Frontier – Season 2, Episode 4: “Mutiny”

Discover’s Frontier
Season 2, Episode 4: “Mutiny”
Directed by David Frazee
Written by Adriana Maggs

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Wolf and the Bear” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Cannonball” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 12.40.18 PMIn Montreal, we find Malcolm Brown (Michael Patric) running into Declan Harp (Jason Momoa). The big man needs a buyer for pelts. He wants to get a meeting with Elizabeth Carruthers (Katie McGrath) via Malcolm’s brother, her new husband Douglas (Allan Hawco). Of course he wants a bit of money for the trouble. But he takes Harp, along with Charleston (Demetrius Grosse), to meet the widow. She’s pleasantly surprised. They chat briefly, and she invites him to her place for dinner that evening. While McTaggart (Jamie Sives), Charleston, and Harp plan, there’s always Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk) lurking, plotting, keeping an eye out out for Mr. Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle).
What a devious business, the fur trade.
Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 12.41.18 PMWhat about Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) and Sokanon (Jessica Matten)? They’re watching the root cellar, the storehouse. It’s obvious they care for one another, yet the divide between their worlds is always evident, as well. In the meantime, they’re going to talk with Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) for more help with their latest plans. Except that Grace isn’t around, she’s in Montreal. There’s nastier stuff about within the fort itself, as women like Imogen (Diana Bentley) have to sell themselves to the awful men there, and Mary (Breanne Hill) is only safe because she tends bar. It’s a hideous situation. One that Sokanon hates to witness.
Out on the ship, Chaulk (Kathryn Wilder) and Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) hear the vicious whipping of Mr. Darragh (Joel Thomas Hynes) before he’s tossed in a cell, as well. The Lord is getting his brutishness back. I suspect he’ll be staging quite the mutiny soon enough.
At the Carruthers house, Elizabeth and Douglas receive Harp for dinner. The others, including Malcolm, have to eat in another room, of course. Ah, the class divisions even amongst friends and family! What a time. Harp works on establishing a “business relationship” with the widow. The two end up talking alone together, about the fact Declan is known for “hunting men” not beaver. She wants to know about the death of his wife, he briefly speaks of Lord Benton, though without naming him. He’s mostly concerned with everyone who lives “in the shadow of the HBC.” He’s a revolutionary, and she’s impressed enough to want to give him a chance. They’ve struck a deal.
Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 12.48.20 PMSokanon is finding it difficult amongst the evil of white men. Young girls and women prostituted for petty coin. A young Native girl at the ale house is unknowingly sold to an officer, she’s attacked in the back room by him. Mary refuses to allow it. She stabs the officer in the neck. When he fights back a bit, she stabs him with another knife in the top of the head. They’ve got quite a crime to cover up. Governor Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) is mostly drowning himself in alcohol, letting whatever happens happen.
On her journey, Grace is with Jean-Marc Rivard (Paul Fauteux). She tells him of her father’s death, a couple years ago. She never went to see him when he requested. Now she’s going to fake that her father is still alive with Rivard’s help, so that she won’t lose everything back home.
Charleston: “White folks are white folks. No offence.”
McTaggart: “None taken. Im Scottish.”
When Grace goes looking for her father’s things, speaking with an innkeeper (Codco alumni Greg Malone), she finds his seal, which ought to help trick people into believing him not dead. There’s also suggestions that Grace didn’t have such a wonderful relationship with dear ole dad.
On the streets, Charleston is taken hostage by Pond when he goes for the gunpowder, letting McTaggart and Harp get away. Uh oh. His “black loyalist” line doesn’t do him any good. On the ship, Chaulk and Benton put together a plan to have the ship turn around, spoiling the water to force a return to land.
Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 12.58.10 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-14 at 1.07.46 PMPond is using Charleston as a bargaining chip against Harp. So the big guy goes into the street willingly. He’s not afraid, even with a bounty out on his head. He heads off with Pond and his men, leaving Charleston in the street, McTaggart in an alley. Harp is brought to the town square, thrown in the stocks. Grant shows up gloating, wanting to offer the big man a way out if he gives up information concerning the widow. But you know Harp’s not having that shit: “Youre blocking my view,” he quips from his precarious position.
Can McTaggart get his buddy out? Maybe he and Charleston make a proper team. They acquire a few items necessary for the task of freeing Harp. Then, Vlad (James Preston Rogers), that unkillable Siberian offers to take the big guy to his trial. At the same time, Rivard stumbles onto the scene; he rushes back to tell Grace. McTaggart unlocks Harp, setting into motion quite a bout of chaos, as Charleston waits in the wings with a rifle. Grace gets there just in time with the sealed declaration from Chesterfield concerning the bounty being dropped. BAM! What a woman. Although Harp hates to hear what she’s had to sacrifice personally to get it done.
At Fort James, Sokanon and Michael run into Mary and the young Native girl disposing of the officer’s body. They help get rid of him. Sokanon fears for the girl, wanting to get her back to her people, to be safe. Mary knows this is best. Sad to see here the disconnect between the young girl and her rightful home, taken away to the cities, assigned a dehumanising job, forced to speak English versus Sokanon, a strong warrior for her tribe.
Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 1.10.40 PMWonderful episode! A favourite of mine so far. Glad they’ve already announced a Season 3. “Cannonball” comes next. Excited to see more action.


