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'The Purge' Midseason Check-In: Where's the Baldwin, and Why Isn't the Baldwin Dead Yet?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 3, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 3, 2018 |


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We have arrived at the mid-point of the 10-episode first season of USA Network’s The Purge, and how’s it looking, so far?

Eh.

So far, it’s been something like an episode of The Simpsons, where it starts in one place and — through five episodes — goes in a completely different direction, sometimes for the better, and sometimes not, although in either case, it may leave viewers wondering, “If this is the story you wanted to tell in the first place, why not just start here?” instead of taking us through a maze to get here?

That’s most apparent in the story of Penelope and her brother, Miguel. In the premiere, Miguel returns from military service and finds that his sister has joined a Purge cult — a group of people who sacrifice themselves to the Purge for the greater good, which means allowing themselves to be chopped up or set on fire out of some ridiculous notion that making themselves available for murdering is good for the soul of the country.

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Miguel, meanwhile, found himself in a wild goose chase trying to track his sister down before she gives herself up to the Purge Gods. He is too late, sort of. The Purge cult hands Penelope over to a Purge auction — where people pay good money for the right to murder those on the auction block — and Penelope is purchased by her abusive, druggie ex-boyfriend, Henry. Through a series of flashbacks, we find out why that relationship fell apart (he was abusive, and he did drugs) and that Miguel pummeled Henry until he lost his eye, which is why Miguel had to go into the military in the first place (apparently, this is how things work under the NFFA). That left Penelope to fend for herself, which is exactly why she ends up joining a Purge cult, which puts her in her current predicament. Just to bring things full circle, the episode ends on a cliffhanger: Miguel finally tracks down his sister right before Henry is set to torture her with a blowtorch, but Miguel ends up in the custody of the man whose eye he popped. The abusive, druggie ex-boyfriend now has the upper hand.

The thing is? I was far more interested in The Purge cult, which no longer seems to be in the picture. I guess that bus is somewhere offscreen unloading Millennials into the arms of masked men with axes and flamethrowers.

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Meanwhile, in the pilot episode, a hard-working corporate type, Jane, hires an assassin to kill her boss (played by William Baldwin), because he consistently passed her over for promotions because she wouldn’t sleep with him. This murder I actually really wanted to see. However, one of Jane’s subordinates kills a co-worker so that she can get a promotion, and after seeing this, Jane gets cold feet about killing her own boss. So, she goes out into the night to stop the assassin from killing the Baldwin and I just can’t support that, even though he’s the good Baldwin.

Unfortunately, along the way, Jane is abducted and nearly raped before The Matron Saints come along and save her. The Matron Saints are a group of vigilantes who prevent men from carrying out their sexual crimes on Purge Night, although it’s hard to consider anyone a “vigilante” for preventing sex crimes on a night in which sex crimes are legal. To me, that sounds like “being a good person,” except that The Matron Saints sort of aren’t good people, because they use hot irons to brand sexual predators with the word “PIG” on their foreheads. For some reason, THAT is apparently too much for Jane, who took out a hit on her sleazy boss and was nearly raped by another man, but to brand those men as sexual predators for the rest of their lives? That crosses a line?

Jane, Jane, Jane. This is why the Democrats keep losing.

Point is: I really just wanted to see William Baldwin purged by an assassin, and I feel as though Jane’s conscious has taken that away from me. It’s really not fair, because the assassin she hired was badass and even though he’s the good Baldwin, he has the same voice as the bad Baldwins, and it would be very satisfying to hear that voice gurgle with blood.

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The third main storyline, however, is the one that starts out the least interesting, but transforms at the midseason point into the most interesting one. Here, married couple Rick and Jenna attend the Purge Night festivities at the home of the Stantons, leaders of the NFAA. Rick and Jenna go to the party so that they can convince the Stantons to give them money for their charitable organization. However, they soon discover that the Purge Night celebrations basically entail killing the help. Jenna is not comfortable with this, but she’s also kind of in love with Lila Stanton — the rebellious daughter of the NFAA’s leader — with whom she and her husband once had a threesome. Meanwhile, her reluctant husband Rick doesn’t seem so reluctant about the Purge night killings anymore. He’s like a dog who got a taste of human flesh. The man’s clearly into murderin’.

At the midseason point, however, things take a very fun turn when it is revealed that “the help,” led by the maid, Catalina, has been organizing a revolution within the Stanton home this whole time. The maids, butlers, and gardeners are going to kill all the rich f—kers, but Catalina — who recognizes that Jenna is not sympathetic to the NFAA’s cause — lets her and her husband go. However, Jenna wants to save Lila from the rebels. “No Stanton is safe tonight,” Catalina says, so presumably Jenna and Rick will have to return to the Stanton home to save Lila from the rebels.

This storyline keeps with the themes of The Purge movies, which is to say: There’s always a faction within The Purge working to end The Purge, and at the end of the movie, they always win. However, that win always proves to be a moral victory rather than a practical one, because there have been four movies and now a TV series and The Purge is still going on.

There will always be some rich white motherf—kers to kill.



Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.



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