Please be sure to read the piece at the end of the review. It’s really quick I promise.
Summary: This revenge tale follows a relentless femme fatale who — after being left for dead — leads a vengeful campaign against a bombastic gang of gearheads.
Cast and Characters.
Abigail Spencer as Katherine Harlow / Doris Quinn. So, she’s amazing. She looks so familiar to me, but I think she just has one of those faces. But Doris lives in Detroit and is a housewife, but once things pop off with deaths in her new married life, she and Molly go on the run. She basically spends a little while in the first few episodes trying to get some people to join her team to help in her mission. It takes some convincing but she’s able to convince two guys to go with her. She comes off so unassuming and people always underestimate her because of that. She keeps trying to figure out how to make her goals come to reality because she knows what happened to her, she’s angry, she’s hurt and hell hath no fury like a woman scorned ya know? And hell has cometh lol. It’s so hard to really talk about her without spoiling stuff because her story continues to unfold, the magnitude of her revenge is also large, and I think it’s cool to watch it happen. But Abigail Spencer is amazing, absolutely amazing. The looks she would give to people, little eyebrow twitches to show that she’s about to do something or she’s clearly thinking something, or she’s trying to not to react to. I think she really shines in the latter half of the show but she’s amazing throughout. She is the most interesting character in the show, and I wonder where she’ll end up considering the end of the season. I love how she interacted with Molly, at first treating her like a child and then later when surprisingly Molly proves herself, she’s like “Wow, okay lol”. And how she would talk to Earl and they’d talk like equals and whenever she’d interact with Ethan because it’s clear she cares about him and wants to protect him but at the same time, she needs him for her goals so it’s a duality there. I swear, that kid gets called so many names in this show and she calls him ‘Pumpkin’, ‘Sweat Pea’, ‘Honey’ lol it’s hilarious. But I would like to see them interact more as well since their relationship was interesting. I wouldn’t have minded more flashbacks of her as Katherine Harlow either because I don’t think they quite explained everything as to why the gang tried to kill her. At least stuff that doesn’t seem like it’s the truth. So, I’m hoping we get to learn more about her, and Abigail Spencer can be amazing… but I wonder if she’ll be more Doris or more Katherine or if they’re now the same person.
Rodrigo Santoro as Joel Kelly. I really like Joel, he’s clearly haunted by the things he’s done in his past. This is clear in the moments when he’s talking to others, or when he’s with his daughter and he just looks haggard and haunted. He even tries to warn Matty later but he’s drunk so it’s like “are you being truthful” because ya know that saying. He’s in charge of the 707 faction of the Brawlers while Burt is off somewhere and he’s doing everything he can to keep from going to a war with the Ghouls because don’t nobody got time for that. He has a daughter who he loves, and this man will do anything for her. He tries to keep the peace but he’s also very much intimidating because when Ethan first meets him, he’s like “new kid huh and y’all did something Ya’ll wasn’t supposed to?” eh lol. But his growth is amazing in the show because you see him kind of fall back into what he was like as a young man but it’s not really by choice ya know? But Rodrigo Santoro is amazing! He looks great in the role, I love his look and he’s so good. I love listening to him speak and I think he’s so dynamic to watch that whenever we cut to him, I was excited to see what was going to be happening.
