Season Two, Episode Seven “Should I Stay or Should I Go”
Written by Nick zigler
Directed by Darren Grant
[All images courtesy Alfonso Bresciani/USA Network]
Now, we continue the NFFA sanctioned All-American Carnage with The Purge Season Two, Episode Seven, “Should I Stay or Should I Go”!
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Plot Threads of the Dammed
*Kelen (Danika Yarosh) attempts to sneak back to campus sans Ben (Joel Allen), who graciously offers to drive her back. They hit the road!
*Marcus (Derek Luke), Michelle (Rochelle Aytes), and Darren Moore (Denzel Whitaker) find out why everyone wants to kill Marcus, then they hit the road!
*Esme’s (Paola Nuñez) and Ryan Grant (Max Martini) collect information on the Jackals gang from Episode One, then – wait for it – they hit the road!
*The episode title refers to the classic, oft-covered and played in movies and commercials 1981 single by The Clash from their album Combat Rock. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” hit #1 on the UK charts – in 1991 when it featured in a commercial for Levi’s jeans.
*The Merrymakers Mask Co. sales meeting. Ian (Benjamin Nathan-Serio) demonstrates a Scarecrow-like burlap sack mask, featuring the popular “Michael Myers In Halloween Point of View” technique.
*Can’t tell if the mask’s mouth is sewn or stapled shut.
*Ian notes, “Visibility is excellent. Ventilation is greatly improved from last year.”
*Ian’s boss (Craig Welzbacher) likes that news, because “We don’t need another suffocation lawsuit. Thank God that happened on Purge.”
*They use old inventory, look like they care, and of course, will give a portion of the proceeds to a “relevant charity”.
*Jimmy has an idea for the “Inspired by True Events” line – The Campus Killer mask. No ad budget = no problem. Since “Bad taste sells“, cable news will cover the outrage the mask generates and publicize it for Merrymakers.
*“The Merrymakers Mask Co.” Company logo is a Purge-specific variation on the comedy and tragedy masks from ancient Greek theater.
*Given the rich history of masks and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it’s not surprising this has become a booming industry under the NFFA.
*As the episode begins, it’s “116 Days to Purge Night“.
Road Trippin’ With Ryan and Esme!
*In an abandoned building, Esme (Paola Nuñez) logs into the NFFA network during the skeleton crew shift and downloads information on the Jackals gang we met way back in Episode One.
*Ryan (Max Martini) wonders why Esme chose to trust a former cop. “You walked away from a system that betrayed you,” and Max chose not to harm the bank guards during the robbery at 1st Parish Bank.
*At this point, Vivian appears to be the NFFA team player, busy tracking Esme’s location – 652 Longview.
*It doesn’t sound like Ryan wants the Jackals information for Purge Night revenge; I suspect he’s cooking up something involving a double-cross of Capt. Ziv and her crooked cops.
*Esme uses her analytical skills to help Ryan visualize where his mom might be, based on her history and behavior patterns.
*Ryan’s mom wanders away from the care facility. Ryan has to present his real id to the cops who find her, and Esme bails as they approach Ryan’s truck.
*Alice Grant (Geraldine Singer) wonders why her son isn’t in class. Ryan tells her, “School was dismissed” – agreeing with Alzheimer’s patients’ reality instead of trying to correct them.
*Esme, walking back to Ryan’s loft, sees flyers for car sale “72,000 miles, $8,200.00 OBO (or best offer) Contact Drew Adams 1-800-555-0140“.
*Turns out Vivian (Charlotte Schweiger) arranged to have those flyers posted along dead spots on Esme’s travel patterns. Why is Vivian helping/reaching out to Esme?
*We do see Vivian asking (and getting no answers from) Curtis (Connor Trinneer) after pulling an all-nighter of keystroke analysis on Esme’s workstation before it was wiped.
*Is Vivian just as much a true believer as Curtis, but with a bedrock filled with ideas of “right and wrong” that don’t align with the NFFA?
*Interesting in the high-tech surveillance world of the NFFA, both Vivian and Esme use flip phones.
*Esme confesses to Ryan her role in sending Tommy (Doug Vargas) to jail. His fate, along with the deaths of Professor Adams and Olivia Hughes, compels her to stay.
*Of course, Ryan kicks Esme out. As she’s leaving, Esme thanks Ryan for sheltering her; instead of running and leaving someone else to sit at her desk, pushing the same buttons, she’s not going to stop until she can “blow up this whole f*cking thing”.
Road Trippin’ With Marcus, Michelle, and Darren!
