With the Government offering out framed pictures for loved ones lost during the annual Purge, we begin this next episode 3 months after the Purge during Rememberance Day. Interestingly, the episode sheds more light on the psychological effects of the Purge, building a pressure cooker of tension between our four different storylines. It’s a great idea too and one that, although slower paced, sees more thought provoking questions raised around the effects this annual holiday has on the nation.
Esme starts investigating and wonders whether The Purge is actually making people more violent. Nowhere else is this more evident than with Ben, who we see beating a punching bag while flashing back to the man he killed on the farm. Back at the office, Esme runs facial recognition software but finds nothing but deceased victims. Ready to give up, she has one last push to find out more, stumbling upon someone named Olivia.
Heading out, Esme finds Olivia’s house but after a fruitless search, only manages to finds her landlord. After letting her in, she looks around before heading home to check through the footage. Unfortunately, the CCTV suddenly comes up with “media offline”. As she phones through to the investigator, he tells her the case has been closed while we see that Esme herself is being watched.
Following his early morning outburst, Ben heads to a weapon store and speaks to one of the workers about Purging. Liking what he hears, he invites him along to have drinks where he tells him about how he survives the rest of the year until the next Purge. He suggests Ben write up a list of possible people to kill and points to his friend as one of the first people that should be on that list.
Flashing back to the night in question, Ben readies a make-shift blade and breathes heavily, heading upstairs where he finds his friend sobbing, alone. Holding a framed picture of his brother, he tells Ben he regrets leaving him and pledges a heartfelt apology. It’s enough for him to put the knife away but the visions continue to haunt him.
Obsessed with finding out who’s trying to kill him, Marcus continues researching and investigating, going through all his previous grudges over the years. This brings us back to 14 years earlier, as Marcus finds himself confronted by a group of Purgers in his old home-town. Held up in a large house, the group start planning how to protect themselves.
These memories hammer home how far Marcus has come since then, as he heads back to where he grew up and searches around for answers. As he does, we cut back 14 years again to see the group banding together in the face of a hostage situation. After an incident with Andre outside, Marcus admits the truth and tells him why he’s actually returned, prompting Tania to admit that a man came around in the summer asking about him. Desperate for answers, he takes to forums online and offers money in exchange for answers.
Ryan and the others test a jamming device on a local electronics store before heading in to the nursing home and discussing their next plan, involving putting a jammer on an aeroplane. In prison, a beaten and bruised Tommy is brought to a holding cell where Ryan waits for him, telling him about their plan while the camera is momentarily switched off. Needing an employee with Vault access, he tells him the name of one of his associates – Kyle – but unfortunately their meeting is brought to a close sooner than expected.
Ryan then meets with Tommy’s contact and promises to give him a cut. However, he also promises to kill him if anything happens to jeopardize the plan. As the episode closes out, Ben finds a girl from the Remembrance party and stalks her down a dark alleyway. Dressed in a black hoody and the blood-spattered God mask, he follows her out of frame.
The biggest problem I had with the first season was just how mundane and formulaic the series made Purge night seem. Spread out across 10 episodes the series lacked that tense edge about it that eventually caused the series to fizzle out long before its dramatic conclusion. Here though The Purge cleverly keeps up a different sort of tension, wrapped up in several mysteries to keep things going, while switching to the different characters enough to prevent the series from stagnating. I’d imagine these mysteries will continue until the finale where the next Purge will see these stories resolved.
So far though The Purge is certainly shaping up to be a solid offering this year but whether it can sustain this through to the inevitable dramatic finale remains to be seen.