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The Son

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From AMC:

Based on Philipp Meyer’s acclaimed novel, the multigenerational epic will follow two concurrent time periods: One, the story of young Eli McCullough after he is kidnapped and indoctrinated into a tribe of Comanches in 1849. The other, 60 years later, when we see a grown Eli struggle to maintain his family’s cattle empire during the turbulent Bandit Wars of South Texas.

Actor Pierce Brosnan will play the role of Eli, the charismatic patriarch of the McCullough family who applies the brutal Comanche worldview to his business dealings. Born on the day Texas became an independent Republic, “The First Son of Texas” is a relic of the Wild West, uneasy with the inexorable taming of Texas and the uncertain future of his legacy.

The Son is set to premiere on Saturday, April 8 at 9/8c.
 

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Recognize main Comanche from Longmire...AMC needs to check definition of concurrent. Multiple life sentences can be served concurrently. Events 60 years apart cannot be concurrent. Unless you are Captain Picard in TNG series finale.

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Two parts.  Part One, The First Son of Texas: Eli McCullough must survive a frontier Comanche attack in 1849 and lead his family's empire through difficult times in 1915.  Part Two, The Plum Tree: Young Eli must learn how to live among the Comanches in 1849. In 1915, Eli and Pete clash over how to respond to an unexpected attack on their home.

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I've not seen the actor in anything before. Considering that his entire role thus far is to play shellshocked/beaten down, he seems adequate to the task.  Beyond that I have no opinion yet.

We know from watching the adult version of the character that he will survive and return hardened to white society, so I'm interested in seeing how he gets there.

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It's hard for me to separate book from movie and I'm trying to decide if I'd have liked this better if I hadn't read the book.  I just don't know.  The only surprise was Elliott's brother -- the bookish non-violent boy has balls! -- but even there, it was obvious that the Comanche would respect his courage and the scene would play out that way.  Everyone else behaved pretty much like we'd expect in any western from the last 60 years.

And not to promulgate a cliche, because who really knows these things anyway -- but in the historical fiction I've read set in the West of this time period, Native Americans don't kiss, especially long wet kisses.  I realize that's fiction, but it's well-researched fiction (not bodice-rippers, except for Hermana Sam, of course, which was quite hot, yowza). 

What I liked best about the book is coming up in the next episode and was just hinted at toward the end of young Elliott's scenes --

Spoiler

Elliott's friendship with the other boys his age, the joking, their sense of humor, how much alike they were.  It was a revelation to see that in a book featuring a white captive.

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No, it's so far not really breaking any new ground as far as Westerns go, but I mostly liked this a lot more than I was expecting to from the previews.  With all the period shows out there right now, there aren't really any other Westerns happening and this nicely fills the niche that Hell on Wheels left.  It also doesn't hurt at all that Pierce Brosnan has not surprisingly turned into a mighty pretty older man and the 1915 costumes are just scrumptious to look at.

The plot of Pete trying to be the kinder gentler McCullough and having to kill Cesar in the end anyway was predictable but the actors sold it and I believed Pete as a man gutted that it had turned out that way anyway despite his best intentions.  It's clear the show is wanting me to draw lines between Eli's harsh treatment by the Commanches and his hardness as an adult.  It made Pete's line reading about how much softer his own children are compared to what he and Eli had each endured kind of unintentionally hilarious though as we're seeing that play out for Eli in the parallel storyline but have no idea what Pete is talking about yet.   I did notice that Eli didn't respond to his son's assertion that he'd also grown up hard, so I'm somewhat curious what that's about.

Because I have the worst time management skills ever, I'm still working my way through this book.  I am left wondering how much of the talk about the ongoing Mexican Revolution that was spilling over the border at the time I would have been able to follow if I wasn't also reading along because it's not a period I'm super familiar with.  I should probably start a book vs. show thread if there's any interest in talking about that further.   The sheriff's "I'll do the absolute bare minimum of looking like I'm investigating Cesar's disappearance because the Mexicans on this side of the border vote too" while casually soliciting campaign contributions not to press the issue was telling without being too heavy handed. 

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Not bad but I just can't with Brosnan's attempt at a Texas drawl. What, Dennis Quaid or Powers Boothe weren't available? Heck, even Kevin Costner or Jeff Bridges could've done better at it. I'm currently watching Homeland where another actor from the British Isles is massacring the southern US accent and it kinda annoys me. It's not as if there aren't plenty of good American actors who could do it. But as long as the producers wanted to go with a foreign lead, it seems to me that for some reason Australian actors have an easier time of imitating the drawl.

I've only watched the first episode but I'm still in despite my issue with the way Brosnan's character sounds.