Mena Massoud as Ethan Hart. He’s the reason I wanted to watch this show, because I really liked him in Aladdin and I like to show my support for actors, especially young and brown actors lol. But Ethan Hart is a kid from Detroit, who worked for Doris in her restaurant. Something unfortunate happens that causes him to get into some trouble. Doris uses it as an opportunity to get her in to her brother’s gang. So, Ethan is sent to the Brawlers and he gets inducted to their “3 River Phoenix” faction where they do a lot of the money delivering and picking up taxes and what not. Ethan spends a lot of time with Matty and Johnson in the car. They have talks and they clearly have grown into a “family”. Ethan has never felt like he’s belonged anywhere and he’s starting to feel that with them. There’s also Meredith who they have some flirty interactions. Throughout the show, Ethan knows his overall reason to be there, doing Doris a favor while she’s supposed to be helping him as well. BUT things start to blur for him. In the latter half of the show, it’s him dealing with being found out, that fear of what they’d to do him, while also losing his trust for Doris. He was a naive kid, but he was not incompetent, and I liked that. He wasn’t just thrown to the dogs and sucked at it. He already had a trying life. I also think it’s funny the references to his looks. Mena is very handsome, beautiful smile lol, so he gets called “Dollface” by Meredith, “China Doll” by Avron and Joel calls him “Fragile One” a few times lol. I would love for that to continue because it made me laugh. I don’t think he gets as much to do as I would have liked, I mean I just wish there was more than him standing in the background. But if they get a season two, I expect to see a lot more of Ethan. There’s a lot potential with his character and not just romantically with Meredith. I think Mena does really well. Whenever Ethan has emotional moments, he really puts that into his eyes, they’re very expressive and I was impressed with him. Plus, he has his violent moments and I was like yasss Mena! I want more emotional and violent moments!
David Dastmalchian as Johnson. There’s not much to say about Johnson. He’s been around a long time and he works with Matty and Ethan. He’s quiet but he sees and understands everything. What he revealed he knew later, I knew he knew lol. I’ve seen this actor a few times and he’s always playing a character kind of like this which is fine because he does it so well.
Rhys Wakefield as Matty. I suppose he’s the “leader” of the 3 River Phoenixes (I don’t quite like that name still lol) but he’s a little erratic. He’s been in the Brawlers for a while and he wants to move up but hasn’t had the chance, so he’s a little upset about that. But he, Johnson and Ethan really have a good thing going on. I liked him, he seems to be a little loose cannon but he’s loyal. I’ve never seen The Purge, no interest, but I know about him being in it and every time I see him, I think about him in that peephole. While I think this actor has a weird look, he’s very likable and endearing as Matty. I expected to dislike him, but you really get to understand him and why he’s frustrated. Rhys Wakefield has a very expressive face, because the last two or three episodes he really got to do more in his role and I’m very curious to see what happens with him later.
Madison Davenport as Meredith Harlow. So, Meredith is Burt’s daughter and Doris’ niece. She is the main pinup girl in the Bang-a-Rang which is weird lol but whatever the time period is, I guess that’s fine lol. Being that she’s the daughter of the leader of the Brawlers, she has this “princess” role where everyone knows not to mess with her, but she does a lot of messy things, like selling drugs in the business. Almost immediately, she and Ethan have a connection but for a while, he tries to stay away but they have a few times where they talk and he’s helpful. She also wants to leave, she’s grown up in this life and wonders if that’s all there is, and she hopes it’s not. She is another soft-spoken girl who people might underestimate, which is a running thing for the women in the show. She’s quite capable though. I liked her, I’m interested to see what becomes of her in the second season and if she finds out the truth truth since Burt told her some lies lol. I recognized her from Black Mirror, and she does really well. There were a few times when she reminded me of another actress lol (this show is a show of familiar faces). But I liked her and her story and while I can’t say I’m officially on the Meredith/Ethan train, but I did like their moments and I believe she cares about him since she does some things to protect him. I just hope if they go that route that it doesn’t feel forced.
Craig Tate as Earl. He comes in episode two, I think, Doris meets him and Cordell after she sees them do a job. She ends up trying to appeal to them to help her, but Earl is smart and is like nahhh. But she does something to surprise them and they end up working with her. Earl is almost like her right-hand man, because he knows what to do, he knows how to handle this kind of “job” and he’s smart. He will call her out on things if it doesn’t make sense or if it’s not working out. I liked him, I’m interested to see what he’s going to do in season two considering how this season ended with him. This actor is so familiar to me, but he hasn’t really been in anything, like Abigail Spencer he might just have one of those faces but his voice is great. I liked listening to him talk. I thought he did well, he was intimidating but it was easy to tell he cared about the people in his life.
Wavyy Jonez as Cordell. He is Earl’s right hand man and his cousin. I liked him, he’s easier to like than Earl but that’s because he’s clearly younger and a bit more open to things lol. When Doris asks their name, he says his name quickly whereas we don’t learn Earl’s name until episodes later. He’s likable and I thought he and Molly had great rapport with each other.
