The Purge Season 2 Episode 9: Hail Mary-Review and Recap
The penultimate episode features enough horror themes for even the most hardcore viewer as storylines come together and we edge closer to the finale.
The Purge cut its teeth on political statements. In between the fantastic kills, masks, and depravity was a deeper, smarter sentiment. The USA’s serialized version of The Purge has allowed for exploration of situations and topics that might otherwise be ignored. The blunt instrument that is the NFFA and their touchstone Purge Night is so much more nuanced than an ax to the head. There are still plenty of those though.
I have become accustomed to the surprise open each week. Whether it be the reality of capitalism in the world of the NFFA, a booming horror-travel industry, or the addition of Remembrance Day to both perpetuate the consumer machine but also remind people of the NFFA’s reach. A new aspect of the greater universe has been explored each week. A child’s program designed to inform and comfort children is the opener this week, and it was the most chilling to date. A KellyAnne Conway imposter complete with red, white and blue costuming, this time in the form of a petticoat dress delivers the chirpy message. Director Gigi Saul Guerrero who recently directed a cutting, Hulu Into The Dark episode titled Culture Shock. placed her stamp all over this episode.
Even the most innocent are not safe from propaganda. The concept, if you hook them young their tender minds won’t rebel. A very young Ben watches and plays with his robots. He had the potential for violence even then. Last year’s events acted as the catalyst and there is no going back now. He just needed the push the trauma from last year provided. Big questions are raised about the power of violence on the mind. Are we predisposed to behave in certain ways or a byproduct of our environment? Might Ben have continued to be the sensitive soul we first met if he was not out last Purge? Was he destined to be the killer he becomes? Is John Connor right? “There is no fate, but what we make.”
Regardless of how he gets there, he finds out in the end, when you create a monster you must be able to control it. Like a beaten dog eventually, you will get bit. He may have started the fame of the Campus Killer, but there are tons of others waiting in the wings to take his place. You are always in danger of the understudy taking your spot. The backups he encounters in the cemetery want to do more than “sweep the leg”.
Ben has jumped the shark and is operating on adrenaline. He has lost all compassion and restraint. Actions have consequences and he may find even on Purge Night, killing your fraternity brothers might get you kicked out. He shows little concern for either his brothers or life in general after Purge Night. When a cool graveyard chase scene ends with a gang of Campus Killers circling him, Ben realizes there are some things he can’t get away with. There may be honor among thieves but there is none among psychos. After being hit accidentally he is safe n the back of Marcus’s jeep on the way to a triage center, for now.
In order for The Purge to work for the NFFA the public has to remain complacent. Beyond even complacency, they need to be willing participants. Americans have to buy into the idea that demons need to be let out of their cages for one night of unabashed debauchery. What happens on Purge Night, stays on Purge Night in other words. The problem with that is people remember and have emotions attached to those memories. Some of those memories and feelings are destructive.
The NFFA has given free license to embrace malignant feelings and act on them. It’s normal to hold grudges, to temporarily hate, and to think about kicking that bully in the balls. It’s not normal to act on those feelings. The danger of the Purge is it allows the worst of us to rule all of us. Instead of purging the monster inside, the Purge just feeds the beast and glorifies bad behavior. Instead of one night to get all the aggression, there should be a “Don’t Be A Dick Day”. The porn industry would be behind it with all the novelty products they could sell.
Marcus’ story highlights a self-perpetuating problem. The “us” versus “them” that divides countries flourishes in this world where any reason is good enough on Purge Night. Clint lost his wife in Marcus’ E.R. It was not his fault. As with all his patients, he tried to save her. Not everyone can be saved and she was not one of the lucky ones.
Clint’s grief and frustration with her passing has turned him into a ball of rage and impotence. He wants to feel better, but by holding onto the pain he will never get better. When life deals you a bad hand, get even, get mad. The thoughts and desires of those they lost don’t matter. You are your brothers, or sisters, or wives keeper and the price is always blood.
