John Brown’s daughter Annie shows up in this episode, as played by Ethan Hawke’s own daughter Maya. I didn’t recognize her, despite knowing her from Stranger Things, but there was a part of me that, in retrospect, felt she looked a lot like her dad in this thing.
Onion has a thing for her.
Pretty much all most people know about Ol’ John Brown, if they know anything, is his raid on Harper’s Ferry. He developed that plan last time, and the advice Harriet Tubman gave him was to not change the date of his attack.
That’s the sort of thing that tells you he is totally going to change the date of his attack, but this thing is doomed to failure anyway. Onion, along with another man named Cook, go ahead to rent a place for Brown’s people to meet up at. Cook is…well, he’s useless. Not in the usual way. He seduces a local woman who happens to be married and the sister-in-law of the local busybody who keeps knocking on the rental place’s door. Onion, meanwhile, has to go out and try to recruit local slaves for the attack.
That also fails miserably. Local slaves don’t know why the boy is in a dress because for once, people see his actual gender. They also believe Ol’ John Brown is dead, and there are far too many white slaveowners around to make a rebellion a good idea for any of them. Even the local man working the Underground Railroad can’t really help because Brown wants thousands and this guy escorts maybe two or three at time.
Point is, the attack will not have enough people involved, especially when Frederick Douglass decides this attack is not what he wants to be involved in.
Brown, forced to move the date of the attack by extenuating circumstances, decides to move ahead anyway. He’s a passionate man if nothing else.
Too bad his daughter Annie isn’t running things. She seems far more sensible while also agreeing with her father’s mission. She can talk the busybody down whenever that woman pounds on the door, and she’s doing a good job of teaching Onion the works of William Shakespeare. She’s also supposed to be teaching Onion womanly ways, including bathing, but he doesn’t stick around for that since for one, Onion might be legitimately scared of being found out since, you know, Annie probably wouldn’t take too kindly to learning Onion isn’t really a young girl.
Of course, Onion has to do something when the railroad man gives him a password for Brown, and Onion forgot to share it. Being taken away with the other women and children, he has to decide: will he help crazy Ol’ John Brown, or will he go where it’s safe and stay with Annie?
Eh, Onion does the right thing, and even shows off his bare chest to Annie to reveal that, yes, he’s a man, he’s smitten with her, and he will no doubt never see her again as he runs off to help Ol’ John Brown.
Look, Onion had to go to Harper’s Ferry since this mini-series probably wouldn’t be much fun if the series’s eyewitness somehow missed the biggest moment from the real John Brown’s life.