Frontier – Season 2, Episode 3: “The Wolf and the Bear”

Discovery’s Frontier
Season 2, Episode 3: “The Wolf and the Bear”
Directed by John Vatcher
Written by Chris Roberts

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Wanted” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Mutiny” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 1.24.36 AMMichael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) and Sokanon (Jessica Matten) have become intimate, which isn’t entirely a surprise, particularly seeing as how she’s gotten fond of him lately more than ever. Partners in bed, partners in crime. And soon, they’re reunited with Declan Harp (Jason Momoa), his lads McTaggart (Jamie Sives) and the freed slave Charleston (Demetrius Grosse) alongside. They’re getting ready to go to war, baby!
On the ship, Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) is palling around with Chaulk (Kathryn Wilder), the young girl posing as a boy. Likewise, we see Mr. Darrow (Joel Thomas Hynes) stepping up for Chaulk, to the dismay of Commander Everton (Jean-Michel Le Gal). Could be trouble out on the open ocean.
Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 1.28.39 AMLater together, Michael tells Declan what’s been going on, after he went missing for ages and Dimanche left, too. The big man believes his friend and Sokanon “belong together.” But he reminds the young man: “Just remember, shes family.” Michael keeps trying to push his fur thieving onto everybody, but it isn’t big enough an impact to start taking down the Hudson’s Bay Company.
In Fort James, Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) is having a real hard time with her husband Governor Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit). He’s taking over all her property, all her father’s things. He wants her to “be reasonable” aka fuck him. Our lady’s too strong, she won’t let this slide. Such was the plight of being a woman under the thumb of the patriarchy in the 18th century.
Still hoping to sway the Marquis Beaumont, Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk) and Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) are turning Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter-Follows) into a proper high class lady. She’s up against a rock and a hard place. Either she sways the man, or she’s cut loose with nothing. Hopefully she doesn’t have to do anything disgraceful, she won’t have that shit.
Coin for blood is Bentons way
We can fight them without becoming them, Sokanon.”
Harp’s agreed to do a bit of thieving. Except no small-time job, they’re robbing Fort James: 10,000 pelts. Hmm. I wonder if Grace might prove helpful to her old pal Declan, which could perhaps help with her situation concerning Chesterfield; or, could make it worse, who knows. Just a thought. First, Michael and Declan and their gang have to figure out a solid plan.
Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 1.37.29 AMWhen the lads get going, McTaggart gets shot in the leg from further in the forest. Charleston’s pretty keen on weaponry, sure it’s only one man attacking. He even gets a makeshift tourniquet on his new buddy, before Harp sends them off to their destination, a friend named Jack’s cabin. Then our big bad warrior goes after the man preying on him, Vlad Tetukin (James Preston Rogers), the Siberian bounty hunter. This puts the two men into a man-to-man fight after Harper breaks his gun with a tomahawk. Only the Siberian has other ideas, like tracking the others to the cabin. Oh, damn.
Out on the town in Montreal, Elizabeth Carruthers (Katie McGrath) and husband Douglas Brown (Allan Hawco) run into Cobbs and Clenna, on their way to see the Marquis. Liz is continually plotting, trying to get the upper hand on the fur trade. Although Douglas isn’t happy to see she’s planning on including Clenna in her machinations against Grant’s business. He’s experienced jail for crimes he didn’t commit, he knows the horror. And he’s a man! Imagine what it’d be like for a young Irish girl like Ms. Dolan. Lord almighty.
Sokanon takes Michael to see a Native man named Wahush, he makes canoes. They’re old friends, these two. Possibly closer than that. Regardless, he’s happy to meet the Irishman. They go with Wahush to where his people stay along the river. We find out more: Sokanon and Wahush were “promised” to each other, before Lord Benton turned up and tore the place apart. The two nearly embrace, alone, though she realises coming to him was a mistake.
Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 1.39.49 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-03 at 1.41.44 AMGrace goes to see Chesterfield, who gives her back a hat belonging to her father. He’s a bit more sweet now, all of a sudden. She’s also suddenly trying to be nicer, even if just for her own sake right now. She wants to try settling into the house with him. There isn’t much choice for her, unfortunately. She tries a bit of snooping while he’s out of the room, looking to find more of her father’s official things, regarding the ale house; Chesterfield doesn’t mince words, he intends on taking anything she owns for himself.
At night on the ship, Darrow talks with Benton. The Lord tells him that Everton has discovered “Chaulks secret.” And so now, he wants Darrow to help conceal the truth. But the Commander supposedly has ideas about what they’re going to do to the young girl. This all sets Darrow on a collision course: will he do what I believe, in order to save the girl? Chaulk looks for him a while after, finding Darrow going to work on the Commander.
In Montreal, Grant receives the Marquis at his grand home, live musicians playing music from Vienna, Clenna there to woo him. We’ll see how well it goes. Meanwhile, across the city, Douglas and Elizabeth rage at one another over the latest hiccups in her quest for domination. He apologises to her for what Grant put him and Malcolm (Michael Patric) up to, sabotaging the furs; he confessed so as not to let Clenna take the fall. He wants to try making it up to his new wife, no matter if Malc is happy. What does the brother do? He goes behind Douglas’ back, right to Mr. Pond. This is right when Liz strolls in to see Grant, the Marquis, revealing the damage of the furs. Cocking things up bad for Grant.
Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 1.55.00 AMHeading further to Jack’s cabin, Charleston and McTaggart find only the Siberian. But through a bit of fuckery, Harp gets his boys out, and blows the place sky high with the bounty hunter inside. Their friend Jack’s been killed, so at least there’s a slice of revenge.
In the meantime, Wahush agrees to help Sokanon and Michael with the robbery at Fort James. However, there’s a reluctance, or a slight sense of competition between him and Michael that won’t quite end just yet.
Chesterfield is gone mad back at the fort. Because Grace is gone. She’s set off to Montreal, to find her father. So the spited governor husband decides to give the ale house away, anyway. Like a right prick. This also puts the women working there in hideous danger.
Oh, and the Siberian? Ain’t dead, dude. Bad motherfucker. He’s beat up, but not dead.
Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 2.11.47 AMWow. This was one of my favourite episodes of the whole series, Season 1 included! Love it. Also really dig that Joel Thomas Hynes is getting more screentime, I hope he’ll stay around. He just won a Governor General Literary Award (Fiction) here in Canada, so he’s not only a Newfoundlander, born and bred – and he’ll be one ’till he diesssss – he is also a big time author to boot.
“Mutiny” comes to us next week. I’m sure that word might involve Mr. Darrow, somehow. Is Benton mounting a comeback strategy? Oh, so exciting, so devious.

