I really hope this is not going to offend anyone, but then again that may get me a few more views, but I have always found the American Civil War fascinating. Maybe because it didn’t have a profound impact on me as let’s say World War 2, or maybe because it really wasn’t that long ago. I mean it was less than 160 years ago and people in what is now considered the free world still had slaves, it’s amazing to see how far the western world has come and one must really wonder how much further we will go in the next 160 years.
Now that I have gotten a little philosophical it’s really time to talk about the series. Named Point of Honor, in honor of (see what I did there) the plantation from which majority of the characters are from and also the concept of honor. To be precise a point of honor is defined as –
‘An action or circumstance that affects one’s reputation or conscience.’
This definition sums up the pilot perfectly. One of the biggest draws to the pilot is John Rhodes, who is a confederate soldier cut from the same cloth as Robert E Lee. John Rhodes may have grown up in wealth and luxury, but proved his merit at West Point as one of the most skilled soldiers in the United States. While he disapproves of the South’s treatment of slaves, he would die before seeing the union march on his beloved Virginia. The conflict of his nature is one of the big draws for this show, he is a good man but he isn’t necessarily fighting for the good cause. This is important for me because we too often paint wars as Black and White. There are many evil causes in this world, but it’s far too easy for us to forget that behind those causes are humans and some of them are fighting with their own good intentions. Nathan Parsons (True Blood and The Originals) does a lot to bring the character of John to life; making him highly sympathetic and that’s not easy to do, he comes off as the kind of man you would follow into battle, the commander whose orders you would gladly die for, also for the ladies he is pretty easy on the eyes.
Serving as a foil to John Rhodes, is his brother in law and best friend, Robert Sumner. Robert and Johns relationship is the stuff of Greek Tragedy. From what I can see in the first episode they are closer than John and his actual brother. Robert is a great soldier and he would have been the greatest if it wasn’t for John. He lacks the conviction that John has for his cause, even if he does not believe in slavery, he is a reluctant and timid character, played by Chris O’Shea (Baby Daddy and Dead Hungry) you can really see his reluctance and his wish for a swift and quick war, so that he can be reunited with his new family.
The Rhodes family themselves are probably going to be the biggest draw. The three sisters Estella Rhodes (Hanna Mangan Lawrence: Spartacus: War of the Damned), Kate Rhodes (Annabelle Stephenson: H2O: Just Add Water, Revenge) and Lorelei Sumner (Riley Voelkel: Prom, The Newsroom) are defiantly not of their time, they are independent free thinkers. In the first episode alone you see the girls looking after their father’s business, discussing politics and even threatening to shoot a man in the testicles, seriously my kind of women. These are not your atypical southern Belle’s; they are not women of their time, they are women who will shape their time. The American Civil war was not just fought on great battlefields but it was fought in the home as well, this family shows the true side of the war, one which is all too often over looked. The ladies do a dam fine job portraying their characters and bring so much life to what could have become a very one dimensional set of sisters.
Beyond the Rhodes family are its slaves. Though the Rhodes family are shown in a very sympathetic light, it’s still very hard to choke down that they keep slaves. Truly it should be said they are not the worst purveyors of this trade, but they still allow it to happen. Both Tiffany Boone and Adrianne Warren play their roles so well. In fact every actor who performs in the role of slave brings a lot to the show. I won’t say which scene but there is one involving intersections between the slaves and the Rhodes Children that is just powerful to watch.
Beyond the actors I really need to credit the Director Randall Wallace who has worked on so much from Brave Heart to Pearl Harbor, the man has had a great career, with that comes a lot of experience. With a topic like the American Civil War it would be easy for someone to go over patriotic and ruin the feel of the show, but Randall skirts that fine line and keeps it very accessible. Mix this with beautiful direction and great dialogue, yes Randall Wallace also wrote the script, this series is one that has great potential and its pilot’s greatness owes a lot to this writer director.
With some stunningly beautiful locations and costumes that really help bring the pilot to life, it would be hard to see if this won’t get picked up.
The pilot is currently available to watch on Amazon Prime