In episode 10, the final episode of the season and series, the characters come to terms with who they are and the choices they’ve made, then meet their fates head on. Katherine and Burt have a face to face meeting. Joel and Bru have a violent confrontation with Jukes and the Ghouls over a high stakes hostage. Matty learns the truth about Ethan. As suspected, Johnson figured it out a while ago.
The finale opens with a flashback to Katherine Harlow’s memories of Burt returning to the family home after a long absence. 12 year old Katherine stands in front of the house as it burns down. Burt set fire to the homestead and murdered their abusive, alcoholic father. With their father’s blood still on his hands, Burt convinces Katherine to come join him and the Banished Brawlers at the Bang-A-Rang, where she’ll be loved and find her true home.
Cut to many years later, when Burt, Bash and Joel dragged Katherine behind a truck for miles and left her for dead, while framing her for betrayals and murders she didn’t commit. Katherine lies in the grass, unconscious, bloody and bruised. This is the act that began the series.
She wakes up in the old farmhouse Bash bought as their love nest. She’s bandaged up and attached to an IV. As she begins to move, Queenie softly says that she told Katherine not to go out there.
She says the house isn’t bad, for a gothic farmhouse. Katherine tries to speak, but her throat is too dry, so Queenie gives her a sip of water. She remembers when Burt brought Katherine to the Brawlers as a 12 year old, saying she’d chosen to join them.
Queenie acknowledges that a 12 year old is still a child and unable to imagine the life she was “choosing”, plus young Katherine wasn’t in any condition to make decisions after the brutal way Burt destroyed her home and father right in front of her. But Queenie could see that Katherine was different. She’s Burt’s sister, that’s for sure.
And that’s what Queenie is afraid of. She says that Katherine will want to come back for revenge, but has to control that impulse. A war between the two Harlows would become too brutal. She advises Katherine to leave town forever and let Burt punish himself for what he did. Queenie can see that he’s already eating himself up inside. She’ll take Katherine to the station so she can make a new life up North.
But just in case Katherine decides to come back someday, Queenie gives her a gun. She promises to tell Katherine its history if they ever see each other again.
As we’ve been shown, Katherine made it to Detroit, where she reinvented herself as Doris, Tommy’s caterer wife. She showed no interest in returning to the Brawlers until Witt found her. Then she had no choice, because Witt has a big mouth and would have given her up sooner or later.
The Phoenixes are still cleaning up Avron’s body. Matty creates the Legend of Ethan and Avron as they speak, in which brave Phoenix Ethan saves his Phoenix brothers from the threat of the evil, lying Avron, despite the risk to himself. Johnson says they can dispose of the body with his friend Alice, who lives up river.
There’s a nice, practical division of labor and skills between these three. They work as a complementary trio, like the Southern Mafia version of the 3 Musketeers.
Bru, Joel and Burt rush Bash into
surgery Joel’s workshop, where Bru fires up a welding torch and uses it to heat up an ax blade. Then Bru uses the red hot ax blade to seal Bash’s wounds shut, all while he’s lying on a table made from a wide plank lying on saw horses.
This is frontier medicine, folks,
and probably what most Americans are facing for primary care before long, if they aren’t already there.
Earl calls Bernice from a pay phone outside the motel to tell her she was right, maybe he is robbing and gunning all of his feelings about their dead son and the war away. She says she thinks he followed Doris for a reason and he should see it through. They can talk when he gets back.
It’s dawn by the time Bru is done working on Bash. He’s not sure whether Bash will make it or not. Joel tells Burt that he met one of Katherine’s crew at the motel last night. He’s sure she has a mole at the Bang-A-Rang and they need to figure out who.
Bru tells the Phoenixes about the raid on Katherine’s motel and Katherine’s attack on Bash. He almost catches them with Avron’s body.
The Bang-A-Rang compound thrives on gossip. They love Burt because he keeps the pot stirred so there’s always something to gossip about and choose sides over. Bru seems to be the biggest purveyor of juicy tidbits.
Ethan runs straight to Meredith to yell at her for giving Katherine away.
He and Meredith will never stop reminding me of an old fashioned Disney cartoon couple (Mickey & Minnie) come to life. I am convinced that this is on purpose.
