Episode 5 of Them begins with a look at the rigged housing situation in Compton. With numerous schematics and facts surrounding mortgage payments, Helen finds herself backed into a corner. That unfortunately manifests itself through the Johnson household, who are forced into taking 20% mortgage payments in exchange for moving to Compton. Tentatively, they accept the terms.
This is not exactly ethical, which is something Sgt. Bull Wheatley figures out early on. He takes full advantage of this too and confronts Helen at a diner. He learns about the Emory family from her, essentially telling the realtor to turn the other cheek in the wake of upcoming abuse coming their way. Helen has some choice words for him but it seems like she’s stuck.
Meanwhile, we catch more of the past too, as those flashbacks at the start of the season are repeated in their entirety. Only, this time the scene continues as we see Lucky cradling her baby and hiding the boy in the closet. While she does, men and women break into the house, desperate to find Lucky’s child.
Unfortunately they find him, with the ringleader cradling the baby while Lucky is held down to the ground. While she struggles against these fully grown men, this deranged old lady picks up her child and heads out into the living room. With the child wrapped in a blanket, they begin throwing him around the room in this deranged and sickening game of “cat in the bag.”
This is enough to send Lucky spiraling, descending down a dark and psychologically twisted path. It also explains why her hallucinations have been so strong, as she’s clearly suffering from PTSD and extreme stress, which closes out this episode.
The Episode Review
That scene involving the baby near the end of the episode is easily the hardest thing I – like many other people I’d guess – will have watched this year.
It’s shocking, disgusting, stomach-churning abuse and one that’s used to highlight racism – but is this a step too far? I’m not quite sure the filmmakers really needed to go that far, especially with the added classical music and slow-mo shots. I actually think silence would have been just as effective.
Anyway, this scene is an important one nonetheless, clearly designed to show the abuse this family have suffered in North Carolina – and also why they’ve left.
This does help to give more context to the past, while also showing that the real horror here stems from racial abuse. This isn’t an original concept as I’ve said before, but the artistic way everything has been presented here certainly makes for a compelling watch.