After the many events of last week the whole team is more than a little traumatised – D’avin hiding on the ship, Dutch ducking between brief sexual encounters and John telling all of this to Pree at the bar. The heat wave doesn’t help any.
And John is doing his best to bring his damaged team back together. To do that he’s signed them up on an easy mission in Dutch’s name. Everyone is, tentatively, getting back in the saddle. Though Dr. Pawter doesn’t agree with John being up and about so soon after being injured.
But everything’s called when they get a super severe weather alarm. A severe chemical storm no less. That’s very not good. Part of that storm also has convicted criminals chained up to be exposed to the chemical weather, their faces forced to turn up to the sky. Nasty.
At Pree’s he opens the doors to anyone who can’t get home and to shelter. That includes John, Pawter and the preacher Alvis. Pawter checks John out and finds him generally healthy but they also touch on the mental state of Dutch and D’avin which they don’t think is nearly as good.
Pawter tries to leave when John mentions that Dutch and D’avin slept together but Pree isn’t letting anyone leave his barred doors with the storm coming. Which is a shame because John isn’t a fan of the people he’s been locked in with. Several of them have just completed an armed robbery and there’s an alert out for them. And there’s a Company employee in the building about to enforce said alert (or, as John puts it, “do something stupid.”
Which he does. The captain and the thief have a brief conversation about who is betraying his people more, the one working for the oppressive company or the one who is stealing the future of people who earned Leith passes from the company.
A firefight breaks out in the bar, a passing rookie is killed and the main thief is injured badly. The storm breaks, the man chained up outside scream in pain as the rain begins to kill them. It’s a hostage situation time, with Pawter helping heal the shot thief while John manages to ingratiate himself sufficiently to help Pawter and be left, almost, alone with her and her patient.
Pawter also seems to be having her own health problems – complaining of a headache and her hands are shaking. John talks to Pree clearly realising that Pawter is in withdrawal. She’s addicted to Jack, a nastily addictive substance she can normally easily find – and they need to get her some if she’s going to be able to doctor the thief and his friends not shoot them all in the head.
So that means using the tunnels and basements under Westerly to find Jack. And if they’re not back soon, he will throw the random civilians hiding in the bar out in the rain (and he doesn’t buy the whole “these are your people!”)
While moving through the tunnels we see some more of the hostility John has for Alvis – how he thinks his religion gives people false hope and how he is using his faith to “play politics.” Alvis is sure they can free Westerly but John considers that distant, unreasonable dream. They find a man with Jack, his last dose, which he gives to Alvis in exchange for a blessing while Alivs praises his sacrifice. The desperate people in the tunnels queue up to receive his blessing.
Alvis also considers John willing to die for a cause – albeit on a smaller level – willing to risk his life to return to the bar and save the people there rather than just running and saving himself. John considers this basic humanity. Alvis takes a poke at John always having to fix everyone else’s problems just as company agents stop them with their plan to raid the bar, find their men and kill the thieves. And likely most or all of the hostages
Of course John insists on going in and trying to save lives. Which gives John a time limit.
He gets the Jack to Pawter so she can do the surgery – though she’s worried that the Jack isn’t pure. She starts the surgery but paranoia and hallucinations make it hard, especially as her story comes out: she isn’t on Westerly by choice. She was high while in performing surgery and killed someone, because of her parent’s influence she was spared prison and shipped to Westerly (they also keep her supplied with Jack). It also pretty much shatters her image as a self-sacrificing do-gooder. John, of course, is there with an excellent pep talk to get her back in the game and guide her through her bad high.
They save his life but the next problem is he won’t be able to walk which doesn’t please the thieves. They’re also not happy when they find the Company man they have has been calling his bosses – and they throw him out into the rain. John goes out into the rain to get him, followed by Alvis (whose whole faith is based on masochism)
The company is moving in and the thief demands that John fix this. John is officially done with fixing shit. He pulls a bolt gun (which he also got from out of the rain) and shoots all of the thieves then returns to his drink.
John is pretty epic when he is done
In the aftermath John helps Pawter through her withdrawal. Apparently it’s not John’s first experience helping an addict.
