Posted on

Discovery’s Frontier – Pilot: Capitalism, Colonialism, Blood; Oh, My!

Discovery’s Frontier
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Brad Peyton
Written by Peter Blackie, Rob Blackie, & Perry Chafe

* For a review of the next episode, “Little Brother War” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-12-07-38-am
In the world of fur trading, we start in disputed territory where things have gone violent and bloody. A man named Declan Harp (Jason Momoa) is seeing to it that those on that land, land which doesn’t belong to them, feel his wrath. He’s sending a message to the British: this is war.
In London, at the Hudson’s Bay Company, Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) is getting report from Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) about what Harp has done. We also discover Declan is half-Native, half-Irish. Seems Chesterfield is a bit of a cocky fellow, hoping to rush in and take care of the man. But Benton is smarter, knowing Declan could be a much bigger problem than just a little bit of rebellion. He wants to use the rebel leader an “example.”
Around Gravesend Pier a few thieves are trying to keep themselves in food, hoping to survive, and not sure how long they will. They soon set their sights on a ship full of redcoats. They want to steal a bit of gunpowder to hawk off, make a handful of coin.
Along a river in disputed territory, Harp finds Jean-Marc Rivard (Paul Fauteux). They’ve got dealings together, each of them fairly skilled in the art of business. Harp is trying to get a meeting with Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle). Although Rivard tells him the furs they’ve been given so far aren’t enough. Declan says he’s going to make a deal with the Cree. Hmm. Is that wishful thinking on his part?


The thieves – Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) and Clenna Dolan (Breanne Hill) – sneak onto the boat for the gunpowder in the night. They’re crafty, this crew. Michael warns Clenna to be careful with handling it or “the last thing thatll go through your mindll be your arse.” On deck, they’re headed off by a couple of men, and their friend is stabbed to death, thrown overboard. Clenna makes off into the dark, as Michael does his best to weasel a way to safety; for the time being he stows away below deck. Doesn’t help when the ship is off to sea and he’s just waking up. Fuck sakes, Mikey. That is the last place you want to be. Not even like they’re close to shore, either. Right out on the open ocean. Let’s hope he is crafty enough to get himself out of there safely. As for Clenna, she’s been caught and locked away.
Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) tends bar at a tavern. She knows quite a few people. One man has no money for drink, so he trades a few secrets on the HBC for a glass. Good Christ, the stuff she has to endure. A drunk governor rambles on about Lord Benton and there’s talk of him coming over to bring his own wrath to Declan Harp. However, Grace puts it in perspective: “What he brings is opportunity.”
Eventually Michael’s found below deck. Before he gets tossed overboard, Lord Benton gives him a chance to redeem himself. When what he tells the Lord is true Benton kills another man in front of everybody. Then puts a ring back on his bloody hand. One ruthless bastard. Michael winds up getting a spot on the boat, though surely he’ll have to make himself of use. Chesterfield meets with Benton later, they talk about the competition “choking off” their fur trade endeavours. They set their sights on Harp as a demonstration of power. To snuff out any further competition. Benton tasks Smyth with tracking down Declan, reaching out via their similar Irish blood. To take the deal Michael wants Clenna released and his charges dropped. But is he going to like making this deal with the devil down the road? I think not. I guarantee that.
screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-12-29-51-am
Samuel Grant receives a greeting from Rivard. The fairly fancy Grant is trying on a sealskin coat. His trapper friend requests him to a meeting with Harp. Doesn’t seem like the man is interested. Rivard all but begs him. Of course Declan’s reputation precedes him. What we’re seeing here are the various power struggles, so many people rushing to capitalism that there is a struggle to climb to the top. In the end, Grant agrees to a meeting. Only if the notorious man comes to him in Montreal.
At Fort James – far as I can tell, this fort was located in disputed territory somewhere between Quebec and New Brunswick, likely closer to the latter (see here) – Michael winds up in a predicament when a redcoat is murdered. Father Coffin (Christian McKay) helps him on a whim and gets him away from a bit of trouble. The priest claims himself as the guide Smyth is seeking. Coffin reluctantly says he’ll take him to Harp. Eventually, anyways. I get the feeling Coffin’s a greasy con artist. And he is, indeed!
On Benton’s ship Grace goes to see the Lord. She sets the record straight on Michael not having anything to do with the murder earlier. She also tries to ingratiate herself to the Lord, make things easier for herself. She winds up taking a maid named Imogen (Diana Bentley) on to help at the tavern; the “eyes and ears” for Benton, like you could’ve guessed.
Chesterfield goes to the tavern and questions a barmaid named Mary (Breanne Hill) about Michael, under the eye of Grace. But that isn’t much help. This Chesterfield is a rotten bastard. Even chokes Mary, at least until Grace pulls a blade on him.


