Phineas finds himself at odds with his father when Eli has second thoughts about his land-grab scheme.
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 109, “The Prophecy.”
Takeaway No. 1
Near the start of “The Prophecy” — the second-to-last episode of Season 1 — we first see Pete and Maria lying side-by-side on a blanket in the grass somewhere, totally blissful in each other’s company. Of course, on a show like The Son, people never get to stay that happy for very long, do they? Sure enough: After Maria gets home, her father Pedro reminds her that the McCullough clan — yes, including Pete — has been responsible for the deaths of many Mexicans over the years. (Remember what we told you about the Law of Chekhov’s Gun last week? Well, this likely was a cue that there’s more bloodletting due in the very near future.) Meanwhile, Pete gets back to his family’s house to find Eli is recovering from being gunshot. And that’s just the start of the bad news.
Takeaway No. 2
Eli confides to Eli and Phineas that the young woman who shot him was the daughter of the Apache whose tribe he decimated decades ago as punishment for the slaughter of his wife and eldest son. Phineas is mildly shocked: He always though his father’s story about letting the Apache boy survive was just, well, a fanciful bit of self-mythologizing. Later, Phineas is again shocked — and greatly upset — when, while they’re alone, Eli tells his son that he’s interpreted his surviving the shooting as a sign (from God, the Comanche spirits, or whatever) that he should give up their plans to grab Pedro Garcia’s oil-rich land. Phineas, who has already bribed a local judge to make some inconvenient land deeds disappear, refuses to be moved by Eli’s epiphany.
Takeaway No. 3
In the nearby town, the indefatigably sleazy Niles Gilbert holds court in his saloon while an Anglo ranch hand bitterly complains that local land owners are hiring Mexican ranch hands who’ll work for lower wages. Niles offers to help — which reminded us of a line Pierce Brosnan (aka Eli McCullough) delivered in the 1988 movie Taffin: “My help has consequences.”
Takeaway No. 4
Just a few hours later, someone sets fire to Niles’ saloon. But don’t be too quick to assume that Niles will spend much time bemoaning his misfortune: The “arson” actually is part of the plan hatched by Eli and Phineas to make the Anglo townspeople blame Mexicans in general, and the Garcia family in particular, for doing bad thing to white people. True, Eli had expressed second thoughts about that plan. But Phineas had gone ahead and gotten the ball rolling anyway. “You didn’t want the guilt of this thing,” he pointedly tells his dad. “So I took the burden on myself.” Before Eli can fully raise himself to strenuously object, he’s confronted by Pete — who wants to know why the hell his daughter has hidden a jar of crude oil in her dollhouse. One thing leads to another, Eli and Phineas detail their scheme to claim the Garcia property — and Pete gallops off to warn the Garcias of what lies in store for them. Eli is torn between conflicting loyalties to his two sons. But, unfortunately, it appears pretty obvious which child he will side with.
Takeaway No. 5
Back in 1850 — surprise, surprise! — Young Eli is shown to have survived being pushed off the cliff by Charges the Enemy. While struggling to make his way back to the Comanche camp, he runs into Maggie Phelps (Anna Lise Phillips), an eccentric (to put it charitably) mystic missionary who travels alone in her wagon after being booted out of her community, and seeks to help other settlers overcome the savage “Lamina” (Comanches). At first, Maggie seems relatively harmless, even helpful, as she nurses Young Eli back to health with herbal remedies and TLC. But there’s more than a hint that, sooner or later, she intends to have her way with Pathetic White Boy. When Young Eli announces his intention to rejoin Toshaway and Prairie Flower, Maggie chloroforms him into submission, and sets out to cart him back to civilization (to collect a reward even if she can’t jump his bones). Eli awakens, frees himself, and claims Maggie’s horse to ride back to the Comanche camp. As he departs, however, Maggie issues this prophecy: Eli will grow up to have three sons; the eldest will die as a child, the middle child will betray him, and the youngest will be lost forever because of something Eli does. It appears most of that forecast already has been fulfilled. We’ll see about the rest in next week’s season finale.