Frontier – Season 2, Episode 1: “Dead Reckoning”

Discovery’s Frontier
Season 2, Episode 1: “Dead Reckoning
Directed by Brad Peyton
Written by Sherry White

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “The Gallows” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Wanted” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.43.54 PMWe start in the Northern Territories, shot in my beautiful home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. On a snowy hilltop is Declan Harp (Jason Momoa), bloodied, injured. Someone comes upon him, an old friend, Jean-Marc Rivard (Paul Fauteux). He sends the man further north in a boat after tending to him a little.
At Fort James, Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) announces there’s a reward of “two thousand pounds” for the head of the rebel Harp.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.45.36 PMIn disputed territory, a group of Natives run through the forest. Alongside them is Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) and Sokanon (Jessica Matten). Everything’s been changing, none of them knowing where Harp has ended up yet. Michael’s headed to Montreal on trading business, fur to sell.
Back in Fort James, Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) is suffering in bed, giving orders to Cpt. Chesterfield who isn’t exactly loving his employment. The older man is unimpressed with him. He threatens to send Chesterfield back to London to an even more subordinate position. The younger of the men believes he has much to offer, though Benton compares him unfavourably to a lesser “chimpanzee.” Meanwhile, Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) is dealing with her own new life in the changing conditions around Fort James. She and Chesterfield are still working together, but Benton has an iron grip on the place. She advises to talk to the others around there; they aren’t the only ones unhappy. He starts talking to the men, airing his grievances, and others absolutely agree that Benton is a “madman.”
In Montreal, Michael goes to sell his pelts in the marketplace. We also see Elizabeth Carruthers (Katie McGrath) about, trying to do her own dealings in the fur trade. Although she comes up against male resistance, she’s not one to back down. This has Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) considering his own options behind closed doors after Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk) brings back the information, spying on Elizabeth. Lord, Pond is creepy. Him and his blood lipstick. Yuck.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.58.40 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.53.07 PMIn Fort James, Cpt. Chesterfield has Benton removed as Governor. He asks a Captain Gray to take him into custody. They’ve ousted him, implicating him for the murders he committed. Of course the old man cries foul, but it doesn’t look like things are going to go well for him. All’s proper under the HBC charter. Chesterfield is left as Governor for the time being.
When Declan wakes he’s disoriented. He’s in a tipi, being cared for by a Native man. He gets a bite to eat, warms by the fire. But he’s in a goddamn state, looking horrible. At least he’s still alive, still surviving. Trying to make his way back to friends. Back at the bar in Ft. James, Grace and Rivard realise they have to somehow get word to Harp, to warn him of bounty hunters after him following the reward. Lots of bad lads looking to collect. Like one giant bastard, prison tattoos over his face. He stomps a man’s head in outside the bar for sassing him inside, vicious and bloody.
Up in Montreal, Michael’s chased down, someone saying he thieved pelts from them. One of the Red Coats grazes him with a bullet as he runs off. He’s saved by two Native men in the woods, they put arrows in the Reds and take Michael away. Out of the woods, he sees Sokanon come.
You can only break the circles of revenge with forgiveness
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 3.09.28 PMGrace isn’t pleased with the man stomped to death outside her bar. She asks Chesterfield why the place isn’t safer. She makes a bold suggestion: drop the bounty for Harp, she’ll marry the new Governor. A “united front” in their little fort. If the bounty’s gone, the influx of people will slow a bit, at least the really dangerous ones. But, poor Grace. I wouldn’t want to be married to that dude.
At work in Montreal, Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter-Follows) works away, until she’s discovered by Elizabeth. The woman marvels at the young girl’s beauty, wondering why she’s working away in such a place, but also a bit dismissive of where she came from in a “dirty little rat hole.” She plans on using Clenna to help in her plan for maneuvering around the fur trade. The young girl brings a gift to Mr. Grant from Mrs. Carruthers. In the case she delivers is a decapitated head. Quite a message; it nearly topples Grant. Still, there’s a ways to go before Elizabeth gains the respect of all these stupid, sexist men. Not to mention Clenna’s in trouble when Cobbs gets hold of her, putting her a torture device similar to the rack, twisting her limbs until they break.
In a dark dungeon, Douglas Brown (Allan Hawco) is released. He’s immediately brought to Elizabeth. She’s freed him, needing him as a husband to pretend to run the company in that misogynist world. Still, Douglas won’t accept, at least until the threat of that dungeon is back on the table. He wants access to her money and “certain comforts.” Thus, they’re married on the spot, not even time for him to wash his arse.
Back at Ft. James is another marriage, as well, Chesterfield and Grace signing the appropriate papers to become man and wife. Not much ceremony. Then again, so many women married back then for many reasons. Sadly, Grace finds out very quickly the new Governor is a little reluctant to remove the bounty. Maybe he’s going mad with power, believing he can take what he wants. He makes clear Grace must go to bed with him before the bounty’s revoked.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 3.23.16 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-19 at 3.30.36 PMSokanon is discovering she may have to leave Harp behind, as her people suffer while he’s lost someplace else. The men of her tribe hate seeing their girls, raped by white men, while they sit back and do nothing. They want to take action. And further north, Declan slowly readies himself to try getting back, to help in the fight.
On his trek through the woods, Rivard encounters the tattooed Frenchman, the bounty hunter seeking Harp.
Uh oh. Lots of wild shit about to go down! Frontier is fantastic, a full-throttle action series with lots of drama and thrills along the way. Season 2 is looking nice already, so I can’t wait for the next episode.

