The Purge Season 2 premiere review: Is it worth watching?

THE PURGE -- "This Is Not A Test" Episode 201 -- Pictured: Chelle Ramos as Sara -- (Photo by: Alfonso Bresciani/USA Network)
THE PURGE -- "This Is Not A Test" Episode 201 -- Pictured: Chelle Ramos as Sara -- (Photo by: Alfonso Bresciani/USA Network) /

In just a few days USA will debut the second season of its horror series The Purge. The sophomore season introduces some new elements to the franchise.

The Purge has turned into a surprising underdog in the world of horror franchises. Not many could have guessed that the first film, which received lukewarm reception, would spawn four movies and two seasons of television. A fifth film is also in the works.

But indeed it has. However, even for the most ardent franchise fans, we can admit that the series has grown stale in some regards. How many times can you watch people live lawless for a night before it becomes repetitive? That was one issue I had with the first season of USA’s take on the concept. It didn’t feel fresh or new.

All of that is changes in Season 2 of the horror show. I was impressed with the episodes I watched of the upcoming season. USA Network released the first four episodes of the season to critics, and I believe this season is a vast improvement over Season 1.

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For starters, there are two things I have always wanted to see in The Purge franchise.

One, I want to know what happens in the aftermath of Purge night. We’re asked to care about these characters for 24 hours, sometimes more if we see the lead-up to Purge night, but how can we truly watch them grow if we don’t understand their trauma and coping mechanisms?

The second thing I’ve always wanted is the stories of characters not interested in killing on Purge night. I know this is a sentiment many franchise fans agree with. Surely if this night were real, theft and robbery would be more common than murder. Who wouldn’t use 12 hours free of rules to ensure their family’s security by getting rich quick?

Well, Season 2 promises to follow-up on both of those concepts. It helps that the premiere episode dives straight into the action of the season’s first Purge. The first episode introduces the leading players of the season right away. Michelle and Marcus Moore are an average couple who don’t indulge in purging. But all that changes when a seemingly random home invader almost kills them.

We also meet Ben, a college student out with his friend, as part of a twisted fraternity scavenger hunt. He winds up becoming part of Purge night’s worst horrors and has to cope with what happened in the year that follows.

Then there’s Ryan Grant. He and his crew have been planning a bank heist for over a year. But things don’t play out exactly according to plan. Finally, we meet Esme, a top agent at the NFFA Surveillance Center. You didn’t think the government stopped watching everyone for 12 hours, did you?

The addition of the Surveillance Center adds a lot of new layers to the show. It’s hard to believe there are teams of people forced to sit and parse through hours of horrific and disturbing footage to ensure everything is legal. Despite the promise of a lawless evening, there are still some restrictions on weapons and public officials that cannot be altered. The NFFA watches for these infractions and tags them as they come up.

Esme witnesses something that rattles her deeply despite the fact she has worked Purge night for years.

Season 2 of The Purge gets off to a fantastic start in its intense premiere hour. But then you get to follow-up with these characters afterward. We’ll be able to watch them develop, for better or worse, as they’re directly impacted by the events of the opening Purge all the way through to the next Purge night.

If you haven’t seen Season 1, don’t worry. It’s an anthology series so you can come in fresh and not miss anything. It’s worth checking out and perfect for the Halloween season.

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Are you a fan of The Purge franchise? Do you plan on watching the second season on Tuesday? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Season 2 of The Purge premieres Tuesday at 9/8c on USA.