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Nearly all the media for the show mentions that Sam Neill was the showrunners' original choice for the role but backed out.  It's almost like they wanted us to know that they tried to find a better fit but it didn't work out and that's why we have this well know Brit butchering the accent.  What's funny is that Pete is played by an English actor who'd apparently never played an American or handled a gun before the series and I don't know if I would have picked up on that if that same media hadn't told me.

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I don't CARE that Brosnan is butchering the Texan accent-he's still PURTY even with that beard covering up that gorgeous face!??

What is keeping me from paying attention is trying to figure out how old Eli is supposed to be. The show opened in 1849, and after the Comanches burned down his home and killed his family?(the lightning was so dark, I couldn't make out who he was talking to?) And then we jump to 1915, 66 years later.

????

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1 hour ago, GHScorpiosRule said:

What is keeping me from paying attention is trying to figure out how old Eli is supposed to be. The show opened in 1849, and after the Comanches burned down his home and killed his family?(the lightning was so dark, I couldn't make out who he was talking to?) And then we jump to 1915, 66 years later.

????

The show opens on his 80th birthday the same age as the Texas Republic. He mentions it in his speech and it's written on the banner. It is his birthday and Texas' birthday. So he was born in 1836. That makes him 13 at the time of the Indian raid.

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39 minutes ago, Ina123 said:

The show opens on his 80th birthday the same age as the Texas Republic. He mentions it in his speech and it's written on the banner. It is his birthday and Texas' birthday. So he was born in 1836. That makes him 13 at the time of the Indian raid.

Thank you! Proves to me that I need to shut my bedroom door when watching while dad is watching something else in the living room at a higher volume. My teevee in the bedroom is one of those boob tubes, so I didn't see the banner clearly!

And so Remington Steele Pierce is playing someone roughly 20 years older than himself.?

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Never read the book, I wanted to like this but Pierce Brosnan's bloviating is taking me out of this show and I just don't buy him as some wannabe oil baron.  I really wish they could have found another actor.  Plus, he looks too young for 80; he looks 70 at most.  I'll give it another couple episodes but I'm not sure how much more of Brosnan I can take.

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2 hours ago, GHScorpiosRule said:

How could I forget to mention Walks With Clouds Zahn McLarnon!!!!???

You mean the Indian guy from Fargo, the one in this show who doesn't seem to be able to talk much without crossing his arms over his chest?  Speaks damn good English too.  

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Garcia's daughter's comment to the sheriff about the Tejano (?) voters had me wondering about historical accuracy, and whether there were restrictions such as were applied in other states, to keep non-whites from power.  Were there poll taxes?  Literacy tests?  Would that sheriff really have to worry about non-white votes?

Another Zahn McLarnon fan here, and it was nice to see him smile, sort of.  Definitely a character (in both series) that you'd want on your side. 

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Wow, you are all making me very grateful that I am a Canadian and therefore apparently not bothered by Brosnan's accent. I guess when you don't hear something frequently you are more willing to accept whatever an actor presents. (unless the actor falls in and out of the accent...that will take me right out of the scene. Thankfully I didn't notice him do that).

I found the show compelling. I'll definitely be watching it live from this point on. I may even read the book in the future (when I finally work through the stack of books that I have acquired but not read).

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Because I'm chronically disorganized, I'm only now remembering to start the promised book thread.  All talk about The Son, the Pulitzer nominated book on which the show is based, or comparing and contrasting book and show goes here.

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Full disclosure:  Because of said disorganization, I have still not finished reading this book yet.  I'm about halfway through.  Spoilers do not bother me in the slightest though, so I'm good with whatever discussion we might manage.

Right now, I'm most enjoying Eli's chapters about life among the Comanche.  Considering just how bloody and graphic his capture was (and thank you show, for choosing not to linger on some of the details in that), I'm really struck by his finding a real sense of comradery and belonging among people who would have had few qualms about killing him had things worked out differently.  Toshaway and the two boys are so ruthlessly practical and you can see how that would have rubbed off on a boy as young as Eli was when the book starts.  The German girl captive has broken my heart a little, seeing Eli acclimating so well to his new life and asking him to kill her since she can't.

I did see that some people in the episode thread were having trouble matching up the ages the characters are supposed to be with the timeline, and while I get why they would have condensed four book generations down to three for the show since the one between Peter and Jeanne mostly exists as a placeholder, I can see the confusion it's causing.   It doesn't help at all that Brosnan is playing a character nearly 20 years older than he is while they've got a 20-year-old actor playing 13-year-old Eli.  I've had to do a bit of googling on the Bandit War as I've gotten further into Peter's chapters as my knowledge of Texas history seems to mostly start and stop with the Alamo and the war for Texas independence.   

