible decision?
Let’s see if we find out next week.