Frontier: Season 2 REVIEW

Frontier screenshot

You’re aware that the latest season of Frontier won’t be entirely like its first season when this played-straight eighteenth century set series opens with a quote from Beyonce Knowles-Carter: “Power is not given to you. You have to take it.”

The second series of the Canadian-American production was recently released on Netflix, and, like the first season, is comprised of a total of six episodes. It continues on from where we left the worse-for-wear Declan Harper (Jason Momoa) and continues to explore the relationship between the British fur traders and the Native Americans who inhabit the areas around Fort James.

The stakes have definitely been raised this season as we see power dynamics shift: characters who were once at the bottom of the hierarchy have risen to the top, and those once in power have been kicked down into the dirt. However, nothing stays the same for very long, and the power struggles between all the different characters keep you at the edge of your seat as dirty deals are made and alliances are broken both inside Fort James and beyond.

The violence is also amped up from series one, Frontier doesn’t hold back on showing you limbs breaking, heads being stamped in and characters vomiting all over themselves. As gruesome as it is, all the violence and gore at least gives you a sense of the time it’s set in: after all, everything was generally a bit grosser a few hundred years ago. Being a show about the fur trade also means that we see a few animals killed on-screen, so if that’s something that will upset you, you might want to sit this one out.

All the cast are excellent in their roles, Momoa’s Harp continues to be brooding but highly likeable, waddling around in a big fluffy coat, shouting at people and beating up anyone who tries to hurt him or those he loves. Alun Armstrong returns as the love-to-hate-him Lord Benton, playing the role of an antagonist as perfectly as he did in the first season. Zoe Boyle’s Grace Emberly continues to be one of my favourite roles in the show, a refreshingly strong female character who’s tested to her limits in this latest season as her relationship with Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) continues to develop. Douglas Brown (Allan Hawco) is another stand-out role, playing the long game this season as his situation changes to force him back into the spotlight.

As for those anachronistic quotes, they continue with the addition of an Ice-T quote at the beginning of episode two. Personally, I enjoy them–they’re fitting themes for the episodes, just re-imagined in a contemporary context–but some people have been complaining about them on social media, thinking them too lighthearted for such a gritty show. Whatever you feel about them, they certainly help to make season two of Frontier something unique.

Overall, these six new episodes are an excellent continuation of a gripping historical drama that seems to have flown under the radar of a lot of viewers. If you enjoy the fast-pacing and detailed characterisation of Game of Thrones but wish it was rooted in more factual historical contexts, considering checking out Frontier. It’s set in an interesting time in American/British history but also plays with the truth just enough to keep things exciting at every turn.

Both series one and two of Frontier are available to watch right now on Netflix.

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