“Godless” thoughts, Season One, Episode Seven: “Homecoming”

The massacre at Blackdom that follows is tougher to justify, or enjoy. For one thing, it’s unnecessary. Frank Griffin’s bona fides as an indiscriminate killer of men, women, and children in any place that crosses him were established in the town of Creede way back before the opening credits rolled on the series premiere, and his likely intention to do it all over again in La Belle was the dramatic underpinning of the entire season that followed. Having him and his gang slaughter the town right next door mere minutes before the final face-off feels like gilding the lily, in blood.

Worse still, it undercuts the stakes of the showdown in La Belle, in an ethically dubious fashion. For seven episodes we’ve wondered if this town of outcasts from an oppressed class of people would be able to stave off an atrocity. What narrative or thematic purpose does answering that question solve if we’ve just seen another town of outcasts from an oppressed class of people succumb to that very atrocity in the same episode? The people of Blackdom may not be our main characters, but it’s not like that’s their fault. Only the nature of the story and script renders their lives more disposable than those of their counterparts in La Belle. Our interest in the showdown at the Hotel La Belle is predicated on whether or not the worst will happen—but as Alice’s horrified glimpse of scores of corpses in Blackdom earlier that day makes clear, the worst already has happened. What difference does it make if if it happened an hour’s ride away?

I reviewed the pointless-seeming finale of Godless for the A.V. Club. It was interesting to find most of the commenters (who are basically unavoidable when you use AVC’s back end to file your reviews) agreeing with me as the season progressed.

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