It's official, Henry's dead. RIP, young brother. You fought a good fight in your short years.
Noah? Right now, I don't know that he's gonna make it. He's been shot twice, and there's no time to fix him up now. That explosion Henry caused might have killed some of the slave catchers after our group, but not all. They will show up soon, so that means, Noah, Rosalee, and Cato gotta go.
But before they do, Rosalee digs in Noah's shoulder to get the bullet puts in some ointment to stop the swelling. They hop in the Kentucky bound caskets and hope Noah makes the journey.
At the Big House, Massa Tom’s brother is visiting again, allegedly in town for Tom’s nomination speech. Ernestine is serving him breakfast and he has some tea to spill: Rosalee made it “thru Kentucky”. That’s pretty far from Georgia. I’m impressed.
Ernestine heads to “the back of the house”to find Massa Tom there, complaining about Sam’s escape. No one can find out, he insists. Not with the nomination so close. "Your children are gonna be the death of me”, Massa Tom says.
Ernestine: “Not just mine.”
Jeremiah Johnson, the Patty Cannon slave catcher, is trying to beat one of the guys that helped Noah, et al, into revealing the next stop on the "Freedom Train". He beats the guy until he fakes being unconscious, but just as Johnson turns away, he lunges at him. Stabler shows up just in time to throw a knife in his back.
Johnson, who reminds me so much of “Jesus” from The Walking Dead, is kinda grateful. He and Stabler agree to partner up to catch the remaining Macon 7. Stabler wants Rosalee, I think because she’s double the price, and really the prize; Johnson can have the other two.
The remaining Macon 7 are being transported in the caskets. Once they're dropped off, they break fee and find Noah's got an infection. They have to get meds.
Cato says they should dip for the Ohio River and leave Noah. Rosalee says no. And she's got a plan. They're going to steal some fancy clothes, dress as free people and head to the doctor's house to steal meds. Ok.
Noah's 19th century GQ fresh in his new suit and ascot, but he's more impressed by Rosalee in her red dress (say it the way Funky Dineva says "red lipstick"). He looking too hard.
At the doctor’s house, they pretend to be husband and wife's with the doctor, who gives Rosalee, who says she is pregnant, a once over, but isn't concerned enough to offer her a glass of water. Well, not until she notices the Tuscan columns in his house. He likes interiors; she chats him up about curtains. He’s so excited to have high brow conversation that he invites the happy couple to have dinner with him, and his brother.
Stabler and his son are burying the bodies that should have been in the casket the remaining Macon 7 traveled North in. Baby Stabler’s been thinking. It’s been pretty clear he’s not feeling this slave catching thing too tough, and he says as much. He challenges his dad about why they do it. Dad says they had no choice. The house is about to be foreclosed on. Son says he had a choice, he chose slave catching.
I never got the sense that Stabler enjoyed what he does. He’s got a weird relationship— for the time period-- with Jay/Lester, who I am still confused about. What role does he play in their life? Like Baby Stabler calls him “Mister Jay”, and he speaks to Stabler like they’re equals. Is Jay enslaved?
Back at the Macon plantation, the Big House is being decorated is red, white and blue regalia for the nomination. Rev says something is missing. Tom wonders, "fireworks?" Rev is down. They remind him of God’s glory. Whatever. I hate this dude.
“Schaffer” rolls up in his wagon as Tom and the Rev are taking. Tom quips Schaffer’s early. Schaffer says he ain't here "for your coronation". He whips back a sheet— in front of the Rev—and Sam is shackled beneath it. Awww hell.
Sam ran with his jar of money and offered to Schaffer for his freedom. But nah, the South don't work that way. There's no bounty on Sam, and Sam's offering a $100, the modern equivalent of $3000 left Schaffer unfazed. Helping an enslaved man escape ain’t his way of life.
Schaffer notes a lot of slaves have been running from Macon lately, and maybe that's wouldn't be so if Tom had handled his handle and strung up the bodies of the runners at his front gates. Just sayin. The Rev buts in, “A good leader learns from his mistake”. [redacted], shut up! Ugh!
Tom says Sam, who last week he called his “most prized nigga” is going to be a barely waking example of the mistake of running.
In Middle of Nowhere, Kentucky, Noah comes to and has a one track mind: Henry. He climbs out of his casket, looking like a Walking Dead extra, to go look for his dead little brother. Oh, Lord.
Stabler and Johnson show up to meet the Sheriff, who leads them inside the store Cato and Rosalee stole their clothes. Coincidence? I think not. Stabler figures out the pair changed clothes and must be passing for free folk.
At the doctor’s house, Rosalee finds the house girl, Lettie, making the bed. Rosalee befriends her andlevels with her: they ain't free and they ain't from NYC and they need her help or their friend will die. Thankfully, for Lettie’s sake and everyone else, she relents and gives up the keys to the medicine cabinet. Because, um, Cato was standing at the ready, ready to shank Lettie if she refused.
The pair are headed to the doctor’s medicine cabinet when he spots them and introduces them to his brother, the sheriff.
Ernestine has shown up to cut off Sam’s heel, Kunta Kinte style. She volunteered for the job to make sure it's done right. Too deep? It won’t ever heal. Sam will be cripple, that’s certain. But he'll be alive.
Sam: I rather be dead.
Ernestine: We can survive anything.
Sam: That's what I'm afraid of mama.
Me: Dear God!
