Episode Reviews (1)
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What Part 5 lacked, this episode makes up for it big time!
Although the previous installment did end on a heartbreaking note with the famous scene of the Kizzy character being hauled off by wagon to whereabouts uknown while her mother Bell howls in grief and father Kunta/Toby looks on steely eyed and seething, that previous episode doesn't hold a candle to what is most certainly one of the most well acted and comprehensive episodes of the miniseries since the earlier parts.
The cast of characters, including Ben Vereen, Chuck Connors, and Richard Roundtree, rise high to the occassion to make a somewhat complex plot "pop" as it were. Vereen gained much note and became an American cultural icon through his role as "Chicken George" Moore, son of slave owner Tom Moore (Chuck Connors). Connors himself, although somewhat typecast in this part that hearkened back to his grittiness from his days in the series "Rifleman", brings a refreshing range of emotion to a character who had the potential to be a cardboard stereotype. However in his hands, Connors made the character at once a sympathetic and forgiving rogue who could suddenly switch to being downright mean, ugly, and terrorizing when crossed. And Richard Roundtree, whose character had potential to be a bit of an empty stereotypical dandy, actually took the character right up to that point, but held back enough to allow the audience to achieve a certain level of sympathy for the character, his drive for humanity, and his misfortunes. Even Scatman Crothers, in a minor role, gives enough of a performance that makes you feel for him as he is displaced in the plantation hierarchy in favor of the "master's son", yet he serves as a true mentor and father-figure to the somewhat precocious Chicken George.
Olivia Cole makes her entrance here as George's soon-to-be-wife and in a reserved style, doesn't stand out to overshadow any of the others and manages to keep Leslie Uggam's now older Kizzy a bit more reserved as well.
In summary, an excellent, top notch episode, particularly the final famous scene when Vereen showcases his dancing acumen by leaping a fence and kicking his heels as he does so!moreless