Discovery Canada’s Frontier
Season 1, Episode 6: “The Gallows”
Directed by Ken Girotti
Written by Greg Spottiswood
* For a review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “The Disciple” – click here
The finale is here. What a first season this has been! Very impressed with my fellow Newfoundlanders. A few of my friends actually work on the show and they’ve had a great time shooting. Currently they’re working on Season 2.
With Declan Harp (Jason Momoa) being brought into the forest by Sokanon (Jessica Matten) and Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron), Fort James still firmly under the thumb of Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong), what will happen next?
Declan will be okay. Yet this is only a part of his journey; he’s a ways to go before it’s even close to over. Physically, he’s on the way to healing. He cauterises his own wound by the fire, taking it like a champ. Already he looks fit to take on Benton and his redcoats all over again.
Side note: love the theme song, it’s a damn fine introduction to the show and gets you kind of pumped. The entire score is wonderful, really. Gives the period of the series an interesting feeling.
Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) is apprehensive about moving forward with his plans to become Governor. Although having a woman like Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle), strong and confident, cheering him on is a help. Not sure exactly how I feel about Chesterfield, given that he’s shown himself to be nasty. My only thought is whether he’ll prove to be useful down the line. Right now, Grace shows him out then discovers Harp in her back room. For a guy that everyone knows, and many are looking for, Declan doesn’t care about waltzing through the fort. Bad ass, or too easy from a writing perspective? I’m not sure. Either way Grace helps him out so he doesn’t perish. She consoles him when he weeps for his wife and his child, having been tortured and killed mercilessly by Benton.
At the same time, Sokanon, Michael, and Clenna (Lyla Porter-Follows) head back through the woods to find Declan. A fight breaks out between the two women, before Sokanon throws them both to the ground and leaves. Clenna isn’t so keen on following, but Michael’s sure in his path. Along the way she winds up falling and breaking her leg, badly.
Grace: “I‘ve waited so long for you. You cannot leave me. Not like this.”
Declan: “I‘m sorry. I have to do this.”
Meanwhile, Benton is gearing up to do in Harp and anybody in his way. No matter what: “Declan Harp‘s head is to be stuck on the end of a bayonet and displayed in the yard.”
Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) and Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk) are now in Fort James at the Ale House, to speak with Grace. They head out back for a drink, a chat. Grant wants to see her furs, but she’s not impressed with the surprise. Then he gets passive-aggressive, forcing her hand. She makes clear her position in Fort James is vital. But Grant, he’s a mysterious one. I’m excited to see more of his character next season. He then goes over to see Benton, who calls Grace a “whore with more ambition than sense” and that almost seems to hit Grant with unease. Then the Lord gets into a bit of tough talk. And right outside lurks Harp; something only Mr. Pond senses.
At the Ale House, Malcolm Brown (Michael Patric) sits with Chesterfield. The Captain is surprised. Then Malcolm goes on about his brothers, Cedric and Douglas (Allan Hawco); he says the former was a mess, but he’s still going to take bloody revenge. It’s only Grace what breaks them up. She takes Chesterfield aside to tell him about Grant, which doesn’t make the man too happy. He then turns violent. Now I’m sure: this guy is bullshit. I hope Grace sticks a knife in his gut.
Not long after Sokanon and Michael arrive with Clenna. And the young Irish girl’s in rough shape. She’s also worried about Michael leaving her. Not to mention she may lose a leg if Grace can’t fix it. The bone doesn’t set properly the first time, so they’ve got to break it. Then set it again.
And while things go on, Grant and Pond plot their next move. From out of the dark woods comes Harp. They’re finally face to face. “We‘re both committed to the demise of the HBC, are we not?” says Grant. So he and Harp work out their terms, which end with the latter knifing Benton and cutting off his head. THAT, my friends, is a plan. Plus he has Sokanon on his side. For her part, she doesn’t want to trust Michael. She’d rather they charge ahead together. However, Harp is on a one-man warpath. He tasks her with keeping Michael on their side, training him, and forging on.
Ms. Emberly goes about her sneaky business. She meets with Malcolm and tells him about Chesterfield, his daily walks. To avenge Cedric’s murder. Or is it all a ruse to get Malcolm right where Chesterfield wants him? Hmm. I’m going to bet that it’s the first option, and that Chesterfield will manage to get out alive, leaving a possibility of trouble for Grace afterwards. Just a guess. Sure enough, the Captain and Malcolm duke it out hard before Chesterfield beats him near to death, only stopping when Father Coffin (Christian McKay) interrupts.
Together again, Sokanon and Michael try to figure out what to do. He wants to be loyal to Harp, but not to let him go it alone, even if Sokanon agreed to leave him be. Michael heads out and finds his friend in the woods, determined to help. Simultaneous, we see Grant walk with Benton, as he worked it out with Declan. They talk business, as the Lord is unsuspecting of what’s just around the corner, figuratively and literally.
Benton: “You have stones, Mr. Grant. But if you think I won‘t cut them off and feed them to the ravens, you‘re wrong.”
Grant goes on to let Benton and his redcoats know Declan is in the woods nearby, waiting to kill him. A fight breaks loose, and once Benton calls for Michael to be killed, Declan chooses to save him. Landing right in the hands of Pond, Grant, and Benton, as Michael gets away. Although things aren’t sitting well with Grant and Benton, they’re still not on the same side. The Lord reluctantly lets him and Pond leave, no punishment, but the relationship’s not merry. Down in the dungeon, Harp is chained to the floor, captured like déjà vu.
While Michael must leave Clenna behind, he goes on with Sokanon and Grace – as well as Imogen (Diana Bentley) and Mary (Breanne Hill) – to enact a plan to spring Declan free. It involves gunpowder, if you couldn’t have guessed! Oh yes. And they’d better get moving. Harp is brought out to a stage, fitted with a noose round his neck, a crowd and Benton watching on.
A fire is lit. An explosion flames from the woods. Guns go off. Declan is dropped from the platform and hung by the neck, but frees his hands to break the noose. Benton tries to shoot at him and Father Coffin takes a bullet. In a climactic moment, Michael shoots Benton before he can fire on Declan. When Chesterfield tries shooting at him, he’s already gone.
Out in the hills by the ocean, Harp crawls, bloody, freezing. He passes out, alone in the wilderness. Will he survive? Will someone find him?
We’ll have to wait and see.
What a finale! Wow, was it ever wild. The cliffhanger ending is exciting because really, even if there weren’t already a Season 2 in production (it’s being shot here in Newfoundland currently), this could end on an interesting note. But there’s more coming. And I, for one, cannot wait. I’ll have to, though. At least we can watch these over again, drink in the nicely captured period setting, locations, and the great cinematography. I have to say, the acting was damn good, for the most part, too. A satisfying Season 1 for Frontier.