Relive the tumultuous days of the 18th century fur trade in Canada or just remained glued to the screen because you can’t take your eyes off Jason Momoa. Either way, the Frontier is where you should be if you’re in the world we call Netflix
Words Aninda Sardar
There is at least one member in my team who goes all moony eyed at any mention of Jason Momoa. If she had her way, she’s Mrs. Momoa already and for that there’s no end to the ribbing she gets from the rest of us. Particularly me. But be that as it may, there’s no arguing with the fact that the name Jason Momoa commands attention, so when I first saw the art work of Frontier, a Netflix Original that has been created in collaboration with Discovery Canada, featuring Jason’s face I was intrigued. Having binge watched all three Seasons over the last few days I will certainly tell you to go give it a watch.
There is of course Jason’s huge self playing the protagonist Declan Harp whose family has been brutally killed so we never really see them. And of course his primary motivation in life is revenge. But beyond Jason there is a whole army of good actors and actresses who bring to life not just the people they portray but also the period and the harsh environment in which these characters live.
First up there is Grace Emberly, the Scottish lady who runs the ale house at Fort James, which is the stronghold of the Hudson’s Bay Company or HBC. The razor sharp Grace’s character is etched to perfection by the English actress Zoe Boyle. Not only is her Scottish accent convincing, she also brings alive the dilemma and the difficulties of a lone woman at the frontier of the Canadian wilderness with panache.
You feel her emotions, her need to maintain a poker face through the toughest of times and though you think of her as a hard hearted woman, there is also sympathy because Zoe is able to communicate Grace’s need to be tough almost seamlessly.
Meanwhile the Irish Michael Smyth, portrayed by Landon Liboiron, is another character you can’t but sympathise with. Forced into working as a spy to keep his lady love Clenna Dolan, depicted by the lovely Lyla-Porter Follows, alive Michael falls into the clutches of the rogue Lord Benton played by Alun Armstrong and his brutish lackey Captain Chesterfield played by Evan Jonigkeit. Michael is tasked with locating the outlaw Declan but soon enough becomes a part of his outlaw band. Then there are other characters who do a good job of convincing the audience that all that is happening on screen is real, like Sokanon, played by Jessica Matten, the beautiful and pious Mary played by Breanne Hill, the promiscuous Imogen, played by the sexy Diana Bentley, the Scottish brothers Malcolm and Douglas Brown portrayed on screen by Michael Patric and Allan Hawco and the beautiful but ruthless Elizabeth Carruthers played by Katie McGrath. But the duo who really stand out are Samuel Grant and his man Friday and partner in crime Cobbs Pond. Portrayed by Shawn Doyle and Greg Byrk, they are the wild cards who play their part in providing the twist in every tale that you predict as you move through the seasons.
The Netflix film crew has also done a fabulous job of capturing the Canadian landscape while also trying to keep the period authenticity intact. You’d have to be fairly cynical or allergic to extreme cold to not want to visit the country even once after going through the entire episodic series.
Frontier’s ability to hold your attention hinges on a few critical things. Firstly, there’s the brilliant production quality. No shoddy job this. Then there’s the plot itself, with all its twists and turns, which keep you hanging at times or leave you with a sense of being dragged along by events far beyond your control. Either way, there is never a dull moment. But what really holds it all together is the caliber of the cast. Led of course by the dominating presence of Jason Momoa.