WGN’s ‘Underground’ keeps insanity rolling, ‘The Lord’s Day’ review

WGN America’s biggest hit, Underground, continues to astound as audiences are treated to a unique journey still unfolding with each episode. This week’s episode, titled “The Lord’s Day”, keeps the momentum going still. As the episode opens, we witness a Sunday morning sermon being taught in a clearing, with Moses teaching on the story of Creation from the Bible. Simultaneously, the same sermon is being taught within a large church not meant for slaves, with plantation owner Tom Macon and August Pullman in the congregation. The show does a superb job of intertwining both scenes, without losing any traction of the story being told by two different preachers. All the while Noah and Henry realize that the perfect time to run could possibly be Sunday, a day where even the plantation owner and his men take a rest.

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We find our characters continuing to push their courage to the limits, as the fear becomes very real all of sudden when Zeke’s wife, Seraphina, is sold to slave traders, and Zeke tries to rescue her. Sadly, his incredible display of strength and bravery are for not, as he is thrown into the box for causing trouble. Cato decides to use this opportunity to start creating division by freeing Zeke and telling him that it was his idea, not Noah’s, to get him out of the box. During the midst of all this, Sam pays a visit to his sister, Rosalee, and tells her that she needs to try to steal Tom Macon’s seal so that they can make their escape. Even though it is a success, she is too late in returning it, causing the rest of the slaves to pay for it.

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The show moves quite well, creating tension and suspense in their story building within each scene so quickly, the engagement of the viewer becomes practically instantaneous. One of the best scenes of the episodes does just this, as Tom Macon pays a visit to Sam as he is repairing the wagon wheel damaged by Zeke, all the while Noah is hanging from the rafters Mission Impossible style, testing the harness they’ll use to get across the bridge to freedom. You are not even fully aware that you are feeling for the characters on the screen until the intensity has died down, and your heart is no longer racing.

During all this, we have John and Elizabeth Hawkes, now aiding runaway slaves, determine that they can use their appearance at the Governor’s Ball to try to gather information for the underground network. The scenes showcase the writers’ ingenuity in how Elizabeth creates a diversion so that her husband can grab the information although the scene’s music was more pop, stylistically, than we’re used to. We jump back to Tom Macon forcing the slaves of his plantation to hold up railroad ties as punishment for the stolen seal. His promise that he’ll be giving everyone 50 lashes once the last beam hits the ground holds true to their hearts, as Noah’s group is the last one to struggle to hold up their beam. The fire in Noah’s eyes actually impresses Tom, and he makes mention of it, as will the viewers. Aldis Hodge has done a great job at creating a strong role that people can admire, no matter what race or creed they are. The conscientious act of having Noah say, “Fight for it! You know you can, fight for it!” truly sets the tone for the whole series, as it rallies his group to push farther than they’ve pushed before.

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Combined with the well-placed scores and beats that are incorporated in the scenes, the show has yet to stop bringing us great dialogue and acting mixed with thematic sounds. Underground has surpassed my expectations and has gone and created a series that will have fans of all ages. Tonight’s episode not only keeps you on the edge of your seat but will also have you shouting for more once the end credits role. Among many shows that attempt to monopolize on the very thought of slavery, Underground does something different entirely: it reveals to us that in a time of desperation and ignorance, humanity was not all gone.

 Underground airs Wednesdays, on WGN America.

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