DAMNATION Review: “God’s Body”

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Creely and Sheriff Berryman join forces to save Seth and Amelia on "Damnation", but find themselves in a war they may not win.

It always seems like the shows that really have a depth to them tend to take awhile to find their audience, and Damnation is no different.  There's so much going on in an episode of Damnation, on multiple levels, that hours after watching it you may find yourself still thinking about what happened in the show.  The touches of historical realism mixed with themes and situations relevant to our own time, integrate well with the complicated, three dimensional characters that make Damnation so much more interesting than many other shows.  I mean Creely was the antagonist at the beginning of the series, and by the end he's a roguish hero you find yourself loving.  There's a bit of Han Solo to him, and like Han Solo, he only does all of those bad things because someone owns him.  By the end of this season, he's almost more interesting than Seth is, and that's a testament to the writing staff of Damnation for creating characters of such depth and complexity.

The tragic death of D.L., which although painful makes a lot of narrative sense, has set things up for a bloody show down between Melvin Stubbs' Black Legion men who control the town, and everyone else with a conscious.  They use Amelia as the bait, and Seth is powerless to do anything other than attempt to save her life.  Amelia is a strong woman, and if she had her way she'd rather die for their cause than allow Seth to demean it with words he's forced to say on the radio.  Her whole life has been an act of defiance against the way her father and men like him run businesses with little regard for the people who make their profits possible.    Her convictions have been steadfast from the beginning, and though Seth is the face of the movement, she's its guiding hand and brain trust.  There's a reason Seth has been reluctant to tell her about his past life, and it's because he knows how much it will hurt her to know what he did.  Seth has been trying to redeem himself from the error of his previous ways, and is afraid she'll leave him if she finds out the truth.

After the assault on the Riley farm, the farmers have nothing left to lose.  The Black Legion have devastated the means of production on their farms, and left them picking up the pieces of their livelihoods.  Sheriff Berryman finally realizes he can't safely sit on the fence any longer.  He has to pick a side, and there's no way he's going to allow Melvin Stubbs and his racist goons take over the town he's given his life to.  Together Seth, Creely, Berryman, Connie, and the farmers launch an assault to drive the Black Legion from the town.  One of the best moments of the entire episode comes after Connie and Sheriff Berryman have a spark of romance between the two of them.  Creely takes the moment to poke fun at Berryman asking him if he has a cuddly feeling inside.  Berryman's answer is classic, "I haven't felt this warm inside since I saw you do your little jingle jangle dance in that warehouse."

Connie Nunn has been an interesting character.  She's a ruthless killer, hell bent on destroying and killing strikers she equates with her husband's killer, until she finds out Seth had nothing to do with her husband's death.  When she joins the fight against The Black Legion, it's hard to tell if she's been converted, or if she just believes racists are far worse men than those she was originally after.  There's a warmth to her that would've seemed impossible earlier in the season, but is it a change that'll stick?  It appears she's legitimately with the farmers, until she finds out Amelia is responsible for killing her husband as retribution for the killing of hers.  Connie has a blood lust for striking down the person responsible for her Harold's death, and once she learns the truth, the cold ruthless Connie appears to be back, showing up at Amelia's home to take revenge.  The fate of their encounter is left up in the air, though Seth does find traces of blood in their absence.  It's clearly something Damnation intends to explore if given a second season.

It becomes obvious that Tennyson Duvall and his family have been using and manipulating Seth and Creely ever since they worked with their father clearing land for an oil company.  The realization that Duvall is responsible for Cynthia and her father's death is not lost on Creely, since his life changed irrevocably for the worse the night of their deaths.  It's why he finds himself as an indentured servant to the whims and pleasures of Mr. Duvall now.  The most important thing to Creely is escaping from Duvall's clutches.  If that means running away with Bessie to some place else, some other country where their love won't be frowned upon or shunned by society, than so be it.  If it were only so easy, but Duvall has a long reach, and he makes Creely an offer he can't refuse.  The offer leaves Creely in a tenuous situation, and he has no other choice than to accept the position Duvall offers him.  Will he use this new position in Duvall's company to help Seth and Amelia take Duvall down once and for all, or will he be too scared of Duvall to deny the man's whims?  Seth and his cohorts have won the battle for now, but it's just one encounter in a much longer war.

Damnation is set up nicely for a second season, which I whole-heartedly hope USA Networks gives them.  The show has lower ratings than it deserves, but word of mouth will benefit Damnation, and if it were to make its way onto a streaming service it would clearly find a larger audience before a second season arrived.  Tony Tost and his team have delivered a gorgeously shot, intricately woven, and exciting show with the kind of characters that have narrative longevity.  Here's hoping they get the opportunity to explore this world further. 


Season 1, Episode 10

God's Body

Critic's Score


Tags: Logan Marshall-Green | Sarah Jones | Killian Scott | Damnation |