The date is November 24, 1864. Happy Thanksgiving, Copperheads! Unfortunately Corcoran and the Five Points gang are not in a very festive mood. It’s “A Day to Give Thanks” (and the title of this season’s penultimate episode), but for most of these characters, you gotta wonder: Give thanks? For what?
We open in the black heart of the city, Paradise Square, where the men are boozing, the women are picking through produce, and a bunch of unlucky turkeys are losing their heads. Beheading: Just one of the many, many gruesome ways to die in Five Points. Gobble, gobble.
He may not be on the chopping block, but back at the Corcoran residence, Kevin’s losing his own head. It’s been two weeks since he discovered Ellen at the Earle House, and she still can’t string together a sentence. Doctor Freeman Medicine Man is doing his best to nurse a sickly and seizing Ellen Corcoran, who is coming off a hydrargyri chloridum high. But despite Freeman’s best efforts, Mrs. Corky looks bad. Worse than bad. She looks like she might end up six feet under, buried next to half the cast of Copper.
When Corky’s not by Ellen’s bedside attempting to revive her with pocket watch tunes, he’s playing Mad Dog the Bounty Hunter. His mission? Find and kill Detective Francis Maguire. Anyone who gets in the way is in for a world of hurt. Police captain, shop owner, priest, friend… doesn’t matter who you are, you talk or you die. It’s clear Corcoran’s gone completely unhinged – you don’t shove your gun in the gut of an innocent priest unless you’ve lost your grip – but, as usual, his loose cannon investigation tactics prove surprisingly effective. Eva and O’Brien think Maguire hightailed it outta the state, but Corcoran sticks to his guns (literally!) and after roughing up half of Manhattan for answers, hunts down his old friend exactly where he knew he’d be – hiding out on home turf.
Kudos to Tom Weston-Jones and Kevin Ryan, who knock their church showdown scene right outta Five Points. “Churches are the only places in Five Points that are unlocked day and night,” Corky tells Francis when he discovers the fugitive hiding in the house of God. “Even the taverns close eventually. Guess a man can survive a few hours without a drink…but not without a chance to repent.” Francis gets his mea culpa, but not a shot at absolution. Staring down the barrel of Corcoran’s cocked gun, Francis admits to bedding Ellen, refuses to explain the circumstances surrounding the death of Kevin’s daughter, and then begs Corcoran to deliver the kill shot. Francis half-heartedly argues that his transgressions are partly Corcoran’s fault – Corcoran chose to be a war hero instead of a husband and father, and Francis felt it his duty to step in. But as tweeter @Undrawn_Blog put it, the ‘It’s your fault I slept with your wife’ defense is a weak defense. Right or wrong, Francis would rather die than live with his guilt, which is why Corcoran lets him walk. He can tell Francis is in living hell, and he wants to see his former friend suffer.
And the brutal confrontations and heart-wrenching admissions don’t end there.
After nine long episodes, we finally get the truth about Maggie’s death. But it’s a truth that literally knocks Corcoran off his feet – his wife killed their six-year-old daughter. Ellen reveals she conceived a child with Francis, and sold her prized locket to pay for an abortion from Madame Grindle. The abortion left her disturbed, haunted by the cries of her unborn child, a crying that was echoed by Maggie when she discovered Ellen in bed with Maguire. To stop her daughter’s screams, Ellen pushed her daughter away – a mistake, but a fatal one. “I wish it was me… instead of her,” Kevin says, choking on his own guilt and tears. But there’s hardly time to assign blame, because the 10-minute emotional rollercoaster ride comes to an abrupt end with a mystery knock at the door. And end scene. (You can breathe now.)
FIVE MORE POINTS
Terrorist John Kennedy is playing the Morehouse fam like a game of Monopoly. Robert asks Kennedy to chill for two weeks on the whole evil scheme to burn New York to the ground, advice Kennedy ignores with a throaty chuckle and a smarmy smile. Instead, Kennedy dumps Robert and sets his sights on Daddy Morehouse, who he blackmails by threatening to expose Norbert’s arms dealings with the Confederacy. Now with money to burn, he circles back around to Robert, and promises he’ll keep Norbert out of his evil plot, in exchange for Robert’s support. The only thing that could stop Kennedy at this point in the game? A go directly to jail card.
Norbert Morehouse wins most valuable Copperism of the episode with this outstanding zinger, “Robert, if you wish to discuss conduct, when I return, we can speak of your infinite intoxication.” Door slam.
Forgive and F* That
Robert’s had enough of Elizabeth and Corcoran’s silly little feud. Corcoran only held Elizabeth at knifepoint for a few minutes and the guy didn’t even draw any blood, so, like, time to rebuild the trust bridge. Riiight. Most friendships and affairs are over when someone pulls a knife.
You Can Trust Me, I’m Trustworthy, Trust Me
Speaking of trust bridges, Morehouse believes Corcoran is his only confidant. This revelation inspires Elizabeth to offer a litany of ‘trust me’s,’ but you don’t ask for trust. You earn it. And when you beg? You look sketchy. So Copperheads, can Elizabeth be trusted? Or does she have something hidden up her white-laced sleeve?
Who’s there? Any theories?
There’s only one episode left. See you in 1864 next Sunday, boyo.