‘The Good Lord Bird’ Episode 4 Preview: Onion considers leaving Brown as Harriet Tubman enters before showdown
The previous episode mentioned the 'secret six' -- abolitionists of wealth and influence who would ultimately fund Brown’s legendary 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry in Virginia. Maybe, we shall see them ahead
Episode 3 of Showtime’s historical limited series ‘The Good Lord Bird’ saw the abolitionist John Brown (Ethan Hawke) visit the social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglass (Daveed Diggs). The purpose of the visit was to further his plan of ending slavery in the U.S., and that, he believed, could only be achieved through armed struggle.
The episode boiled down to a philosophical debate between the methods and ideas of Douglass and Brown. Douglass, a radical pacifist, obviously did not like the idea of violence and was rightly wary of Brown’s growing track record for kills, especially decapitations of slavers.
The episode also had a mention of the “secret six” -- Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Samuel Gridley Howe, Theodore Parker, Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, Gerrit Smith, and George Luther Stearns -- abolitionists of wealth and influence who would ultimately fund Brown’s legendary 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry in Virginia. History would remember this raid as the most daring instance on record of White men entering a Southern state to incite a slave rebellion. And while it was barely a skirmish -- after all it was just 19 men on one side -- it would go down as a landmark in the abolitionist movement.
So, what is set for the upcoming episode? The title of episode 4, ‘Smells Like Bear’ hardly gives anything away. The synopsis for the episode, however, provides a lot of food for thought. As per Showtime, the episode will see John and Onion (Joshua Caleb Johnson) continue their fundraising mission, this time heading to Canada on foot. After seeing true freedom for the first time and frustrated with Brown’s increasingly irrational behavior, Onion demands freedom from Brown’s army.
On Onion’s part, his anger with Brown is justified. Onion lost his father because of Brown. He was forced to join his militia -- the alternative being a Black boy in the South, where white supremacy was rampant, and slave-owners were cruel. He also had to pretend to be a girl because that's what Brown thought he was and by then, he was too far along to reveal his true identity.
But, when the legendary Harriet Tubman (Zainab Jah) endorses Brown in a room full of new recruits, as per Showtime, “Onion realizes that he may be more invested in the cause and the ‘old man’ than he thought.”
In the promo for the episode, we see Tubman give a rousing speech to a small audience as Brown sits by her side. She urges men to join the fight to end slavery. But the trailer also sees Brown open a map that depicts Harper’s Ferry. So, in a way, we know that the end is near. Despite how legendary the aforementioned raid was, it also ended with the capture and execution of Brown. The U.S. Marines, led by Robert E. Lee caught him, following which Brown was hastily tried for treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia -- among several other charges -- and hanged, making him the first person executed for treason in the history of the United States.
Episode 4 is the mid-way mark for the seven-part limited series. And so far, it has only been a wild ride. Hopefully, this rambunctious retelling of history continues to maintain this pace.
'The Good Lord Bird' airs on Sundays on Showtime at 9 pm ET/PT.