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The Dead Lands S01 E06 Main

The Dead Lands - Season 1, Episode 6: “A Question of Identity” TV Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Premiered on Shudder

the dead lands poster large

Directed by Michael Hurst
Written by Glenn Standring
2020, 44 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on February 20th, 2020

Starring:
Te Kohe Tuhaka as Waka Nuku Rau
Darneen Christian as Mehe
Richard Te Are as Tui
Vicky Haughton as Turika
Nathaniel Lees as Te Kaipo
Rob Mokaraka as Hako “the Terrifying”

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Review:

It’s a great joy when you can feel a show picking up steam as it barrels towards the inevitable denouement. The Dead Lands is a story that takes its time ensuring that you care about the characters and their plight while wasting no time showing you that punches will not be pulled and plenty of blood will definitely be spilled. “A Question of Identity” is the apotheosis of that formula and stands as the strongest episode to date in a series that hasn’t had many true lows.

Waka (Te Kohe Tuhaka) and Mehe (Darneen Christian) are marching toward the village of Te Kaipo (Nathaniel Lees; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Matrix Revolutions), the shaman who broke the world and hopefully knows how to fix it. It’s not that simple, however: The true identity of Te Kaipo is a punch in the gut that will alter the nature of Waka and Mehe’s mission and Waka’s relationship with his deceased mother, Turika (Vicky Haughton; King Kong), and Tui (Richard Te Are; Danger Close). As the resolution becomes clear, it also becomes that all is not what it seems.

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From the opening scene, “A Question of Identity” makes it clear that we’re getting down to the nitty gritty. In a flashback with a not-so-unexpected (but still very welcome) revelation, we realize that there are layers to this metaphorical onion that promise a tear or two while showing that no one is safe and shit is about to get dark. Rolled up in all of that is the most relationship development for Waka and Mehe yet. The ability to patiently take the time to go back to that relationship in the midst of madness is an extremely deft touch. That is infinitely harder than people realize; either the realistic feel of the relationship or the action suffer. That’s yet to happen here. Te Kohe Tuhaka and Darneen Christian continue to just slay it, as the show is just as much about his redemption and her rise as it is about how to fix the broken world overrun with the dead. I’m not sure what’s up with Hako, but he’s fun to watch even if his appearance is a momentary tonal shift.

Nathaniel Lees is wickedly talented. He’s next level and steals every scene he’s in while running the spectrum from heartless bastard to haunted old shaman just trying to keep it all together. Additionally, the set design and action are some of the best that The Dead Lands has yet to see. This episode gives you a full-on bloodbath, and you know that’s never a bad thing!

The task at hand for Waka and Mehe isn’t getting any easier; quite the opposite, in fact! The antepenultimate installment of The Dead Lands leaves you in a place that’s both tense and satisfying. Two more to go, folks. Let’s fix the world or die trying!

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Grades:

Episode: 4.5 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US

 

About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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