As crummy as life seems to be in Five Points, this week’s episode of Copper, “A Day to Give Thanks” showed us that most everyone had a little something to be grateful for at Thanksgiving – well, everyone except for Corcoran who hasn’t heard any good news in a while.
While the recovery of his missing wife could have been a happy occasion, the return of Ellen only brought more misery to Corcoran’s life. Ellen had been heavily drugged at the women’s hospital to help her block out the mental trauma that followed her abortion and the accidental death of her daughter. For the first half of the episode, we watched her go through withdrawals as Corcoran prowled the town on an angry rampage, hell bent on finding Francis.
While Corcoran was out trying to track Francis, he had asked Eva and Annie to keep an eye out on Ellen. Given both Eva and Annie’s histories and their obsession with Corcoran, I thought these two might have been the scariest people Corcoran could leave his wife with. As Eva was spoon feeding Ellen the broth that Annie had made, I was suspicious that the two of them had conspired to poison Ellen and tell Corcoran that she had passed due to her condition. My fears never came to fruition and both Eva and Annie proved to be gentle caretakers when Ellen was finally well enough to get out of bed.
Francis was lucky that Corcoran had already let out a good part of his aggression on half the townspeople before he got to him at the church. The pawn shop owner, the priest, and the police captain all got a taste of Corcoran’s rage before he found Francis in the church. By the time they sat down together, Corcoran seemed relatively reasonable and calm. Corcoran had pretty much figured out what had really happened between Francis and Ellen, but he wanted Francis to confess before he took his revenge.
I actually wasn’t all that shocked by Francis’ confession because I feel like we’ve been given hints leading up to this truth throughout the season. What I found the most remarkable about Francis and Corcoran’s altercation in the church was Francis’ rather accurate observation that he and Corcoran were not so different.
Corcoran was no angel in the time he believed that his wife was either missing or dead. If he believed his wife was missing, he wasn’t exactly staying true to her memory when he spent all those nights with Elizabeth or Eva. Corcoran had volunteered for the war twice, and as time passed without word from him, Francis and Ellen came to believe that Corcoran was also dead.
Francis did admit that his sin was one of omission. In the context of their world, the biggest crime Francis committed was to keep Ellen a secret every time Corcoran had gone looking for her. Corcoran, perhaps understanding his role in their situation, spared Francis’ life, telling him to “live with his guilt.” He could have just as easily been telling that to himself.
Corcoran came back to Ellen and was quite violent with her, demanding to know what happened to their daughter Maggie. Every time I see Corcoran act aggressively towards any female character, my distaste for him grows. Watching him with Ellen was particularly disturbing because she was clearly not in her right mind, but that didn’t stop him from threatening her. I understand that we’re watching a story set in a time where women were treated differently, but seeing our protagonist treat the woman he supposedly loved in this way makes it difficult for me to see him as a protagonist at all. I imagine that we’d never see Matthew treat Sarah with that kind of physical aggression, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that as the weeks pass, Matthew is becoming the only character I respect or trust on Copper.
With such big developments happening between Corcoran, Francis, and Ellen, most of the other subplots seemed somewhat insignificant. The Moorehouse men found themselves getting more tangled in the Confederate plot against New York and Robert’s image of his father was distorted when he realized that Norbert was still unwilling to trust Robert with the inner workings of his business. We’re being set up for even more trouble as the three Booth brothers come to visit the Moorehouse household, and captivate Elizabeth with their charm and charisma.
To be honest, now that the mystery behind Corcoran’s missing wife and dead daughter have been solved, there doesn’t seem to be much drawing me back to Copper. I was interested in a story of the gritty Five Points New York that we don’t often hear about in history books. Now Corcoran’s story feels like it’s over and I’m not all that intrigued by the political and economical plight of the upper class. I suppose Copper will have to find some way to make Corcoran, Matthew and the rest of the Five Points police squad relevant to the Moorehouse story line for me to stay interested.