Frontier – Season 1, Episode 5: “The Disciple”

Discovery Canada’s Frontier
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Disciple”
Directed by Ken Girotti
Written by Greg Nelson

* For a review of the previous episode, “Wolves” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Gallows” – click here
Declan Harp (Jason Momoa) is now held captive by Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) and the redcoats, whisked away to a nearby dungeon. All the men are sent out looking for Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron).
Luckily for him, Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) is willing to give him shelter, as well as Sokanon (Jessica Matten). But she’s angry, that Michael’s brought this down on them, and Harp in particular. Now Declan’s set for a bit of serious torture.
Benton: “Were going to have a discussion about respect. Or more precisely, your lack of respect for me.”
In Fort James, Grace is trying to keep things under wraps with the help of her barmaids, Imogen (Diana Bentley) and Mary (Breanne Hill). She’s also got to keep juggling her dealings with the ever greasy Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit), who continues prodding her for information about whatever relationship she has with Harp. You can see that it all wears on her; side note: Boyle is an excellent actress, she is feisty and she can show so much with only an expression.
Over in the dungeon Harp’s being systematically mutilated; a cut for every man Harp has killed. “14 English soldiers.” Benton takes out his aggression on the man. For his part Declan takes it like a champ. The Lord wants him begging, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Poor Michael feels awful about leading the soldiers right back to Declan. He wants to go in and help, though Sokanon advises against rushing in foolishly. She’s another tough one. I love how unflinching the Native characters are in the series, it shows the resilience of their spirit not only through warfare and their fight, but through quiet moments such as the one in this scene between Michael and Sokanon.

Montreal. Douglas (Allan Hawco) and his brother Malcolm (Michael Patric) Brown argue over what to do next concerning Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle). Then, who else other than Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk) arrives. With a gun in their faces. They’re headed for prison, having defaulted on a loan. So it’s either go willingly, or horizontal and without pulse. Elsewhere, widowed Mrs. Elizabeth Carruthers (Katie McGrath) goes to see Mr. Grant. She’s wary of him, his ruthless nature of business. He offers that they work together. Because she is a “woman in a mans world, a mans trade” in the devious fur trade. Hmm, now this is an interesting little relationship I can’t wait to see develop.
Chesterfield bursts into the Ale House with Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter-Follows) in his grip. He threatens Michael with her harm. But Grace puts a stop to that and sends the Captain packing.
Benton taunts Declan about his father – “a proper company man, with his Indian wife and his young, halfbreed son.” Seems the father wanted Benton to take care of his boy, after he was gone. We learn more of Harp, how he was trained in many ways by the Lord. Like a surrogate father. “You were my disciple,” Benton says while driving a knife into Harp at the gut. This is the most intense scene of Frontier yet.
In a cell, the Brown brothers argue and wrestle over who’s the bigger asshole of the two. Then Mrs. Carruthers comes. She’s paying their debt to get them out. Only if they hand over the Low River Company, and one of them marries her. Well, is it really that bad of a deal? I don’t think so. Malcolm doesn’t like the idea, though. And then Douglas gets pinned with the murder of Mr. Carruthers. Ohhh, shit. Elizabeth agrees to try helping him. She then lays down the laws of her proposed marriage to Douglas: no touching, they live in separate rooms under the same roof, and no coming into her room, not ever. And the husband has to follow along with any decisions she makes for the company.

Stuck together in close quarters, Sokanon tells Michael of when Harp’s family died, her sister and nephew. “The screaming” and the burning of the camp. No sight of Benton or the redcoats. “There was so much blood,” she recalls in agony. So sad. So vile. Grace soon comes to believe she’s figured out where Declan is being held, as well. At least that’s something.
The torture of Harp continues. The taunting, too. Benton sees it as Declan having forced him into teaching him a lesson. As if the slaughter of a village, women, children, everyone is any kind of lesson. Just goes to show how deluded Benton’s become. “Im not destroying this world, Im bringing light into the darkness with the gift of civilisation. Lifting up the land and its people. It requires violence, yes, its a brutal place. But I am its saviour. I am its future. And I demand respect.” He then, essentially, asks Declan to pray to him, in a way so close to how Christians prays to God. Chilling.
There’s also Captain Johnson. He’s still making trouble around Fort James for the local redcoats, Chesterfield. Speaking of the Captain, he actually tries apologising to Grace for the way he treated Clenna and came around raging. This is when Grace tells him about what she and the barmaids got up to with Cpt. Johnson. Hopefully this stops the man’s meddling at the fort.
Grant receives Elizabeth, her new husband-to-be in tow. This surprises Samuel, though not really. He knows it’s what she’s doing to keep control; she isn’t marrying out of love. Every thing is a business. Only wonder is, now what will Grant – and his trigger man Mr. Pond – do going forward?
Finally, Michael and Sokanon decide to act. They’re headed to find Harp, with or without Grace. Clenna tags along, and the trio head out. They’re stopped in the street, but Michael takes the fall to let Sokanon and Clenna get away.

