In WGN America’s Underground, death and hard times are par for the course. However, for a show that tackles the struggles of slavery in the US, it also has no qualms in killing characters regularly and without mercy.
Last season, one more than half of the Macon Seven survived, and beyond the three dead of that seven, other characters met cruel ends. However, in those episodes no death was as shocking as the one that ended the premiere of the show this season.
In “Contraband,” John Hawkes (Marc Blucas) was violently shot in the head after deciding to run for office in Ohio. Until then, the episode had been rather hopeful, meeting new characters and discovering new obstacles, but in that last moment, all of the hope faded.
Killing John was different from the death of his brother, Tom (Reed Diamond), who was hung by his mistress and leader of the house slaves, Ernestine. However, after watching that season I had come to dislike Tom’s actions and choices while admiring what John choose to do (that they were each on one side of the slavery battle helped), John’s hopeful attitude and his desire to help free his brother’s slaves made him one way for the audience to enter the show.
With John’s death, though, one emotional center died. The show’s focus now allows for the pain of his death to drive other characters forward, but this time, the push forward feels different.
The next new episode of Underground will air this Wednesday, March 29 at 10/9c on WGN America.