“The Lines Between Us” finally saw The Republic of Sarah slow down and develop its characters in the best chapter so far.
This recap of The Republic of Sarah season 1, episode 3, “The Lines Between Us”, contains spoilers.
“The Lines Between Us” was the best episode of The Republic of Sarah so far. And I’ll be the first to tell you that’s not exactly high praise, but credit has to be given where it’s due. As ever, Sarah was presented with a problem regarding the governance of Greylock – the borders were shut down, leaving everyone in panic-buying isolation (sound familiar?) – and spent the entire episode coming up with an obvious solution. Her delay allowed several characters to get some actual development, and as it turns out the show is much better for having well-rounded personalities in it. I even found myself becoming oddly moved once or twice, which is unusual since my heart is a dried-up little grape of cynicism.
The solution to Sarah’s problem, by the way, was just to whip up a major internet firestorm, leading all the incensed, placard-wielding residents on a march across the border with so many social media and news network eyes turned in their direction that New Hampshire’s greedy governor couldn’t sic her SWAT team on the mob. It should have taken Sarah five minutes to come up with that.
Admittedly, she’s distracted. Danny is back in town with his fiancé, Piper, who nobody seemed to know about, their mother, Ellen, is in recovery, and Grover has been forced to morosely empty the house he built with his own honest, working-class hands out of devotion to his late wife. That’s a lot for anyone’s plate, especially when it’s only one of several that they’re trying to keep spinning.
The Republic of Sarah episode 3 wants very badly to humanize Danny, who thus far has been presented as a kind of smirking antagonist who has only returned to his hometown to smugly demolish it using the power of a mining corporation. But he has had it tough, and he hasn’t gotten over the abuses he suffered at the hands of his alcoholic mother. Piper isn’t just his fiancé but his ally in all this; he has given her the lowdown on the town’s and his family’s sordid interlocking histories – though clearly hasn’t mentioned Corinne, the woman he left behind – and she’s ready to take some scalps on his behalf. It’s through her, though, that we get a sense of who he really might be when he isn’t playing defensively against his past. How she sees him is how the show would like the audience to see him. And her dressing-down of Ellen is also the motivation she needs to finally attend an AA meeting, which Sarah has been nagging her to do.
This theme of finding someone to turn to and being open about your trauma is everywhere in “The Lines Between Us”, but can be seen particularly with Grover, who after emptying his house decides to burn it down himself, to try and maintain some control over a life that seems to be freewheeling without his say-so. It’s an empty gesture, but it once again leads to some reconciliation between him and Sarah. She’s right that he needs to speak to someone about the loss of Patience and the house, and he’s right that she needs to give him time; I’m happy that they’ve both figured that out about each other. It feels like a turning point.
I’m not sure I buy Sarah’s testy relationships with her other acquaintances, though. Sarah gets all sulky at Corinne since she knew about Danny’s engagement, but a) Danny had every right not to tell his estranged family about that and b) she found out kind of by chance anyway. Besides, she has other things on her mind, namely that her son, Josh, whose parentage remains a bit of a loose end, is diabetic. With the borders closed, she can’t get him his insulin, so it’s only right that she’d be a bit worked up by Sarah dragging her feet to get the borders opened up again.
And everything involving AJ in The Republic of Sarah season 1, episode 3 felt a bit too contrived for my tastes. Sarah’s plan for her is to have her take a rickety boat across the border to retrieve a supply drop from Maine, but it all goes wrong and lands AJ, a police officer, in jail. And her hair gets wet! It’s a bit silly, to be honest, and I suspect it’s the kind of plot hurdle that will be neatly surmounted with very little explanation – for once I’ll be glad if that happens since it was a bit ridiculous in the first place.
But this is really the only major downside of “The Lines Between Us”. I even had time for the kids’ storyline. They found something to do in protesting and falling on the batons of the border patrol, and while I can’t say I particularly care about the consequences – Bella’s father has decided to send her to boarding school – I think the kids using their voices in a way that makes sense is the best use of them. This isn’t a perfect show, by any means, but for the first time, it’s just about a good one.