A Recap of Episode 2 of “Copenhagen Cowboy”: A Raging Rampage of Revenge

A Recap of Episode 2 of “Copenhagen Cowboy”: A Raging Rampage of Revenge

Should it come as any surprise that righteous, redemptive violence against the wicked is the name of the game in the show Copenhagen Cowboy, which was created by the same person who directed the iconic vigilante film Drive, and whose episode is named “Vengeance Is My Name”?

Sincerely, I believe that the answer is yes. Driver, starring Ryan Gosling, gave us an antihero for the ages, thanks to Nicolas Winding Refn. However, he utilized his subsequent works — Only God Forgives, The Neon Demon, and Too Old to Die Young — to portray a more cynical view on the character of the persistently violent, i.e., that they are, at best, terrifying and, more often than not, morally reprehensible monsters.

Miu, who at this time appears to be the title character of the show, cannot be described in any way, in my opinion. She is quietly terrifying in her own way, with her bland demeanor, thousand-yard look, and, of course, her supernatural abilities. You do not, however, shrink from Miu when she exacts vengeance on Rosella, the sadistic pimp, by torching her and her entire house of horrors. (Did her brother André, who was last seen celebrating the shotgun wedding of his daughter Flora (Dafina Zeqiri) and her errand-boy boyfriend Dardan (Daniel Sami Strandet) after Miu revealed their connection, perish in the blaze? We cannot say.)

It’s vital to remember that by this time in the novel, Miu had previously freed her fellow sexual slaves by leading them in a Caesar-like stabbing attack against the huge guard assigned to keep them from escaping. Miu was relegated to this new task when Rosella’s psychic friend dubbed her a demon. Not that they even offered her a token of appreciation! But even if they were jerks to her, it is difficult to blame them given their plight, and Miu’s decision to set them free was unquestionably positive.

Notably, she avoided a “date” with Nicklas, the man who murdered her sole friend Cimona and who became interested in André’s ad for Miu (hyping up her virginity) as soon as he saw it.

Nonetheless, during her escape, she discovers a Chinese eatery. The dining room is closed for the evening, and the proprietor, Jang, kicks her out (Li li Zhang). When a woman in labor staggers to the front door, though, Miu learns that the proprietor is also known as Mother Hulda and works as a midwife, or possibly as an all-around wise woman given her maternal title. Miu uses her magical abilities to physically breathe life into the woman’s baby, and in exchange, she is offered an apartment in Mother Hulda’s building. However, she has a date with Rosella first, hence the title’s wrath.

I have mixed feelings regarding the apparent return-to-basics genre thrills of NWR’s collaboration with writer Sara Isabella Jnsson. Do I personally prefer works that portray vigilantism as repulsive, like in Too Old to Die Young? Yes. Is it still entertaining to watch movies about vigilantes, given that it’s just a film? Yes, also! The Revenant didn’t have much to offer intellectually, but it sure was entertaining to see Leo travel to hell and back to get back at Tom Hardy. In a somewhat less grandiose sense, the same is true of Miu and Rosella.

In the meantime, the narrative and filming are filled with great flourishes that freshen things up. Miu reassured Mother Hulda that she’s not actually a ghost by meowing at her like a black cat; there’s a fantastic moment of tiny release on the part of performer Angela Bundalsvic as Miu, foreshadowed in a way when she flirted with Sven to get him in trouble with his wife Rosella. I was also amazed with Zegiri’s performance as Flora; when challenged by her father about her connection, you can actually see her stomach drop and her pulse rate increase, even if she’s eventually pleased that it’s out in the open.

I remain equally delighted and appalled by the decision to have Sven talk exclusively in literal pig sounds. And dude, look at how Refn and cameraman Magnus Nordenhof Jnck utilize a slight tweak in the typical NWR 3AM-eternal color palette to imply Miu’s saintliness:

Copenhagen Cowboy is sleek and assured television, created by an artist secure in his style and obsessions and determined to convey them to the public. How television should be.

Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) writes about television for Rolling Stone, Vulture, and The New York Times, among other publications. His family resides on Long Island.

 

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