USA’s The Purge
Season 2, Episode 4: “Grief Box”
Directed by Jaime Reynoso
Written by Desta Tedros Reff
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Blindspots” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “House of Mirrors” – click here
Families of those killed in the Purge are given a special Remembrance Day. They’re sent care packages with the supposed ashes of their loved ones, but it’s really just a pile of ash mixed together. It could be anyone. People wear a “yellow flower” to commemorate the people they’ve lost.
We see Remembrance Day now, 3 months following the latest Purge. Esme has her own box. She gets a visit from Darren. He found something archived in the university’s library. It was a secret study Adams was conducting— there are physical copies of studies she was conducting on violence and addiction, which goes against what the NFFA says about catharsis and its relation to “violent crime.” Adams was looking to see if the Purge was serving to make people more violent. Esme’s hoping to use that all-seeing eye of the government to try looking for the people in the experiments. But Darren only worries about the implications of the government’s reach and its ability to “suppress dissent.” And it’s all got to do with why Adams was, effectively, assassinated.
PTSD and rage has intertwined within Ben’s psyche. He’s home practising his punches when his girlfriend sees a report on the man from the strawberry stand. Ben stops to watch, finding out authorities claim the guy died of heat stroke. Hmm. Strange for a guy who was stabbed to death and had his head caved in with a rock. Could someone be keeping an eye on Ben, to make sure he isn’t getting caught? There has to be someone covering it up, because that dead guy would’ve been a MESS.
Marcus is starting to find out his would-be assassin-funding enemy is closer to home than he’d like, and this troubles Michelle. He’s going to get to the bottom of his near murder before the job’s actually accomplished. Elsewhere, Esme is using the surveillance at her job to look into the people from the experiment. She discovers that they’re all dead. No coincidence.
At a weapons store, Ben runs into a guy named Andy, a fellow Purge Night killer. They get talking, bonding over what they’ve done. Andy is pretty proud, insisting there’s “nothing to be ashamed of” because what they did was their right. This leads to the two young men chatting and deciding to party together. Nothing better than partying with your psycho bros, bro! That’s where Ben gets the idea to start putting people on a list to Purge next year. Like the guy who left him to die.
We get a flashback to Marcus, on Purge Night 14 years prior. He got out of his car and found himself at the mercy of a bunch of people wielding weapons. He was able to make it inside before anything happened. He and a bunch of others were holed up in a house where they’d survive the night. His first wife, Tonya, was patiently waiting there with their boy. Definitely some sore memories there.
In present day, Marcus and Tanya meat at a cookout in their old neighbourhood. Things seem okay between them. They don’t talk so much, but they don’t have a strained relationship by the looks of it. More of that night 14 years ago shows that the power got cut, plunging the place into darkness. A chainsaw starting sawing its way through the barricaded door. Marcus fired a shot through and the sawing stopped. Another masked man slipped in behind them, snatching Tanya and threatening to cut her throat. She ordered Marcus to put the gun down. She recognised the masked kid as someone named Eli. She and the others try talking him down. He eventually let go of the knife, and Tanya embraced him.
At the cookout, Marcus sees someone pull up in the truck that nearly ran him over recently. Inside is his friend Andre— one of the men in the house 14 years ago— and this sends Marcus into a raging tailspin, attacking him on the lawn. Darren steps in and defuses the situation. It’s clear Marcus is paranoid. Although that’s a dick move, can you blame him? He explains what happened on Purge Night to Tanya. She mentions someone came around during summer of last year asking about him. This has Marcus totally unsure of where to turn next, reaching out on an Ivory Road message board to look directly for whoever’s trying to murder him.
Ryan and his crew continue their planning of the next big job. They’re getting to a point where they require Tommy’s expertise. That could be mighty tricky, considering their buddy is slated to be executed on the next Purge Night, and he’s lacked down by the American government. Speaking of government, Esme is going far beyond NFFA purview to try tracking down one of the women from the experiments, Olivia. She uses her credentials to get into Olivia’s apartment, looking around the place for anything potentially useful. Naturally the woman’s dead in her bathtub, wrists cut.
Ryan goes to see Tommy in jail. He uses his old cop connections to get five minutes without cameras watching them to have a conversation. He needs to get a bank employee with vault access on their side. Tommy’s got his own connections and may have a potential lead, though he warns the dude is erratic.
Looks like Ben isn’t willing to wait until next Purge to take his revenge. He sneaks up behind his frat brother with a knife. He sees Turner crying, after receiving a box in remembrance of his brother. Turner apologises for leaving him “to die,” particularly after thinking of his own brother and whether someone left him in the same position. Will Ben change his mind? For the moment he’ll let it slide. It’s a long, long 9 months left until Purge Night, though. Maybe he’ll find a new target for his misplaced anger.
Ryan meets with the sketchy bank guy. He just wants access to the vaults before they’re boarded onto the planes. He wants to get in there before Purge Night. He’ll agree to make the guy “very rich.” Pretty obvious this banker is not the usual type of person Ryan and his crew. So Ryan put it in simple terms: if this man puts him or his crew in danger, he’ll be killed.
At the NFFA Surveillance Centre, Esme is looking into security footage of Olivia. She continually runs into a dead end. She calls the cop involved. He claims the case is closed and Adams’s death was ruled a suicide. We hear more about Esme’s sister, who, evidently, was killed on Purge Night. But now she’s wondering who it is that’s watching her. The answer’s obvious: her boss.
Crazy Ben’s decided to Purge early.
He wears the bloody God mask, infected with violence.
A wild episode. Things have certainly gotten nuts.
Will Marcus come any closer to the truth? And is Ben going to keep on killing?
“House of Mirrors” is next time.