Monday, January 26, 2015

Sons Of Liberty Night 2 - leaves little room to breathe!

I don't think I've ever been so thankful for commercials as I was tonight. The second night of History's Mini Series - "Sons of Liberty" - hit the ground running. For two hours I was on the edge of me seat - and dang it I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! It's not like this is something we haven't been "spoiled" on - if you don't know what's coming next, then you either flunked US History... or never took it. But, seriously, while they do take major creative liberty the key points are still going to end the same (so, no, Mom... Margaret Gage will not kill her husband by the end of tomorrow's episode, sorry).

Tonight was all about what led up to the start of the war. John Adams has joined the fight - politically - Hancock is back in the game after Gage takes his home to use as his own, and Joseph Warren is a full fledged member. Paul Revere takes the reigns as being the major player in each and every rebellious act, and being a general smart ass (again, MRJ is typecast, and I love it). We see the end of Governor Hutchinson's reign, and meet the vicious General Thomas Gage. George Washington pushes for the Sons to take matters into their own hands while the Continental Congress argues what to do. Sam Adams is declared a traitor to the crown and must hang.

And it all starts because of a little incident in the Boston Harbor... you might have heard of it, the Boston Tea Party? The Sons dump tea in the harbor right in front of the British Marines. Paul Revere smiles as he begins the effort by sending the first load of cargo to the bottom of the harbor. While the first episode had very little of the blacksmith, tonight's episode has the war veteran front and center for most of the fighting. Revere brings a lot of swagger (and even a "boom", which if you're a fan of Michael Raymond-James that word has special meaning whenever he says it ha ha) and badassery to the show. If they wanted to do a spin off series on just Revere and his buddies I wouldn't mind. Actually, I wouldn't mind if this mini series turned into a regular series. It's that good.

Thomas Gage (Marton Csokas) is the baddest villain in Colonial America - he has to be, he represents good ol' King George. He's a vicious governor who uses fear of pain and death to keep the town of Boston in line. However, whenever he pushes - the Sons push back. When he realizes money will not woo Sam Adams to toe the line, he resorts to attacking men perceived to be Adams' fellow rebels. He does so in the town square and forces the townfolk to watch. Adams nearly charges in to stop the beating of one man but is stopped by his friend.

Revere and Warren are also in attendance and afterwards Revere warns Adams that gage had "fired a warning shot" and that he'd be gunning soon for the Sons. This becomes apparent when Gage takes over Hancock's home for his own residence, and then threatens John Adams with the loss of his livelihood should his cousin continue his plight. Instead of sending the two running back into loyalty to the crown, this is seen as the final straw and both the elder Adams and Hancock run to Sam to join up and support his cause in the ways they best could - Hancock supplies the funds, and John garners political support.

Gage is not alone in his return to the Colonies - he brings along his wife, who was born and raised in New Jersey. Margaret Gage (Emily Berrington) is well spoken, and confident in herself. Her husband is a brute who has affairs while she listens in, and demands she still be a wife in every single way to him. He physically as well as emotionally abuses her, and finally pushes her into action. (Meanwhile history shows that all of this is false and that the couple seemingly enjoyed one another and there is no proof of an abusive home.)

Margaret is horrified at her husband's heavy hand on the Colonials, and defies him by standing up for them. She meets Dr. Warren and strikes up a friendship. As her husband becomes more cruel to her, she allows their friendship to grow into a full on affair (again in direct contrast to what history has always shown). Margaret then decides that she wants to help Warren and his friends by funneling key information of her husbands plans to the Sons of Liberty. (This is based on the "conspiracy" in historian circles that suggest that Mrs. Gage was Warren's source within General Gage's inner circle.) She is the one who warns Joseph that Gage knew where Sam Adams and John Hancock were hiding in Lexington and had sent his army to arrest them. This in turn sends Warren to Paul Revere who then takes his famous Midnight Right to warn the men of what's to come.