Marcus’ only crime was perhaps being too aloof. As a POC in a predominantly white neighborhood, he should not be persecuted for keeping his head down and mouth shut. The behavior his neighbors have shown him certainly lends credence to the fact he was right to be wary. Many who are faced with the things he sees daily wall themselves off as a coping mechanism. It comes with the territory of those in the line of fire. They call it gallows humor for a reason.
Mob mentality ruled the neighbors when the plans were one step removed. They weren’t the ones killing anyone, they just hired someone. When faced with committing the murders themselves, they backed out and turned against Clint. That’s the problem with personal vendettas. They are personal to the one carrying it and no one else. Clint’s pain is profound and he thinks by purging he will relieve it. The others don’t carry the same weight around with them. Thankfully they have found reason even if Clint still has not. Marcus took Clint’s wife, so Clint stabbed Michelle forcing a desperate drive for help.
Esme’s is looking to out the NFFA. Working with an organization called the Foundation, which is a female-fronted group of hackers, she will release the Professor’s information. With that group, she will broadcast the Purge secret everywhere. It’s an altruistic endeavor, but one that is dangerous. There is also a high potential the American public won’t care. Regardless of the outcome, The Foundation would be interesting to follow in season three. They have an impressive set of skills including exemplary deep fake talents and kill switches.
It’s not clear if she set off a jammer of sorts or an actual DDOS attack to compromise the agency surveillance station, but the results are the same. The computer shutdown bought her just enough time to get into the agency undetected and unharmed from the brutish machete wielder chasing her. That brief scene was one of the most suspenseful with a literal clock counting down to safety.
Her plan is solid. She may be overestimating people though. The best of us don’t like to face hard truths about ourselves. The worst, flat out refuse too. It won’t matter that the Purge is actually bad for the country. By acknowledging what the Purge really is, people will have to also face the truth about themselves. It feels good to be bad.
Ryan’s group saw both successes and failures this week. On one hand, Tommy has been rescued by his friends, on the other Ryan was buried alive. Ryan and Company have been at their best when scheming or heisting. Ryan’s plan to double-cross the Police Chief and the action that ensued was great. The bank robbery in episode one was a joy to watch.
Ryan’s group are thieves with a moral code. They are the most fun to watch when they wear their hearts on their sleaves and steal stuff. Their plot beats have been inconsistent with whole segments forgotten, however. What is Ryan’s plan for his mother? Will Tommy just escape and ditch his wife and kids? These are but afterthoughts to the entertaining absurdity of a safe hunting ground for the wealthy and connected.
The Daughters of the NFFA who stand-in for the current Daughters of the American Revolution and Daughters of the Confederacy sponsor a hunt for the privileged each Purge. That’s where Tommy and his fellow prisoners find themselves when Ryan comes to save him. More pomp and circumstance than brutal killings, these men and women hunt prisoners as casually as poachers take down wild animals on safari. This year they bring authentic weapons from the far past. It’s easier to compromise on your weaponry when you are sure you are the hunter and not the prey.
A tightly paced episode that brought surprising players together, raised the stakes as our heroes find themselves in and out of trouble. Ben’s mask was left broken in the street. It has become a symbol for who he has become. Now that it is broken what will become of him? Has Ben finally broke free from the killer inside him or has he completely broke with reality? What happens when he wakes up? He shouldn’t underestimate Marcus and his family.
USA used every horror trick in the bag this week. Graveyard chase scenes between masked killers gave way to giant male sadomasochists stalking girls with machetes. Men were buried alive, and a The Most Dangerous Game-style hunting session provided the backdrop for Tommy’s rescue. Episode nine, “Hail Mary” really had it all. Horror purists, cerebral thrillers, and old school slashers all shared space in one of the most compelling horror series to date. There is no news about season three yet, but numbers seem to indicate it will be greenlit. Here’s hoping. Catch up on all our coverage before the finale next week.
As the Television Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.