TV Review: Roots “Night 4”
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Night 4
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Written by Lawrence Konner
Based on the novel by Alex Haley
Starring Laurence Fishburne, Regé-Jean Page, Anika Noni Rose, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Mekhi Phifer, T.I., Erica Tazel, Anna Paquin, Sedale Threatt Jr., and Malachi Kirby
The History Channel | A&E | Lifetime
Air Date: Thursday, June 2nd, 2016, 9:00pm

The past 3 nights, A&E, The History Channel, and Lifetime have simultaneously aired the first 3 parts of the “Groundbreaking Series Reimagined” – Roots, based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel. The original 1977 series starring Levar Burton and John Amos as warrior turned slave (but a warrior forever in his heart), Kunta Kinte, followed him and his generations of family through the brutal history of America. This week we cried and cringed and laughed and raged with these strong characters and brilliant actors. On Night 1, we met Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby) ripped away from his happy life in Africa, to be whipped and chained as a slave in America, always trying to escape. On Night 2, Kunta loses half a foot for running, and settles down with his wife Belle (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and his daughter Kizzy (E’myri Lee Crutchfield), teaching her the ways of a warrior. Kizzy is sold to another, ripped from her parents loving arms. Night 3 was the story of Kizzy (Anika Noni Rose) and her son George (Regé-Jean Page), product from a rape by her new owner, Tom Lea (Jonathan Rhys Myers). As much as George tried to gain Tom’s approval and love, in the end Tom sold him for a debt, and George was ripped away from his wife, babies, and mother.

Spoilers below.

Roots “Night 4” review: Hampshire, England 1849 – Chicken George won his Englishman most matches, and his storytelling made him loved by all the English. But he wasn’t set free until 20 years later. When he made his way back home, Kizzy was dead. But not Tom Lea.

“You a man without honor Tom Lea.” He sold George’s children to the Alameda farm. George’s Tom lives with his mother. George arrives at Alameda, and is reunited with Matilda (Erica Tazel) and some of his children. 3 of them were sold off. George is going to stay with his family. Don’t dance with Matilda, George. They will hurt all of you. Tom hates George. But he does warn him when Murray’s son says he is going to sell him on the 91st day (because of a 90-day law). Matilda begs him to leave, and so he goes. He meets Cyrus (T.I.) on the road, and they head to a union camp.

Back at home, Nancy (Anna Paquin), married to the owner’s son is a northern spy and wants Tom to help her. He declines. Newspapers show the war has begun. Confederate troops are on the Murray farm. Confederate soldiers rape his wife, Irene, so Tom joins the Nancy and Jerusalem’s (Mekhi Pfeiffer) cause. Jerusalem is a free man who wanted to help his people. He came down to play a deaf mute driver. Tom and Jerusalem successfully take down the men with the plans, but Jerusalem is caught and so is Nancy. They string him up, but she grabs a gun and puts Jerusalem out of his misery. Her husband hangs her, but she doesn’t give up Tom.

George and Cyrus are running from southerners who want to stop them from joining the union army, and they are really close. They kill one and get a horse. George and Cyrus find troops and join a battle with their union regiment. But their troops fail and the southerners have them surrounded. They get away after watching all the black soldiers get cut down.

We all know how the Civil War ends…

One year later, General Lee surrenders and they are all free… and hungry.

Cyrus comes to the farm and asks, “Who is Kunta Kinte?” He’s in. He tells them of the adventures of him and George. Tom leaves to bring him home. Kunta Kinte shows him the way. He finds his wounded daddy.

“The war might be over but some white men ain’t never gonna let it go, ain’t never goin’ accept us being free.”

They make it home. Yes!!!! Such a reunion! The family gathers to leave and goes to say goodbye to Murray. Murray’s son confronts Tom and pulls out his gun. George kills him. And the family rides away.

Tom names his baby girl the Mandinka way. Tears…

Alex Haley (Laurence Fishburne) writes the last of his words. George and Tom come take him on a walk through his family – Irene, Cyrus, Matilda, Fiddler, Kizzy, Belle, Uncle Silla, Omoro and Binta Kinte, and finally, Kunta Kinte.

The 4th night was not as powerful as the first three, but it was still quite good. The family ended up happy which was what I was yearning for all along.

This mini-series was harsh yet beautiful. I cried every day for this family. The tragedy was overpowering, yet they persevered. This was one story out of the millions of slave stories of America, voices never heard. Some say why make another Roots? Why not? It is an important story. We have to remember the ugliness of our culture. It’s why Nazi stories are continuously made. We cannot forget.

Particular standouts were Malachi Kirby, Regé-Jean Page (“morning dove” stabbed me in the heart), Chad L. Coleman, and Anika Noni Rose. They lived their characters and I loved them the most.

Thank you A+E Networks…

The History Channel’s synopsis:

ROOTS is a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family’s will to survive, endure and ultimately carry on their legacy despite enormous hardship and inhumanity. Spanning multiple generations, the lineage begins with young Kunta Kinte who is captured in his homeland in The Gambia and transported in brutal conditions to colonial America where he’s sold into slavery. Throughout the series, the family continues to face adversity while bearing witness and contributing to notable events in U.S. history – including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, slave uprisings and eventual emancipation. The story of Kunta Kinte and the women and men who came after him echoes through the history of millions of Americans of African descent, and reveals powerful truths about the universal resilience of the human spirit.

Image Gallery


Roots: Night 4 Preview | Tonight 9/8c | History

Watch a preview for Night 4 of Roots, airing tonight, June 2, on History at 9/8c. #Roots

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