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Series / Damnation

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"God. Country. Blood. Money."

Damnation is a series that aired on USA Network in 2017, and starred Killian Scott, Logan Marshall-Green, and Christopher Heyerdahl.

In 1931 the labor unions are amassing power and business owners are getting fed up, particularly in Iowa, where Rev. Seth Davenport is stirring up a farming strike. In a bid to restore control, local tycoon Calvin Rumple employs Pinkerton operative Creeley Turner to put down Davenport's rebellion. Unbeknownst to him, Turner is Davenport's brother.

This series was ultimately cancelled after just one season.

Unrelated to the 2009 video game of the same name.

This series contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Seth and Creeley's dad used to beat on them constantly. This turned Seth into a firebrand and Creeley into a blunt instrument.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Della was once in love with Berryman, but is also seen cuddling with one of her prostitutes.
  • Anti-Villain: Tennyson Duvall. He’s a true polite southern gentleman, that firmly believe in his own progress, independent of the (particularly brutal) methods. He’s also genuinely disturbed with a man pulling a knife in a fist fight. Contrast with his faux affably evil Dragon, Hyde.
  • The Atoner: Seth became a socialist firebrand preacher as his way of atoning for his past career of threatening homesteaders on behalf of the oil companies.
  • Badass Bookworm: Amelia is extremely well-read and can hold her own in a conversation better than most of the other characters.
  • Badass Preacher: Rev. Seth Davenport uses his pulpit to agitate for rebellion against big business. He's also not afraid to use violence to remove threats to his flock.
  • Becoming the Mask: Seth originally became a preacher as a disguise for his activism, but over time, he's become sincere in his religious devotion, even if that devotion manifests itself in unconventional ways.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: On one side, you have a violent anarchist preacher who's willing to kill people in pursuit of his dreams of a worker's paradise. On the other side, you have a cabal of elitists and racists who are not afraid to recruit The Klan to achieve their ends.
  • Boxed Crook: Creeley was framed for a murder that Seth committed and given a life sentence. Martin Eggers Hyde sprang him and gave him a Pinkerton badge to keep the cops off of him, but the downside is that Hyde now pretty much owns him and he has to follow his every order or go back to prison.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: In "Den of Lost Souls", Seth and Lew kidnap Calvin Rumple in hopes of convincing him to give them a fair price on the farmers' goods. Not being used to open confrontation, Calvin pisses himself.
  • Corrupt Cop: Don Berryman, the local sheriff, is ostensibly enforcing the local prohibition laws, but his method of controlling the moonshine production is to force all the moonshiners to pay him a cut of their profits.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Connie adopts Brittany after killing her dad in order to train her as an apprentice. She later abandons this pursuit after growing to question her own motives.
  • Crusading Widow: Whoever Connie was before she joined the Pinkerton Agency, that ended the day that her husband was killed. Now she's determined to destroy the labor unions and kill Seth Davenport.
  • Defector from Decadence: Amelia was born into the wealthy Hopkins family, but left in disgust at her father's abuse of the workers at his factory.
  • Divide and Conquer: In "The Emperor of Ice Cream", Creeley arranges for the food distributors to offer an increase in what they're willing to pay for milk, while keeping the rate for corn the same. This effectively divides the strikers, as the cow farmers can't afford to store their milk, and thus need the strike to end soon, while the corn farmers can store their crops for years.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: One of Connie's few personal rules is that she doesn't kill wives or kids. Of course, this rule doesn't take into account that killing husbands probably doesn't do much good for the widows and orphans she leaves behind as a result of her actions.
  • False Flag Operation: In the first episode, Connie is hired to turn a peaceful labor strike at a mine into a full-blown riot by sniping people on both sides of the picket line. Meanwhile, in Iowa, Creeley Turner kills Pete Collingsworth, one of the few local farmers willing to continue doing business, and makes it look like he was killed by the son of one of the strikers.
  • Femme Fatale: Connie Nunn, one of the Pinkerton agents, knows her way around a sniper rifle.
  • Fortune Teller: In "Den of Lost Souls", Seth and Amelia visit a travelling fortune teller, Tiresias, who tells Seth that he's doomed to keep repeating his past as long as he keeps trying to run from it.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Creeley and Connie both work for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, a real-life detective agency that became notorious in the early 20th century for fighting against labor unions.
    • The Black Legion serve as mooks for the bankers.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Creeley's mother was a prostitute, and he grew up in her brothel before his father decided to take him in, and the old man used to accuse him of being overly effeminate.