Bethany Ann Lind as Molly Quinn. She’s great lol. At first, I was a little unsure about her character, but she really surprises you later and I thoroughly enjoyed her. She’s very soft spoken and her voice was monotone at times, so it was very funny hearing her talk about serious thing. She really surprised me in that scene in the motel, I want to know what she did. We just saw the aftermath, I want to see the scene lol. But I liked her though, the actress is likable, and I thought she had great rapport with Wavyy Jonez and Craig Tate as she ended up being with them a lot.
Very Interesting Story. We’ve seen these kinds of stories before. Someone was wronged and now they’re back for revenge. It’s nothing quite new but I found myself falling into it as the series went on. Doris Quinn, previously Katherine Harlow was left for dead after her brother Burt tried to kill her. She didn’t die obviously so now she’s back to destroy him and the other Banished Brawlers who had a hand in it. She says she’s going to help Ethan with a problem he had and by doing so, he needed to go to the Brawlers and be the mole for her. But then we also have this story with the Brawlers and Joel trying to keep the peace with the Ghouls and everyone has their own little story. I thought it all fit together well. It does start off slow, which I’ll talk about in the cons, but once it got going, I was up until 3:07 am finishing the show. Plus, there is set up for the second season, so I hope it gets another season.
Amazing Aesthetic. This show is absolutely beautiful to behold. It’s very stylized. The show is shot in Wilmington and it looked like it was super-hot considering all the sweating going on lol. I don’t remember where most of the show is set, but it starts out in Detroit and then you can tell the clear difference. It has this 50’s look to it with the girls like pinups and some of the guys looking like they came out of The Outsiders or something lol. It seems like it’s a different time period but there are cell phones (flip phones) and of course the diversity aspect, in that no one bats an eye at the people of color around lol. I really like the costumes and it’s very pleasing to look at.
Music Soundtrack. I think the show has fantastic music choices. As I’m not sure of the time period, or if that’s even that serious. But the music ranged all sorts of genres and time periods. There’s a scene where someone is being stabbed to a song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show lol. I mean, it’s stuff like that really helps elevate the show and my enjoyment. I love when films and show couple their intense/emotional/action scenes with great music. It really adds to the scene, especially when you have good acting in a well written moment. I also just checked out the soundtrack on Spotify, it only has 19 songs which I’m sure isn’t all the ones we encounter, but it’s so diverse.
The Direction Choices. When I was watching last night, I kept commenting on a lot of amazing shots. I mean, this show has some great directional choices. In one of the later episodes, they do that split screen thing, where one character is looking at something, and there’s a thick line separating what they’re doing from what the other characters, who are just sitting there all intense are doing and then it would flash through the characters that are together. You’re probably like “what??” lol but you’ll know what I mean if you check out the show. Not to mention, a lot of shots in Burt’s Bang-a-Rang are handled amazingly and later when Doris goes into this house to meet with a guy, the way she walks into the door.
Diversity of Characters. I mean it’s not like super super diverse in terms of ethnicity/race but we do have four POC leads with Massoud, Santoro, Jonez, Tate and Gilbert Owuor (Bash) and I was a little surprised because of the weird time period it’s in (there isn’t a specification on that) but it was nice to see black and brown faces heavily involved in the plot and I liked all these characters as well. Well written and well-acted. I also like how each of them are a little different. Some of them may be part of the same gang but their reasons for what they do, or how they are make sense and no one ever makes mention of them being black or brown. Whenever someone describes Earl, they always said “The guy with the scars on his neck” when they could have easily said “the black guy with scars on his neck” lol. I just liked that that wasn’t such a big deal.
Starts Out Slow. It starts out very slow. I think I watched two episodes then stopped and got distracted playing a video game lol. I started again and stopped a bit further in and then played a video game again but the last 5 or 4 episodes I finished in one night because it really picked up. I don’t think it’s always a bad thing that it has a slow start but it’s still good, but I can imagine it not grabbing everyone right off the bat because I was into it but then the pacing just got slow. I hope in the second season, with the episodes being so long, they handle the time better.
