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Review: Rebecca grows in Strange Empire

When I began to watch Strange Empire, I naturally gravitated to Kat Loving. I recognized her as the female equal to Seth Bullock on Deadwood, a Western show I dearly loved. Like Seth, Kat is plunged into assuming the mantle of lawmaker in town and it’s a role she doesn’t yet embrace. Offsetting her is Slotter, who holds hints of Deadwood‘s Swearengen.

But as the weeks have gone on, I find myself drawn more and more to Rebecca and the actress who plays her. Melissa Farman’s interpretation of Rebecca is wonderful. Like Dr. Temperence Brennan on Bones, Rebecca is gifted with high intelligence but lacks a lot of human emotion. She, like Brennan, is learning to connect with her emotions. Monday’s newest instalment, “The Oath,” called on Rebecca to be in touch with both sides as she had to be cold and calculating in Thomas’ chances for survival while juggling her jittery feelings. He was going to die whether she operated on his infected leg or not and that would leave her alone.

Thomas has been a fascinating figure of late. I’ve felt badly for him because of the advancing infection, but then he’s said something dickish to make me hate him again. That continued last night when he alternated being tender with telling Rebecca to head back east once he was dead in the vain hope she’d listen and leave Finn behind. Kudos to Thomas for opting not to reveal to Rebecca that Finn was a woman; he could have done that with his dying breath and further compounded Rebecca’s difficult task of saying goodbye to him. Instead, he opted to pull her close and make her feel loved as he uttered his dying breath.

Now that Thomas is gone, the door is open for Rebecca to take on the gig as Janestown’s doctor. It’s a role I can’t wait to see her excel in.

Notes and quotes

  • What is it with mud wrestling on these Western shows? First it was Hell on Wheels and now Strange Empire? Has it become a thing and I just didn’t know it?
  • I love the sepia tones and earthy browns used in Strange Empire. It makes things like Thomas’ blood really pop off the screen
  • “All men know what’s best for themselves. That’s the trouble.”–Kat

Strange Empire airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from countless programs. Survivor winners, Donald Trump, Jerry Bruckheimer ... he has interviewed (literally) hundreds of TV people over the course of his career. He is a past member of the Television Critics Association.
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One thought on “Review: Rebecca grows in Strange Empire”

  1. I am too beginning to enjoy this strange series but also do not know where it is going – not sure whether that is good or bad at the moment. Am enjoying the well chosen cast with the exception of the young girls….one of them looks constantly constipated and I can’t understand the other….other than that it is strangely appealing and I don’t know why….

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