Ethan is angry that Meredith turned in Katherine, but Meredith says she did him a favor since she didn’t turn him in. He explains that his own mother was neglectful and abusive. He trusted Doris and felt like she cared about him, so he was willing to do what she asked. Meredith points out that Doris also used him, and says he should cut ties with the outside world if the Brawlers are his home.
Meredith’s Shadow Puppet World of Human Relationships vs Living in a Cult
There’s a reason Meredith and Ethan went to the shadow puppet show in episode 8. The puppet show was meant to be a play on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, in which the life we are living is an illusion, symbolized by shadow puppets on a cave wall. Through education, those who are able to gradually awaken to the true reality of the universe, which is layered and must be approached slowly, until eventually the student leaves the cave and is ready to see the full truth, symbolized by the light of the sun.
In Reprisal, the shadow puppet world is the gang world. Many of the characters are certain that it’s the only important reality and the way to their salvation, but, as we’ve seen, it’s a false reality and offers no salvation. Various characters are at different stages of awakening to the falseness of the gang’s pseudo religious talk, and especially Burt’s version of reality and family. Some, such as Rita, have tried to escape completely, but as long as Burt knows where you live, you’re never all the way out of it. You can still be pulled back in, the way Burt and and Rita have been this season.
In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato felt that those who saw and understood the Truth of the sun had a responsibility to return to the cave and lead others. This is what Joel is doing. He understands that Burt is wrong, but also that many of the Brawlers can’t function outside the gang/cave, so he acts as their philosopher-king. The version of the cave story from other spiritual disciplines often encourages spiritual growth byond the cave for everyone, rather than creating a caste system as the Greek story does. Katherine is busting the caste system and showing whoever she can that there’s a way for all of them to survive in the outside world. But the shadow puppet world exerts a strong pull and actively work to keep people from leaving the show.
This is where Queenie’s speech at the beginning of the episode comes into play. It takes a certain amount of life experience to understand that of course we all use each other, also known less cynically as give and take. That’s what human connections are for- it’s how we take care of each other. In a healthy relationship, the give and take should even out over time in a way that satisfies both parties. That doesn’t always mean an exact exchange of the same actions or time spent. It means each person feels they’ve gotten what they need and can speak up if they don’t. Hopefully the two personalities are complementary, rather than competitive and are adult enough to say what they need rather than play games. Of course, it can also be difficult to figure out what you need and requires patience on both sides to figure out a workable, balanced system.
But Meredith has no idea what a healthy relationship looks like, only how to complete transactions. Capitalism, which has become the foundation of our cultural dialogue, encourages confusion between human relationships and business transactions. Reprisal is studying this difference in an unusual fashion, by using cultish gang rules and loyalty as currency rather than money.
That’s what we’re seeing in this conversation. Meredith has no idea how to ask Ethan (or anyone) for loyalty or love for herself. No one has ever loved her for herself. The closest people she has to family all speak to her about her worthiness as a member of the group. She’s not smart or lovable because she’s Meredith, she’s strong because she’s a Harlow, which makes her a particularly worthy Brawler. We’ve heard this used on Katherine as well. Both women have learned to use this technique on others.
On the other hand, Ethan just spoke about the way his mother made him feel unimportant, but Doris noticed him as a person and took him under her wing. She earned his loyalty and love as an individual rather than as a crew member and that’s a powerful thing. Katherine learned how to do that by watching Burt with his lieutenants, but I think it’s also a natural talent of hers, as Queenie implied.
Burt is a charismatic but toxic cult leader who’s drawn individuals into a violent cult of personality ruthlessly controlled by him. Katherine recruited individuals in a determined fashion, using some manipulation when necessary, but she also listens to her crew and sees them as human beings. Unlike Burt, violence isn’t her first choice- she avoided it for the entire time she was away, until it was forced on her again. And she doesn’t sacrifice the lives of crew members. She goes out of her way to protect them, if at all possible. She settles scores with specific people and she fights back when attacked. Otherwise, she’s mainly a shrewd business woman who lives in a competitive world.
But Meredith hasn’t left the compound enough to understand the difference between Katherine and Burt. She’s a sheltered gang princess who thinks the whole world is the gang. She doesn’t realize yet just how badly she’s been treated.
