With higher stakes and stronger conflict, episode 4 of Prime series Expats finally picks up the pace, and is the best episode of yet.
Expats started slow – too slow for me – but episode 4 picked up significantly, delivering what I wanted to see from the Prime Video series all along. Now that we are halfway through the season, this episode finally managed to grab my attention from the beginning to the end. The latest episode showed us Expats at its very best, delivering the latent potential the show had from its first episode. The show once again touches on its main themes of grief, motherhood, and trauma but it does so in a much more engaging way now.
Episode 4 of Expats follows the same tried and tested formula we have seen in previous episodes, with three plotlines. Each follows one of the show’s protagonists: Margaret Woo (Nicole Kidman), Hilary Starr (Sarayu Blue), and Mercy Cho (Ji-young Yoo). In this episode, we see their respective stories mirror each other thematically, as these three women are confined in tight spaces with someone they have unfinished business with. Margaret is with her husband Clarke Woo (Brian Tee) in mainland China, Hilary is trapped in an elevator with her mother Brinder (Sudha Bhuchar), and Mercy finds herself sharing a small space with David (Jack Huston).
More than ever before, episode 4 is truly a masterclass in acting as the audience gains an insight into the background and emotional lives of these characters we had already met in previous episodes but are only truly getting to know in this one. In particular, seeing Nicole Kidman and Brian Tee acting opposite each other is a true joy in this episode as we see the Woo couple trying to move through their conflicts and the different expressions of their grief. All the couples in this episode match each other particularly well as they oppose and support one another in their respective segments.
The story in episode 4 is particularly interesting, as Expats conveys it mainly through conflict. In this episode, the audience gains significant and key details about the characters’ backstories but, although some of it is directly told to us rather than shown, it works really well both thanks to the elements of conflict and impressive acting on this episode. Compared to previous episodes, the stakes are much better delivered this week, and so is the overall structure of the newest episode of the Prime Video show. In fact, the various storylines are much better connected between each other and, thus, easier to follow as the series keeps jumping between them.
“Society puts so much pressure on women to have children to feel whole, what about what I want?” says Hillary during episode 4 when talking to her mother about her not having children. As the audience may have noticed in previous episodes, motherhood is a theme dear to Expats, but in this episode, it is touched on in yet another way with the introduction of Hillary’s mother who offers a generation counterpoint in this discussion. Generally speaking, I appreciate how the Prime Video show approaches this topic and is not afraid to discuss it, as it is often still a taboo even today and not talked about in modern media.
As mentioned, episode 4 of Expats addresses themes the show has touched on already, but this week, the Prime Video series also introduces discussions around racism. It is indirect and delicate, so much so that it almost feels like you would miss it if you blinked, but it is a clever way of showing how some of these characters are affected by racism in their daily lives. I also liked how this week’s episode subtly touched on the multiculturalism present in the expatriate community in Hong Kong in particular in one scene where the dialogue plays out in three very different languages, Cantonese, English, and Punjabi.
Episode 4 was by far my favourite one with an exceptionally fascinating structure, impressive acting, and very good writing and pace. The latter had often been the biggest issue in previous episodes of the Prime Video series, so it is good to see it improving as the episodes go by. I am hoping to see more of this in the next episodes of Expats as we draw closer to its end in the following weeks and the series is going to have to get even bigger and better.
Episode of Expats is now available to watch on Prime Video.