The fire burns bright in WGN’s latest episode of ‘Underground’ (recap and review)

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Recap

We open as Cato is checking to see why one of the overseers of the plantation, Bill, hasn’t checked in. Cato finds him lying in a pool of his own blood with a broken bottle lodged in the side of his neck. Cato is surprised to see that Bill still has some life left in him, spitting up blood and wheezing, but he isn’t quick to find help. In fact, Cato was about to place his hands around Bill’s neck, I’m assuming to finish the job when a yell for Bill comes from one of the other overseers outside of Bill’s quarters. Cato quickly jumps up and begins yelling for help, gathering the other overseers, Mr. Macon, and Ernestine to Bill’s aid. It is in the presence of Ernestine and Mr. Macon that Bill the person who did this to him: Rosalee.

Underground, Season 1, Episode 104 Photo Credit: /Sony Pictures Television

Photo Credit: /Sony Pictures Television

Ernestine heads to the workshop where her son, Sam, works to gather some information about Noah and where he took Rosalee. She blames Noah, saying that he filled Rosalee’s head with talk about running away to freedom, but Sam reveals that maybe it wasn’t Noah that drove her to run, but that it was her own fault for pushing her daughter to leave. Amidst a heated argument, Sam accidentally lets it slip that Rosalee wasn’t even supposed to run with them, Ernestine now demanding to know everything about the plan. Speaking of Rosalee and Noah, we find them seeking shelter in a shed of sorts, realizing that Rosalee needs to find a new outfit to wear. Noah heads out to find clothes, promising Rosalee that he’ll return, despite her objections. At the same time, we find Ernestine weeping silently over the crib of Mrs. Macon’s nursery, gathering herself together right before Mrs. Macon enters the room discussing color palettes with the decorator. Right before Ernestine leaves, she helps Mrs. Macon resolve a delivery issue between herself and the decorator, stating that the decorator could use the train to get the decorations back to the house in a timely manner.

Cato is taken down to Mr. Macon’s cellar, where Mr. Macon offers him Bill’s role as overseer. In part of his position offer, he gives Cato a bottle of high-proof rum, stating that he’ll know Cato will earn it in his help of driving out the notion of running amongst the other slaves, to which a sinister grin appears on Cato’s face once Mr. Macon leaves. We later find Noah help Rosalee get into the dress he found for her, giving them a small glimpse of the fire that is growing between the two. In a moment of tenderness, Noah touches her shoulder after getting the dress buttoned up, sadly disrupted by the sound of dogs barking in the distance, tracking their scent, knowing they need to leave quickly. In the midst of running in the swamps, Rosalee makes quick work to find a way to poison the dogs with a deadly plant, throwing the men chasing them off their trail.

During the course of the story, we also find Ben, August’s son, standing outside a schoolhouse. He’s talking with their house slave about what his father does with the skills the house slave taught him, skills he learned while living with the Native Americans in his youth: tracking and returning runaway slaves for profit. All the while, August is inside the schoolhouse speaking with Ben’s teacher about an altercation between Ben and another student. August determines that his son needs to learn a trade, and takes him out of school. They take a trip to the Macon plantation, offering August’s services as a tracker to find his lost runaways. Mr. Macon mentions that if his men can’t catch them by midnight, he’ll employ his services then.

Underground, Season 1, Episode 104 Photo Credit: /Sony Pictures Television

Photo Credit: /Sony Pictures Television

We jump to John and Elizabeth Hawkes being held hostage in their home by two runaways, one named Josey accuses John of selling his wife to slave owners, despite John doing his best to persuade them that he never owned slaves. Josey forces Elizabeth to treat his as a slave owner, stating “I’ve always to dine like the white folks.” While he’s eating, his friend begins to question John if he had ever owned any slaves, and asked where he was nine summers before. John states that he had just gotten out of law school around that time. Josey loses his cool and jumps up from the table, accusing John of lying, and says that he’s going to show him what happens to slaves who lie to their masters. He then has Elizabeth proceed to whip John, forcing his partner to leave in disgust, leaving Josey to continue the interrogation. John finally states that he remembers he was sent to handle an estate sale, and that his wife was a part of that sale. He told him about where she was sent to, and that he even knew the name of the plantation owner, but Josey thinks he’s lying. In a fit of rage, Josey lunges forward, but all this time, John was able to get loose from his bind and fight back as the second runaway returns to knock out Josey. After he knocks out Josey, he runs to Elizabeth, apologizing and telling them that they’re good people, but never finishes his sentence- he is shot in the head by U.S. Marshall Kyle Risdin.

Underground, Season 1, Episode 105 Photo Credit: /Sony Pictures Television

Photo Credit: /Sony Pictures Television

Noah and Rosalee soon find refuge in another shed, where Noah reveals to her the song that he wants her to remember because he’s planning to go back and free the others. He then proceeds to tell her how he had wanted freedom since he was young but never let it show out of fear. It wasn’t until he had met his friend, Henry, and, realizing he had lost that passion and fire to find freedom, rekindled his desire and needed to find a way to get North. Rosalee can no longer contain herself, and leans in to give Noah a passionate, yet understanding, kiss.

We soon find Cato with a torch standing in the cotton fields, along with two other overseers after rounding up the remainder of the slaves who were running. He begins to tell them that they need to get the thoughts of running out of their mind, as he begins to tell them a “cautionary” tale of a runaway. The tale then begins to evolve, as Cato becomes passionate about the story, the slaves realizing that the story is about him. Right at the end of his tale, he hits one of the overseers with the torch and then stabs the other with a dagger. He then throws the torch into the cotton fields, where he had been slowly allowing that high-proof alcohol to slowly drip out all over the field through the day. As the field becomes engulfed, Cato turns to the others and screams, “RUN!”

Underground, Season 1, Episode 104 Photo Credit: /Sony Pictures Television

Photo Credit: /Sony Pictures Television

Amidst the chaos and fire, Mr. Macon tells August that he’ll get him the money, but just find whoever is responsible for all this. He ends up finding Pearly Mae before she can leave with the others, but being in the sight of his son, chooses not to hurt her. The rest of the slaves who run end up meeting up with Noah and make it to where Rosalee is hiding and waiting. To her dismay, however, she is saddened when she doesn’t see Pearly Mae, or her brother, for that matter. As Mr. Macon works furiously to quench the fire that is overtaking his cotton field, he sees Ernestine in the distance. They exchange a pensive look to each other, where it is Mr. Macon who turns his gaze away, focusing on the task that lay before him.

Review

The show, titled “Fireflies”, carries a unique meaning within its name, as not only does Rosalee see and find peace among all the running by seeing the fireflies at night, but also within the idea that the fireflies freely among the fields for Mr. Macon, giving a parallelism to what may lay ahead for him in future episodes. The pacing of the show kept with its normal speed, giving the audience what they need to know, piece by piece, ending with a large woven tapestry of stories all seamlessly intertwining among each other. From August and Ben’s story to Noah and Rosalee, every story within the episode had fluidity, and, like a branch of rivers flowing in the same direction, all came together in the end. Underground continues to do nothing less than impress each week, and with the rate this show is going, I won’t doubt that this series, much like in the episode, will catch fire.

 Underground airs Wednesdays, on WGN America.

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Eddie Villanueva Jr.
Eddie Villanueva Jr. 313 posts

A movie connoisseur of only the finest films, and an Encyclopod of geek and nerd knowledge. And if you know what an Encyclopod is, you're cool too!