Benton tries again and again to get Declan to beg him, to pray at his feet. But all Harp offers is a refusal to bow: “We are not the same.” Afterwards, the Lord explains to the man exactly how his family died. A disgusting story, of how the boy and his mother fought hard against their brutal murder. Salt in the wound, this tale. Revealing the unborn daughter of Harp in his dead wife’s womb, found after they killed her. Not long after Michael’s brought to the same dungeon as Harp, they’re left in the darkness, and Declan for the first time actually looks like a broken man.
Side note: if you’ve ever thought to yourself that Momoa can’t act, this scene is a testament against that; I felt my heart sink and my eyes well a little watching him in these moments, truly powerful.
Soon Lord Benton is being relieved of his command at Fort James apparently, due to Threadwell’s suspicious death. This prompts an outbreak of violence from Johnson when Benton and Chesterfield try kicking up a stink. Meanwhile, Sokanon plans to go back for Harp. This time Clenna offers up her services to “pick an English lock” and now we’ve got all kinds of ass kicking women doing their thing. I thought they’d hate each other, but Clenna and Sokanon are working together. And working damn well. Clenna does the talking, Sokanon does the hacking. They get inside to find Michael and Harp, the latter in terrible shape. Johnson winds up finding Declan, but the gang take him and another soldier on. Right before Michael puts a sword in the Captain’s face. Whoooa. Michael’s figuring a lot of things out about himself, that’s for damn sure.
In the shadows back at the Low River Company, Malcolm finds Grant lurking. He wants Mr. Brown to head off for some business. While he takes care of Elizabeth. Now that sounds downright rotten. Although it doesn’t seem to me like Malcolm cares, either way.

With Johnson finished off, Lord Benton is taking back Fort James before it ever really left his grip. And again must search for Harp, who’s being brought away from Fort James, somewhere safer in hopes he’ll survive the terrible wounds Benton inflicted upon him.

This is my favourite episode, out of a really stellar first season! I loved it. Intense, well acted, bit of blood. Plus the women really took control here and I’m always for seeing that perspective in a historical show. Next episode, the finale, is titled “The Gallows” and I’m guessing we’ll see some kind of battle, maybe it’ll involve the Lake Walkers, too.

Frontier – Season 1, Episode 3: “Mushkegowuk Esquewu”

Discovery Canada’s Frontier
Season 1, Episode 3: “Mushkegowuk Esquewu”
Directed by John Vatcher
Written by Peter Blackie, Rob Blackie, & Joseph Kay

* For a review of the previous episode, “Little Brother War” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Wolves” – click here
Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) has been taken captive in the woods. In the woods nearby, Declan Harp (Jason Momoa) watches, waiting for the right time. He emerges as the captors draw their guns. They’re not in the mood for any of his “negotiation.” He only taunts the men and their “pretty hats” with the rifles in his face. Out of the trees come arrows for a couple of the men. Then one is left with Michael’s hands and the ties around them about his neck. Declan won’t help. He wants the young man to do the deed. He knocks the man out, but Harp finishes him off. The captors work for Malcolm Brown (Michael Patric), and the one still living won’t play along. Declan only asks twice for information after cutting the man’s ear off, speaking into like the fur trader version of Reservoir Dogs‘ Mr. Blonde.
Also, have to note: love the opening sequence, as well as the title song. Great, great feel, and gets me into the mood every damn episode.
Over at the Lake Walker camp, some of the tribe are not happy to follow along with Harp, despite his Native blood. Machk (Raoul Max Trujillo) particularly feels he has just as much European in him as any white man.
Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) chastises Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) for his mistakes recently. He wants to know more about Kitchi, which leads to Grace Emberly’s (Zoe Boyle) involvement. The Lord is not pleased about Kitchi being harboured at the storage house behind the pub. Grace is a smooth talker, but Benton makes clear she is under his thumb. He believes she’s in league with Harp, which we know at least partly to be true, they do know one another quite well. Then Benton childishly has his men search the place, any liquor without a Hudson’s Bay Company stamp to be confiscated. Most of all, Chesterfield and Grace worry about their side business with the pelts. Could mean some nasty trouble.
Along with Dimanche (William Belleau) and Sokanon (Jessica Matten), Michael as well, Declan heads to another camp to meet with Malcolm Brown. He plays the fool about the attack on the Lake Walker village. Harp now lets Malcolm in on his brother’s death at the hands of Chesterfield. * Side note: some of the dialogue here is badly written, particularly lines out of Momoa; too modern-sounding for the period.
Anyways, luckily a battle breaks out. The Lake Walkers have descended upon the Brown camp. Sokanon is a big part of Declan’s crew, even being left to take care of and “teach” Michael. She is a bad ass, and I want to see more of her! They let one of the hostage men free to follow through the forest.

Douglas Brown (Allan Hawco) finds himself beckoned, at the end of a pistol, to go and see Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle). Hmm, intriguing. Grant wants to meet someone by the name of Carruthers, asking “nicely” for Douglas to help him. I also love Grant as a character. He comes off as the dandy-type that became so well-known in the 1800s, especially throughout London. And he is, but he also doesn’t let anyone walk over him. He is forceful, firm. He’s not a wimpy money man. Or maybe he is, though he’s got a rough right-hand man.
The Brown camp is laid to waste, as Malcolm wants to start a war. Declan instead offers him help with Chesterfield, so long as he makes peace with the Lake Walkers. Or else, y’know: death. Out in the woods, Sokanon shows Michael how to track a person. Instead of lighting a fire to keep warm she teaches Michael that body heat is good in lieu. They talk a bit about London, he talks of Clenna. He obviously loves the girl, longing to be with her again. When he mentions oranges, Sokanon doesn’t understand, which shows the large divide between her and the Old World, even the burgeoning New World close to where she lives. Hell, even Michael’s never actually eaten an orange, so even him in the midst of that Old World, and the New World too, is so far removed from a simple piece of fruit. The haves and the have-nots.
Father James Coffin (Christian McKay) is one sleazy priest, both mooching off Grace’s pub and staring at tits, drinking again unable to stay sober. While Mary (Breanne Hill) the barmaid tries to help him, Benton’s mole Imogen (Diana Bentley) pushes ale on the man. Nothing better for them than to have a drunkard around to do their bidding. Meanwhile, Chesterfield and Grace keep on sneaking, looking for a Montreal buyer for their pelts and digging into the “company ledger” to make sure everything stays hidden. I don’t like that dude, though. He’s like a snake. Just coiled, constantly, about to strike. Worse than that Imogen spies that he just met with Grace out in the storage house. Uh oh.

