Marcus (Derek Luke) greets the awkward morning with silence as Michelle (Rochelle Aytes) expresses disbelief at their actions. She refuses to leave, though, and to see this through.
When Marcus spots a neighborhood meeting across the street, the two crash the party for answers. “Do I deserve to die,” he pleads, which only gets him a slow clap from “Clint,” who accuses him of killing his wife via a faulty diagnosis. Apparently Dr. Marcus promised a quick recovery, but there was no recovery. The other neighbors chime in about the beloved late lady. “She was a saint!” one cries. Clint promises Marcus, that if he doesn’t leave tonight, “I’m the one that’s gonna kill you on Purge Night.”
When their son arrives, he’s on the run too! So they can all take the same car, which is convenient. But no luck—Darren’s issues with the government force them to turn around at an ID stop. Back on their street, Clint’s waiting, hands in pockets disapproval.
There’s a “Clint” in every neighborhood, Marcus says. “Why should we run.” I’m thinking about my “Clint,” who loved to stack debris in my yard. When I tried to reason with him, he threatened to hit me, puffing his chest out. He was about 70, btw. He would’ve loved Purge Night.
Someone who doesn’t is Kelen (Danika Yarosh), who plans to Lyft off the farm, having discovered her bf is a murderer. Awkward breakfasts abound in “Should I Stay Or Should I Go,” and both Ben (Joel Allen) and his mother talk Kelen into just riding with him. After the truth comes out in the truck cab, Kelen acts supportive (“I feel like this brings us closer together”) to survive. But he recognizes a nervous tic, understandable when he retrieves a knife, then gives it to her. “I want you to feel completely safe,” he says, as they make a pit stop.
She stows the blade in her purse, then leaves a “help me” note in the restroom. Ben snoops back and sees it. Back on the road, he pops the question: what’s the note about? Ben forces her to cut him with the knife, so she’ll “understand.” She says yes, and goes all in by impaling the thick of his thigh. Maybe she understands better than you thought, buddy. True to her character, though, she’s never seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre and goes about flagging down help the wrong way. Unlike Marilyn Chambers, Kelen is struck down by a speeding truck. Ben strangles her in an “out of your misery” kind of way, then flees.
Also on the run is Esme (Paola Nunez), who helps Ryan hack the names of rival gang, the Jackals. When Ryan (Max Martini) offers to make her a passport, she declines. She doesn’t plan to leave. Things go array when Ryan’s mom disappears from her rest home. He finds her, but the cops found her first. He hesitates to produce an ID with Esme still in the truck. By the way, she has a new look: a Gaga wig. The cops weirdly insist on walking Ryan’s mum back to the truck, so Lady Esme bails.
Left behind, she notices a posted Car For Sale ad by former coworker Vivian and calls her up. Esme cautions her to not mention the deleted footage to anyone. Once she makes her way back to Ryan, she finally confesses to being Tommy’s tagger—the reason why he’s going to be executed. Ryan’s upset, but goes from threatening Esme to welcoming her into his bed (very abruptly, I might add).
By episode’s end, it’s 2 Days Until the Annual Purge. A montage expresses the calm before, as wine is shared, and AKs are staggered across the family table.
I wanted to mention a disconnect between the cold opens and actual show. This episode was certainly notable, and a bit more biting than usual as it parodied retailers AhemTARGETAhem that use social causes to make bank. A Purge merchandiser proposes LGBTQ+ attire to show they “care”: rainbow masks, accessories with rainbows, and the like. The suits agree that different “lifestyles” need to be tapped into for commerce; they’re to be included in marketing strategies from now on. Someone suggests a donation to go with the ad campaign.
I have to wonder if these segments have a different crew behind them, as they’re much stronger than the story threads. This is what I want out of my Purge, even if it’s not on the nose. Who cares if it’s over the top? This is a show about absurdity applied to murder, and I want my satire thick and juicy. These segments show personality, and creativity. The core stories are fine, but I can’t help but wonder what S2 would be like if some of that dark charm carried over to Esme and company.