“The English” TV Series Review

Story posted November 28, 2022 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Ryan French

“The English,” a new western series starring Emily Blunt, was released last week for streaming on Prime Video.

With the exploding popularity of westerns such as “Yellowstone” and “1883,” “The English” is an important and exciting release for Prime Video.

The series follows Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) on a journey from Oklahoma north to Wyoming through the wild and unforgiving western United States on a mission to avenge her late son. Locke and the series’ other main protagonist, Sergeant Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer) meet solely by chance but eventually forge a strong friendship on their way north to the town of Powder River, Wyoming.

The series begins as Locke, a wealthy Englishwoman, is dropped off at a run-down hotel in the middle of nowhere. She is thrust out of her stagecoach into the dirt and dust of Oklahoma where she is greeted by two accordion-playing thieves. She notices Sgt. Whipp, a Pawnee Native American and former army scout tied up. Feeling sorry for this stranger, she flexes her luggage full of cash in order to buy his release despite his decline of assistance.

Locke quickly learns the harsh realities of the wild west and is held captive inside the hotel as the thieves and owner rob her of her belongings. While facing seemingly imminent death, Whipp reappears to save Locke, killing her assailants.

Come morning time  Whipp is ready to leave alone, as he intends to head north to Nebraska to claim a plot of land under the Homestead Act. Locke pleads for his help and while at first emotionless, Whipp cracks and agrees to take Locke part of the way to her final destination in Wyoming.

The first several episodes of the series are action-packed as the two continue their journey north fighting horse thieves, bandits, and the like. Despite the action, the plot felt repetitive through these episodes, but twists and turns in their journey are imminent.

These trials and tribulations draw the two together, and the once near-emotionless Eli Whipp begins to reveal more and more about his tumultuous past.

The middle episodes of the series are a bit dialogue-heavy as the plot unfolds. This creates confusion from the viewer's end as the series switches between flashbacks and the main plot, with key details slowly being revealed in both time periods. The series also moves between Locke and Whipp on their journey and other stories on the side, which adds to the confusion.

Throughout this part of the series, the viewer learns more about the small town of Powder River, Locke’s destination. The viewer’s knowledge of the town grows immensely through flashbacks about its residents as the series reaches its sixth and final episode

Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer play their respective characters phenomenally throughout the series. Blunt does a fantastic job of showing Locke’s fierce and determined spirit, unperturbed by any obstacle in the way of the vengeance she seeks. She also shows a softer side of Locke, the side that is a grieving mother and wants nothing more than to have her child back.

Spencer brings out the complexity of Eli Whipp in extraordinary ways. His Native American heritage contradicts his service in the United States armed forces, as soldiers commonly raided villages and killed Native Americans. Like Locke, he has also experienced great loss in his life. Spencer exhibits the cold and stoic side of Whipp along with his caring nature well throughout the series.

While action is a key part of any western, certain elements of “The English” seem to be overdone. The immense amount of violence along with the rather stereotypical-looking set design falls a bit short of the mark displayed in similar shows. This almost makes some of the scenes feel cartoonish and overall detracts from the series.

Vivid colors are very prominent in the series, which plays as both a positive and negative. Golden plains and deep blue skies show off the natural beauty of the landscape during many scenes. In others, however, these extremely vivid colors contradict the mood of what is happening in the episode, detracting from the scene.

Overall, “The English” is a solid series with a fairly complex plot that strings together and unfolds in unexpected ways. The series is bolstered through very good performances from key cast members but falls a bit short with the inclusion of lengthy and somewhat confusing dialogues.

Although the show is fairly short at just six episodes this season, prospects for a second seem to be small. With increasing viewership in the western genre, “The English” is a good series but doesn’t quite surpass the high bar set by other better-established shows.

Rating: 3/5

Ryan French is a first-year student majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, please email rpf5336@psu.edu.