The series premiere of AMC’s The Son aired on Saturday night, and with that, the network looked to fulfill its recent tradition of celebrating Westerns. Hell on Wheels was one of our favorite shows during the time in which it was on the air — if you want to think of this as a pseudo-sequel, you can in terms of the timeline. The railroad is around, and during one of the premiere’s landmark moments, Eli McCullough (Pierce Brosnan) gives a speech about the plentiful life that he and his family has.
With that said, the beginning of Eli’s life was not anywhere near so peaceful. During the opening minutes of the episode tonight, we learned that his family was attacked by the Comanche, and he had to find a way to survive then during rather difficult circumstances. In those moments, we did learn that he is a difficult hero to root for … if he’s a hero at all. His sentiment towards the Comanche was fairly common for Western expansionists at the time, so we cannot sit here and proclaim his actions as uncommon. Yet, he somehow did enough to survive, and he maybe even found some common ground among members of the tribe. That’s something to be expounded upon as the show progresses.
Perhaps one of the stranger issues with the show for now is that Brosnan looks perhaps too young to be the older Eli, especially given that we’re jumping back and forth between 1849 and then 1915, where he, while running his self-built empire in South Texas, runs into violence and conflict among the Mexican border. Through some of these scenes and interactions, you get a good sense of the tension that exists there, whether it be with the Texas or even Mexican-Americans working to find a sense of identity in a world where racism is still prevalent and the letter of the law is still many shades from present-day. Eli didn’t seem to be willing to follow any laws in the closing minutes of the episode, unafraid of starting a “war” with an opposing side over a few quick kicks.
Where The Son succeeds is in its authenticity, the landscapes, the Western vibe, and the appeal of the genre. Where it’s struggling for now are with its supporting cast in the present. No one has managed to pop off the screen through one episode, and without a cheat sheet (i.e. IMDb), we could not tell you a single supporting player. We got Dallas vibes out of the story of family and empire-building, but we don’t have Dallas characters just yet.
There’s potential here for this to be an engrossing show over the coming weeks, so despite some problems balancing the aesthetic with the story content, The Son is still worthwhile viewing … at least for the next several weeks. Hopefully, there are viewers out there who find it in AMC’s challenging Saturday timeslot. Grade: B.
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If you enjoyed the series, rest assured that we will have further news soon enough about what could be coming up. (Photo: AMC.)