COPPER 2.13 ‘The Place I Called My Home’
Episode Title: "The Place I Called My Home"
Writer: Will Rokos
Director: Larysa Kondraki
Previously on "Copper:"
The season finale turned series finale is always a bit worrisome for fans of a struggling show. Though enough people aren’t watching to merit another season, for those viewers who did stick with the show, will their loyalty be rewarded with a satisfying end to the series or will be made bitter by a nasty cliffhanger that never gets resolved?
In the case of “Copper,” it’s a little of both. The season-long Captain Donovan storyline was more or less put to bed in last week’s episode, though another baddie, "Wild Bill" Eustace (William Baldwin), quickly emerged to take his place. The murder charges against Eva (Franka Potente) were dropped and Elizabeth (Anastasia Griffith) was able to kick her opium habit thanks to a little tough love from her father-in-law. With their demons dead and buried, Corky and his friends enjoyed a momentary celebration, which was soon interrupted with word of President Lincoln’s assassination.
Instead of focusing on the toll Lincoln’s murder takes on Five Points, this episode sees Corky (Tom Weston-Jones), Freeman (Ato Essandoh) and Morehouse (Kyle Schmid) head south in an attempt to capture the men responsible for the national tragedy, John Wilkes Booth and David Herold. It’s Morehouse’s idea and though at first reluctant, Corky and Freeman decide to go along with it. Luckily, we’re spared the scene where Sara (Tessa Thompson) begs Matthew not to go. Considering the risk he’s taking, who could blame her?
Though the boys are officially on the hunt for Booth and Herold, the trip is really about the three Civil War vets revisiting their time together on the battlefield. While on the trail of the killers, each man is hit with harrowing flashbacks to the war. It’s enough to get a rare statement about his feelings from Corky. “I’m so glad to be done with war,” he says on the way home. We know that’s not entirely true, considering what he’s been dealing with in Five Points
As their search brings them closer to Booth and Herold, Morehouse’s leg becomes infected, forcing them to stop so Freeman can treat it. In the meantime, a band of Union soldiers kill Booth and arrest Herold. When the three men arrive on the scene, Morehouse is irate that he and his friends missed out on their chance to make history thanks to his leg. With his pain no longer numbed by drugs and alcohol, an enraged Morehouse tells Corky and Freeman their friendship has more to do with a coincidental meeting in the war than any real bond. We’ve seen grey tones in Morehouse’s character before and this particular outburst reveals a man who’s more concerned with glorification in the annals of history than the love and respected of his friends.
Though he later apologizes for his actions, we’re meant to take something away from this scene. Is it that Robert Morehouse’s philanthropy comes from his ego rather than his heart? Or is that he’s an emotionally broken man whose daddy issues and war wounds make it impossible for him to form human connections when drugs and alcohol aren’t involved? Unfortunately, we won’t get to find out.
Besides Morehouse’s meltdown, we also witness Freeman returning to his former plantation, owned by the sadistic Dr. Purvis. The men show up seeking medical treatment for Morehouse’s leg to find Purvis in the middle of a photo shoot with a brutally beaten slave and his young daughter, who compares the man’s horribly scared back to the bark of a sycamore tree. The scene is a disturbing reminder of the hell Freeman escaped, a world, which still exists despite the sacrifices he, Corky and Morehouse made to end it.
But the scene that aspires for the most gravitas involves the men relieving the day Freeman put Purvis’ daughter out her misery after she and her daughter were accidentally fired upon in the midst of battle. Morehouse and Corky try to convince Freeman to heal her but the doctor knows she’s too far-gone. It’s a different side of Matthew, one we haven’t seen in Five Points where we witness him effectively deal with all sorts of medical crises, from severed toes to rotten well water. Like many of the moments in this hour, it’s a heavy scene but without knowing much about Matthew’s relationship with his master’s daughter, it doesn’t hit the heart quite like it should.
With their mission accomplished, albeit by someone else, the trio heads back to New York where “Wild Bill” Eustace is making his move on Five Points. After getting Norbert Morehouse (Geordie Johnson) to hand over the files on Donovan for a handsome sum, Eustace taps Corky to replace Donovan as Ward Boss. O’Brien (Dylan Taylor) and Maguire (Kevin Ryan) tell Corky the news, who decides to weigh his options over a drink at Eva’s. However, when he arrives at the saloon, Corky finds the place empty except for two barrels with dead bodies inside and Eva nowhere to be found.
Where is Eva? What happened at the Paradise and will Corky willingly become the “organization’s” pawn? What ever became of orphan Annie Riley and Sara’s mother, Hattie? We’re left to wonder now that “Copper” has been officially canceled. Like some other shows in the genre, “Copper” may have been too preoccupied with its historical intrigues to have much heart. All of the drama of the first season surrounding Corky’s search for Ellen (Alex Paxton-Beesley) and his troubled relationship with young Annie (Kiara Glasco) amounted to little this season, what with Ellen dead, Maguire back in the fold and Annie long gone. In that sense, this finale feels complete, but not necessarily satisfying.
“Copper” had its charms, especially in its humor, which we were treated to in the penultimate episode. But without providing a deeper connection to its characters, a historical drama can become as dry as a textbook retelling. That’s not to say “Copper” had no heart, but rather it just didn’t beat loud enough to be heard.