Seasonn Two, Episode One “This Is Not a Test”
Written by Krystal Houghton Ziv
Directed by Tim Andrew
[All images courtesy Alfonso Bresciani/USA Network]
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We begin a second season of Officially Sanctioned, All-American Carnage with The Purge TV Season Two, Episode One, “This Is Not a Test”!
The Purge TV follows four storylines this season.
*Esme Carmona (Paola Nuñez), a “tagger” working the last two hours of her Purge Night at the New Orleans NFFA Surveillance Center.
*Ryan Grant (Max Martini) and his robbery crew pulling a heist at the “First Parish Bank”
*Emergency room doctor Marcus Moore (Derek Luke), hunkered down at home with his wife Michelle (Rochelle Aytes).
*Cooke University student Ben (Joel Allen), venturing out on Purge Night to take pictures at “Suicide Bride” on a frat house dare.
NFFA Surveillance Center Notes
Teaser of the Dammed
*Megan (Cindy Robinson) asks Casting Agent (Paul T. Taylor) that oft-mocked Method Actor’s question, “What’s my motivation?”
*After four movies and 10 television episodes, we finally get to match a face to the (in)famous Purge Announcer voice; veteran voice artist Cindy Robinson has been with the series since The Purge (2013).
*Very meta moment ( of the dramatic irony variety) as Megan innocently asks, “So what is this going to be, a movie or something?”
*TV watchers of a certain age remember well the solemn, golden tones of the Emergency Broadcast System announcements. Kids today don’t know what they’re missing!
*We see a map of New Orleans in the opening title sequence, as well as on-screen ID of Esme’s workplace the New Orleans NFFA Surveillance Center.
Esme’s Long Two-Hour Shift of the Soul
*Pre-shift, Esme and her co-workers relax in those icons of 1970’s design, Lee West Alpha Chamber Egg Pod Chairs. Seems weird that they’re facing away from the healthy lights in the center of the chairs. Wonder if they’re SAD -specific lights, or garden variety light therapy?
*Is that Star Trek: Enterprise veteran Conner Trinneer I spy as Esme’s supervisor?
*Series formally begins with 2:02:46 remaining on Purge Night.
*Even on Purge Night, some crime (like the Purger seen toting a bomb) prompts a question “How would you like to tag this?” as an Infraction, Misdemeanor,
Minor Felony, or Major Felony.
The real-world examples I found referred to its use in electronic monitoring of people already convicted of a crime, or alternately (at number 25 on Dictionary.com, “to accuse of a violation, especially of a traffic law; to hold answerable or accountable for something; attach blame to”.
*The Great Seal of the NFFA reads “Per virtutem pax”,which roughly translates as “By virtue, peace”. According to the seal, the NFFA was founded in 1984.
*It can also refer to “Peace Through Strength”, featured in Ronald Reagan’s 1983 State of the Union message. Interestingly, Reagan won a second term in 1984, the year the NFFA was founded. His campaign slogan – “Morning In America“.
*Vivian (Charlotte Schweiger) notes a Level 10 official in distress. In The Purge: Election Year (2016), the NFFA “revoke(s) the rule that level 10 government officials are untouchable during the Purge” specifically to target Presidential candidate Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) for assassination.
*Vicks Vapo Rub to mask unpleasant odors is familiar to fans of both crime investigation dramas and true crime documentaries.u
*Esme’s over-arching plot thread begins when she sees a Dr. Drew Adams, someone who “helped her out of a really dark place” outside her home. Adams shot by persons asking “Professor Adams, where’s the file? and referring to “File 64”.
*Hard-working, dedicated to the ostensible justification for Purge Night, Esme embodies a uniquely NFFA version of Hannah Arendt’s “Banality of Evil“. She condemns a man to summary execution, using the technology and authority of the state to decipher Tommy’s photo-finish half-step over a property line as the last notes of the Purge siren fade. She’s just following orders, after all.
*Is the Liquidation Protocol for a Major Felony (Armed Robbery) in place every other day of the year?
*One wonders how much the as-yet fictional NFFA Surveillance State resembles its most advanced real-life example in China, where, as reviewer JohnLancester notes, “the ultimate goal is to make people internalise their sense of the state: to make people self-censor, self-monitor, self-supervise.”
*The NFFA Surveillance State, or at least what we’ve seen through four movies and the television series, mixes the lethally absolutist absurdity of Brazil, the arbitrary absolutism of Stalin’s purges, the above-mentioned technical sophistication of China, and the Sons of Jacob in The Handmaid’s Tale and the Dominonism of The Family.
