The Low Road
La Fin Du Monde
All for All and None for One
House of the Lord
The Sins of the Father
Netflix Original Frontier, now in it’s third season, has had quite the rocky ride to this point. From the flawed first season that garnered much criticism to a much improved second, Frontier seems to be a show that’s finally found its groove in the history genre. Although the third season has its own set of problems, for the most part the show remains an enjoyable period piece, moving to the beat of its own drum with its parallel storylines. The dominating focus remains on charismatic Declap Harp (Jason Momoa) though, consumed by hatred and driven by vengeance against the evil Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) who has kidnapped Grace (Zoe Boyle) and fled from the scene.
With much of the season spent moving the pieces around in preparation for the climactic finale, Frontier’s third season feels very transitional, doing just enough to close some plot lines whilst leaving the door wide open for a fourth season. Declan Harp spends most of this season in pursuit of Lord Benton, sailing across the Atlantic and trekking across the beautiful snow capped mountains of Canada and eventually Scotland in his hunt for justice.
We catch up with Michael on the run from the Hudson’s Bay Company, trying to forge alliances for much of the season. His story sees him navigating a murky world of deceit and loyalty as he juggles the interest of both the Brown Brothers and Samuel Grant in the lucrative fur trade. Accompanying these two dominant stories is a shift in focus to Grace, allowing for an intimate perspective on Lord Benton and his superior, Lord Fisher (Jay Simpson) as they scheme and debate the best way to expand the fur trade and rid themselves of Harp. This later develops into a much more intriguing story, much like Sokanon (Jessica Matten), who begins on the Frontier and eventually winds up fighting against the Company, leading to bloodshed.
All of these stories run parallel to one another and in doing so, the pace constantly jumps around throughout the show’s run time. Thankfully, there’s a nice progression to each of these stories and the final few episodes do an excellent job increasing the tension and rounding out these four stories nicely, ending with Declan Harp’s mission complete, one way or another, and a teasing new chapter on the horizon for the Frontier.
Last season I mentioned about the improved establishing shots and Frontier’s third season certainly follows suit. The majestic beauty of Canada and Scotland are both shown in exquisite detail with some fantastic shots of the landscape. From rolling hills lined with the faint speck of coastline to snow capped mountains carved apart by ice-cold streams and roaring waterfalls, every shot perfectly captures the raw beauty of these areas.
It’s worth mentioning too that late on during the fifth episode, a particularly impressive long shot really shows off the beauty of the cinematography in this series. Although only five minutes long, this segment is split into 3 or 4 long shots, completely lit by flaming torches and filmed using a solitary camera moving and navigating the battlefield. It’s a beautifully shot segment and only reinforces the slick camera work the show has adopted since the first season.
Of course, if you weren’t a fan of the last two seasons its unlikely the third will change your mind. Although the third season does go some way to progress all the storylines, too much of it is spent waiting for the action to happen. When it does, the latter periods of the season really kick up a gear and make the wait worth it but at times this season does drag on a little unnecessarily. Coupled with the spotty acting and range of thick regional accents on display, Frontier is a show that knows its audience and isn’t trying to coerce new fans into watching. While this is sure to be a little alienating for people turned off from the first two seasons, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable watch nonetheless.
Frontier is one of those shows that’s often overlooked when it comes to historical fiction. Released the same week as The Last Kingdom, Frontier is likely to pale in comparison but there’s enough here to make for an interesting watch nonetheless. Declan Harp remains the beating heart of the show and his charismatic performance within his vengeance-fueled story is enough to drag the show forward during some of the slower segments. The lighting and cinematography are well handled again and despite closing the door to many of the plot threads from last season, the ending shot teases a possible fourth season which could just see the show move in a completely new direction and gain the attention it deserves after a rocky first season.
Verdict - 7.5/10