The injured company soldier asks for Alvis’s blessing – and delivers a message in the process, he is part of the resistance and passing on information about weapons stockpiles the Company is gathering.
Dutch and D’avin got out before the storm and are on Leith speaking to Bellus about their new warrant. But before Bellus will discuss this she wants to talk to D’avin about hurting Dutch. And by talk I mean punch. I do like her. The warrant is an apparently simple delivery. Why do I not believe this?
Tension between Dutch and D’avin is high with Dutch definitely avoiding him. They pause above Westerly until the storm clears and then all the ship systems go down and Lucy won’t say why. The nice simple object they’re carrying glows ominously. No way was it going to be that easy.
The object they’ve picked up is a lie detector which will force them to talk out their issues and play nice together. And, yes, John is behind it.
They talk and have some really good discussions on how to move on past the terrible things in their past as well as D’avin’s problems, self-image and shitty childhood. They also uncover the real problem why Dutch can’t move on – because she can’t be angry at D’avin, she can’t attack him or hurt him (unlike Bellus) because she knows he’s a victim. But that leaves her with no outlet for her anger and hurt.
So they decide to take on an image of D’avin with D’avin using knives (which he now has issues with after stabbing John) and Dutch standing in the way because this reckless violence is how they deal with their issues and she can’t afford him developing a huge fear of hurting her actually holding her back while in battle.
It doesn’t quite work as Dutch’s faith in D’avin gives out at the last moment and she stops him. But before they can angst about this they’re warned Lucy is being pulled into the storm. Unable to figure out the answer to John’s last question they break it. Really easily. Hilariously this gets Lucy up and running again
John reunites with D’avin who acknowledges that yes he is broken, yes he needs to be fixed and he will be off the ship until he addresses that. John doesn’t let him off easily and demands D’avin address all the shit he has left John to deal with – abandoning him with their problematic parents to take care of them, sleeping with Dutch and jeopardising their team when he asked him not to. John isn’t going to tell him how to fix this – because he’s sick of fixing D’avin’s mess.
We have more nice poking at the Westerly class system but also a nice overturn of the idea “we’re all in this together” that is supposed to keep them united. The Company’s “7 generations of good behaviour and you get land on Leith” is a very cunning idea to ensure there will be a section of Westerly’s people who will play by the rules, bow and scrape and hope for reward (which parallels extremely well with how a lot of marginalised groups have been divided and exploited over the years) but to a fourth generation what does that benefit him? He works hard and suffers and hopes his great grandchild gets to own land on Leith? He supports his fellows and keeps his head down and gets… what? Why should he feel solidarity with people who are getting out – or who are stomping on other Westerlys so they and their family can get out?
That draws on John’s arguments with Alvis – both the idea that faith is being used as a means to keep the Westelys content (false hope) (which is also shown by the man giving up his last dose of a drug and sacrificing in exchange for a gesture of faith) and, equally, Alvis’s grand but illdefined wish for freedom for Westerly does something similar – hoping for a grand, better future which isn’t likely to come to pass.
It’s a really good portrayal of an oppressive system
I also really like the look at John’s altruism and the willing to risk himself in the immediate sense to save people currently under threat with the idea that people willing to risk themselves for a cause are trying to do the same thing but on a grander level. But then we come back to the fact John’s immediacy means he is risking his life for a concrete, obtainable outcome – while Alvis offers hope but not much more. But then, the people of the tunnels don’t have more than hope… So is it exploitation to use that hope and get services and respect on the strength of it – even if you share it? Or is it trying no matter how little chance you have?
On top of the grand analysis, I also like the personal aspect here. I really liked how we saw Dutch and D’avin both talking about their huge grand issues and learning to get along because or John while Alvis tells John he’s good at fixing people. This is something we see a lot in shows and books but rarely get the kind of acknowledgement deserves. Main characters carry around their MASSIVE EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE which everyone around them has to shovel – but there’s never really a nod to the work those shovellers put in. John fixes people, he shovels their baggage and he helps them move forward at great risk and cost to himself (let’s remember it’s John who nearly died last episode) and he deserves recognition for that. And it’s one of those rare instances that the caretaker character finally gets to say “I’m done with this!”