‘Things Unsaid’ speaks volumes in latest episode of WGN’s Underground: Recap and Review
As a slave is caring for her child, Daniel, the skilled mason, walks in the home, to her surprise. He tells her that he wants to show her something, to which he begins to scribe letters on a piece of paper. “Did you just-“, she asks. Daniel had taught himself how to read and write, stating that the word he wrote down was how he felt for her, and the reason why he taught himself his new skill: love. Overwhelmed with joy, his wife tells him that she wants to keep it forever, but suddenly rips it to pieces, stating that it could get them killed. As we return back to that fateful scene where John Hawkes was assassinated, we find Elizabeth on the bloodstained courthouse steps, where it had happened. As the body is taken away on a cart, she sits on the steps in a daze, as the scene flashes back and forth from now to her frenzied reaction when it first happened.
We jump to Rosalee as she’s grabbing some supplies together, wiping the tears away as she does so. One of her compatriots comes in through the door, trying to tell her that no “cargo” is moving for the next two days, just in case whoever shot John is after them too. The man tells her that right now, she needs to focus on her family, because Elizabeth is going to need her. But back at the women’s hideout, Harriet is already planning a route to move up North, and is going to need Rosalee’s help. While Harriet is talking, however, she ends up passing out, as she suffers from periodic fainting spells, frightening Georgia. Rosalee explains that it happens from time to time, but that it’s nothing out of the ordinary. “I hear that’s how she gets her visions,” Georgia mentions. As they speak about how Elizabeth is doing, Harriet wakes up, and in a slight fog, she tells them that the plan has changed.
Rosalee begins to wrap her body in gauze, and stuffs her shirt filled with feathers, while chewing on some mint leaves. Harriet walks in, telling her that because Noah is still gone, she’s doubting everything. “He’s supposed to be here. John’s supposed to be here. Ain’t nothing the way it’s supposed to be.” She tells Harriet that she doesn’t have much time to figure things out, as Christmas is coming soon, and that’s her only shot at stealing her mother and brother. Harriet tells her that she’ll do fine, and the two discuss Rosalee’s part of the plan, and to trust her instincts. “These turkey feathers will protect you from the buckshot, and you trust Him with the rest,” Harriet tells her. As Rosalee takes the group to the next checkpoint, the exchange between herself and the lady of the house seems off for Rosalee, and suddenly hears Harriet’s voice in her mind. At the same time, a group of people with weapons tell the woman of the house to stay still, as the woman who is head of the group thinks there’s something wrong. As she points her rifle out the window, she sees Rosalee darting for the treeline before she can take her shot.
Amidst her mourning her husband’s death, Georgia shows Elizabeth around her home, revealing all the hiding spots of the property. Elizabeth has decided to stay with Georgia for a bit while she is taking care of John’s funeral. “I just needed to get out of that house,” she explains. Georgia explains her own husband’s passing, sympathizing that losing a husband so suddenly is difficult. Elizabeth explains that losing someone quickly or over time is the same; the loss of them still rings long after they’re gone. Elizabeth then states that Rosalee left the night before, and that she was the only family that John had left. Georgia quickly responds that Harriet needed her, and that it may have been too much for Rosalee. “Everybody grieves in their own way,” Elizabeth says, trailing off. A little while later that night, one of the men gives a comforting word, but Elizabeth seems to be distracted. He eventually leaves, and when he does, Elizabeth lifts a mirror on the wall to reveal a few sidearms hidden in the wall.
Back at the steps where she lost her husband, Elizabeth, dressed in all black, sits at a bench looking towards the courthouse, clutching her purse tightly. The people coming down, unknowingly stepping over the red-stained steps of where her husband had been slain, seem to infuriate her. Even as Georgia appears and sits besides her, her tunnel vision is unbroken, drowning out her words. As Georgia goes over the logistics of the funeral arrangements, she notices the tightness of the hold that Elizabeth has on her purse. Georgia then tells her that using her gun in some selfish act won’t change anything. “Leave me alone, please,” Elizabeth grits between her teeth. “I am not going anywhere,” Georgia responds calmly.
In a quick succession of scenes, we see Elizabeth hold a white rose between her fingertips from the bouquet for the funeral, as well as pressing his suit, and reading a few passages from the Bible, all leading to John’s funeral. Back with Ernestine, her feet are getting washed by her lover, as she inhales a rag with the laudanum in it, humming a tune she can’t recall. She’s told by her bedfellow that he didn’t mean to hurt her, caressing her bruised cheek. She’s told that she needs to “help” out a young female slave, giving her a bottle of something that will, ultimately, kill her unborn child.
