Life in Strange Empire

Strange Empire, Ep. 107, Day 1 of 7 - August 15, 2014, Langley, BC

Was it me, or was Strange Empire walking us through the significant stages of a woman’s life this week? Opening with Isabelle facing the possibility of another pregnancy and ending with a death, it was the metaphorical life of woman on display in “The Oath” as last week’s violence took another break.

It was hard to read exactly what effect Slotter raping Isabelle had on her or their relationship. She was obviously shut off from her husband and his attentions, but plenty of that was already building thanks to Slotter’s recent foray into mass murder and Isabelle’s affair with Ling. Then again, the grotesque spider catching her eye as Slotter thumped away at her could have just as easily been a commentary on her husband as it was another sign that Isabelle was convinced she would conceive a monster.

Either way, in between striking a deal with Rebecca and visiting Ling for “treatment,” Isabelle was weighing the possibility of another pregnancy and making her choice. It might say something about Janestown’s slow slog into being a female-led town that the emphasis was on Isabelle’s choice instead of creating a crisis with another pregnancy.

Kelly was feeling the weight of that potential too. Hit with the crippling pain that is womanhood, her bleak musing, “No one cares what we want. Less now,” would have been dramatic in any other town even if it was an accurate assessment of the times. But considering the girls were meant to be Slotter’s first sacrifice from the stranded women, Kelly, as usual, had a better grip on the reality of the situation. And in a place like Janestown where your worth, as Fiona and Thomas were also learning, had to do with your physical value, Kelly’s about to find out hers has just gone up in a place where that’s the last thing a woman would want.

Strange Empire, Ep. 107, Day 7 of 7 - August 26, 2014, Langley, BC

And while no women faced death this week, Rebecca was forced to deal with it and the death of her own childhood when Thomas finally (finally!) exited stage left. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this moment ever since creator Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik let it slip at a Q&A that he wasn’t long for this strange world, and not even his final tender words could soften me to the Victorian tyrant he’s been–though he did finally give Rebecca the encouragement she’s been looking for from him to become a doctor.

But that death leaves Rebecca alone in this world, as Ruby told Slotter—and as Slotter seemed to be hoping for as he encouraged the man to postpone amputation until it was too late. Since Rebecca’s generously given away her only thing of value to spare a man the humiliations being forced on him in Janestown, her worth as a doctor might not spare her the poison that’s seeping into the border town just as surely as it did Thomas’ bloodstream. Even if Morgan is willing to do anything to help her, including trying to save Thomas, with that secret out Morgan might not be any safer. But standing tall and saying “I am what God made me,” might be the boldest move made yet, with a life of defiance to go with it. Despite Thomas’ predictable misgivings, Morgan might be the one in town who already has what it takes to survive.

And as each of these moments, or life events, made the women more vulnerable, Neil only drove the point home questioning why Kat had given up on their dream of a ranch to break up cat fights and take drunks home. Of course, Kat’s got a danger all her own on top of the usual ones—something Caleb warned her about. Though it feels like there’s a wedge growing between these allies. On Kat’s side, I suspect she’s not happy to find herself in need of a man in more ways than one—stung by Neil’s observations and then Caleb’s flirting. And Caleb doesn’t seem like the type to forgive Kat’s decision to kill last week, or the fact that she’s a wanted murderer. While Kat may have won the battle this week, both in terms of sticking it to Caleb and proving she could handle things herself, winning the war may force her to go even further that she already has and leave her with precious little support from one of her first allies. But as she warned Rebecca, the women need to learn to stand without their men, and that includes her.

Strange thoughts:

  • I’m relieved Logan was finally able to get Fiona to stop sulking–I was at my limit.
  • Ling’s mother made a strange entrance. I wonder if that will get explored more or if her feet were just reinforcing how useless the women are supposed to be.
  • I will admit to being slightly moved when Thomas had Rebecca recite the Hippocratic Oath. Maybe he was a better father than a husband.
  • Once again, Kat showed up exactly on time. It’s hard to worry about the characters when this keeps happening.
  • Caleb in that thermal should have been irresistible to Kat. What is she, made of stone?

Is Rebecca better off with Thomas? Can Isabelle keep her affair a secret from Slotter for long? Would you have been able to resist Caleb in a thermal? Sound off in the comments below!

Strange Empire airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CBC.

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