Quite frankly the affair is the most off putting thing in the whole series. They show Thomas Gage having his affair first to somehow justify Margaret's actions - all the while promoting on their website and in promos that Dr. Joseph Warren in a man of integrity. They did not need to suggest an affair to bring in a reason for Margaret to trust Joseph Warren much less be his "spy". She was born and bred Colonial. She was more apt to be responsive to their cause even without being "in love" with one of the Sons. It was pointless. But the two of them are pretty and so it stands to reason that Hollywood would bring them together.

John Pitcairn (Kevin Ryan) is Thomas Gage's right hand man. He's happy to carry out whatever task he is given - including the beatings and executions. He's essential in every major British Military movement once he and Gage land in Boston. He is the one sent to bribe Sam Adams to stop the rebellion. He's the one sent to recover Adams and Hancock when it's apparent they are not backing down.

Another ruthless British military man, Ryan's portrayal of Pitcairn leaves little doubt that Bostonians would suffer under the new rule. He's loyal to his King and his General, and will go to any length to prove that loyalty. The episode ends with him telling his men to ready themselves to fire on the green in Lexington after his demands to the Minute Men to hand over Sam Adams and John Hancock are met with mockery. Adams and Hancock are seen riding away when a shot rings out. Depending on which historical account you follow either the Redcoats fired first, or the Militia did... though many historians now believe it was a gunshot heard in town that caused the Brits to fire into the Minute Men.

It will be interesting to see how much of a role Pitcairn has in the conclusion of the series.

Finally, lets talk about our introduction to America's future first president. George Washington, played by Jason OMara is as stoic as we all remember him from History class. The Adams boys with John Hancock meet the brooding man when they head to the Continental Congress to ask for help for Boston. They are met with scorn from the rest of the delegation, saying it was Boston's problem.

Washington knows better, he's worked with Gage before - and he hates him. Washington meets briefly with the men and tells them it's time for them to fight. That it's the only way to gain the upper hand. They have to continue to be a thorn in Gage's side. And maybe, just maybe, the tide will turn and the Colonies will rally together and push the crown aside.

I was very worried about how I would like Washington, and while his part was minimal (one scene) I am highly impressed with OMara's portrayal of Good Ol' George.

And now for the gushy fangirl part. I was disappointed last night with the lack of Paul Revere. With the way they were using the character to promote the show I was expecting a lot more. Well, I can see now why - the second episode is all Revere. Sure it's still the Sam Adams show, but Revere is front and center of all the action. He's the one that Adams sends to recruit men to join the cause and fight. He's the one that sets up the intelligence network. He's the one that takes joy in being a thorn in the side of the British.

I mean he really takes joy and pride in what he does. Kinda like the actor that plays him.

Seriously though, I was very nervous going into this series that I was going to get my hopes up on both the show and MRJ's role in particular. I'm not disappointed, though. I'm totally in love with the Bostonian accent, the swagger, and just the smart alec responses he gives. In a way it's a typical role for Michael, and yet it's completely new. Paul Revere fits him.

But the best part was the ride. It wasn't completely accurate, but it was perfect just the same. From when he encounters the British troops in the woods, to when he makes it to Adams and Hancock and proceeds to tell Sam to run. Sam then says he'll stand and fight and become a martyr if he has to and Paul screams back that the cause needs Sam Adams - that without him it ends. Hancock sees the British Sentries come down the street and says it's too late, and Paul rushes out to his horse and gets the Brits to follow him allowing Sam and John to escape.

Oh, and the BEST PART was when he said "the REDCOATS are coming" for weeks I've been whining that the promos have him saying "The British are coming"... I mean I get it, they aren't going for accuracy, but come on! And then BOOM! there it was. I freaked. I bounced. I totally nerded out. At least the family was entertained.

I know the real history of that night/morning, and yet I was still on the edge of my seat. That's some good pacing right there.

Overall, another successful episode. I know it's getting a lot of hate from history buffs (and uber political minded Tea Party folk) but it's FICTION people. Take a deep breath, let it out, and enjoy the ride.

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