Katherine sits on the bed in the motel room in contemplation, processing what happened between her and Bash. She feels bad that she never asked Molly how she felt about taking part in Colin’s death. Molly points out that Doris never was one for opening up about emotions, not even with Tommy. She asks what this trip is really about. Katherine explains that she’s there to hurt a few people who she once loved dearly, who hurt her badly. Especially the man she saw last night. She’s quietly but deeply emotional as she speaks.
Molly asks if the man Katherine loved is dead. Katherine isn’t sure.
Molly: “I once asked you what it felt like to kill someone, when you killed Colin. And you said you weren’t sure if you felt anything at all. And I didn’t know what you meant by that. I couldn’t even begin to fathom it. Colin wasn’t a good man. Not in the least. I don’t even think he saw me as another human being. And when I found out what was going on with him and you and the restaurant, I … Well, it’s like you said- It was my idea. But when I heard him, when I heard him struggling, when I heard those gunshots… When I knew he was gone…”
Molly looks profoundly sad and teary-eyed.
Katherine holds out her hand to Molly. “I suppose that not everyone with a place in our hearts deserves it.” Molly takes her hand. “I’m glad you’re down here with me, Molly.”
Molly smiles a little.
Katherine and Molly Bond
Do not confuse Molly’s compassion for the brief suffering of another living being for regret that Colin is dead. Though she’s tender-hearted, Molly functions as the older, more experienced woman in this conversation. She went through the war as a nurse and watched many men she patched up die, probably some who were on the enemy side. Then she helped murder her no good husband.
Katherine turns to Molly for help in processing her complicated emotions after her revenge attack on Bash the night before because she knows Molly is made of steel under her tender exterior and can be counted on in a crisis. Katherine also wants to help Molly believe in that part of herself again.
Katherine doesn’t regret her revenge tactics, because it’s the only form of justice she’ll ever get for the brutal attack she suffered at the hands of the men who were her family. But, as she said, you can’t always just turn love off, no matter how much someone mistreats you. Some abusers alternate between abuse and excessive affection in order to strengthen the bond, making it harder for victims to leave or fight back.
If a victim is emotionally and financially dependent on their abuser, as both Molly and Katherine were, despite the surface differences in their situations, it becomes nearly impossible to even imagine leaving. Even when you understand that a world exists outside the cave, beyond the puppet show, you don’t believe you’re capable of surviving in it alone.
Big Graham pulls into the Donuts and Duvets parking lot, then forces open the room that Davey died in. Turns out nobody’s cleaned it since that day, they just put a “Do Not Disturb” hangtag on the doorknob and locked up. Big Graham finds a drink cup from Bolo’s bowling alley, where Katherine and the Monster Ring met. He recognizes the name, so that’s his next stop.
The current management, Tolly and family, greet him respectfully, but remind him that they’re supposed to be in a long term feud. Big Graham muses that he’s been in the organized crime business so long and has so many feuds that he’s lost track. Then he gets down to business and describes Katherine to them, though he assumes the cup is a false lead.
Tolly tells Graham about Bolo, the Monster Ring and the pressure they put on Bolo to find the robbers. Tolly took over running the bowling alley himself once Bolo disappeared. He tracked Bolo to the landscaping business, which he assumed was a false lead. No one ever goes there except Bernice, and he doesn’t care about talking to Bernice. Big Graham realizes that this probably isn’t a false lead.
Joel and Burt return to the Pillows and Pints to have a conversation with the desk clerk about Katherine and her accomplices. They discover that Witt is a traitor. Burt doesn’t even know who Witt is. He clips off the clerk’s toe even though the clerk truthfully answers their questions without much stalling.
Burt and Big Graham- 2 crime bosses who were the best in the business in their prime, but both are in mental and physical decline these days. Both are taking things too far because they won’t admit to their own weaknesses and are unable to walk away from a dispute.
As Rita and Lyla finish up at the grocery store, Lyla tells Rita that there’s a birdman across the parking lot. Rita is distracted and doesn’t know what Lyla means, since she can’t see an obvious birdman. Lyla says she wonders if it’s Harold, star of her latest unfinished story. Rita agrees that it could be someone from Lyla’s imagination. As they leave the parking lot to drive home, a member of the the Ghouls who’s wearing a beaky plague mask follows them. It’s hard to say if Joel would have understood what Lyla meant or have taken it more seriously, but it seems that neither parent has considered that the Ghouls might follow Lyla to Rita’s.