While out in the fields, she comes to Ernestine asking for the “help,” and Ernestine shows it to her. The woman, aptly named French, asks Ernestine if she knew who the baby’s father was, which was the same man that she was with, and begins to make sense her choice in not having the baby, saying nobody would want her if she had it. She then asks if Ernestine had any children. “Yes,” she says, “And they were the best thing in my life.” French, surprised by the answer, walks away from Ernestine, empty handed.
After the days work, Ernestine, having hallucinations again, this time of her previous husband, finds a few raspberries on the side of the path, taking in the smell of the fruit. Suddenly, a voice tells her that he used to love the taste of those berries on her lips when she was carrying Sam, her oldest boy. She begins to divulge that she was happiest with him, and that she did everything possible for her son not to have the same fate as his father did, even giving in to the slave owner’s desires. She feared for her children so much, that she made sure that she was unable to have anymore after her last child. Her hallucination tells her that her kids were the worst thing that ever happened to her.
Later that stormy night, her man comes to their tent with the pregnant French, and forces her to drink the elixir, despite her cries of wanting to keep the baby. Ernestine silently and coolly sits by, unable to move an inch. Into the late hours of the morning, Ernestine is drawn out to the waters edge, where she finds French, sitting at the base of a tree, and surrounded in the blood and fluids from her unborn child.
Back to the whereabouts of Noah, we find him hooded and chained, being carted in a covered wagon to some unknown location. But we all know Noah, and his ability to find a way out of a situation. He first figures out quickly how to pick the lock on the chains, but the wagon stops suddenly so that Noah can have a bathroom break. Noah recognizes the moss growing on one of the trees, finishes his business, and is loaded back into the cart, bound and blinded.
He again makes quick work of the lock, and, with his knowledge of wagons, causes the whole cart to flip over, giving himself a chance to run. He’s quickly corralled, however, and brought back to the scene of his handywork. The men, who speak Gaelic, are trying to figure out how to fix the wagon, which actually brings a bit of joy to Noah, watching the men struggle with work that he could’ve easily fixed hours earlier. The men threaten Noah, and steal the ring he made while in prison, but Noah promises that when his chains are off, that will be the first thing he’ll get back.
Once back on the wagon, Noah’s finally delivered to the destination. Once in the presence of the well-dressed man, he drops his chains, pulls the pistol from the man’s holster, and puts it to his head, quickly demanding his ring back. He tells the men that if anyone moves, he’ll kill their master. A laugh comes from a second story balcony, and as Noah looks up, he’s quickly in a state of shock. “He isn’t there master,” Cato says. “I am.” Noah is then swiftly knocked out.
The timeline backtracks a bit, as we meet the woman from earlier at the Underground checkpoint. Her name is Patty Cannon, one of the most notorious slave catchers out there. She hears about a tip of the whereabouts of Harriet Tubman, and leads her men north. She is led to the checkpoint, questioning the woman, threatening her with harm. Meanwhile, Rosalee and the other runaways are hiding out in a barn, waiting for the right time to make a run for it to the boat. They make a straight dash for the river, and make it to the boat in time. As Rosalee watches the boat sail away, a shot rings out, and you see Rosalee fall into the water. Patty tells the men to go and fetch her. Rosalee makes it ashore, and tears off her shirt, revealing her bullet wound in her shoulder. She also reveals a very round and pregnant stomach, to which she grabs in comfort, knowing nothing hit it.
This was an incredible episode in character development! Titled Things Unsaid, this week’s show displays just how outstanding the writing team is, creating new arcs that expound upon the existing masterful work done last season. You as a viewer are given the opportunity to not only watch your favorite characters progress in their drive for freedom, but you are a part of their growth. From watching Noah become a patient and methodical man, to seeing Rosalee become the fearless soon-to-be mother/leader in the Underground Railroad, we are bearing witness to iconic roles that will move and inspire people.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell has created such a powerhouse of a character. From the shy persona that her character maintains, to blowing up and becoming the courageous woman bearing the weight of the world, as well as her soon-to-be born child. All I can think in my mind is that once Noah finds out he’s going to be a father, my face will be glued to the screen, taking in every second of that episode.
The music is spot again, too, this year. Tapping into the same kind of spirit that birthed the opening scene in last season’s first episode, the creators are creating perfection, just as they did when they combined Kanye West’s Black Skinhead with a well-choreographed and paced chase scene. I have listened to the soundtrack from last season so many times, and because the usage of the songs are so well implemented in the show, I can easily reminisce as to where the songs are in the series.
Tonight’s episode was incredible, period. I love the direction and character development this episode held, and I’m looking forward to the future showdown between Patty Cannon and Harriet Tubman. Although we aren’t very far into the season, this episode has already given me high expectations for the way this series will progress, leaving nothing “unsaid.”
Catch Underground on WGN America on Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.