By The Nerdling
The penultimate episode gives us the most difficult to watch and frighteningly close to reality Purge moment to date.
Spoilers will commence in 3…2…1…
After the sharp left turn last week’s episode gave us, Joe’s actions up to that point are now questionable. The “previously on” montage at the beginning does a great job of reframing Joe into the man we meet in the closed down school. The White-Man Victim.
Before the reveal of the real Joe, he was a very much sympathetic character. A man who worked hard his whole life and was kicked repeatedly by a jacked system. It was no surprise to me to find out Joe was bullied in school. Someone who works so hard to be a nice guy usually is the victim of bullying behaviors. It is a coping mechanism.
Joe spent his life supporting a system geared towards making the rich richer. Believing when they said they would share the wealth. Instead, those in power sent American jobs to foreign countries for cheaper labor. Then placed blame on the foreigners for being cheaper labor. Don’t fault the company for giving away those jobs in favor of an extra 0 on the executive paycheck. It is the non-whites. They are the real problem here, not the greediness of the 1%.
No surprise Joe sees himself as a victim. In some ways, he is. But not in the way he thinks. He was radicalized by a NFFA supporting celebrity personality who embodies and propagates the White-Man Victim narrative. The world was not handed to Joe as promised by those who already had the world and were not going to give it up. Now he must Purge those the women, non-whites, and liberals he was told are the reasons for his problems.
Which is why Jane, Rick, Jenna, Penelope, and a few other red-shirts are locked in a cage inside Joe’s old high school. These people have done him wrong, now they stand trial and he will judge them. If he likes their confession, they are given mercy (i.e. a knife to the chest). Otherwise, Joe will participate in his God-given right to be the master race Purge.
Jane’s trial takes the bulk of the episode. She and Joe had gone on a date which didn’t end (or start) well. Joe expresses his relief she is not “loud and sassy” to break the ice. Jane didn’t laugh at his “joke”. Joe thinks complementing her on being savvy enough to use the race card to get a cushy job is how to get the date back on track. Jane is rightfully offended. Done with Joe and his self-righteousness, Jane excuses herself, pays the check, then leaves without a goodbye.
Now months (years?) later, Joe is demanding an apology from her. After witnessing him stab his high school bully after giving him said confession, Jane was not going to give in. Not even when he threateningly holds a taser to her face.
“You move on. You grow up, little boy. You swipe right for someone new,” Jane counters. “You don’t go kill people. It’s called being an adult.” She says all the things I would love to say to those self-proclaimed “nice guys” like him. Insults him for wasting his life and time tracking his would-be victims and planning this charade. Testifies Purging will not make him feel better, it will only be him giving into his own demons. When he calls her out for Purging her boss, she doesn’t make excuses. She owns her actions and the shame she knows she will carry for the rest of her life.
“You’re not gonna to have to live with it for very much longer,” Joe says smugly. Making one last bid for her life, Jane attacks Joe and gets the gun from him. She tries to run, but he grabs her feet. After a struggle where Jane gets in a few good punches, Joe overpowers her and strangles her to death. The camera doesn’t pan away from the scene. It is shocking and horrifying. And way too close to reality. When a White man decides it is his right to kill you for not giving him what he knows he deserves…
It is worth noting, Penelope is the only person who has never actually met Joe. She asks why she is there and he rabidly spits out his reasoning. Penelope didn’t say thank you to him when he opened the door for her. In his twisted mind she represents all that is wrong with the younger generations. I’m sure her being Latina has something to do with it, but it is not explicitly said. When he wails “you say ‘thank you.’ I say ‘you’re welcome’” it is hard not to hear the racist undertones.
“I Will Participate” does a disturbingly good job of highlighting the current environment with the use of the funhouse mirror effect. But this time, it doesn’t feel like a stretch to see this actually happening. Joe in this episode is a little too close to reality. Only there will not be a Pete the Cop or a Miguel on the way to help.
Of course, those two have been sidetracked by the return of Rex the Cowboy and the goons of the Carnival of Flesh looking for payback.
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.