Back at the Bang-A-Rang, Joel and Burt hang Witt from a ceiling beam, but leave him balancing on a chair just enough to make him talk. He gives away Ethan’s part in the plan, then they unceremoniously kick the chair out from under him to kill him. They scroll through his phone and easily figure out who Doris is.
The Monster Ring is in the car, on their way to intercept the 3 River Phoenixes so they can rob them of the cash deposits and operating funds they carry and get Ethan back to bring him home with them when they leave town. Katherine texts Ethan, who is in the car with the Phoenixes, but he doesn’t answer.
When Burt calls Katherine, she assumes it’s Witt. Burt tells her that she murdered Witt and she’s about to murder Ethan. Burt tells her she’s just like him, since she sent Ethan into the Bang-A-Rang knowing Burt would kill him if he was discovered.
Except Katherine’s fighting a war she was born into and can’t escape, while Burt enjoys violence and death, creating it unnecessarily to fill his own emptiness. Look at how Joel, Bru, Bash, Avron and Burt have gone out hunting Ghouls and Monsters after every infraction or perceived slight, all season long. And look at how quickly Witt accidentally gave away Ethan. She knew that once Witt discovered she was alive and where she was, it was only a matter of time before they hunted her down again. They would have had to pretend to get revenge on her for the crimes they framed her for. Her only choice for survival was to strike first and hard, just as Burt taught her.
She’s actually tried to go a little soft on the Brawlers- she hasn’t killed Burt, Joel, Bru and Queenie, and she didn’t even kill Bash outright. Going straight for the head always makes more sense in a life and death situation, and you’d better believe Katherine Harlow knows that.
Earl asks Katherine what’s going on and she says they need to wait. But then they see the Phoenix’s car and she yells for the Monsters to put on their masks. The Phoenixes pull over and Earl forces them to turn over all of their cash. Then they “force” Ethan into the car as a supposed hostage and drive away.
The Monsters don’t get very far before Matty and Johnson are blocking the road in front of them, having sped down a side road to pull ahead. They don’t care about the cash- they can explain that away. They want Ethan back. The phone in the Phoenix car rings, but Johnson and Matty ignore it.
Ethan tries to go back to Matty and Johnson. Katherine tells him he can’t because Burt knows he’s the mole. Ethan doesn’t believe her, because he’s figured out she lied to him about the guy in Detroit dying. Katherine tries to convince him that she’s not lying now and begs him to come home with them. As he gets out of the car and rejoins the Phoenixes, Ethan tells her that if anything happens to him, it will be her fault.
Wow, so many men trying to have it both ways. No matter what happened before, she just rescued him, then begged him. It was his choice to get out of the car. That’s on him, now.
Maybe Ethan really is a Brawler at heart. He definitely used Burt and Joel’s abusive reasoning. Katherine isn’t much better, having lied to him and used him, too, but she at least tried to get him out safely.
Matty and Ethan don’t have enough experience with Burt to understand the seriousness of the situation, though they should, after the Avron fiasco. And Johnson is as frustratingly tight-lipped as ever.
When Rita calls Lyla to lunch, she discovers that her daughter has been taken from the backyard swing set by the Ghouls, who left one of their ghost masks behind.
Burt and Queenie confront Meredith about Ethan. She tells them that he didn’t understand what Katherine was really doing, so he doesn’t deserve whatever punishment they have planned for him. Burt says, “People rarely have.” He explains that Ethan planted the guns that were used to kill Meredith’s “family” and gave Katherine the information she needed to kill Percy.
In what way, exactly, are these people her “family”? I loathe the way they use the word as a weapon. The male members presumably joined the club as adults who made the choice because they didn’t fit in anywhere else. But Katherine and Meredith were coerced into joining after their parents were murdered by Burt and Queenie. Then they were exploited as sex workers once they were old enough to make money for the gang. They are both child kidnapping victims who grew up and didn’t understand they could leave the cult, not “family” members.
Burt says that he’s sent a group of Brawlers out to bring Ethan in. Once they do, Burt’s going to make Meredith listen to Ethan’s confession. After they’ve tortured it out of him, obviously.
After Burt leaves the room, Meredith tries to call the Phoenixes to warn them, but they’re in the middle of the robbery. She loads her gun and sets off on her own.
