Barkskins Season Finale Review: Bloody Showdown

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That was no way to end a "limited" series.

The French settlement of Wobik was under attack by the Iroquois and the fates of key characters remained up in the air after Barkskins Season 1 Episode 7 and Barkskins Season 1 Episode 8.

Sure, cliffhangers are nothing new. But usually, they come at the end of a potentially ongoing series. Limited series usually include, oh, I don't know, conclusions.

Returning Home - Barkskins

But before the season, showrunner Elwood Reid admitted that Barkskins was a limited series in name only, with the uncertainty about Covid-19 leaving future productions impossible to plan.

In that same interview, Reid added that his source material, Annie Proulx's lengthy novel of the same name, had several seasons worth of material just waiting to be tapped.

Grisly Sight - Barkskins Season 1 Episode 7

So future seasons will come down to what direction the powers that be at National Geographic Channel want to take.

Barkskins marked NatGeo's first foray into fiction-based scripted programming.

Will its ratings be strong enough to continue in this new direction, or will NatGeo return to non-fiction-based original productions, such as its recently postponed Genius: Aretha?

Let's hope it's the former. Otherwise, TV fanatics will have to resort to reading (or an audiobook) to get the answers this finale didn't provide.

And, since this was an adaptation, not a transcription, even picking up the novel is no guarantee of solutions.

Dangerous Mission - Barkskins Season 1 Episode 7

All this kvetching isn't to say that the finale was disappointing. Just frustrating.

What was well done was how the characters' true natures came through.

The finale reinforced the concept that New France is packed with conniving, self-serving rogues.

Primary among these had to be a latecomer, Gay Bill Selby.

Sure, he was just doing the Hudson's Bay Company's will, locally pulling the strings from behind the scenes. But did he have to enjoy it so much?

Uncertain Employee - Barkskins Season 1 Episode 7

A chilling example of this is when he let the dying French soldier linger, finally killing him by driving an arrow through his heart.

He also had no compunction about shooting Goames, his fellow company man who was disagreeing with his dishonesty. 

Even worse, the Iroquois chief knew what Selby was and just didn't care. Gay Bill was just a means to an end.

Then there was Duquet, who has betrayed benefactor (Sel) after benefactor (Trepagny) after benefactor (Cooke).

Englishman Cooke took in this Frenchman who looks like a drowned rat and set about teaching him the barrel business, even dressing him up, so he looked respectable.

Holding Back - Barkskins Season 1 Episode 7

Then Duquet turned around and sold the pistols to the English for the Iroquois to use in an attack on the French, his own people.

He even knocked out Renardette, who has been through so much, in the process.

Here's hoping he becomes collateral damage during the Iroquois raid on Wobik.

Melissande belongs in this category as well.

Yes, she came to the New World for a fresh start.

New Plan - Barkskins Season 1 Episode 7

But that didn't entitle her to run over other women in order to snag the most eligible bachelor, then pull him around by his nose like the madame of the manor.

Bitch, you ain't all that.

A good chunk of the blame for her behavior falls on Trepagny.

Claude had a huge parcel of land and a hot, exotic lover who had given him a son. Then he landed a good-hearted servant to clear said land.

So what did the quirky Frenchman need an official wife for? His life was good already.

Barrel Duty - Barkskins Season 1 Episode 7

Melissande was right to feel threatened when Mari moved back in. Mari and Trepagny had history, most of it good.

Mari marrying Rene would have been best for everybody.

Mari would have ended up with a hunky husband and would own the land she adored. Trepagny would have assuaged his guilt, and Melissande would have eliminated a threat.

But Mari was too pissed to seriously consider that deal. So she spiked Claude's soup with a little Wendat voodoo.

It appeared that Trepagny was dead. And if he's not careful getting his bearings on that sky table, he soon might be.

It Could Mean The End - Barkskins

Now for a couple of characters who have been evolving.

Maybe Cooke got humbled by his time in "the fiddle" and was ready to atone for his past sins.

He made the deal to trade the pistols for the priests' bodies. Then he refused to turn over the pistols, despite his life being threatened, planning to give them to Bouchard instead.

Mathilde offered him a great deal, marry Delphine, improving both of their standings, in exchange for helping her to expand the inn.

It's too bad his protege, Duquet, betrayed him, and his crimes were about to come back and bite him in the ass.

Reaching the Sky - Barkskins Season 1 Episode 8

The black-wearing Goames seemed to be heading to the dark side, but his goodness came through in the end.

Hamish appeared to have snapped when he stabbed Randall to death. How else to explain his willingness to take part in another Selby massacre of French settlers?

But he struck a deal with Selby to save that one girl. Then he pleaded with the Iroquois chief to save Wobik, only to get shot for his troubles.

It's a good thing Renardette and her trusty arrowhead showed up to save him from being drawn and quartered.

But now so much is unresolved.

Don't leave us hanging, NatGeo.

To revisit this limited series, watch Barkskins online.

Who is dead, besides Bouchard?

Did Mari make the right call?

Do you want more Barkskins?

Comment below.

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Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Barkskins Season 1 Episode 7 Quotes

One only has to say the word "English" and they come running like sick black dogs at low tide.

Bouchard [upon Cooke's entrance]

Bouchard: Out there among the savages, it was this stew that I thought about. The Jesuits have their Bibles, but I have this. Blasphemy?
Mathilde: No. It is not blasphemous. It is the simple things that bind us to this world, Captain.