Review: DMZ, mothers and sons

Rosario Dawson in DMZ

DMZ is a four part mini-series about a future where an American civil war has divided the country into two parts with Manhattan island isolated between them as a demilitarized zone.

DMZ is a typical war story with power hungry men fighting over the spoils of war. But it isn’t only that. The lead character is Alma (Rosario Dawson), a doctor. She left the DMZ 8 years ago on “deportation day” but lost track of her son Christian. Now she’s found a way to get back inside the DMZ to search for him.

The most important thematic elements in the story are about a mother’s love. Alma isn’t the only mother who defends and loves her child, but she’s the main storyline.

Alma knows the people who live in the DMZ. She used to live there, too. The ones who stayed behind formed gangs and fight over turf. She starts asking around, looking for her son.

She is a quick study on what the new power structure is in the DMZ. There’s about to be an election. The two candidates are Parco (Benjamin Bratt), who is the father of Alma’s son, and Wilson (Hoon Lee), the head of Chinatown. Alma used to work with him at a hospital.

Hoon Lee in DMZ
Winston runs Chinatown

These two men promise voters to lead the DMZ into the future, but both are greedy, power hungry killers who will do anything to be on top.

Benjamin Bratt, Rosario Dawson, and Reynaldo Gallegos in DMZ
A publicity still with Rosario Dawson, and Benjamin Bratt. IMDb IDs the shirtless man as Reynaldo Gallegos, but I’m not sure that’s correct

Alma’s son goes by the name Skel (Freddy Miyares) now and is a grown man. He’s an enforcer for his father and a talented artist in his free time. He informs his mother that he doesn’t want to be saved. He says she didn’t lose him that day 8 years ago, he ran away to join his father.

A good bit of the action between Alma and Skel is her trying to find the good remaining in him and convincing him to leave behind the life of violence his father leads.

Two young kids are important characters in the story. Odi (Jordan Preston Carter) is all by himself. A doctor at a clinic where Alma helps out feeds him and Odi and Alma become close. They help each other. Odi’s friend is a slightly older girl, Nico (Venus Ariel). She’s fearless. The two of them are important in how things turn out.

There are many interesting parts for women in this series. In Chinatown, Susie (Jade Wu) is Winston’s adoptive mother. She goes through some of the same things as Alma in terms of motherhood as the story unfolds. Another important woman character in the story is Oona (Nora Dunn), who controls the island’s water supply. A couple of faces you may recognize show up in small parts: Mamie Gummer and Rutina Wesley.

Four episodes sounds like a quick watch, but the episodes are long. There’s plenty of time for political wrangling (with echoes of Trumpism), fighting and action, even a love story. The visuals in the series are excellent looking. Overall, this is a standard tale of a dystopian and violent future, except the main character is a mother looking for her son. She doesn’t take lives, she saves them.

Ava DuVernay was a producer of this series, which is based on a comic book. Ernest R. Dickerson and Ava DuVernay shared the directing. You can see the series on HBO Max.

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. #EldersRock! Look for Old Ain't Dead on Twitter.

One thought on “Review: DMZ, mothers and sons”

  1. this was a piece of crap anyone that read the comics and knows the story knows what I’m talking about

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