The stylistic and language choices so far are just an amazing joy to read.

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On 4/9/2017 at 1:53 PM, Ina123 said:

The show opens on his 80th birthday the same age as the Texas Republic. He mentions it in his speech and it's written on the banner. It is his birthday and Texas' birthday. So he was born in 1836. That makes him 13 at the time of the Indian raid.

You, INA123, pay attention!  Thanks for the info.

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It's been too long since I read the book, but what I remember most is the part that you mention about Eli's relationship with the other young men.  It was different from any portrayal I'd come across in other books, and movies. 

I've read a few other books about captives -- fiction and non-fiction -- and they all seem to agree that boys who were "repatriated" into white society had a hard time readjusting.  They really enjoyed the freedom they had in Indian society, the skills they learned, the rituals, knowing what you had to do to find your place -- it was free but structured and they felt secure with the Indians. 

I remember little else about the book -- hoping that the series will remind me.

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I've only read non-fictional accounts of captives, and they're almost always females.  I think it was the Texas Rangers, or perhaps before they called such, that inspected Comanche camps and reported on this.  From what I understand men and boys would be killed outright in an attack, but girls were more valuable, easier to control, and could be ransomed or traded.  Here it's the opposite - the females were killed and the boys were taken.. but for what purpose? 

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1 hour ago, Razzberry said:

Here it's the opposite - the females were killed and the boys were taken.. but for what purpose? 

Maybe just for purposes of the story. 

In real life though, younger boys might be given a chance to adapt and wouldn't be immediately killed.  There could be all kinds of reasons, depending on the tribe's circumstances.  Maybe this tribe needed workers.

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Eli and Martin, the brother, discuss this before Martin is killed because Eli is angry that their mother basically let the Comanches in the house rather than force them to fight their way in and doesn't understand why.  Eli is only 13, so she knows he's young enough they'll likely let him live and she's hopeful that because Martin and their sister are small for 15 and I think 16 that they'll be taken alive too.  Martin points out that as a middle aged white woman, she knew perfectly well she would have no value to them and what they would do to her but she was trying to save her children by not fighting.  Because Eli is Eli though, he got a shot off first and their sister was hit in return fire.  Martin says they killed her after seeing she was too badly wounded to be taken.

There are a number of other captives among the various bands of Comanche of varying ages that Eli sees periodically.  He mostly avoids them because the disconnect is too much for him except for the girl they call Yellow Hair who was taken from a neighboring farm in the same raid.   So far she's a terribly sad figure.  Captives seem to be relegated to manual slave labor until they can earn or prove themselves out of it one way or another.

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Have only seen the first episode so far, but I'm hooked.   The story seems a bit worn and cliched - hard-bitten family patriarch,  the "raised by Indians" trope, but it's well acted and beautifully shot in the state of Texas.  I like the time-toggling and including Comanches and Mexican-Americans in the main cast.  Great seeing Zahn McLarnon and some new faces as well.

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Is the Michael Connolly shown in the credits as an executive producer the same Michael Connolly who's a bestselling mystery writer?

Still finding it interesting that in this historical universe of Texas there apparently are virtually no Black people. Texas had been a slave state and that population wouldn't have just disappeared.

How did Eli's Comanche girlfriend keep from getting pregnant? Seems like the "all's fair until you get married" practice would've been fraught with danger unless their culture didn't have a problem with pregnancy or childbirth outside of marriage. Looked like jealousy was still an issue though.

"Did you receive satisfaction?" This guy.

Zahn McLarnon is certainly a feast for the eyes.

Edited by Joimiaroxeu
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All the stuff with the Comanches this week, from standing and letting people shoot at you as training to the fairly enlightened for the time sexual practices, are almost word for word out of the book and I've been wondering the same thing in both mediums.  So far there's been no mention of birth control or how it would have been handled when someone eventually got pregnant.

Zahn McLarnon is indeed lovely to look at.  I admit right now I'm more interested in the 1849 story line and and how that shaped Eli and how he will eventually leave it behind than I am watching the adult version of the character play J.R. Ewing.  Maybe that will change if and when that story finally starts moving.   Toshaway showing up as some kind of spirit guide is kind of cliched for this genre, but I get what they were trying to do with him counseling Eli that everything passes away eventually and you have to decide what you're willing to fight for to be remembered.  I am curious who Isabelle is in the larger scheme of things.  She and Eli obviously have some serious history. 

The talk of all the bodies buried felt a little heavyhanded but was still very nicely done and effective in establishing the family and their history nonetheless. Apparently everyone, from his wife to the hired hands, know Pete doesn't really have the stomach for this.

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I've given this show two episodes but it just doesn't hold my interest.  The only character I look out for is Zahn McLarnon, and that's not enough.  I'm done.  

