Things aren’t looking too good for Tommy, the noble bank robber who gave himself up last episode. As Ryan (Max Martini) said, the police will execute him come next Purge. What I didn’t expect was for it to be official–the judge sentences Tommy to death, despite his pleas of this being a non-lethal mistake.
To make matters worse for the gang, Esme (Paola Nunez) is on their trail. Doing her best Deckard impression, she Blade Runner’s surveillance footage to discover Ryan’s whereabouts, then tails him to a restaurant. She overhears the gang’s new plan: an air heist. Apparently during the Purge, money is kept above ground for safety. Ryan want to take advantage of that, with a little bit of the unexpected.
Later, Esme’s confronted by Ryan, who quickly caught onto her spying. It’s tense, and the two part as rivals, or soon-to-be. Ex-cop versus Gov’t agent.
Marcus (Derek Luke) continues to be paranoid, which extends to his wife Michelle (Rochelle Aytes) after an investigator reminds him that the spouse is often the guilty one. He trails her via phone spyware, only to witness her in therapy. He feels bad of course, so he prepares her a nice dinner. Later, out jogging, he’s feeling better until an all-black truck with tinted windows tries to run him over. It was nice while it lasted, huh?
Meanwhile, frat kid Ben’s not dealing with his trauma in a healthy way. He struggles to perform in bed, and tries to slaughter a cow to calm his blood lust (he doesn’t follow through with either). His girlfriend Kelen (Danika Yarosh) suggests he find Tanner–who left him behind the night of–and punch him in the face. Instead he murders an old man after a price dispute over strawberries. When he returns to Kelen, he’s raring to go, which speaks volumes.
Ben’s story of gradual perversion would be more compelling if he’d ever been sympathetic. Having begun with his attack before viewers could discover his personality, the show’s stuck trying to make us care as he slips further away from his loved ones and friends. Hollywood loves a good “victim cycle,” and the intent here seems to be that either his life was “normal” prior to Purge night, or that his cruelty was always there, just hidden. Either way it’s a disturbing story to tell, but what will be the takeaway? Will Ben veer near the edge, only to pull back? Or will he go all the way and kill again and again? And–I swear this is my last question–is that a sufficient enough narrative for viewers?
The big theme of this episode is spillage. Characters recite the slogan, “what happens on Purge night stays on Purge night” (which seems grammatically incorrect). This is obviously not the case, as seen with Ben, who can’t wait until the next Purge to satisfy his blood lust. The heist gang lost a man, and they’re putting themselves on the line yet again. Marcus came close to destroying his marriage over the night’s events. No one’s come out of this in a better place, or frame of mind. The Purge was built to let people “blow off steam,” but clearly it’s only educating the public that violent acts cannot be contained, or scheduled.