A deal is set to be made between Brown and the Lake Walkers. But will it go smoothly? There’s no telling, not yet.
In Montreal, Grant gets his meeting with Peter Carruthers (Peter O’Meara). They talk of the future of the fur trade. Well, Grant talks, and Carruthers marvels at what he’s seeing, a spectacle of a meeting and a speech. “Does this gentleman ever fucking shut up?” asks Carruthers. He doesn’t dig the whole thing. He isn’t interested with any of Grant’s offers. He has a business of his own. A few saucy words, a shot of liquor, and he’s gone. We start to see some of the temper in Grant come out. I don’t think Mr. Grant is used to being spoken to in such a way.
Over at the pub, Grace meets with Jean-Marc Rivard (Paul Fauteux). She’s looking to… buy his discretion. A job. She wants a letter delivered right into Samuel Grant’s very hands. Out in the storage house Imogen finds the marked barrels with the pelts inside. God damn that could get ugly for Grace. Chesterfield, too. For whatever reason though, Imogen doesn’t Benton right away about the pelts. Why not?
Michael and Sokanon track the man in the woods, getting closer in the meantime. They talk of Harp. He was with Sokanon’s sister, in love, with a family. He was a nicer man then, Declan. Then Benton’s men murdered his wife, his child. That is devastatingly tragic. “He became wild, dark,” Sokanon says. Although she says that what he seems to see in Michael is what he used to be, before all the tragedy. They track the man to where Chesterfield sits waiting by a fire; he’s promptly paid, then murdered.

Back to the camp Sokanon rushes with word about Benton and Chesterfield’s involvement re: the Lake Walker troubles. Brown is definitely not happy about any of it, either. There’s a little bit of disharmony between Harp and Dimanche, as the latter worries about the Lake Walker response, Machk especially.
Imogen reveals herself to Grace, this is why she hasn’t said a word about the pelts. Seeing the pub owner stand up to Benton gave her hope; good woman! Maybe now this will help Ms. Emberly escape further trouble with the rotten Lord.
Douglas receives Carruthers at his place. In the shadows, Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk) appears. He has a gun belonging to Carruthers. After a bit of playing around Pond puts a bullet through the man’s eye. He leaves poor Douglas with the clean-up.

When the Okimaw of the Lake Walker tribe receives Malcolm with an apology for any troubles, the reveal of Benton’s involvement, she isn’t happy. Although Malcolm makes clear he isn’t at fault. Okimaw decides to “look to the future” and accepts peace. Machk doesn’t like any of the supposedly peaceful meeting with Brown. He and his crew decide that Brown must pay. They knock Harp down, taking Malcolm in their grip. They want to kill him. Maybe Declan, as well.
But the Okimaw agrees then to let Machk take the title, to lead. He wants Declan out, all of his people. To which Harp submits, but warns: “You wont be Okimaw for long.”

Another exciting episode. Really loving the series, it gets better and grows on me with each passing chapter. Lots to get excited for. Up next is “Wolves” and I think Michael Smyth and Harp both will be getting lots of time, more than usual. Their relationship, the one that’s budding, is intriguing and should offer plenty of narrative fun.

Frontier – Season 1, Episode 2: “Little Brother War”

Discovery’s Frontier
Season 1, Episode 2: “Little Brother War”
Directed by Brad Peyton
Written by Perry Chafe

* For a review of the Pilot, “A Kingdom Unto Itself” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mushkegowuk Esquewu” – click here
Last we left Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron), he was in the clutches of Declan Harp (Jason Momoa), at his mercy.
In Montreal, Douglas Brown (Allan Hawco) talks of Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle), hoping to get him to invest in the ventures of him and his brothers Cedric (Stephen Lord) and Malcolm (Michael Patric). They urgently want to get in on the fur trade, hoping to be “richer than we ever imagined.”
In disputed territory, two young Native men – one a grandson of a prominent indigenous chief named Kitchi (Kiowa Gordon) – play a game of hunter, chasing each other around the woods. Before a couple white men led by Cedric Brown shoot them, catching Kitchi to use for a deal with the tribe. The other boy makes it back to their land warning of the white men wearing the “Red and Blue” on their coloured sashes.
Back with Michael, and the fairly pathetic Father James Coffin (Christian McKay), he’s tied to a stake and awaiting the decisions of Harp. We discover a little more about Declan: he had a Cree mother and an Irish father. Nothing else matters other than Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) right now for him. He wants to know what Michael knows of his plans. Of course the younger of the two, tied to that stake, gives up whatever information he can think to share. He also reveals that the woman he loves, Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter-Follows) would be hanged if he didn’t do what Benton wanted. Then, Harp frees him.
At the Native camp, one of the women advises they must “be patient” and not act yet. But that’s a tough sell for the warriors, wanting not to let the British overtake them completely. Although she advises, they have much to lose in conflict with the Natives.
Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) receives a bloodied, thirsty Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) in her establishment. She asks of what happened, though Chesterfield acts ignorant of what went on, more upset at himself than he is lashing out at Grace. She patches him up, offering the Captain a sort of deal: she’ll do what she can to help him become Governor, long as he becomes a business partner. Hmm, now that’s a relationship I want to see more of going forward. Might prove interesting.
On his ship, Lord Benton has Thredwell hung to make a point. He gives a speech about the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Navy being “run ragged by men in canoes.” He thinks nothing of the French, the Scots, and certainly not of the Natives or Harp. He commands “total domination” and the capture of Declan. This Benton is an intensely evil man, he makes his crew swear to Thredwell having killed himself, too.

