The Republic of Sarah season 1, episode 2 recap – “Power”

June 22, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
3

Summary

“Power” gives Sarah a taste of real leadership, and she quickly realizes it isn’t quite what she was expecting.

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3

Summary

“Power” gives Sarah a taste of real leadership, and she quickly realizes it isn’t quite what she was expecting.

This recap of The Republic of Sarah season 1, episode 2, “Power”, contains spoilers.


Very often a show’s pilot is the hardest thing to critique because it’s rarely ever representative of the overall work. Frequently I look back on the recaps I wrote of premiere episodes and marvel at how much the show and my opinions of it both changed over the course of a single season. This, though, isn’t the case with The Republic of Sarah. Everything I said about it last week, good and bad, remains true in the second episode, “Power”. It’s a show with a silly premise and a lot of potential that can’t get out of its own way – and doesn’t seem likely to slow down enough to realize any of this.

The pilot episode ended with what pretended to be a major cliffhanger. Sarah had been arrested for treason, a federal crime, and had been sent to jail. Within minutes of “Power” starting, she’s free, and that’s really the last we hear of the matter. If it was really this easy to emancipate a small New Hampshire town and declare its complete independence everyone would do it.

Of course, it isn’t this easy, and in fairness, it doesn’t come across as quite so easy throughout the rest of The Republic of Sarah episode 2, either, but it’s worth reiterating just how little attention the show pays to a lot of its details. And this isn’t me nitpicking. I’m totally okay with a suspension of disbelief. But in this case, there’s so much head-scratching weirdness that you can’t help but wonder what the point of it all is. If Greylock’s citizens can’t remember what’s going on, why should we care about it?

The Republic of Sarah episode 2 attempts to put Sarah into a real predicament when the governor of New Hampshire plays hardball now that Greylock is independent, and in the way this all plays out you can kind of see what the show is going for. It’s less concerned with the actual political and logistical details of, say, how an independent nation receives power, but in how the sacrifices that are necessary to make these kinds of things happen have a human cost. This is mostly explored through Sarah’s relationship with Grover, whose house she has to have demolished as part of a conciliatory arrangement with Lydon Industries.

Grover, it turns out, built his house for his late wife, so he isn’t keen on the idea of it being knocked down, even in exchange for a new one. His reservations are cliched but understandable, and Sarah gets them too, but the needs of the many must outweigh those of the few, so she has no choice but to press on with her leadership responsibilities. In many ways, Grover becomes the voice The Republic of Sarah is using to communicate its moral quandaries to the audience. Sarah’s compromise – turning a public park into his private land – only making matters worse is a neat encapsulation of the idea that you can’t just finesse a happy ending to every problem out of thin air. There are always consequences. Someone has to lose out.

This is quite a bleakly realistic vision of leadership and important decision-making for a show that is so determinedly loose about its details. It’s also a fairly adult approach for a show so focused on the travails of kids, or at least teenagers, since Bella, Tyler, and Maya get completely extraneous subplots even though the only thing tethering them to the plot is Sarah being their history teacher, and she isn’t actually their history teacher anymore. It’s a bizarre way to divvy up screen-time when it already feels like too little attention is being paid to the overarching plot and the most integral relationships. I don’t care about these kids and I can tell The Republic of Sarah season 1, episode 2 doesn’t either, which can’t help but make one wonder why it’s bothering.

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