Sunday, April 26, 2015

Buffalo Gal

Well, The Pinkertons had several episodes that I didn't like much, as they clumsily figured out how to rotate their varied cast members. Sometimes Kenji would be there, sometimes not, sometimes Miyo was there, sometimes Annalee, etc. I also disliked the attempts to manufacture sexual tension and jealousy between Kate and Will. The strange episode with Belle Starr was very unsatisfactory, portraying the female outlaw as some frustrated housewife foolishly daydreaming about western dime novels. There was nothing about her real-life experience with criminals from an early age, such as growing up with Jesse James in Missouri, and she never got to prove herself a sharpshooter. The writers tried to make her sympathetic, trapped in a loveless, arranged marriage, and they let her escape to freedom. I don't know if she'll come back with Jesse James later, but I'd rather she didn't, with this kind of false backstory.

But the show has recently redeemed itself with an excellent episode featuring Buffalo Soldiers, called "Forever Free." John Bell got to go undercover as a cook to try to find the killer. The white commanding officer, while often sympathetic to his soldiers, still was capable of being arbitrary and cruel. Not only did the episode deal with the traumas of ex-slaves, but there was a twist, because one of the soldiers was a woman passing as a man. The Pinkertons discovered this, but chose not to out her after the case was solved; Kate sympathized and wanted the soldier to continue to serve and earn her pension. I like how this show explores topics of race, class, and gender in a sensitive manner, and I hope they keep this up.

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