Rita takes the Ghouls mask to Joel rather than to the police.
At a stop for gas, Earl calls Bernice. Big Graham answers. He’s holding Bernice hostage. He brought Tolly and his boys along, since they still want to settle the bowling alley score.
Earl heads straight back home in a stolen truck. Cordell wants to help, but Earl convinces him that Katherine needs her crew to help finish the job first.
Katherine calls Burt and arranges a one on one meeting.
Meredith packs a bag, puts on her own shirt with a name tag and a pair of jeans, which marks her status as equal to a man’s rather than a Pin-Up, and takes off on her own bike. She’s declaring her independence, or at least her adulthood.
The Brawlers’ posse comes within sight of the Phoenixes and are gaining on them quickly. Johnson figures out that Burt and Joel know about Ethan and have sent out a hunting party. Matty had no idea that Ethan was the mole, so Ethan confesses. Johnson lets Matty decide whether to turn Ethan in or make a run for it.
Since Matty just fought to get Ethan back and the Brawlers don’t want anyone in that car as a member, it’s not difficult for Matty to make his decision. His slams his foot on the gas pedal to try to outrun them. Johnson notes that the Brawlers will just keep coming.
Matty slams his foot on the brake. The 3 men look at each other and at the arsenal taped to the roof of the car, in a moment of truth that Burt never counted on and wouldn’t understand. Then Johnson and Matty pull down a couple of long guns and make their stand at the back of the car.
As the Brawlers’ vehicles approach, the 2 men gun them all down before the other gang members even figure out they’re facing enemies. Then they get back in the car. Johnson looks as calm and cool as ever- he’s known this day was coming for a long time. Matty looks like he’s been through a war. That lasts about 10 seconds, then he realizes he’s been freed from wanting something he can never have and wouldn’t have been happy with anyway. He looks a little relieved and drives on.
Symbolically, the dead Brawlers were barely human anymore. We’re shown their vehicles, but only one anonymous body, to represent the “family” members that Matty and Johnson just killed for their brother Ethan. The Brawlers gave up their individuality and humanity in exchange for the security and order of the compound. They paid with their willingness to tolerate and participate in exploitation, violence and murder.
As with Katherine, Matty and Johnson don’t want to be part of Burt’s cult, but they understand his lessons. Strike fast and hard, leaving as few enemies as possible to seek revenge.
Joel and Bru take on the entire Ghouls enclave by themselves to rescue Lyla, while Warren Zevon sings Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.
Unlike the Brawlers’ industrial fortress, which is dominated by a strip club, the Ghouls live in a tidy trailer park with trees and flower gardens surrounding their homes. In other words, they live like human beings instead of in a glorified corporate prison camp.
The camera follows Joel in what’s meant to look like a continuous shot as he rampages through the trailer park, beating up the Ghouls he encounters as he searches for Lyla and gets his revenge. We catch glimpses of Bru, who is involved in his own rampage, every few seconds.
The action feels like it’s slightly speeded up, so that the fights are cartoonish, as Joel goes in one door of a trailer, walks the length of it while fighting those he finds inside and smashing their belongings, then exiting at the other end. Out on the street, several more Ghouls rush at him, and he beats them off one by one, barely breaking his stride or turning his head to look at them. They are as real to him as a cartoon or shadow puppets. Only Lyla matters.
When he reaches Jukes trailer, the two leaders pause to look at each other for a moment, then wordlessly begin punching. Their pact is broken and they are no longer real people who matter to each other- now they are obstacles in each other’s way. As the song ends, the sound of repeated bombshells dropping takes over until Joel is done murdering Jukes, formerly one of his few confidantes.
Just as the life fades from Jukes eyes, Lyla enters the room and speaks from behind Joel. “I finally figured out Harold’s story.” Joel turns around in both shock and happiness. He never wanted Lyla to see this side of him, but of course she’s lived in the compound her entire life. She knows him better than anyone, all sides of him. She knew he’d rescue her and she knew there would be retribution.
She continues: “Harold’s been trying to find his face.”
Joel: “His face?”
Lyla: “Harold’s been trying to figure out where he came from, but it’s been difficult, because nobody can recognize him.”
Joel: “Because he doesn’t have a face.”