Coffin and Smyth keep waiting anxiously for their fates. They’re given a little food by Sokanon (Jessica Matten), a small kindness which Michael appreciates. It’s still not clear exactly what Declan plans on doing with them, even if they’re not tied to a post any longer.
One of Grace’s girls takes her to their storage house, inside is Cedric Brown with Kitchi wounded and bleeding. Not a good situation, for any of them. Luckily Grace takes care of the boy to pull him through. She gets a bit of information about Grant from Cedric, that he’s a money man. This raises her eyebrows significantly.
Meanwhile, Douglas and Malcolm arrive in Grant’s Montreal home. The brothers try to tell the man about their upcoming agreement with the Eastern Cree, however, Grant knows of their debt. They need a large investment. We see the difference in the Brown brothers; looks as if Douglas is the most level headed of the group.
Onto the boat goes Benton’s undercover barmaid Imogen (Diana Bentley), bringing him information on Cedric. Moreover, we get another glimpse of the Lord and his nasty ways, dropping a coin for her to pick up then stepping right on her knuckles. He treats every single person in his way as an object, especially women. Regardless, Benton is ever out to make money, to destroy anyone against him. He sends Chesterfield out to do his bidding, another man of whom I’m not a fan. He goes straight to Grace, angry about Kitchi in her care. Then when Cedric interrupts he’s stabbed deep in the gut by the raging Captain. Oh, shit.
Out in the Cree camp Declan brings items to ingratiate himself to the tribe. Samoset (Zahn McClarnon) watches Michael and Coffin, as Harp heads in to talk with the tribe leader Okimaw. Turns out the gifts Harp brought likewise include the two captives. In a tipi, Declan talks with Okimaw about Kitchi being captured. He promises to track the boy down and headed for Fort James, still with the priest and the kid in tow.

Grace does her best to convince Chesterfield of her Make Him Governor plan. She advises he’ll have to “discredit” Benton in London. They’re playing a tricky game, both of them know this, and Imogen works at her pub. But she is determined, at all costs, to make this work. She’s a tricky lass, I love it. She’s also got her own spy, Mary (Breanne Hill).
Then Harp walks in to speak with Grace, they know one another well. Except they’ve not seen each other in months. He asks her about Kitchi, so she tells him about Brown, and Benton’s men who came later. Furthermore, Grace lets us in on the fact something happened to Declan’s wife, obviously involving Benton. I wonder what dark secret lies there.
The Native boy is kept at the Governor’s House, guarded by men. Benton is there, as well. Declan wants to “slit their throats as they sleep” but the others don’t think it’s wise. Michael wants to use his former position as spy for Benton to simply walk right in. Later, he’ll let the rest inside. Is he on their side, or still with Benton? Samoset and Declan both believe he’s on theirs, and let him go.
Michael meets Benton, who believed he was lost. He’s only curious about Harp. Most of what comes from the kid is half-truths, a bunch of lies. He does his best to conceal anything about the man to Benton, though Michael still worries for Clenna and her safety. The Lord also works to make the young man worry for his own safety around the Cree-Irish rebel. “Do not be seduced by Declan Harp, your own life will be in peril.”
As night falls deeper, Michael sneaks about to find Kitchi’s location. He then alerts Declan and the others. Declan, Samoset, and Michael go together, and the assault begins. They make away with Kitchi, as Samoset winds up gravely wounded. He lays bleeding in Declan’s arms, passing away slowly.
Next morning, Benton surveys the damage. Dead men everywhere, blood in the grass. Simultaneously, Chesterfield is over helping Grace with stolen pelts, just the beginning of their newest business venture. And back on Cree land Kitchi is returned to his grandmother and the tribe, safely. Okimaw assures that Samoset is on the “next stage of his walk” and they all gather to honour the loss of his life. Michael offers his condolences, calling Samoset a kind man – Declan reveals to Smyth they need the Lakewalker tribe in the Cree nation because they’re an army unto themselves.

Later in the dead of night Michael wakes to noises outside of his tipi. He heads to another where Kitchi lies bloody, throat slit open. When Michael runs back out he’s knocked out by a large, bearded man and carried off into the darkness. Wow, this sets up an exciting next episode.
Loved this episode more than the first, honestly. A really great follow up that truly makes the rest of the first season look and feel more exciting. Everything was better, from the acting to costumes, to the use of locations. So happy to see a series filmed here in Newfoundland doing well out of the gate.
Next episode is titled “Mushkegowuk Esquewu” and I’m beginning to sense we’ll see more of Declan and the Cree coming together.

Discovery’s Frontier – Pilot: Capitalism, Colonialism, Blood; Oh, My!

