Episode 9 of Them begins in the past with a man named Hiram Epps paying his respects at a grave site. As he heads back to town, he finds Miles under a tree. Using the bible as a guide, he brings him back home and nurses the child back to health.
Fast forward in time and Miles rushes in and updates him that a traveler is en-route. This happens to be a weary black couple, Grafton and his wife Martha.
Deciding to take God’s word as gospel, Epp agrees to take them in through the Christian good faith, sticking by the adage of “love thy neighbour”. Their wagon is broken down but he agrees to help them out and get them back on the road.
The other residents in town are not so neighbourly. They all believe Epp is getting ahead of himself, with the others convinced that these black people are responsible for tearing the country apart.
The next day, Epps engages in fierce debate with the other residents over the location of their well. Grafton arrives and offers to pay his way, giving them advice regarding the water situation they face.
Lo and behold, Grafton manages to help them out and finds water, eventually allowing them to bring up buckets of water from the well. Epps revels in the glory of this, despite Grafton being the one responsible.
Unfortunately, things turn nasty when the residents decide the well incident is a result of black magic rather than God’s word. Some quick thinking from Miles allows Epps to find a telling excerpt from the Bible.
Despite reading it out, it’s clear Epp is starting to lose control and begins questioning himself. In fact, he sees horrible visions and grabs Martha’s wrist. When he does, her water breaks which prompts him to throw the pair into the stables together.
Thankfully, they break themselves out, grabbing their horse and preparing to leave. Unfortunately they’re grabbed by the townsfolk who begin to pass judgment on them. Only, Martha is obviously in labour and struggles to stand on the spot.
Wit a red hot poker in hand, the pair are blinded on Epp’s command, using the guise of the Lord’s word. Epp next decides to expel them from the community. Only, Martha curses Epps, prompting his bible to suddenly start burning in his hands.
When it does, the townsfolk look on in glee as they burn this pair alive while stringing them up by the rafters. It’s a shocking scene, and one that sees the fire suddenly extend out to the whole town. When it does, it burns all the townsfolk along with it. The only ones left are Miles and Epps.
Together, they descend down into the basement. Once there, Miles gives Epp’s a damning ultimatum and a horrific deal going forward. Miles seems to be the devil incarnate, and makes Epp shake on a new deal. In exchange for preventing him from suffering, he wants Epps to project that fear and suffering onto others. In other words, he wants him to “break souls”.
The camera pans out and shows the devastating effect from the fire on the town. As the view then smoothly shifts up and back down again, we see the ruined community pave way for present day (1950’s) East Compton.
The Episode Review
With a distinct black and white detour from the current storyline, Them dives back in time to show the origin of this town, which has been built on racial prejudice and curses.
Whether these curses are what we’re actually experiencing in the present or if it’s just grief remains to be seen. However, it does help to piece together the history of this town and understand what’s befallen all of those souls in Compton.
While America’s history is still relatively new compared to other countries around the world, there’s enough here to mine a deep-rooted history of racism that plays straight into the hands of Them.
The show does well to juggle this with its horror influences, although this episode is likely going to be a make or break chapter for many people.