Discovery Canada’s Frontier
Season 3, Episode 1: “The Low Road”
Directed by TJ Scott
Written by Sherry White
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Keetom Takooteeoo Maheekun” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “La Fin Du Monde” – click here
Season 3 opens, perhaps ironically, with a quote from Margaret Thatcher, warning about the perils of not taking a side and standing “in the middle of the road.” We then see a Northern Métis village burning wildly. Redcoats push their way through the burned trees, shooting guns. Michael Smyth (Lando Liboiron), Charleston (Demetrius Gosse), McTaggart (Jamie Sives), and Declan Harp (Jason Momoa) watch the carnage unfold and try to save the few people they can from being butchered. When a woman’s killed it sends Declan into a maniacal rage, as he watches a man burn alive while scalping another. He stops short of killing one Redcoat, who looks barely old enough to hold a gun. It’s an interesting image to see Harp carrying both tomahawks and shillelaghs— two symbols of his mixed race identity as part Irishman, part Indigenous warrior.
After the battle, Declan announces the Black Wolf Company as “Devil to the Crown” because they fight for their freedom, rather than allow themselves to be “prostitutes for fur” in the days before capitalism had its proper name. He offers the Redcoats left living the option to join them. He wants to find Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong), who he’s sure has taken Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) with him. He also asks Michael to take Fort James, as well as try to mend things with Sokanon (Jessica Matten). Meanwhile, Harp’s continuing on a mission of revenge, one way or another.
“I’m already dead. This is my resurrection.”
In London, the Hudson’s Bay Company are demarcating the territory between friend and “sworn enemies.” They’ve gotten wind of all the trouble in Ft. James, including the vendetta involving Harp. Lord Winston Fisher (Jay Simpson) has dispatched Major Vinnicombe (Paul McGillion) to the fort to rule with an iron fist.
Michael finds Sokanon in the woods, hoping to repair their relationship. She sees her friend’s death as collateral damage in the wars of white men, in spite of her previous feelings about the Irishman. He never meant for anyone to die, certainly not one of her tribe or any of the other tribes. Soon, they’re interrupted by Redcoats heading towards the Lake Walker camp. They’re searching for Smyth, but leave empty handed. “This is what you bring,” Sokanon tells him. In the meantime, Michael and Jean-Marc Rivard (Paul Fauteux) try to make a proper deal with Kamenna (Tantoo Cardinal).
Up in Montreal, Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) and Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk) receive a visit from Mjr. Vinnicombe. The military man speaks of rumours surrounding Grant. People in London are talking. Grant recounts his life trading since his younger days, trying to play coy. However, his warehouses are already being raided under the King’s Law. Vinnicombe mentions Cobbs recently doing business with Smyth, who the major seeks to find. Will they use Clenna (Lyla Porter-Follows) to lure in her former lover? Will they get caught between a rock and a hard place with the HBC? We see more brief bits of their sexual relationship, yet it seems Cobbs is more invested in it than Grant, whose patience wears thin with his right-hand man.
Grace is stuck with scoundrels and Chaulk (Kathryn Wilder) sailing through James Bay. She wonders what her fate will be, at the hands of Benton. She also knows Chaulk isn’t a boy, confiding in the younger woman about the real Harp, not the “animal” others hear about from the law. She further tells Chaulk about the brutal nature of Benton, too. Later, at Moose Fort, the lord docks and meets an old friend, looking for a place to keep Grace. But our Ms. Emberly is tricky, and she’s able to get Chaulk fully on her side, as the two make a daring escape in the middle of the night.
Across the city, Grant goes to the church where he finds Douglas Brown (Allan Hawco) mourning his murdered wife. He wants to offer the man a “business proposition,” which only further insults Douglas. He worries about the “long shadow of the Crown.” The Brown brother threatens Mr. Grant when he’s pushed too far. This sends the rich fur trader off in anger. He later rages at Clenna. She doesn’t take his shit. Grant’s proof even gay men can be misogynists, heaping all his problems onto her. Clenna assures she can handle things, if he’s so eager on blaming her.
Things get too cold along the way for McTaggart, so Charleston starts wrapping him in furs. For a while, Harp is far ahead of them, too intent on his mission to realise what else is going on around him. He eventually rushes back to try and help, getting McTaggart bundled up before carrying on again over rough, open terrain.
That evening, Douglas finds Clenna at his door. She brings back a hat belonging to his wife. She starts asking about his business, talking up Elizabeth. The widower doesn’t care for Grant, though he likes Ms. Dolan. He returns the hat, asking her to keep it.
Around a fire, Michael and Rivard meet a few people, like O’Reilly (Stephen Oates) and his outfit who hate the HBC, having been robbed of their furs. The Irishman suggests forming “an alliance” with others trying to compete against the nasty HBC. Perhaps this chance meeting in the forest could bring more revolution.
On their walk, Harp, Charleston, and McTaggart come upon a cave where they’re able to get out of the weather and stay warm. Harp and Charleston skin and cook a rabbit, sitting back to back by the fire eating while their friend lies under fur attempting to return his body temperature to normal. And Declan can’t stop thinking of Grace, seeing her face as the woman he watched die in the village earlier. In the morning, it’s off walking again, heading for Moose Fort. First, they’ll need an army.
Goddamn! What an opening to Season 3. The beginning scene alone is worthy of awards.
“La Fin Du Monde” is next.