A Winning Formula?
The Purge series and accompanying films are a great example of how to take an interesting concept and never quite execute on that excellent idea. The first season of The Purge is the perfect example of this and I’ll be the first to admit, when I heard this one had been renewed I was incredibly sceptical over where they could go with this. With renewed vision, an interesting premise and some much-needed tension, The Purge gets off to a great start with its second season, ending with plenty of intrigue for the season ahead. Whisper it, but The Purge may well have stumbled upon the winning formula here.
We begin with a lady named Megan auditioning to be the voice of The Purge. As she reads out the familiar speech heard at the start of The Purge, the on-looking officials watch her with great interest. As we soon learn, this happens to be before The Purge even began as a concept.
Jump forward to District 2, the main narrative begins in a facility with officers watching the chaos of The Purge unfold. It’s all out carnage and as we cut to 2 hours before the end, Esme watches and feeds back anything that breaks the rules. As she looks at one of the screens, we filter through to see a group of men breaking into a bank with anti-surveillance glasses on. Illegal of course except for on Purge night.
As Esme continues to look around, we cut to a suburban couple, Marcus and Michelle, lying in bed together and trying to sleep through Purge night. Cutting to another group, two teens decide to head to Suicide Bridge but hide out on the way out the door as a group of girls walk past with bloodied baseball bats.
Things start to escalate in our trio of storylines on the ground too as Marcus bolts upright when the shutters in his house open. As he sneaks into the kitchen, a man with a machine gun begins shooting at him while the robbers break into the vault and intend to take the bags of cash. As everything looks set to kick off, we jump to 60 minutes before the end of The Purge. Esme checks the screens with her colleague and sees one of her close associates from the past in trouble.
Having successfully cracked the vault, the robbers find themselves at the mercy of the jackalls – a group who steal from other robbers. While Marcus tries to get away from the machine gunner, leading them outside away from Michelle, the two boys make it to suicide bridge and snap their picture. On the way back though they hear a girl begging for help and Ben heads in to investigate. Unfortunately it’s all a trap and the boys are separated. Ben backs up against the gate but is shocked by a cattle prod as we jump to 5 minutes before the end of Purge.
Esme’s old associate is killed, prompting her to break protocol and use the computers for personal use and transfer the videos onto a USB stick. The gang continue their stand-off in the bank while Ben is told to strip off by his captor. As the man prepares to rape him, Ben seizes his opportunity and stabs him. He snaps, stabbing the man repeatedly in the chest while The Jackalls are outsmarted thanks to a flashbang inside the bags as the robbers leave.
30 seconds remain of The Purge as Tommy heads back in to grab the missing bag they weren’t able to take originally. As the timer counts down, he just about makes it as the klaxon runs out and Purge ends. Unfortunately Tommy’s antics cause a photo finish as the surveillance team zoom in on him leaving and see his foot is across the line when the bag was taken. This, unfortunately, counts as a crime and the group leave him to fend for himself with the bag of money as Marcus makes it back inside to Michelle. However, intending to find out who wanted to Purge him, he heads back out to check. Whoever wanted to kill Marcus had a serious vendetta and as he looks around, he finds the man’s phone with pictures of him on.
Ben takes the mask of his captor off and leaves while Esme waits for the office to clear before snatching the USB drive with the footage on. Unfortunately she fails to realize there’s CCTV footage above her watching every move where we leave the episode.
Using Esme in the surveillance office to tie everything together is a nice touch and this ultimately acts as the anchor that keeps all these storylines together. The quartet of characters will, hopefully, now be given a good amount of time to grow and allow their personas to flesh out for the season ahead. There’s certainly enough interest with these people to follow what happens to them and I’d predict all of this will lead to the season finale that sees The Purge begin again.
On paper, this idea of time away from The Purge is a recipe for disaster but to be honest after this opening episode it actually seems like a pretty good foundation for the human psyche to be explored in the aftermath of trauma and stress. Seeing these characters devolve and have to deal with the situations they’ve found themselves in certainly opens up a whole scope of tension to follow but whether the show will capitalize on this remains to be seen.
Ben’s dramatic ordeal that saw him snap at the end may prove to be the big catalyst here but it’s still early days yet to predict what’s going to happen next. Right now though, The Purge feels invigorated with its changed narrative and much improved over the first season. This is one show I’ll be watching intently for the weeks to come and it’ll be interesting to see if The Purge can keep this early season momentum going.