*This season’s long-plotted out revenge plot centers around Marcus.
*Five years ago, grumpy neighbor Clint (David Maldonado) took his wife to the ER at Bienville. There is a Bienville Street in New Orleans, along with a Bienville Medical Center (in Arcadia, Louisiana).
*Clint’s wife died. Marcus didn’t come out to tell Clint himself. And when Marcus and Michelle moved into the neighborhood, Marcus didn’t even recognize Clint, or remember the death of Clint’s wife.
*A neighbor notes, “You barely knew any of us.” Maybe Marcus shouldn’t have skipped all those boring Home Owner Association meetings.
*Clint owns a big pickup truck – just like the one that tried to run down Marcus back in Episode Three, “Blindspots“.
*Since Clint’s not a total jerk, the HOA will “consider” canceling the bounty on Marcus – if he and Michelle leave by midnight.
*An obviously distraught Darren (Denzel Whitaker) just happens to meet up with Marcus and Michelle outside their home.
*Why does Darren go to Marcus instead of his mom? Not willing to put her in danger?
*Darren isn’t allowed past the Louisiana/Mississippi border; he’s on a “no travel list”. Did the NFFA repeal Saenz v. Roe and the Constitution’s Privileges or Immunities Clause (Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 2)? Is this an NFFA version of the post 9-11 “No Fly List“?
*In telling the officer, “I’m reaching for it (ID) right now” Marcus is following advice from the ACLU, “DO keep your hands on the wheel and let the officer know what you are doing (saying) “I’m going to reach for my registration now.”
*Marcus won’t abandon his son; the family turns around and returns home.
*Marcus, like Esme, reaches a point of clarity this episode. He realizes that there are guys like Clint everywhere, and “some of them are running this country.”
Road Trippin With Ben and Kelen!
*Kelen (Danika Yarosh) can’t get a ride on her phone’s Uber/Lyft app, Economy or Premium.
*Her credit card number ends in 1121.
*Ben wakes and sees the suitcase has been gone through. He insists on being a Good Boyfriend and driving Kelen back to campus.
*From this point on, Kelen and Ben play a charade of each pretending not to know what the other person knows. What does Ben’s mom (Shelly Calene-Black) know? She’s so understanding of her son; does she know Ben has done, or at least what he is capable of?
*Ben again doesn’t realize that confessing to murder with phrases like “I felt better, I felt great” tends to freak people out.
*Kelen realizes she’s a hostage, tries to fake placate Ben for confiding in her, lull him into trusting her.
*For all his deadpan demeanor, Ben plays with Kelen like a cat tormenting a mouse.
*He hands her a knife so she’ll feel “safe”, then takes her cell phone when then they stop for gas and a bathroom break.
*Kelen scrawls a message on paper toweling, leaving it in a restroom. “HELP! I’ve been kidnapped by the Campus Killer. Green Subaru Southbound on 55”
*Given how skeevy the restroom appeared, I don’t think depending on prompt restroom maintenance was the wisest course of action.
*Kelen denounces Ben as “sick”. She refuses to cut his arms and desperately attempts to escape after stabbing Ben in the leg. Kelen flees back to the highway, only to be flattened by an oncoming car.
*Ben reaches and crosses his Moral Event Horizon when he catches up to Kelen and kneels over her broken body. Kelen is mortally wounded, choking on her own blood. Ben makes a show (for himself?) of weeping over her body as he strangles her to death.
*In its moral bleakness and Ben’s affectation of weeping over Kelen as he murders her, this scene played like a cable-friendly variation on Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986).
*In effect, the Campus Killer is Ben’s true self, wearing a “Ben Gardner” mask. Oscar Wilde describes Ben’s story perfectly. “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
*”Monster (Under My Bed)” by Call Me Karizma plays over the episode-ending montage. I first mis-heard the title as “Monster (Under My Back), which makes it even creepier.
Monster, monster under my bed
Come out and play cause I need a friend
You’re so damn close that I feel your breath
You’re the only one I have left
Feel you in my bones
Shiver up my spine
You’re a master of disguise
You show up when no one’s home
Are you real or just a lie
I can feel you in my mind
And my soul
But I love when you jump in
And help me feel something
The Purge Season Two, Episode Eight, “Before the Sirens” airs Dec. at 9/8c on USA.
Official USA network images, articles, and other Purge related goodies can be found here.
My deep dives into Bates Motel, The Exorcist, and Seasons 1 & 2 of Channel Zero reside at SciFi4Me; Fang and Saucer is home to my deep dives into Season One of The Purge TV, and Channel Zero Seasons 3 & 4.