Out amongst the woods Coffin leads Michael towards wherever they’ll find Harp. The younger man reveals to the supposed priest he “has no choice” except go forward and meet the fur trader. Oh, if only the redcoats didn’t find them. Or perhaps that isn’t the case. Coffin probably wasn’t going to take him to the right place; the con artist thing and all. So the two are held captive. That night Natives led by Sokanon (Jessica Matten) attack the camp, killing the redcoats. They whisk Coffin and Mike away.
Trekking through the woods they work their way across the a river to a camp inland. There, they meet Harp; he’s covered in blood, having worked on an animal recently, doing a bit of skinning. Michael admits to looking for Declan, yet the man himself doesn’t believe that. Most of all nobody is impressed with the priest.
And young Mike Smyth has a choice: give up information on Lord Benton, or “join the priest.” Death is around the corner. Just depends on how much.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-12-54-41-am
Not all of this first episode impressed me. Enough of it did that I’m excited to see the second episode now. Some of this was shot in my home province of Newfoundland, so it’s nice to see our locations on display. Both Momoa and Liboiron have me interested already. Very much looking forward to what they’ll do respectively and together.
The following episode is titled “Little Brother War” and I’m hoping there’ll be a good bit of action to get us going hard into the rest of the season. Here’s to more Frontier!

Advertisements

About FATHER SON HOLY GORE

I'm a B.A.H. graduate & a Master's student with a concentration in pre-19th century literature. Although I've studied everything from Medieval literature onward, spent an extensive time studying post-modern works. I completed my Honours thesis on John Milton's Paradise Lost and the communal aspects of its conception, writing, as well as its later printing and publication. I'm starting my Master's program doing a Creative Thesis option aside from the coursework. This Thesis will eventually become my debut novel. I get to work with Newfoundland author Lisa Moore, one of the writers in residence at MUN. I am also a writer and a freelance editor. My stories "Funeral" and "Sight of a Lost Shore" are available in The Cuffer Anthologies Vol. VI & VII. Stories to be printed soon are "Night and Fog", and "The Book of the Black Moon" from Centum Press (both printed in 2016) and "Skin" from Science Fiction Reader. Another Centum Press anthology will contain my story "In the Eye of the Storm" to be printed in 2017. Newfoundland author Earl B. Pilgrim's latest novel The Adventures of Ernest Doane Volume I was edited by me, too. Aside from that I have a short screenplay titled "New Woman" that's going into production during 2017. Meanwhile, I'm writing more screenplays, working on editing a couple novels I've finished, and running this website/writing all of its content. I also write for Film Inquiry frequently. Please contact me at u39cjhn@mun.ca or hit me up on Twitter (@fathergore) if you want to chat, collaborate, or have any questions for me. I'm also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fathersonholygore. Cheers!

2 responses to “Discovery’s Frontier – Pilot: Capitalism, Colonialism, Blood; Oh, My!

  1. Eugene Pantano ⋅

    I am enjoying the FRONTIER Series…my kind of program…
    and is directly related to something I have done…just a tad bit of difference in time..

    In 1952 or thereabouts… I was rummaging through a home being torn down to make way for a highway interchange ( that never happened) .. In the basement — in the beams… I found a French Flintlock Pistol dating to the late 1700’s….with a Powder Horn and a stack of handwritten pages… A manuscript for a book…
    I gathered it all up and hauled it home…. After retiring from the ARMY — I finally got all the pages in order and had a Book Published by Vantage Press — who were no more than thieves. They stunk..
    Anyway..the book is about the gathering of a crew of FUR TRAPPERS and Traders ..to load a Ship — TONQUIN…that was to sail around the American Coast – from NYC to the Washington State ..Canadian Border area….
    Indian problems were in their way…..
    John Jacob Astor funded the expedition….and where they settled and set up their Settlement Area — was called ASTORIA…which…became the FIRST Settlement of WHITE folks on the West Coast of North America…
    My book is named The Voyage of TONQUIN…. This a a factual record of their settlement of Astoria…the burning of their Ship by Indians..and their struggle to return to the East Coast by foot and Canoe with the FURS they had..and their lives…
    Would make a FANTASTIC Series Story to follow FRONTIER…..
    and…TONQUIN has been found…..sunk off the coast of Southern Canada……just North of Washington State…

    Liked by 1 person

Tell me what you're thinkin'

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s