Confusing Timelines…sometimes. Since the time period is never said, it’s very confusing to figure out when things are happening, especially with the flashbacks that usually happen before the title card. At first, you’re not sure if it’s a flashback until you see a familiar character looking different than we’ve seen them. Plus, you’re not sure how long things have been. Like, how long has Ethan been with the Brawlers? Time doesn’t seem to be a factor, but I think it would help give a bit of grounding in when things are happening and how long it’s been.
More Character Moments/Stories. This refers to some of the side characters having interesting stories going on, but we didn’t get the chance to see more of them, or at least as much as we could have. The episodes are long and I was curious to see a bit more moments with the 3 River Phoenix guys because their dynamic was interesting, not to mention, I would have liked to see Ethan interact with Matty and Johnson more, including the other Brawlers and Meredith so his words to her in a later episode, there’s more weight behind it. Then there’s this other guy, Avron I think, and no one seems to like him, I would have liked to see that more. He was antagonistic to Ethan and Matty, I would have liked to see that relationship more. Then Bash and Percy, I would have liked more of that too since what happens with Percy plays a big part between Bash and Doris and I was like “meh okay” lol. I just think there was time to really play up some more of these characters and their interactions more for a bit more meat.
Overall, I liked this show a lot more than I thought I would. I didn’t know what to expect but I quite enjoyed myself. I think all the characters we meet are very interesting and well written and the acting is good as well. I didn’t find anyone to be bad or annoying or anything. The story is interesting, and I was invested, especially as it continued to unfold. I liked the aesthetic and that we didn’t really know when it was set. I loved the music and how it was incorporated and the fact that it was a diverse show. I do think it suffered in the beginning by having a very slow build up which I can imagine might turn some people off. The timeline can get confusing with the flashbacks or not knowing how much times has passed between moments. Lastly, I wish we had chances to sit with other characters more, just so comments and reasons could have more weight, I think that would have been beneficial. I really liked Reprisal and the fact that Hulu dropped all 10 episodes at once was very smart because I think it would suffer more if it was a week by week release. Check out the show.
Rating: 4.5 out 5 stars.
So, I have to just say this. Mena Massoud recently said in an interview that he’s had a hard time getting auditions after Aladdin (2019). Of course, when the trailer for Reprisal came about, people were like, “But you just complained about not getting auditions” and I need people to realize that Aladdin started filming in 2017 and wrapped in 2018 and then he was cast in Reprisal in 2018. Aladdin premiered in 2019. See? That’s how it usually goes. Movies can take some months, or depending on the film, it can take a year. Soooo ever since Aladdin came out in May 2019, he hasn’t had anything other than Reprisal, which he was already cast in. That has to suck. Just because they’re actors doesn’t mean they can’t be disappointed that they’re not getting the chance to audition. He’s not complaining, in the interview, he was very humble just disappointed. He just wants a chance. I get that. Everyone wants a chance. There’s nothing wrong with that. I like him a lot and I want him to be in more content so I can support it.
THEN the kicker, Disney announces they’re going to do a spin-off film on Disney+ with Prince Anders from Aladdin played by Billy Magnussen. Sure, he was funny in his 10 minutes in the film and I like the actor but REALLY Disney? Ya’ll own my soul and I’m okay with that but REALLY. The one actor who wasn’t a POC in that film and y’all give HIM the spin-off film but there’s no real talk about a sequel for the actual movie, when it LENDS itself so well to a sequel?? I just cannot. They also announced this around the same time Mena’s interview came out. Poor taste.
With that said, I want Mena Massoud and Rami Malek to play brothers. I want four different movies with them playing brothers in different genres: A road trip comedy (I’m not chained to the “road trip”), a dramatic film, a romantic comedy (Naomi Scott can play Mena’s strong and independent love interest again since they had great chemistry in Aladdin) and some kind of action film lol. I’ll also ask for Riz Ahmed to play Rami Malek’s best friend in the films lol.
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