Lyla: “That’s correct, Daddy-O.”
Joel: “Did he find it?”
Lyla: “That’s his story. Because it turns out that years ago, he accidentally dropped his face in a park without realizing it. So he had to retrace every step, good and bad, a journey that he found to be quite horrendous, which is why I call his story The Horpus Horrendous.”
Lyla: “I lit a match.”
As Jukes’ trailer, and maybe the rest of the Ghouls’ compound, go up in flames, Joel and Bru take Lyla home. Warren Zevon picks up his song where he left off and Lyla reminds her daddy to wear his seatbelt. Joel realizes that it is possible to have it all, when your child turns out just like you.
He no longer needs to hide his true face. He reclaims the identity he lost and overcomes the shame he’s felt since Burt coerced him into starting a war by framing the Ghouls and Katherine. Whatever happens between Katherine and Burt, Joel isn’t under Burt’s psychological hold any longer. Like Harold, he’s found the face he dropped in the park and is ready to wear it.
Katherine started a war for real and got her revenge, but she also set Joel free.
Back in Detroit, Big Graham muses on the ironies of life. Earl, whose son was just like him and died because of it, robbed Big Graham many times and got away with it. Now, the tables have turned. If Earl wants Bernice to live, he has to hand Doris/Katherine over to Graham.
When she goes to her meeting with Burt at the farmhouse, Katherine dresses to kill and brings along Queenie’s gun. She convinces Cordell and Molly to wait in the car. Queenie is waiting for her on the back porch. She tells Katherine that Bash is in bad shape, but alive. Katherine says she was sort of hoping that was the case.
Queenie reminds Katherine that she told her not to come back to Brawlers territory. But Queenie also said that if Katherine did return, she’d tell her the history of the gun. Katherine asks if Queenie ever really thought she wouldn’t come back. Queenie explains that she used be part of a traveling circus. Sometimes a few of them would moonlight as bank robbers in the towns they passed through. That’s the whole story. She actually didn’t think Katherine would come back and wishes she hadn’t.
I guess Queenie wanted to remember only the good side of Katherine, the way the townspeople remembered her, and never be forced to face the reality of the underlying truths of either situation? Or maybe we were supposed to go into that story in more depth in flashback in a season or two.
Burt is waiting for Katherine in the barn.
Queenie: “The way he sees it, he figured you’d come gunning for him pretty early on. He wanted to give you a chance to think about his offer. You were wronged. You came back. Started a bogus war, got a bunch of people killed in the process, and now you’re here. And if you had anything, anywhere else, you’d be there, not here. So he’d like to welcome you back in. All you’ve gotta do is trust me. Give me our gun, and go see him.”
Katherine: “What’s he waiting in there with?”
Queenie: “Would I ever put you in danger?”
Katherine hands Queenie the gun. Queenie did not ask Katherine for any other weapons she might have on her person. I believe Queenie would put Katherine in danger, but we also know that Burt has an ego thing about doing his killing without a gun. And of course he decided this whole thing is solely about him. He must be crushed that Katherine went for Bash first, rather than hunting him to the ends of the Earth.
Katherine has spots for at least a couple of thigh holsters and a small gun or two tucked into her bra, not to mention the knives she could have tucked into various spots. She’s younger, faster and in better shape than Burt. And she doesn’t have his overconfidence, so her instincts will be sharper.
Meanwhile, Burt thinks he can patriarch Katherine into submission.
She finds him sitting in a chair in the center of the barn, with another chair facing him, as if this is a chess match. I suppose it is. By the time Katherine is fully seated, she has a gun pointed at Burt. He tries to mansplain something to her. She shoots him in the gut. He laughs and says he hasn’t been shot in a long time. The camera cuts away and two more shots are fired.
Katherine exits the barn, as calm and collected as Johnson. She puts her sunglasses back on and asks Queenie for the pistol back. It has sentimental value. Queenie hands it over. As Katherine walks back out to the car, she says that it’s wonderful to be home. Queenie looks bemused, like maybe she’s ready for a new sheriff in town.
Meredith pulls up next to the dead Brawlers and takes in the situation. She rides forward, rather than turning back toward home.
Matty finishes punching out Ethan as payback for lying to him, then says they need to go find “your girl”. Not sure if he means Katherine or Meredith or both. I think they eventually catch up with both.
