Season 1, Episode 2: “Little Brother War”
Directed by Brad Peyton
Written by Perry Chafe
* For a review of the Pilot, “A Kingdom Unto Itself” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mushkegowuk Esquewu” – click here
Last we left Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron), he was in the clutches of Declan Harp (Jason Momoa), at his mercy.
In Montreal, Douglas Brown (Allan Hawco) talks of Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle), hoping to get him to invest in the ventures of him and his brothers Cedric (Stephen Lord) and Malcolm (Michael Patric). They urgently want to get in on the fur trade, hoping to be “richer than we ever imagined.”
In disputed territory, two young Native men – one a grandson of a prominent indigenous chief named Kitchi (Kiowa Gordon) – play a game of hunter, chasing each other around the woods. Before a couple white men led by Cedric Brown shoot them, catching Kitchi to use for a deal with the tribe. The other boy makes it back to their land warning of the white men wearing the “Red and Blue” on their coloured sashes.
Back with Michael, and the fairly pathetic Father James Coffin (Christian McKay), he’s tied to a stake and awaiting the decisions of Harp. We discover a little more about Declan: he had a Cree mother and an Irish father. Nothing else matters other than Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) right now for him. He wants to know what Michael knows of his plans. Of course the younger of the two, tied to that stake, gives up whatever information he can think to share. He also reveals that the woman he loves, Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter-Follows) would be hanged if he didn’t do what Benton wanted. Then, Harp frees him.
At the Native camp, one of the women advises they must “be patient” and not act yet. But that’s a tough sell for the warriors, wanting not to let the British overtake them completely. Although she advises, they have much to lose in conflict with the Natives.
Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) receives a bloodied, thirsty Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) in her establishment. She asks of what happened, though Chesterfield acts ignorant of what went on, more upset at himself than he is lashing out at Grace. She patches him up, offering the Captain a sort of deal: she’ll do what she can to help him become Governor, long as he becomes a business partner. Hmm, now that’s a relationship I want to see more of going forward. Might prove interesting.
On his ship, Lord Benton has Thredwell hung to make a point. He gives a speech about the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Navy being “run ragged by men in canoes.” He thinks nothing of the French, the Scots, and certainly not of the Natives or Harp. He commands “total domination” and the capture of Declan. This Benton is an intensely evil man, he makes his crew swear to Thredwell having killed himself, too.
Coffin and Smyth keep waiting anxiously for their fates. They’re given a little food by Sokanon (Jessica Matten), a small kindness which Michael appreciates. It’s still not clear exactly what Declan plans on doing with them, even if they’re not tied to a post any longer.
One of Grace’s girls takes her to their storage house, inside is Cedric Brown with Kitchi wounded and bleeding. Not a good situation, for any of them. Luckily Grace takes care of the boy to pull him through. She gets a bit of information about Grant from Cedric, that he’s a money man. This raises her eyebrows significantly.
Meanwhile, Douglas and Malcolm arrive in Grant’s Montreal home. The brothers try to tell the man about their upcoming agreement with the Eastern Cree, however, Grant knows of their debt. They need a large investment. We see the difference in the Brown brothers; looks as if Douglas is the most level headed of the group.
Onto the boat goes Benton’s undercover barmaid Imogen (Diana Bentley), bringing him information on Cedric. Moreover, we get another glimpse of the Lord and his nasty ways, dropping a coin for her to pick up then stepping right on her knuckles. He treats every single person in his way as an object, especially women. Regardless, Benton is ever out to make money, to destroy anyone against him. He sends Chesterfield out to do his bidding, another man of whom I’m not a fan. He goes straight to Grace, angry about Kitchi in her care. Then when Cedric interrupts he’s stabbed deep in the gut by the raging Captain. Oh, shit.
Out in the Cree camp Declan brings items to ingratiate himself to the tribe. Samoset (Zahn McClarnon) watches Michael and Coffin, as Harp heads in to talk with the tribe leader Okimaw. Turns out the gifts Harp brought likewise include the two captives. In a tipi, Declan talks with Okimaw about Kitchi being captured. He promises to track the boy down and headed for Fort James, still with the priest and the kid in tow.
Grace does her best to convince Chesterfield of her Make Him Governor plan. She advises he’ll have to “discredit” Benton in London. They’re playing a tricky game, both of them know this, and Imogen works at her pub. But she is determined, at all costs, to make this work. She’s a tricky lass, I love it. She’s also got her own spy, Mary (Breanne Hill).
Then Harp walks in to speak with Grace, they know one another well. Except they’ve not seen each other in months. He asks her about Kitchi, so she tells him about Brown, and Benton’s men who came later. Furthermore, Grace lets us in on the fact something happened to Declan’s wife, obviously involving Benton. I wonder what dark secret lies there.
The Native boy is kept at the Governor’s House, guarded by men. Benton is there, as well. Declan wants to “slit their throats as they sleep” but the others don’t think it’s wise. Michael wants to use his former position as spy for Benton to simply walk right in. Later, he’ll let the rest inside. Is he on their side, or still with Benton? Samoset and Declan both believe he’s on theirs, and let him go.
Michael meets Benton, who believed he was lost. He’s only curious about Harp. Most of what comes from the kid is half-truths, a bunch of lies. He does his best to conceal anything about the man to Benton, though Michael still worries for Clenna and her safety. The Lord also works to make the young man worry for his own safety around the Cree-Irish rebel. “Do not be seduced by Declan Harp, your own life will be in peril.”
As night falls deeper, Michael sneaks about to find Kitchi’s location. He then alerts Declan and the others. Declan, Samoset, and Michael go together, and the assault begins. They make away with Kitchi, as Samoset winds up gravely wounded. He lays bleeding in Declan’s arms, passing away slowly.
Next morning, Benton surveys the damage. Dead men everywhere, blood in the grass. Simultaneously, Chesterfield is over helping Grace with stolen pelts, just the beginning of their newest business venture. And back on Cree land Kitchi is returned to his grandmother and the tribe, safely. Okimaw assures that Samoset is on the “next stage of his walk” and they all gather to honour the loss of his life. Michael offers his condolences, calling Samoset a kind man – Declan reveals to Smyth they need the Lakewalker tribe in the Cree nation because they’re an army unto themselves.
Later in the dead of night Michael wakes to noises outside of his tipi. He heads to another where Kitchi lies bloody, throat slit open. When Michael runs back out he’s knocked out by a large, bearded man and carried off into the darkness. Wow, this sets up an exciting next episode.
Loved this episode more than the first, honestly. A really great follow up that truly makes the rest of the first season look and feel more exciting. Everything was better, from the acting to costumes, to the use of locations. So happy to see a series filmed here in Newfoundland doing well out of the gate.
Next episode is titled “Mushkegowuk Esquewu” and I’m beginning to sense we’ll see more of Declan and the Cree coming together.