The Purge Review: “What is America?”

Image Courtesy of USA Network
The Purge Collective Image
Image Courtesy of USA Network
By The Nerdling

Purging cults, masks of famous serial killers, and the longest countdown ever dominate the start of Purge Night.

Spoilers will commence in 3…2…1…

Every year, for one night only, all crime is blah, blah, blah, blah. You get the concept of this series, right? You’ve seen the movies, or at least seen the trailers for the movies. The Purge anthology started with an interesting idea. Hold a mirror up to American’s love of guns and violence. The film series has since evolved the notion of a 12-hour cathartic release to tackle our nation’s class system, the recent rise of white nationalism, and extremists in politics. The Purge TV series will use 10 one-hour episodes to go further than the movies could.

The beginning of the mini-series is dedicated to setting up the handful of characters we follow through the yearly “holiday” as the clock ticks down, ever so slowly, to commencement. That is really my biggest complaint about the premiere, the countdown clock appearing what seemed like every 10 minutes letting us know how long before 7pm. I know it was meant to create tension, but it ended up showcasing just how looooong the episode was going to take to get to the pandemonium. The premiere also set the stage for other goings on during Purge night, outside the chaos at street level.

The Purge What is America Cult Miguel Driving Around
Image Courtesy of USA Network

Brother and sister, Miguel and Penelope, provide most of the view of the happening in the streets. Miguel returns home from deployment with the Marines after receiving a letter from Penelope. Her letter explains her plans to join their parents in “The Invisible” on the 10th anniversary of their deaths. Penelope is a part of a Purging cult. Those who follow Good Leader Travis offer themselves on Purge night as sacrifices to “help the sinners release their hatred,” by becoming “vessels by which to carry their sins.” Miguel must survive the streets, dodging all sorts of madness, and find his sister.

The concept of the cult is the best part of the series for me so far. In the beginning, I expected the cult to be the purger kind, not the purgees. This offers an interesting new level of religiousity previously touched on in the films. While it would seem The Purge anthology is steeped in extreme, Right-Wing beliefs, the movies only hinted at Christianity and the NFFA’s twisted sense of it. The most condemning moment was during 2016’s Election Year when NFFA members “baptize” themselves through acts of killing while in a church.

I’m very curious about the procedures of ordering from Good Leader Travis’s cult. Did the people in the creepy doll masks make a sacrificial reservation? “One victim for a party of four, thanks!” Is there an app for that? How does recruitment work? Now that the lambs have seen one of their own slaughtered, will some of them have second thoughts heading to the next group of waiting purgers? Does Good Leader Travis provide a customer service number if the purgers are unhappy with their sacrifice?

The Purge What is America Cult Bus
Image Courtesy of USA Network

Miguel and Penelope offer another side of Purge Night other than street chaos and the cult. They give us another look at the aftermath of surviving The Purge when loved ones don’t. Since the loss of their parents a decade before (possible in the events of The First Purge? The timeline possibly adds up) Miguel has joined the military and seemingly has his life together. Penelope, having been much younger than Miguel at the time, didn’t adjust as well. From what we know of her so far, she turned to drugs to fill the void left by losing her family in such a violent way. It makes me wonder if this is a common occurrence?

The other interesting notion The Purge sets up is through Jane, a high-level finance professional who hires a purge assassin to take out her boss, bazillionair Don Ryker. She feels she has hit a Ryker shapped barrier in her career. She hires an assassin since she has to close a multi-billion-dollar deal on Purge Night. The assassin has an app for Jane to follow her progress as she works through her hit list! Way to embrace the future!

I thought the idea of The Purge is so you don’t have to hire an assassin? You could go and kill the person yourself. I get why Jane needs one, she is working, but are there really a large group of others needing a contract killer? Do a lot of people work on Purge Night, so they need a pro to get the job done? Or do they just not want to get their hands dirty? Again, new levels of messed-upness I never considered for Purge Night.

The Purge What is America Cult Paying the Assassin
Image Courtesy of USA Network

The other two main characters have the most boring storyline. Married couple, Jane and Rick, attend a non-Purging NFFA event to garner investors for their low-income housing development. Jane is staunchly anti-Purge and anti-NFFA. Being at such a party is causing her some anxiety. Especially when everyone is wearing face masks of famous serial killers (innovators like Ted Bundy were the forerunners of The Purge you see). Also, the couple hosting the party are the parents of Lila, a woman Jane and Rick once had a threesome with. And Lila, who is supposed to be in Africa, is in attendance.

Rick is too bland to be interesting and Jane is obnoxiously full of sanctimonious, white guilt. Since the two are safely ensconced in a no Purging party, no real action is happening yet. I’m predicting the staff who seems regularly abused by the mistress of the house will snap and start killing. Or a group of people fed up with the NFFA will gate crash to thin the 1% herd.

The premiere of The Purge series set up some interesting plots diving further into the ideals laid out by the movies. Some have me excited to see more. Others, I just want the killing to start already.

Till Next Week!

The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.