USA’s The Purge
Episode 9: “I Will Participate”
Directed by Ernest Dickerson
Written by Nick Snyder
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Giving Time is Here” – click here
* For a recap 7 review of the finale, “A Nation Reborn” – click here
With recent revelations about Joe (Lee Tergesen), we’re left wondering: who the fuck is this guy, anyway? That’s definitely been him on those instructional tapes, which has always been sketchy. What are his motivations? Hopefully we’ll find out.
Pete the Cop (Dominic Fumusa) is giving the kids from the blue bus refuge at his Cantina. He wants to help Miguel (Gabriel Chavarria) find his sister Penelope (Jessica Garz) properly instead of letting the Marine go wild in the streets. The cop has his security system working overtime. He captures one of Joe’s plates, allowing them access to his personal information, including his home address.
Meanwhile, Penelope has been taken by Joe, whose former good intentions in earlier episodes have given way to psychosis. Has he been collecting people for a private Purge of his own? It once looked like he was a saviour, but now it looks like he’s saving victims for himself. Penelope was part of the cult, Jane (Amanda Warren) works for a major financial firm, Rick (Colin Woodell) and Jenna (Hannah Emily Anderson) are real estate developers— they’re all connected to Joe somehow, and most recognise his face after he takes off his mask. Did they all have a part in ruining his life, inadvertently or otherwise?
Joe keeps his prey in a big cage. He tells them they wronged him, and plans to Purge. He’s planned a trial. He’ll give testimony, then they must confess. If he wants to he’ll “exercise mercy.” If not, he’ll Purge and “be reborn.” Some victims have to do with Saticoy’s demise, others with the health of his father. One guy’s a school bully from back in the day, showing how far Joe’s grievances extend and how petty he is to Purge somebody for decades old bullying.
Pete and Miguel come upon a roadblock of masked Purgers. They’re a bunch of women with awesome masks and lots of guns. Pete tells them who he is, and they realise he’s “off limits.” The ladies let him through, ’cause rules is rules even on Purge Night apparently. While Pete’s a good guy, this does go to show more of the classism inherent in the Purge: certain people get passes, others get no mercy.
Joe wants his old bully to confess, so the guy admits remembering him and regrets how he acted as a kid. The guy’s now homeless over a decade, as if karma came back to get him. He pleads for forgiveness. He’s already in survival mode all the time, particularly during the Purge. To kill this man would be pretty awful, and Joe’s proving himself to be pretty goddamn awful, stabbing him not far below the heart. After he takes the body away he’s ready for the next victim. This woman tries running, only to be shot down by one of her captor’s traps. Also means Jane is up on trial next.
“Wherever you go, people are people.”
We hear more about Pete’s legendary status. He’s connected to “Blue Friday,” which was when he stopped a bunch of other dirty cops from releasing the beast. This earned him status in the streets. Not everybody considers him off limits, though most do. So it’s not as much a privilege thing, it’s the fact Pete has honour that’s kept him in good graces even amongst killers.
Flashback to Joe and Jane out at a restaurant after meeting on a dating app. He told her about his specialisation in “Purge security systems“— would they be the ones designed by James Sandin’s company? He showed a bit of casual racism by assuming a black lady would be “loud and sassy.” Then he went full-on, suggesting she was let into a university because of affirmative action initiatives, stumbling into an awkward attempt to try playing it off with talk about getting pulled over by police. Jane left, paying for the meal, and this is what led to today.
Pete and Miguel reach the address for Joe. They see the place is rigged with traps. The Marine manages to unrig the door and they get inside. Nobody’s there except for Joe’s sick old dad in bed. They look around for any clues as to where to find the maniac son and come across Joe’s planning upstairs. Notice: Joe’s notes say he held a door open for Penelope, who didn’t acknowledge him whatsoever— more petty shit?
Jane’s on trial at the hands of a misogynist, and a racist, again showing Joe’s pettiness. He assumes all kinds of things about her trying to make excuses for having her there as part of his Purge. He claims she’s playing victim, when he’s doing exactly the same thing. Sounds like a typical misogynist man. Jane schools him on being a “little boy” versus “being an adult.”
Jane confesses to Purging her boss, but she doesn’t apologise for killing a “sexual predator” after all he did to her. She didn’t like it, either. Despite the cathartic element, murder, for Jane, only meant losing a piece of her soul. She realises the Purge does nothing, only empowers people to murder for whatever they deem necessary. Joe’s proving her point, too.
Before Pete and Miguel can get going to find Joe, they narrowly dodge an RPG that blows up the car. Rex is looking for the man who wronged him at the carnival. For now, the pair survive, except now they’re without a vehicle.
We see a flashback to Joe and Penelope, when he decided to mark her for not acknowledging him holding open a door. He’s so wrapped up in his psychosis that he sees that action as symbolic of a “whole generation.” He’s totally insane, driven to murderous rage by a lot of insignificant slights and some bad luck in life. His ranting gives Jane a chance to attack him, trying to help herself and the other captives. But Joe strangles her to death instead.
What a brutal episode! Joe’s turnaround from what he seemed earlier in the series is spectacular and provides compelling stuff heading into the finale. “A Nation Reborn” is next. If this is actually the last episode as is intended with the limited series, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.