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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

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The Continental: How the right soundtrack can impact a TV show

First+released+on+Friday%2C+Sept.11%2C+The+Continental+proves+to+be+action-packed+and+on+par+with+the+John+Wick+movie+series.+Despite+being+a+three-part+miniseries%2C+each+episode+was+packed+with+a+strong+storyline+separate%2C+yet+connected%2C+to+John+Wick.
Illustration by Rhea Noumair
First released on Friday, Sept.11, The Continental proves to be action-packed and on par with the John Wick movie series. Despite being a three-part miniseries, each episode was packed with a strong storyline separate, yet connected, to John Wick.

From the well-loved world of John Wick, The Continental’s first episode dropped on Friday, Sept. 22. Directed and produced by Albert Hughes, the show is set during the sanitation strike in New York in the 1970s and follows the origins of the hotel that houses assassins. The show is centered around a side character from the main John Wick movie series. Every character has a purpose and there aren’t any filler characters like in other shows. The miniseries is split up into three episodes, each about an hour and a half. Each episode is packed with an amazing 70s soundtrack, intricate choreographed fight scenes and even a bit of comedy.

*Spoilers*

Episode 1: Brothers in Arms

The first episode introduces the main character, Winston Scott, played by Colin Woodell, who was first introduced in John Wick: Chapter 1. On a path to help his brother Frankie, he manages to make a name for himself in the short time he has been back. The first episode also establishes the clear main antagonist: Cormac O’Connor.

Played by the notorious Mel Gibson, Cormac runs the Continental. Accompanied by a young Charon, he is shown to be ruthless against those who disagree with him. Frankie had stolen an important object to the Continental which sends Cormac on a wild goose chase to find both Frankie and Winston.

With a stacked plot, the only appropriate thing to do was to add an equally stacked soundtrack. Hughes accompanies every major plot point such as Winston’s introduction or his abduction with a song equivalent. When the audience is introduced to Winston, “Samba Pa Ti” by Santana is played. The song being both haunting and funky managed to encapsulate Winston’s essence of a street-smart businessman willing to get his hands dirty.

To introduce Detective KD Silva to the Continental, “The Boss” by James Brown plays as she walks in. The song captures the high-end, extravagant vibe of the Continental with lyrics about being your own boss and having money to burn, matching the smooth beat as KD enters a world of merchants and luxury.

Throughout the episode, more of Frankie’s friends are introduced as Winston is on the search for help. Frankie’s friends, Miles and Lemmy, played by Hubert Point-Du Jour and Adam Shapiro, bring the comedy in an action packed thriller. They help Winston and Frankie evade Cormac and his goons from a dojo in Chinatown.

The end of the episode leaves watchers shocked. After Frankie’s murder, Winston returns to the dojo with the sole intent to seek revenge on Cormac and take down the Continental. The episode closes with “Children of the Grave” by Black Sabbath playing. The lyrics “all the hate that’s in their hearts” are perfect when now applied to Winston.

Episode 2: Loyalty to the Master

The second episode dropped Sep. 29 and starts off with a flashback to Vietnam during the War, introducing Frankie’s wife, Yen, as a young suicide bomber. Although the bomb never went off, it was still shown to be an important moment as it shows how Yen and Frankie met and Yen’s story is revealed. Throughout the entire scene, “Bang Bang” by Terry Reid plays.

At the end of the episode in a pivotal plot point, the audience learns that when Winston and Frankie were younger, Cormac ordered them to throw a molotov cocktail into an apartment. It wasn’t until later that it was revealed there were people in the apartment.

The second episode introduced a new character named Gene. He is first introduced when he takes out a criminal with a sniper rifle. During his introduction, “Homicide” by 999 is playing, which fits because despite the criminal status of the person he’s killing, it is still considered homicide. He’s recruited to be part of Winston’s crew by Miles.

With the ending of the first episode revealing that Frankie hid the coin press, episode two features Cormac’s workers searching for the real item. While Cormac’s henchmen are tearing apart where they think it might have been hidden, “Without You” by Harry Nilsson is heard. The song continues into the next scene which shows Yen grieving Frankie’s death with the lyrics of “I can’t live if living is without you” resonating much more powerfully given the context the song is used in.

Charon’s character is better developed in the second episode. The audience learns that his loyalty to Cormac only stems from trying to send money back to his family in Nigeria. Every exchange between Charon and Cormac shows Charon to be morally conflicted with Cormac’s actions. Characters like Charon allow for the show to be more in touch with reality, which is important for a good series.

On the flip side, Kenny is insistent on being in Winston’s crew and fighting alongside him because he admits to not knowing how to live without a war.

Episode 3: Theater of Pain

The third and final episode dropped Oct 6. For an episode mainly spent in the titular hotel, the productions made watchers feel as if the characters were in a different world every time they entered a new room.

This episode was full of plot twists as well as both funny and gut wrenching moments. The episode served as the time to tie up loose ends from the previous episodes, such as what happened to the family that was in the fire. The audience learns that the only surviving member from the family is none other than Detective KD Silva, which explains why she is so obsessed with finding Frankie and Winston, the ones responsible for the death of her family.

From the previous episode, fans thought that Charon would choose Cormac’s side but to everyone’s delight, he helps Winston take down Cormac instead, which goes against the previous episode title: Loyalty to the Master. In the John Wick movie series, Charon becomes the hotel’s concierge and Winston’s closest confidant.

In this episode, Winston reveals to KD that he was the one who threw the molotov cocktail into her apartment, not Frankie, KD’s prime suspect. Despite this, KD realizes that the main villain behind the tragedy was Cormac.

“Baba O’Riley” by The Who plays shortly after Winston and KD defeat Cormac and the former stops the self-destruction of The Continental. Aside from the feel-good nature of the song that solidifies the euphoric feeling of Winston’s victory, the lyrics are about rebelling without needing to prove one is right or needs forgiveness, linking to Winston’s story.

After the battle for The Continental subsides, Winston and Charon strike up their partnership. This scene is accompanied by “What A Difference A Day Makes” by Dinah Washington, with the lyrics nicely summing up how the state of The Continental as well as Winston and Charon’s lives has changed drastically in such a short time.

As The Continental’s ending montage begins, “New York Groove” by Ace Frehley can be heard playing. This links to the location of The Continental while also applying to Winston’s story. As the camera shows Winston atop The Continental in his new position of power, the lyrics of the song can be heard stating “Here I am, and in this city with a fistful of dollars, and baby, you’d better believe I’m back, back in the New York groove.”

The Continental is a great prequel to the John Wick series. One thing it was able to accomplish was creating interesting characters, where even a quiet character can speak so much just through actions. Everyone has a story to tell no matter how insignificant they may seem.The show provided well needed context and history for the Continental hotel while having its own story.

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About the Contributor
Rhea Noumair, Print Opinion Editor and Illustrator
Junior Rhea Noumair is in her third year of Pitch and is the Print Opinion Editor and Illustrator. She enjoys playing and watching soccer, painting and listening to music in her free time.
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