‘Cradle’ #UndergroundWGN – Season 1 Episode 7
The screen writers definitely spun us for a loop last week. Now Underground usually focuses on the adult cast; Noah, Rose, Ernestine, John and his wife Elizabeth, but Wednesday night’s episode shifted gears.
This entire episode showed us how the kids (Henry, James, Boo and Ben) are handling everything. This show is already difficult to watch, because of the severity of those times, but seeing James in the field picking cotton was just too much. James is a very young boy in the film and although Ernestine did her best to persuade Master Tom to keep James working in the wood shop with Sam, the reverends presence influenced other plans.
James in the Field!
Ernestine and Sam do their best to prepare James for the hardships of working in the field, but they are worried he just isn’t strong enough. We see James, as small as he is, tiredly working and barely able to stand. His hands are bloody and covered in blisters from picking cotton in the hot sun all day long. When the day is over, Bill (P.J. Marshall) makes the slaves weigh their bags of cotton and if they do not make weight they will be whipped. Knowing this, Sam switches his bag with James, in order to spare him. While healing Sam’s scars, Ernestine tells him that he can’t keep protecting James, because “things aren’t going to get any easier.”
Boo meets Elizabeth!
Later, we catch up with Boo and learn that Moses was gunned down in an attempt to save her life. She is hiding in the woods when Elizabeth finds her and brings her to the house. She clothes, bathes and feeds her. Boo seems to be comfortable with Elizabeth, who treats Boo as her own child. We know that Elizabeth cannot have children of her own, but her motherly instinct with Boo lets us see how much she wants to be a mom. Things take a turn when the marshal finds Boo hiding in Elizabeth’s home. Elizabeth tries to convince him to keep their secret, but realizes it’s going to take a lot more than words to keep him quiet. Poor Elizabeth! You can clearly see then pain and fear in her eyes as she leads the marshal upstairs to her and John’s bedroom. Boo patiently waits downstairs until the marshal leaves. She then goes upstairs to find Elizabeth sitting naked in the bathtub; instead of being alarmed Boo gently begins to bathe Elizabeth.
We get to know more about August’s wife when he and Ben go to visit her at the psych ward. Ben’s relationship with his mother is very intense, because of her mental state. He and August want to be there for her, but seeing her in that condition is too difficult.
We fast forward to see how Noah, Rosalee, Henry and Cato are adjusting to their environment. With Noah making Rose his first priority, Henry feels a little left out. He begins spending his time learning how to track and hunt for food on his own. Just when we thought there was hope for the group, things take a drastic turn. They are ambushed by slave catchers and Henry sacrifices his own life so that they can escape. Henry’s character was strong and Noah’s “big brother” impact made it hard to see him go.
Back on the plantation, Sam is ready to use all of his saved money and buy James freedom. With no surprise Master Tom politely declines. We also learn that James is much smarter than he leads on. When it is time to weigh the bags, James refuses to switch his bag with Sam’s. To Sam’s surprise, he makes weight. We later see that James sewed dirt into the bottom of his bag to make it heavier. That same night, Master Tom’s son T.R. Macon goes to James and promises to make things different when he takes over the plantation. James refuses T.R.’s gesture and this causes problems. T.R. tells Tom that he spotted Sam running away off the plantation. It is obvious he told Master Tom out of spite, because James hurt his feelings.
This emotional episode left many Underground fans in tears, but it was interesting to see the episode through the eyes of the children. Next Wednesday we will see how Noah is coping with Henry’s death and whether or not Elizabeth chooses to tell John what she sacrificed to keep Boo safe.