USA’s The Purge
Season 2, Episode 1: “This Is Not a Test”
Directed by Tim Andrew
Written by Krystal Houghton Ziv
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “A Nation Reborn” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Everything is Fine” – click here
An actress arrives for an audition. She’s very enthusiastic. “This is not a test,” she begins— this is an audition for the voice that’ll be used to broadcast at the beginning of the Purge. She starts to have ethical questions about the script. She’s told not to worry about it. She continues, unaware this won’t be used for “a movie or something,” it’ll be part of a national policy.
At a New Founding Fathers of America Surveillance Centre, employees are ready for the last Purge Night shift for this year. Esme Carmona (Paola Núñez) and others watch endless amounts of violent footage. There’s every kind of depraved activity occurring. Esme finds someone carrying a bomb— actually a major felony, even during the Purge. Her co-worker Vivian Ross (Charlotte Schweiger) is on her first Purge Night and finding it difficult, whereas she works every one. An interesting look at the minute details of the job here, such as when someone inevitably pukes from what they’re forced to watch.
Marcus (Derek Luke) and Michelle (Rochelle Aytes) Moore are in bed trying to ride out the tail end of the Purge, living their normal lives. Outside are the faint sounds of violence while they sit tucked away in bourgeois safety. They talk about having a baby then get intimate. Soon the security system’s doors go up and the two find someone shooting at them in the house.
A crew of people are robbing a bank. Ryan Grant (Max Martini) leads the team, along with the potentially slightly unpredictable Tommy Ortiz (Jonathan Medina), and Sara Williams (Chelle Ramos). Outside keeping watch is Doug Vargas (Jaren Mitchell). Things go pretty smooth and the crew gets inside the vault. Tommy starts bitching about the amount of money almost immediately. Before they can get out of the bank, they’re confronted by a crew called the Jackals— “thieves who steal from other thieves” during the Purge. They’re outnumbered big time. That doesn’t stop Ryan from going on the offensive. However, they’re even more trapped now.
Marcus gets Michelle to safety. He uses blood from where a bullet grazed him to try luring the intruder. He calls out, drawing the man. After a few seconds, Michelle arms the safety system again. Marcus runs to his neighbour’s place, getting no help. He nearly gets shot up when he comes across a crashed car with a body next to it, as men shoot from a nearby apartment. Eventually there’s more gunfire when another car shows up. This gives Marcus time to pull a corpse from the crashed vehicle. It won’t start, and his would-be killer remains nearby, so he’s left hiding in the backseat.
Esme sees a woman named Drew Adams, a close friend, stuck outside. There’s only less than an hour left to Purge Night. It may be difficult for her to survive even that long. Esme plays it off like no big deal, but keeps watching. It isn’t long before her friend’s gunned down. She hears people asking her about “a code” or a file. She’s sure something isn’t right. And she might be putting her job in jeopardy to look into it.
Frat boys are doing a “scavenger hunt.” They’re trying to get a picture at the so-called “Suicide Bridge.” They find a bunch of people hanged. Ben (Joel Allen) is horrified. His buddy Turner (Matt Shively) makes jokes before snapping a photo on his phone. On their way back home, they hear a woman weeping. Ben goes towards the opening of a building, only to get pulled inside where he’s locked with the woman. A masked man, wearing the same mask as one of the Purgers in The Purge: Anarchy, appears from the dark with a stun gun. Ben’s about to be raped when he manages to get his hands on a knife, stabbing his assaulter to death.
Things are getting ugly at the bank. Only 5 minutes until the end of Purge Night.
Doug’s snatched from outside by the Jackals. This forces Ryan to give over the money. Inside is hidden a flash grenade, allowing his crew the opportunity to slip out. They don’t have a ride anymore. Tommy does get in to pull the money out, but it leaves Ryan and the rest of the crew at odds with him because of their code of conduct. Technically their robbery’s now “after the siren” by a “photo finish.”
Marcus and Ben are left in similar positions after Purge Night is over, wondering why they were almost killed. Particularly Marcus, who finds a phone on the street where he last saw the body of the man trying to kill him— he was specifically targeted, unlike Ben’s random assault. Ryan’s crew are divided and the heat of the law will soon come down on them. And Esme hasn’t taken into account all the surveillance being done on the Surveillance Centre itself, forgetting her privileged position in the workplace doesn’t make her exempt from the government’s eyes.
A solid opener for Season 2!
Surely a wild ride ahead. Nice to see new stories, and a different timeline as opposed to Season 1 being all based around Purge Night itself. Should be macabre fun to watch how things play out this time around.
“Everything is Fine” is next time.