After Episode 3, Card Game, delivered a quietly tense 40 minutes or so of television, Cold War switches things up. In Episode 4, Black Summer cranks up the action with an all-out war for ‘The Manor’. As the episode opens, we re-join Sun, Officer Ray, and his militia whose fates were unknown after being thrown from snowmobiles in Prelude. Apparently, Ray got all the information he needed from Mark – the hostage from Episode 2 and, yes, the same Mark from Card Game. So Black Summer is slowly connecting dots. To get inside the manor, Ray plans to use Sun as bait. But with roughly 40 minutes and its title, you can assume Ray’s plan goes awry. What follows is an all-out war told from multiple viewpoints.
Truce and Headshot
Truce opens with Rose and Anna getting ready to defend the manor. Despite his pleas, Rose refuses to give poor Freddy a gun. As shots ring out, Rose sends Anna upstairs and makes Freddy stand guard at the backdoor. After Rose fires a few shots, Ray calls out and offers a truce. Of course, his truce offer also points out how hopelessly outnumbered they are in the manor. But just as Ray starts counting down from ten, more shots ring out. Black Summer’s other group of survivors from Prelude show up. Unfortunately for Freddy, it’s a case of too little, too late, Shot and mortally wounded, Freddy isn’t doing so well. Here, Cold War shows how just how ruthless Rose has grown from Season 1. Helping Freddy to his feet, she throws him to down to the basement. Essentially, Rose is planting a budding zombie trap for Ray’s militia.
Unnamed character, we hardly knew you.
In Cold War’s third segment, Headshot, Black Summer switches up perspectives once again. This time we’re shown the action from one of the second group of survivors who have arrived to defend the manor. Just outside the house, an unnamed man fights with one of Ray’s militia before a zombie interrupts. However, our unnamed character gets inside the manor, he doesn’t make it far before Freddy, now a zombie, attacks. Though he kills zombie, the man realizes he’s been bitten and shoots himself in the head. Unnamed character, we hardly knew you.
Relief and Breach
Poor Sun. To date, Season 2 hasn’t been very kind to her. In Relief, Black Summer shows the battle for The Manor from Sun’s perspective. Dragged inside by one of Ray’s militia, she’s promptly tied to a bannister and left to dodge bullets. Meanwhile Ray leads his men through the main floor, shooting anyone he remotely suspects of being bitten. It’s an interesting parallel with Rose’s survival instinct. Things only get worse for Sun when a zombie finds her. As she fights it off, on of the other survivors – the same woman from Prelude – shows up to save Sun. But when Ray turns up, the woman promptly flips teams and joins his militia. Fortunately for Sun, the mystery plane flies over the manor and Ray spares her.
It’s an interesting parallel with Rose’s survival instinct.
As Breach opens, Rose and Anna struggle to hold off Ray’s militia from the upstairs floor. When Rose’s shotgun jams, she grabs her daughter and hides in a shower. Now things get interesting. Our mystery man from Card Game – the same man hiding in the manor grabbed the axe – turns up. He insists that he knows where the plane lands and can take both Rose and Anna. That’s when two of Ray’s militia show up. Fortunately for Rose and company, they immediately leave when they hear the mystery plane. With Ray’s militia off chasing the plane, Rose agrees to follow our mystery man.
Cold War Continues Black Summer’s Winning Streak
As Black Summer’s second season hits its midpoint, we find a series that is finally finding its footing. With its excellent production values, Cold War delivers an episode that expertly balances action with tension. And even if the episode is lean on narrative, we’re finally seeing the Netflix series figuring out how to flesh out its characters with minimal dialogue. That is, Cold War juxtaposes both Rose and Ray’s ruthlessness with Sun’s compassion. There’s actual character arcs that demand some investment from audiences. We’re also seeing the clear benefits of television series that have only several episodes per season. Unlike The Walking Dead, Black Summer isn’t hitting a slow mid-season patch.