If you have been keep up with Barkskins and are shocked that the finale is here, you are not alone. The series deserves many more episodes (and seasons!) to come, so we remain hopeful. For the uninitiated, I wrote in my review of the National Geographic series:
“The first herald of Barkskins’ charming strangeness is David Thewlis’ Claude Trepagny. Keep in mind that we’re dealing with New France (now Quebec) of the late 1600s—thus, most of the inhabitants of the town and surrounding areas are played by British actors with French accents. Some are a little outrageous, but it’s another sign that the series has just an edge of camp to it. Trepagny, however, has more than an edge of camp; he embodies it. He lives on the outskirts of a town that barely tolerates him, in a large stone manor house with an enormous amount of land he refers to as his “doma.” More importantly, he has a cane with a tiny skull on the end of it that he wields with abandon, likes to sing as he tramps through the woods, and prays to an old log and a bowl of hair.
The gorgeously produced series, based on the Annie Proulx novel, is sufficiently muddy, bare, and claustrophobic in its depiction of frontier life along a wild, untamed landscape. It’s also, rightfully, quite spooky. David Slade directs the first episode, and the atmosphere he sets continues throughout. There’s something Deadwood-ish here, something both raw and theatrical that makes Barkskins’ world so intriguing. It’s also, crucially, wryly funny at times. That tone doesn’t always mesh, but Elwood Reid’s series has my respect for taking big swings.
The wonderful but frustrating thing about Barkskins is that there are so many good stories being told here, but they overlap only glancingly so that snapping to another scene feels like changing the channel entirely. Also of note: while Barkskins is dark, it’s not grueling. The tales it tells are worth investing in, even though the final episode hardly feels like an end. Like the land in which it is set, there is so much more worth exploring and uncovering in this wonderfully surprising and often beautifully bizarre tale.”
Thewlis’ Trepagny is the key figure of our exclusive finale clip, where dear Claude is confronted by his French child bride Melissande (Tallulah Haddon) about the fact that her future husband’s lover (and mother of their child), Mari (Kaniehtiio Horn), still lives on the property and is keeper of their house. In the scene, Melissande proposes a solution to what she feels is the only thing standing in the way of marital bliss, which she asks for as part of their “wedding celebration.” Check it out below:
The Barkskins finale airs Monday, June 15 with back-to-back episodes on National Geographic, and a next day release on Hulu.
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
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