Massa Tom and the Rev pop up to watch the festivities. This is sick. Like you don’t have the balls to do it, but you wanna watch it be done? Massa Tom can barely stomach what's happening. This is all for the Reverend’s sake. Doesn’t make it better. But still. If it were just Tom in charge, Sam would end up in the stockade and that would be that.
Ernestine is doing what she gotta do, and she’s a second away from cutting off Sam’s heel when Tom says "stop." The Reverend objects, but Tom digs in his heels and finally stands up to him. Rev. walks off. Sam looks... let down. Ernestine looks confused and relived. This lady's nerves got to be so bad. I don't know how she does it. I guess she doesn’t have a choice.
Noah is stumbling through a field looking for Henry. This doesn’t end well. Nearby, the slave catchersare determined that this search for the Macon folks has gone on too long and ends tonight. They agree to head out and be diligent, but before Stabler bounces, he asks Johnson to read a letter.
In short, the bank wants to buy his land, the land that they were threatening to foreclose on a couple weeks back. There’s mercury in the land and they will pay a premium. Johnson suggests he sells it to the highest bidder and make more money. He also informs Stabler he’s rich.
Stabler is thinking about what Johnson just said. He tells Ben to feed the horses, and Ben asks if they're headed home. Stabler doesn't answer.
At the doctor’s house, Rosalee and Cato are making small talk with the doctor and the Sheriff's brother. He doesn't trust Cato and Rosalie and has questions that need answers, such as "are you octaroon?" Did you go to finishing school?
The Sheriff suggests Rosalee get on the keys. She can play! Who knew? She learned along with her half sister, Ms, Mary. Cato looks shocked. And enamored. Plot twist?
The Sheriff still ain't convinced. The doctor excuses himself to wipe his tears, and the Sheriff cuts to the point. He wants to see their papers. Cato breaks out the set of papers, but neither her nor Rosalee can read. They give him Pearly Mae's papers. Hmmm. Can the Sheriff read?
We don't find out. A deputy walks in and says there's a runaway rummaging through the cane fields. That would be literally delusional Noah searching for Henry. Awww, man.
The sheriff runs out and Cato runs after him. Rosalee heads for the medicine cabinet.
Tom is nervous before meeting the slaveowners . His wife ain't able, so Ernestine comes by to give him a pep talk. "Make them see they'd be a fool not to nominate you,” she says.
This is Tom’s version of me listening to Kanye before I do interviews or stand in front of a microphone. He walks in the room like a boss, only to be hit with the vilest sh— ever. The slaveowners, trying to impress the importance of slavery upon Tom, sound like Trump talking about Mexicans.
The Rev., who has long sensed Tom’s hesitation about the worst parts of slavery, pops up and asks Tom, "how badly do you want it?" Whatever the Rev has up his sleeve is going to be extra. Tom takes a stiff drink. He wasn’t raised this way. But he’s gonna go along to get along. Whatever it takes. This is what selling your soul looks like.
Ernestine heads to the quarters to look for Sam. She's worried for good reason. Did he run again? Did he kill himself?
Dear God, I hope not. Though I would understand. I like Sam. He's the Dukie (Wire season 4-5 reference) of this show. Sweet guy in an environment that doesn't respect sweet. I wish he'd had the balls to shoot Massa Tom when he had the chance.
Some white men-- overseers?-- snatch up Ernestine, who kicks and screams to no avail. WTF is going on? Are they about to rape her? I wonder if Tom would even care or react in anyway.
It’s nomination time.
Tom is giving a speech on his balcony in support of slavery , blah, blah values, blah, blah prosperity, blah, blah, heritage. "Are we who we say we are?" Tom asks. That is the question.
The camera zooms out and… Sweet. Jesus. Sam has been lynched and is hanging from the porch with a gigantic American flag in the background as Massa Tom gives his nomination speech. As art, my God this is poignant imagery. Fireworks are going off like this is the greatest thing ever. But Dear God. DEAR GOD!!! Poor, poor, poor Sam.
This is who you are Tom: a spineless mofo who has two enslaved children by the woman you’ve repeatedly raped. And you just killed her oldest child. And you knew you were going to do that when she gave you the uplifting pep talk. And instead of risking her seeing what you’d done, you had your goons capture her while she was looking for her son and you lock her in a box. You might not like it. It might make you queasy. But you do it anyway because there’s nothing you won’t do to get this ego-stroking job. you cheat on your wife with a woman from a race of people you consider subhuman, and you let the woman play dom to you. You parade your outside children in front of your wife with no regard to her feelings. Tom, you suck at humanity.
In Kentucky, Rosalee is captured by the slave catchers while Noah is caught and shackled in the field. He has a moment of clarity where fight or flight kicks in and he strangles the slave catcher. Cato pops up a few moments later and is going to help him hide when they hear Rosalee yelling.. Cato says they should help her, but Noah says no. They can’t help her if they get caught too.
In the Big House, Tom is sitting in his cellar looking disgusted with himself. Bill walks in and Tom says he needed him tonight. Bill ain't here to be his emotional support. Tom can call Ernestine for that. Oh, that's right. She’s not around because you had her put in the hole so she wouldn’t try to stop you from killing her son or have made a scene about it. So. No support for you.
Bill only wants to know if he could have stopped Tom from lynching Sam. Nope? Well, then there's nothing to talk about. Bill dips and Tom sits there alone with his thoughts. He knows he's gone too far, but also that he's not going back.