Eli’s plan for the future destroys one family and fractures his own.
We're offering a list of five takeaways from every episode of The Son aired during the drama’s premiere season on AMC. Warning: There will be spoilers a-plenty in each of these overviews. Here are five takeaways from Episode 110, “Scalps.”
Takeaway No. 1
So it all came down to this: Eli shrugged off any restraints of conscience, followed Phineas’ lead, fired up the townspeople in general and the Law and Order League in particular, and colluded in the slaughter of Pedro Garcia and his family so he could claim their oil-rich land. Sure, he made a last-minute gesture toward a comparatively peaceful resolution, urging the Garcias to depart before the shooting started. And during the final minutes of this Season One finale, he and Jeannie laid flowers on the graves of Pedro and his wife. In the end, though, Eli got everything he wanted. Well, everything but fealty of his youngest son, Pete. We’ll have to wait until Season Two to see how he lives with that.
Takeaway No. 2
The 1850 storyline wrapped up for Season One on a slightly happier note, as Young Eli returned to the Comanche camp, reunited with Toshaway, his surrogate father, and even got to reclaim Prairie Flower after Charges the Enemy was conveniently killed while palefaces attacked a tribal hunting party. Better still, Young Eli (who probably won’t be called Pathetic White Boy anymore) proved himself to be a fierce warrior by killing and — yikes! — scalping the punk who killed Charges the Enemy. Indeed, as he breathed his last, Charges the Enemy expressed admiration for Pathetic… er, for Young Eli, asked his forgiveness for pushing him off a cliff, and gave him a hide pouch with, apparently, mystical qualities. But in the episode’s final moments, Young Eli and Toshaway noted the relentless approach of wagon trains conveying white settlers, a portentous sign that the Comanches face dark days ahead.
Takeaway No. 3
Much like Eli, Phineas got just about everything he wanted. Not only did he drive Eli toward ramrodding the land grab — by allowing Pete to escape with Maria in the wake of the attack on the Garcia household, he could finally lay exclusive claim to his father’s affections. And make no mistake about it: That’s obviously something he desired more than all the oil in the world. Credit Hell on Wheels veteran David Wilson Barnes for the meticulous skill of his slow-burning, season-long build-up to revealing his character’s true heart of darkness.
Takeaway No. 4
So what happens next? Sally was upset when Phineas told her about seeing Pete (her husband, his brother) run off with Maria — but she seemed downright enraged that Eli, and Phineas, had torn apart their family. She likely will be seeking some sort of payback in the not so distant future. Jeannie, Pete’s daughter, assumed that her father had simply abandoned his wife and children, giving her all the more reason to be loyal to Eli. (And that, of course, may prove problematical if she’s torn between her mom and grandfather.) Phineas has been firmly established as one cold-blooded SOB — note how he matter-of-factly shot a conscience-plagued participant in the assault on Garcia’s home — so it’s safe to expect even more bad behavior from him in Season Two. Meanwhile, back in 1850, poor Ingrid remains a captive of the Comanches. Maybe, given her attraction to Young Eli, her jealousy of Prairie Flower will only increase?
Takeaway No. 5
And Eli? Thanks largely to Pierce Brosnan’s artfully ambiguous performance, viewers may have a hard time entirely hating the guy, even when he’s at his most monstrous; you often get the impression that he sincerely regrets what he does, even while he’s doing it, but can’t or won’t switch to a more conventionally moral Plan B. It’s clear that he realizes the prophecy Maggie Phelps revealed to him years ago has come true — his younger son will be lost to him forever because of his own ill deeds. But it’s equally clear that he will endeavor to soldier on, even if that means forgetting or renouncing the past. It’s worth noting that, when he and loyal employee Neptune (J. Quinton Johnson) return to the scene of the crime to burn down the Garcia home, Eli doesn’t only set Pedro’s business papers ablaze. He also puts the pouch Charges the Enemy once gave him into the fire.