And so it ends. Katherine has gotten revenge on the 3 men who ruined her life, her husband, her brother and his protege, by starting the war they framed her for starting years ago. But this time, she framed them and took away what they each valued most. Matty will create the Ballad of the Harlows. Whether or not Burt survives his gunshot wounds, he and Joel will lose the respect of the gangs when the truth comes out about how badly they cheated everyone and then were beaten by Katherine at their own game.
I really hope Katherine’s second shot was in the heart and the third was in the head, so Burt had a minute to understand that Katherine wasn’t toying with him. She was destroying him, once and for all, and in the process stopping him from destroying anyone else. Katherine isn’t Burt. She’s a Harlow, but a Harlow woman, who takes care of the people she cares about rather than consuming them the way Burt does.
Rescuing Earl and Bernice from Big Graham and Tolly will be Katherine’s next battle. I am SO DISAPPOINTED that we won’t see it. This show has so much potential and is so unique, yet also follows in the footsteps of other great organized crime shows. After just 10 episodes, the characters, world and storylines are already complex and well-developed. How often do you find that in a brand new TV universe?
Katherine is the leader Matty, Johnson and Ethan have been looking for. She just needs to settle on her kingdom. She has some choices. She has to go back to Detroit to fight Big Graham with Earl, but also so she can reclaim her and Molly’s inheritances from Tommy and Colin. Or she could stay in Brawler territory. Or someplace in between. They showed us the many empty buildings Witt scouted out.
Earl thought he was free before Katherine came along, but psychologically, the Monster Ring never came home from the war and Earl’s son died because of it. Tommy was a kinder, classier version of Burt- his restaurant is valuable because it’s a front for profitable illegal operations, just like the bowling alley. If Katherine maintains control of the restaurant, she maintains control of the organized crime operations.
She may work out a deal to sell out to Graham and move her crew down to Brawler territory to start over, since her business front as a restauranteur/caterer ostensibly wouldn’t compete with the Bang-A-Rang and she’s weakened their backdoor organizations enough to attempt a little encroachment and competition, especially if she went with higher class restaurant, gambling and prostitution operations than the low class bar/strip club varieties the Brawlers and Ghouls operate.
But it’s also been made very clear that Graham is old and overconfident, just the kind of enemy Katherine and the Monster Ring take down easily when they aren’t outnumbered and blindsided the way Bernice and Earl were. Katherine’s crew are young and sharp, plus she’s adding formidable fighters like Matty and Johnson and potential spies like Meredith. Her crew members are also ready to take their shot at running a business after being kept on the sidelines for years .
A few important questions, though- were Bash and Katherine legally married? Is her marriage to Tommy even legal? It’s under an assumed name. Did she change it legally? If Big Graham finds out about Bash, she may lose her inheritance.
The Brawlers might stand behind Joel, simply because they are braindead thugs with no where else to go. After all of his angsting, he might be willing to stay on as leader, if he can finally run the Brawlers his way. It depends on how he feels about what happened with Lyla, once he’s had time to process. His daughter not only thinks this violent lifestyle is normal, she participated in it by lighting the match to burn down the trailer park.
Even though Joel was trying to protect her from the truth of how violent he and the Brawlers are, she figured it out. He murdered Jukes in a moment of insanity, showing her unequivocally who he really is and that he’ll never be able to leave his own violent tendencies behind. In that same moment, Lyla showed him who she really is, and it’s a reflection of himself, only with the killer strength and love of a Harlow woman. She isn’t conflicted about her identity the way Joel was this season.
Queenie’s name suggests that she’s meant to take over the Brawlers, probably as an equal partner with Joel this time. She was more equal to Burt than most of the Brawlers knew and it’ll take a mature, even hand to rein in the war Katherine started. She’s already in charge of the money and, as we saw, the Pin-Ups are capable of managing defense.
Queenie could easily stage a coup if she wanted to. The Pin-Ups are disciplined and organized, whereas the Brawlers got slaughtered by Katherine, Earl and Cordell on their home turf during the Bang-A-Rang robbery. Avron is the example that shows what most of them have become- unnecessary, entitled leeches. Queenie could even force Joel and the Brawlers out of the Bang-A-Rang 707 compound and create a fortress held by a female gang.
Images courtesy of Hulu.