I’ve been reviewing each episode of the new, rebooted Roots — each episode covers one or more eras, so it’s giving me lots of fodder for discussion! And woo boy, did episode three provide the fodder … you’ve got your Jonathan Rhys Meyers perfectly cast as a low-class, rapey slaveowner; plus a serious hottie; plus some INCREDIBLY badly dressed extras (seriously, wtf?). Join me!
Roots: Episode 3
Plot-wise, this was another entertaining and thought-provoking episode. It mostly focuses on all-growed-up Kizzy and her son “Chicken” George (the bulk of this episode is set in the 1820s). George is the result of Kizzy’s repeated rapes by slaveowner Tom Lea (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and it is heart-wrenching to watch Kizzy work through her emotions about his origin/parentage. Tom makes most of his money from chicken fighting (which, pleasepleaseplease tell me all the chicken-fighting scenes were edited/digital to make them seem more realistic, because I was seriously putting my shirt over my head during them), and George becomes a prize chicken trainer/fighter. There’s also a lot of the horrible reality of “slave breeding,” as George falls in love with Matilda. Tom buys Matilda for George so the two can marry and encourages George to have LOTS of children. Ew ew ew. Plus, you get to see more of the realities of how families of enslaved people were split up, and the horror of not just never seeing your loved ones again, but literally not even knowing if they are alive or dead.
Also, Kizzy gets a love interest: Marcellus, a free African American played by Michael James Shaw, who, HELLO YES PLEASE fans self frantically
Okay, but let’s talk costumes, because we’re not just here to be lecherous (right? right? anyone?)…
Kizzy’s Costumes in Roots
We see the same actress (Emyri Crutchfield) give birth to George, then we jump to grown-up Kizzy played by Anika Noni Rose, in case anyone is confused.
George’s Costumes in Roots
Mostly I want to look at adult George. He’s really wonderfully costumed — you can see that he’s enslaved (nothing upscale here), and yet they totally show his weird position as unacknowledged son-of-the-owner through what again appear to be hand me downs … plus they show his character through his jaunty accents, tipped hats, etc.
Matilda’s Costumes in Roots
Matilda is George’s love interest then wife. She’s the daughter of a preacher, and the two have a cute interaction getting together as she stands up to cocky George … but then she very quickly becomes background. Too bad!
Tom Lea’s Costumes in Roots
Tom Lea is a low -status, Irish-descended planter who has aspirations of rising in society. He wore a lot of relatively simple/lower-quality clothes because of this, but when he’s trying to impress people, he gets very flashy.
Patricia Lea’s Costumes in Roots
Tom Lea’s dishwater wife.
(Almost) Everyone Else’s Costumes in Roots
Most of the upper-class extras were well-dressed, which is surprising when you see what’s coming next!
The Gallery of Shittily Dressed Extras
And now, what happened with this batch of extras? I feel like someone dropped the ball in terms of screening who got to be placed where during shooting, because whoo-boy, some of these ladies should have been shunted to the rear…
What did you think of Roots episode 3? Did red-bib make you howl with laughter like I did?