  • It's Personal: Connie Nunn became a strikebreaker in hopes of locating Seth Davenport, who may have killed her husband Leonard.
  • Kick the Dog: In order to demoralize the farmers as their property is auctioned off, Martin Eggers Hyde hires people to go to the auctions and bid up every single item, no matter how low its market value is, just so that the farmers can't buy back anything.
  • Kill the Parent, Raise the Child: On her quest to get revenge for her husband's murder, Connie kills three striking workers. To her surprise, a little girl named Brittany then comes looking for her father and screams at the sight of his body. Brittany is unaware that Connie is her father's killer because she fled from the room just before Brittany arrived. Upon seeing Brittany, Connie decides to take her along as her new daughter and apprentice. Connie tries to raise Brittany with her anti-union views and tells the little girl that "the world" came after her father for disrupting order.
  • Lost Lenore:
    • Berryman is a widower, and the loss of his wife Edna still haunts him.
    • Seth is still haunted by the death of his first love, Cynthia Jo Rainey.
  • Mistaken for Racist: In "Which Side Are You On?", Creeley assumes that Berryman's reluctance to acknowledge Bessie's existence is because he dislikes black people. In reality, Berryman avoids Bessie because she's his daughter via an extramarital affair.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • In the first episode, Preston Riley told Creeley that his nephew Sam Jr. might be inspired to get revenge for the death of his father, which led to the murder of Pete Collingsworth, for which young Sam was framed. As Sam faces the prospect of being hanged in "The Goodness of Man", Preston expresses remorse for his role in the situation.
    • Throughout the season, Connie justifies her vicious campaign against the labor unions on the grounds that Seth Davenport supposedly killed her husband. In "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground", she learns that Seth was nowhere near Leonard when he died, and is overcome with remorse at the thought that she killed so many people for nothing.
  • The Needs of the Many: Papa Turner justified his vicious slaughter of homesteaders on behalf of oil prospectors by arguing that the oil prospectors would create more jobs.
  • Oh, Crap!: In "One Penny", Creeley and Bessie run into the Black Legion. Creeley advises Bessie to take his gun and his car and flee. Bessie does.
  • One-Word Title
  • Politically Correct History: The series goes back and forth on this. On the one hand, one of the initial leaders of the strike is a black man named Victor, and his fellow strikers have no issue putting him front and center. He's even seen being good friends with Preston Riley. On the other hand, in "The Emperor of Ice Cream", Victor tells Seth that as much as he believes in the ideals behind the strikes, his white compatriots have only been suffering the effects of the Great Depression for two years, while he and his family have been poor their whole lives.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In the first episode, after murdering a man in cold blood, Creeley carries the body into a bar so that everyone knows that he did it, knowing full well that his Pinkerton badge will prevent him from being arrested for it.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!:
    • In "One Penny", facing the prospect of being lynched, Bessie abandons Creeley to the mercies of the Black Legion.
    • In "Den of Lost Souls", after Creeley pushes Calvin Rumple to try and foreclose on every farm in Holden - which Rumple knows will likely cause the farmers to rise up and kill him - Rumple decides to cut his losses and flee the town.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Seth killed his abusive father in revenge for the death of Cynthia Jo Rainey and her father.
  • The Social Darwinist: Martin Eggers Hyde believes that the working class is headed for extinction, and seeks to hurry that process along by backing the strikebreakers.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground", Seth, Creeley, Victor, and Connie reluctantly join forces against the Black Legion.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Connie's habit of calling Brittany "my dear child" is less a statement of affection and more a statement of ownership.
  • Too Hungry to Be Polite: In "One Penny", Connie has to teach Brittany how to use a fork because the little girl has never used utensils before and her eating habits are drawing attention.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: According to Seth, Creeley used to be a soft, shy kid who had to be protected from their abusive dad. Years of being beaten and flogged for not being manly enough have turned Creeley into a bully.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • The Pinkerton Agency uses the good name of founder Allan Pinkerton to lend a veneer of respectability to its thuggish tactics.
    • Melvin Stubbs is running for Sheriff on a platform of rooting out Don Berryman's corruption, all while planning to staff the police department with Black Legion goons.
  • Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child: Seth and Creeley's dad used to beat Creeley for being soft and vaguely effeminate.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: One of Connie's few personal rules is that she won't kill women or children.