Close this search box.

Franklin (Apple TV+) Episode 5 Review 

Michael Douglas is Franklin in episode 5 of Franklin

In episode 5, Apple TV+ show Franklin repeats its tried and tested formula, but is it enough to win audiences over once again?

In episode 5 of Franklin, one of the characters says that there is “no glory in the grave.” It is a fascinating topic to touch on, especially in such a turbulent historical time of revolution in the United States first and France to follow. Franklin once again creates the perfect historical atmosphere of 18th century France in which the story is set. After five episodes, however, is it not time for some change? The plot is very similar to what we have seen before, as the characters and conflict remain unchained from the season premiere.

In this week’s episode, the ongoing tension between Benjamin Franklin (Michael Douglas, of Avengers: Endgame) and John Adams (Eddie Marsan, of Fair Play) reaches entirely new levels as the two discuss the newest developments in the American Revolution and how to approach a coalition with France. At the same time, Franklin also faces conflict in his family life as he and his nephew William Temple Franklin (Noah Jupe, of Dreamin’ Wild) disagree on Temple’s future, particularly regarding his involvement with Cunégonde Brillon (Lily Dupont), a French girl from a wealthy family.

As a period drama, the 18th-century setting is particularly important to the show’s success. In episode 5, Franklin continues to immerse the audience in its historical setting with every detail in this episode, from the costumes to the music, to small but significant plot details. I really liked the inclusion of theatre, as the plot of the story goes on and the mention of Goldoni, one of the most famous playwrights of the time. While it may seem like only a tiny element of the show that barely affects the plot, it truly reflects the culture of the time when theatre was one of the most common engagements for the upper social classes.

The confrontation between Franklin and his nephew proves once again how family relationships are, ultimately, what Franklin does best. The show is truly at its best when the two characters are in a confrontation with each other, much like at the end of episode 5. This allows us to explore the generational conflict in the way the young and perhaps naïve generation views the war compared to the perspective of the older one, portrayed by Franklin himself who is more aware of the risks and even more calculating in his political moves. None of them is particularly at fault in their conflict, which may very well be why the reasons between the two are so compelling to watch.

As the conflict grows between Franklin and Adams, it is fascinating to see their different perspective and approaches, despite fighting for a common cause. The two most notable characters in Franklin – and the two who have the fate of the American Revolution in their hands – are portrayed as polar opposites. It is interesting and somewhat accurate to real life how the two American characters, who would be supposedly similar and on the same side, are set up as enemies and in conflict.  However, I would love to see even more of that conflict, which has not even fully started yet but has only been suggested in episode 5.  

The pace in episode 5 of Franklin is significantly slower compared to the entire first half of the season. Perhaps too slow, given the stakes of the conflict which seem increasingly forgotten in this week’s episode. With the focus almost exclusively on France and the romantic plot I have never really cared much for, it seems like the focus on the American Revolution is now missing, if not for the very end of the episode. While the characters focus on their relationships with each other, I kept wondering what was happening across the ocean in the meantime, as the American Revolution is the driving force behind the conflict of the show.  

The matter of women’s condition at the time is, at the very least, touched upon in episode 5. But there is still so much missing: once again the female characters feel like merely ornaments to decorate a plot that could very well and easily go on without their involvement. While Franklin insists on showing them as love interests only, I constantly find myself wanting to know more about their thought and passions. For example, how does Cunégonde feel about her relationship with Temple? We see her love for painting as this episode finally shows us something other than her role of romantic interest, but it is not nearly enough after 5 episodes of the show, especially after how thoroughly the male characters are explored in comparison.  

Episode 5 of Franklin is not bad per se, but it is also nothing new. After four rather successful episodes, it feels like the show has gotten comfortable with its plotlines and episode structure. In this week’s episode, there is no real new conflict introduced as the TV show further explores the themes and topics it has already touched on in the first half of the show. While it did work for the previous episode, the tried and tested formula feels a little overused and predictable in episode 5.

Watch on Apple TV

Episode 5 of Franklin is now available to watch on AppleTV+. Read our review of episode 6 of Franklin!

Thank you for reading us! If you’d like to help us continue to bring you our coverage of films and TV and keep the site completely free for everyone, please consider a donation.