By Nick Schager
November 01, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT
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See

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The third episode of See (“Fresh Blood”) still doesn’t explain why humans, forced to rely on their heightened non-visual senses to survive, would refrain from bathing — I mean, even if they had acclimated to such scents, wouldn’t their earthy stench be at least somewhat unpleasant? Nonetheless, if that question remains unanswered for the time being, the series’ latest installment does provide a window into the wider world of this future Earth, where danger is omnipresent and bad ideas spread like wildfire.

Before we head out into the vast frontier, we’re brought to Kanzua Dam, where Tamacti Jun has arrived with 100 carts of goods (i.e. collected taxes) for Queen Kane. What he doesn’t have for her, alas, is Jerlamarel. He accepts his failure and the execution it entails, only asking that he be allowed to kill himself. This brings Kane to tears, albeit not to the point of sparing him, since Tamacti Jun’s inability to capture the heretic threatens Kane’s entire empire, what with Jerlamarel being a veritable god running around the area creating more seeing-eye gods.

As if to prove that having sight does elevate one above their peers, Haniwa shows off her new bow to Baba (Jason Momoa) while hunting turkeys — a weapon she created thanks to the books bequeathed by Jerlamarel. Baba is simultaneously impressed and troubled, and tells her not to kill a deer because it’ll be impossible to explain to Maghra how they bagged one without letting her know that the books have been read.

At the waterfall, Haniwa draws her bow and arrow and points it toward her fellow villagers, telling Kofun that she could kill them and they’d just chalk it up to the “Godflame,” which she knows is just a bunch of gas burning 93 million miles away in outer space. Understanding that his sister has a disturbing violent streak (married to a condescending god complex), Kofun chastises her for thinking the books are simply there to teach them how to construct better weapons. Haniwa is also excited about the world atlas she has (and the prospect of meeting Jerlamarel), which tells her that their river leads to the Mississippi River and that there’s an industrial town called Pittsburgh — likely the geographic location of Queen Kane’s Kanzua Dam.

Just as geographic details begin to fall into place, See opts to send its characters into the unknown, thanks to the unsuccessful stillborn birth of Souter Box’s baby, which came out “not formed human.” Gether blames Baba, Paris, and the rest of the “witches” for this abomination; everyone else recognizes it to be the byproduct of incest, which itself has come about because the insular village’s ranks are too small, resulting in inbreeding. A decision is made to venture to a nearby festival where prospective new clan members (and mates) might be found. Baba fears such travel will lead the witchfinders to their hidden home, but Maghra contends, wisely, that tough times will inevitably drive people away, and that steering them in the right direction is the best way to manage the situation.

A brief interlude finds Tamacti Jun’s suicide halted by Kane, who’s received the Gether Bax bottle we saw discovered at the end of episode 2 — meaning she knows where to locate the kids. Then we’re off with Baba and company, as Haniwa and Kofun secretly follow from a supposedly undetectable upwind distance. Already suspecting that her family is keeping secrets from her, Maghra leads the way, and they eventually reach their destination, situated in the ruins of an amusement park, its rollercoaster and Ferris wheel now weathered relics of a bygone age. There are traders of all sorts here, as well as zealots in KKK-style white robes burning heretics at the stake for being able to see — proof that Tamacti Jun’s gospel has begotten acolytes.

The fact that these victims cannot, in fact, see horrifies Haniwa, but she can’t do anything about it without outing herself. And more pressing problems soon arise, as Kofun is abducted by slavers and marched to an enormous industrial complex with a collection of other prisoners, including a young injured girl named Fethin (Megan Charpentier). Tracking them, Haniwa discovers a written message on an old car penned by Kofun (“I am alive. Follow the path”). That’s helpful, except that telling Baba, Paris, and Maghra about it means that Haniwa would have to reveal to her mom that she knows how to read and write — and disobeyed her by studying the books. Of course, how two young children, on their own, could have learned to read and write simply by having access to books — and without teachers who could also read and write — is left unaddressed, because it makes little logical sense. Maghra doesn’t press the issue anyway, because rescuing Kofun supersedes all other issues.

Upon reaching the industrial compound, Baba confesses that he knows the place because he comes from a long line of slavers — and, moreover, that he was once a slaver, “raised to chain and whip and beat and sell innocent people.” He buried that version of himself long ago, but now, he must do what he swore to never do: “Wake him up.” Determined not to let his loved ones see the forthcoming savagery he’ll perpetrate, Baba goes alone. This is shrewd, because he most definitely perpetrates some savagery in a prolonged battle against the slavers that director Francis Lawrence imbues with stealthy menace and stunning viciousness, as Baba dispatches many of his foes by slicing their necks in 360-degree fashion (as well as severing one man’s head via a nasty slash through the mouth).

More thrilling than such gruesomeness is Lawrence’s staging of the combat itself, which involves Baba using unique maneuvers dictated by his blindness — be it tossing sand pebbles on the ground to hear others’ movements, sliding his blade across the floor to fool enemies about his location, or following ropes thrown by adversaries to determine their whereabouts. No amount of cleverness, however, allows Baba to carry out this slaughter in total secret; even though Kofun obeys his dad’s commands to shield his eyes, Haniwa shows up at the last second to take out a bad guy with one of her arrows, thus indicating that she’s seen her father’s homicidal nature.

Apologies follow from Kofun to Maghra, but she stalks away, anguished. Her anger subsides once back at the village, as Kofun informs her that everything he’s read and seen over his 17 summers makes him want to stay at home. Haniwa, on the other hand, admits that what she’s read, as well as her power to kill, makes her want to leave — even though she’s scared of what she is and can do.

In the face of such honesty, Maghra announces that it’s finally time to tell the kids — as well as Baba and Paris — about Jerlamarel, a man whose goodness was consumed by power. Even that conversation will likely have to wait, however, since, on his way to fetch Paris for the sit-down, Baba hears dogs in the distance — which, we see, belong to Tamacti Jun, who stands atop the waterfall with his army, ready to attack.

Second Sight:

  • See continues to flesh out the logistics of its world via small, sharp moments, like the twinkling chimes on Kane’s hand that she uses to convey her spatial position (finger-snapping functions similarly).
  • On Baba’s climactic stroll, he walks beneath ropes that tether the village’s houses together. He knows how to follow them by the tassels hanging down from the ropes, which graze his face — another clever blind-facilitating device.
  • Baba refers to the industrial complex’s smokestacks as “Godbone,” which seems to be their name for concrete.
  • Baba tells Haniwa that eating turkey makes him sleepy, indicating that tryptophan still carries a potent punch.
  • No matter how comprehensive Jerlamarel’s books are, the notion that Haniwa is an expert in DNA (which comes up during the incest/inbreeding debate) is, let’s say, borderline absurd.

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