Discovery’s Frontier
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Brad Peyton
Written by Peter Blackie, Rob Blackie, & Perry Chafe

* For a review of the next episode, “Little Brother War” – click here
In the world of fur trading, we start in disputed territory where things have gone violent and bloody. A man named Declan Harp (Jason Momoa) is seeing to it that those on that land, land which doesn’t belong to them, feel his wrath. He’s sending a message to the British: this is war.
In London, at the Hudson’s Bay Company, Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) is getting report from Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) about what Harp has done. We also discover Declan is half-Native, half-Irish. Seems Chesterfield is a bit of a cocky fellow, hoping to rush in and take care of the man. But Benton is smarter, knowing Declan could be a much bigger problem than just a little bit of rebellion. He wants to use the rebel leader an “example.”
Around Gravesend Pier a few thieves are trying to keep themselves in food, hoping to survive, and not sure how long they will. They soon set their sights on a ship full of redcoats. They want to steal a bit of gunpowder to hawk off, make a handful of coin.
Along a river in disputed territory, Harp finds Jean-Marc Rivard (Paul Fauteux). They’ve got dealings together, each of them fairly skilled in the art of business. Harp is trying to get a meeting with Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle). Although Rivard tells him the furs they’ve been given so far aren’t enough. Declan says he’s going to make a deal with the Cree. Hmm. Is that wishful thinking on his part?

The thieves – Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) and Clenna Dolan (Breanne Hill) – sneak onto the boat for the gunpowder in the night. They’re crafty, this crew. Michael warns Clenna to be careful with handling it or “the last thing thatll go through your mindll be your arse.” On deck, they’re headed off by a couple of men, and their friend is stabbed to death, thrown overboard. Clenna makes off into the dark, as Michael does his best to weasel a way to safety; for the time being he stows away below deck. Doesn’t help when the ship is off to sea and he’s just waking up. Fuck sakes, Mikey. That is the last place you want to be. Not even like they’re close to shore, either. Right out on the open ocean. Let’s hope he is crafty enough to get himself out of there safely. As for Clenna, she’s been caught and locked away.
Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) tends bar at a tavern. She knows quite a few people. One man has no money for drink, so he trades a few secrets on the HBC for a glass. Good Christ, the stuff she has to endure. A drunk governor rambles on about Lord Benton and there’s talk of him coming over to bring his own wrath to Declan Harp. However, Grace puts it in perspective: “What he brings is opportunity.”
Eventually Michael’s found below deck. Before he gets tossed overboard, Lord Benton gives him a chance to redeem himself. When what he tells the Lord is true Benton kills another man in front of everybody. Then puts a ring back on his bloody hand. One ruthless bastard. Michael winds up getting a spot on the boat, though surely he’ll have to make himself of use. Chesterfield meets with Benton later, they talk about the competition “choking off” their fur trade endeavours. They set their sights on Harp as a demonstration of power. To snuff out any further competition. Benton tasks Smyth with tracking down Declan, reaching out via their similar Irish blood. To take the deal Michael wants Clenna released and his charges dropped. But is he going to like making this deal with the devil down the road? I think not. I guarantee that.
Samuel Grant receives a greeting from Rivard. The fairly fancy Grant is trying on a sealskin coat. His trapper friend requests him to a meeting with Harp. Doesn’t seem like the man is interested. Rivard all but begs him. Of course Declan’s reputation precedes him. What we’re seeing here are the various power struggles, so many people rushing to capitalism that there is a struggle to climb to the top. In the end, Grant agrees to a meeting. Only if the notorious man comes to him in Montreal.
At Fort James – far as I can tell, this fort was located in disputed territory somewhere between Quebec and New Brunswick, likely closer to the latter (see here) – Michael winds up in a predicament when a redcoat is murdered. Father Coffin (Christian McKay) helps him on a whim and gets him away from a bit of trouble. The priest claims himself as the guide Smyth is seeking. Coffin reluctantly says he’ll take him to Harp. Eventually, anyways. I get the feeling Coffin’s a greasy con artist. And he is, indeed!
On Benton’s ship Grace goes to see the Lord. She sets the record straight on Michael not having anything to do with the murder earlier. She also tries to ingratiate herself to the Lord, make things easier for herself. She winds up taking a maid named Imogen (Diana Bentley) on to help at the tavern; the “eyes and ears” for Benton, like you could’ve guessed.
Chesterfield goes to the tavern and questions a barmaid named Mary (Breanne Hill) about Michael, under the eye of Grace. But that isn’t much help. This Chesterfield is a rotten bastard. Even chokes Mary, at least until Grace pulls a blade on him.

Out amongst the woods Coffin leads Michael towards wherever they’ll find Harp. The younger man reveals to the supposed priest he “has no choice” except go forward and meet the fur trader. Oh, if only the redcoats didn’t find them. Or perhaps that isn’t the case. Coffin probably wasn’t going to take him to the right place; the con artist thing and all. So the two are held captive. That night Natives led by Sokanon (Jessica Matten) attack the camp, killing the redcoats. They whisk Coffin and Mike away.
Trekking through the woods they work their way across the a river to a camp inland. There, they meet Harp; he’s covered in blood, having worked on an animal recently, doing a bit of skinning. Michael admits to looking for Declan, yet the man himself doesn’t believe that. Most of all nobody is impressed with the priest.
And young Mike Smyth has a choice: give up information on Lord Benton, or “join the priest.” Death is around the corner. Just depends on how much.

Not all of this first episode impressed me. Enough of it did that I’m excited to see the second episode now. Some of this was shot in my home province of Newfoundland, so it’s nice to see our locations on display. Both Momoa and Liboiron have me interested already. Very much looking forward to what they’ll do respectively and together.
The following episode is titled “Little Brother War” and I’m hoping there’ll be a good bit of action to get us going hard into the rest of the season. Here’s to more Frontier!