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I was delighted to see Wendy Crewson playing Eli's lover, Ingrid, & wonder how far they go back.

The cast list doesn't show who plays Isabelle & who she is ... ???

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7 hours ago, Joimiaroxeu said:

Is the Michael Connolly shown in the credits as an executive producer the same Michael Connolly who's a bestselling mystery writer?

 

Different guy -- the mystery writer spells his name Connelly.  There's also a John Connolly who writes mysteries and thrillers.  I always confuse the two, so it's good that they're both fine writers. 

I have no complaints about this episode.  It didn't add anything important to the story and if someone skipped it, no loss.  Pete feels guilt, young Eli continues to be tested, old Eli has some life in him. 

I wish Garcia was a stronger character.  If we're supposed to feel that he and Eli are similar -- strong men building a country, a legacy -- it's not working.  Garcia needs some fire. 

One thing that bugs me about period pieces is the unnecessary background -- people strolling aimlessly, cars and wagons going by -- it's obvious that they're "flavor" -- there's no sign of a purpose. 

One thing I did like was Eli's dream/vision with Toshaway.  It made me think that he'd picked up some of the Comanche spiritual beliefs. 
 

Edited by AuntiePam
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Speaking of Garcia, I just found out he's played by Javier Bardem's brother, Carlos.   Another highlight was thinking McCullough was really scalping that guy in the restaurant.  

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1 hour ago, Razzberry said:

Speaking of Garcia, I just found out he's played by Javier Bardem's brother, Carlos.  

Well, that might explain how he got this part. 

Yeah, the scalping scene was fun. 

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How much time has passed since Eli has ben with the Comanches? Is  Eli  suppose to be a total stud at 13 (born 1836, captured 1849)? Back in the 19th century puberty arrived later than today,  girls usually had their first period at 16-17.  His clothes  do seem to be holding up well.

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The book had a special meaning for me. My ancestors were taken captive by the Lenape, the parents and their three children. The infant girl died along the way, and the parents were separated from their 5 year old son and 8 year old daughter. The adults were able to eventually get away, but it took 8 years for them get their children back. Their daughter, who was older, clearly remembered them and assimilated well back into 'white' life. Their son, Nathaniel, had no memory of them at all and considered himself Lenape. A few years later he left home and vanished, and the general assumption is that he returned to the tribe that raised him. I devoured "A Light in the Forest" because the details were so strikingly similar to my own family history (even the fact that the children were returned due to the same treaty that led to True Son being returned to his parents). With "The Son", Eli's love for his Comanche family and his assimilation allowed me to further picture the story of my 5x great uncle. So far I think the series is doing a pretty good job of following the details of the book while shying away from some of the more disturbing parts (As mentioned above, the German girl, whom they nicknamed 'Yellow Hair Down There', and who performed abortions on herself rather than give birth to Comache children). The book mentions that the Garcia family has held their land for over 200 years, and yet they're still treated as outsiders by the community:  I give props to the series for making that painfully clear as well. The casting of Jeannie is spot-on:  that little actress is nailing showing that she's far more Eli's granddaughter than Pete is his son. 

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There was a tag in the first 1849 scene that he'd been in captivity 65 days at that point.

We're told the Comanche didn't have clear delineations between childhood and adulthood the way some tribes or cultures did.  Generally speaking, yes, puberty did statistically come later for many at least in part because of poor diets but statistics don't always mean much on an individual level.  In this particular case if the girl chose him and both participants were willing, that seems to have been enough.

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That's a really fascinating family history.

I just passed a chapter of Eli out hunting by himself as the buffalo haven't come and the tribe is having to scavenge further and further and at some point realizing if he just rides the other way instead of back toward camp he can probably make it back toward white settlements.  He thinks about it for awhile and then decides against it.  Part of it is that they do hear periodically of white families offering rewards for captives and he's heard nothing about his father at all to make him think he might be looking.  Part of it is realizing that he's been with the Comanche long enough that they treat him like a de facto adult and he pretty much does what he wants.  If he goes back and can't locate his father, he'll be treated as a child and either relegated to an orphanage or hired out as labor to some farmer to pay for his upkeep.

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I like it okay.  The only thing that really throws me off when I'm watching is when they use words like "freakin'" instead of the f-bomb.  Just say "stupid" or "asinine" or whatever.  Freakin' is totally out of place.  Also, one of the Native American women referred to young Eli as "dickhead" in the translation.  Come on people, don't be so daggone lazy!!  Be creative with the language that was common back then.  Geesh!

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I am completely taken out of it because Pierce does not look 80 years old. I wanted to love this, will have to give it another episode or two. Costumes are beautiful though!

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