With The English, Hugo Blick (Sensitive Skin, The Shadow Line) immerses us in an astonishing and above all sumptuous western. This series is beautiful and above all offers a point of view quite different from what we can usually see in the genre. The introduction to the first episode doesn’t really symbolize what to expect next. It’s 1890, the last days of colonization of the Old West and our almost silent hero is Eli Whipp, played by an excellent Chaske Spencer. Eli is a Pawnee native and former U.S. Army cavalry scout. He is then on his way to Nebraska to claim his due for his military service. All this despite warnings that the white men in charge will never honor their debt. Our heroine is Lady Cornelia Locke, played by Emily Blunt. She arrives from England at a remote Kansas inn on the trail of the man she holds responsible for her son’s death. There, she finds the director, Mr. Watts (played by Ciarán Hinds more terrifying than ever) then torturing… Eli.
Englishwoman Cornelia Locke arrives in the Wild West of the United States to take revenge on the man she considers responsible for the death of her son. There she meets Eli Whipp, a former cavalry scout, from the Pawnee people. Very quickly, they discover a common history that they will have to overcome…
She wants to buy her security but she is beaten for it. It becomes clear that news of her vengeful intentions has preceded her, and Watts is instructed to kill her. And Cornelia’s murder will then be blamed on Eli. With this starting point, the rescue becomes mutual and instantly creates a relationship between the characters. After fleeing and killing four characters in a rather explosive bloodbath, the relationship between these two lost and tormented souls will then inhabit the rest of the season. The English is not a romance story as we see tons of them. It goes much further than that. However, the plot that coats the emotions of the series is quite convoluted. It doesn’t really matter because what matters in The English are the characters and those beautifully staged landscapes.
We’re going to meet a whole bunch of amazing characters (special mention to Nichola McAuliffe as the murderous Black Eyed Moi). All of these characters are reminiscent of the unforgiving old west and perfectly exemplify creator Hugo Blick’s thinking on how many of us would stay sane in a lawless land where no one can hear you. , nor stand in your way or shout. The English talks about the massacres on which the New World was built. In Eli’s story, we find the cruelty of everything that happened. And Cornelia on her side appears as a gateway to this amazing world. The performance of the cast members allows The English to stand out and offer us a whole host of amazing surprises. Chaske Spencer, who you’ve probably all seen in a werewolf role in the Twilight saga, is a revelation here. He is strong, silent but also frustrated and intelligent. It takes us through a whole bunch of different emotions, making it all that much more memorable.
Visually, there is also a real work that has been done and which is sensational. The action scenes are intense enough to impress, even if we are not always sure of what is happening before our eyes. For all the brutality that The English can stage, there are more intimate and emotional moments behind it. There’s never really been a western like The English on the small screen. This idea of revisiting American borders in a tense landscape where the law isn’t really what people want to enforce (maybe also because it doesn’t exist). By avoiding falling into easy traps or uninteresting gimmicks, The English prefers to stay straight in its boots and develop its story and its characters. Little by little everything is distilled over the episodes. Six brilliant episodes that are truly worth watching.
Note : 9.5/10. In short, one of the great surprises of this year 2022.
Available on myCanal