*Esme may think she’s being pretty sneaky using a flash drive to download the footage of Professor Adams’s assassination, but that ceiling security camera sees all.
*Esme now has a quest for the next nine episodes; discover what happened to Professor Adams, who wanted her dead, and what the heck is in File 64.
The Ryan Grant Robbery Crew
*FINALLY, so good, old-fashioned, non-lethal criminal activity on Purge Night!
*Ryan’s crew is robbing the “1st Parish Bank”. A parish is the Louisiana equivalent of a county, so this is the Purge version of “1st County Bank”. Still a bit weird, since we’d expect to see a “1st National Bank” or “1st Federal Bank”.
*While Ryan’s second in command, Sara (Chelle Ramos) has a cool head, Tommy (Jonathan Medina) takes an almost Joker-like glee in his job, and will pay the price for his impulsiveness and greed by episode’s end.
*The main vault seems to be stocked with singles, no Benjamins ($100.00 bills). Which makes sense; wouldn’t a bank prepare for Purge Night and move large bills to a safer location? For that matter, wouldn’t electronic bank robing make more sense? Cyber crime is just as legal on Purge Night as old-fashioned robbery.
*Ryan’s safecracking tech may be the 21st century high tech version, but his dedication to the craft honors the masters of the illegal art. He also uses flash-bang grenades.
*The human jackals in tonight’s episode are a bit more proactive than their four legged namesakes; jackals in the wild usually let other animals do the work of finding prey, then feast on the unwanted scraps.
*The “honor among thieves” code the Jackals violate may be just as fictional as they are.
*Ryan’s post-Purge storyline – is it connected to Tommy’s? Will Tommy survive the Liquidation Protocol?
Marcus and Michelle: Purge Night and Chill
*Marcus (Derek Luke) and his (fiancée? wife?) Michelle (Rochelle Aytes) fall victim to a classic crime harkening back to the first Purge movie – a home invasion.
*Their security system (from Sandin Security?) unlocks itself at 5:43 in the morning.
*Michelle – hiding in the closet from a masked killer whose seemingly dead corpse later vanishes – calls back to Laurie Strode’s fight against the Bogeyman Michael Meyers in at the finale of John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978).
*Marcus pleading for help at his neighbor’s house reminded me of the first appearance of the Bloody Stranger (Edwin Hodge) in The Purge (2013).
*Marcus refers to Darin and Tonya (reference to his previous family?) in “another zip code” and their experiences during Purge Night.
*Marcus’s post-Purge storyline: find out who wanted him and Michelle dead. He has a clue in the scar seen on the assailant’s hand – and the man’s phone.
Ben and the Very Bad, No Good, Rotten Purge Night
*Ben and Turner (Matt Shively) leave their fraternity house (looks like Alpha Tau Gamma) to visit “Suicide Bridge”, which people hang themselves from instead of jumping.
*According to Greater New Orleans, Inc., “there are currently eight private colleges and universities, three public institutions, and two seminaries that serve the Greater New Orleans region.” “Cooke University” is not one of them.
*I thought I spied a woman in a blue robe hanging from the bridge – a member of the cult from Season One?
*The young woman’s outfit with a buzzsaw blade – familiar to any 80’s music fan who remembers the 1984 single “Animal (F**k Like A Beast)” from heavy metal band W.A.S.P..
*Ben’s impulse towards compassion gets him caught in a snare trap.
*The “God Mask” worn by Ghoul Face (Lakeith Stansfield) in The Purge: Anarchy (2014) returns. Ironic that that characters saw himself as merely a procurer, while this mask wearer is much more violent.
*According to the CDC, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 38 men have experienced completed or attempted rape and 1 in 14 men was made to penetrate someone (completed or attempted) during his lifetime.”
*Ben’s reaction, his revenge on the wearer of the God Mask, killing him deader than dead, will define his journey for the rest of this season. Will it lead him into a downward spiral, an embrace of The Purge?
Next episode, we’ll find out if “Everything Is Fine” for Esme, Ryan, Marcus and Ben. It airs October 22 at 9/8c on USA.
Until next week citizens, “Just remember all the good The Purge does.”
Official USA netork images, articles, and other Purge related goodies can be found here.
My deep dives into Bates Motel, The Exorcist, and Seasons 1 & 2 of Channel Zero reside at SciFi4Me; Fang and Saucer is home to my deep dives into Season One of The Purge TV, and Channel Zero Seasons 3 & 4.