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Them Season 2 mixes horror and social commentary

Filmmaker Little Marvin brings viewers back into the world of Black Horror for Season 2 of "Them." Carrying the subtle of The Scare, Season 2 centers on Detective Dawn Reeve (Deborah Ayorinde), who resides in the City of Angels with her mother Athene (Pam Grier) and son Kelvin (Joshua J. Williams). Following a divorce from her musician husband Corey (Iman Shumpert), she is now involved in a benefits relationship with Reggie (Charles Brice). Across town, social misfit and aspiring actor Edmund Gaines (Luke James) hopes to leave his mascot job at a local family fun center and break into acting.

Dawn has been assigned a new case that involves the brutal murder of a foster home mother. The case has left even the most experienced detectives shaken. Los Angeles is going through a tumultuous time, with chaos everywhere. However, Dawn is determined to find the killer and bring him justice. As she gets closer to the truth, she senses something ominous and evil that seems to be affecting her and her family.

I want to keep my "Them - The Scare" review as spoiler-free as possible. One of the first things I will point out as an answer to what may be on the viewers' minds is whether the show is as traumatic as Season 1. While I didn't find that show overtly traumatic, always say to protect your peace. That said, Season 2 of THEM depicts racism – it leaps out of the story as merely a framing device and becomes prevalent throughout as an illustrated background of intractable social ugliness against which Dawn confronts her nightmare: she's trying to solve a serial killer case, and finding the abject twisted in actual life waiting at every corner. 

Deborah Ayorinde is at her best when pushing her character's interior monologues and responses to the ugly events. Racism is both a central story element (the why of it) and an intersecting story element (the how of it) – integrated into the horror as a means to enhance terror, but also working as its headline, grotesque, and relentless. The cast mates who make up the rest of her family are all good and have moments to shine, but the real MVP of the show is Luke James, Edmund's character.

If you had told me the young man who made his industry debut singing background for Tyrese would deliver a chilling Emmy-worthy performance in 2024, I would've lost that bet. James's acting career has either highlighted his singing talent or found him tapping into sex appeal. Arguably, while his character in "The Chi" is a reformed gangster, what Luke does here is on par with what Robin Williams did in "One Hour Photo" and "Insomnia," which positively erases his previous work.

James's portrayal of Gaines as a struggling actor taps into so many layers, from struggling actor to the abandoned child to terrifying menace. While I hope we get another Luke James album one day, after seeing what he did in Season 2 of Them, I would be okay if he sticks with acting full-time.

Featuring layered performances from its cast, exploring themes still relevant in 2024, and an A1 soundtrack, "Them -The Scare" is worth the stream.

Final Grade: B+

"Them -The Scare" is available to stream now.

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