The producers of Amazon’s new series, “Point of Honor,” set out to appeal to mainstream viewers who for whatever reason prefer their dramas to be set in the past. The history itself is almost incidental. “Point of Honor” plays with the time tested popular meme of the family caught in the middle of an unfolding national tragedy. Imagine the cast of “Dynasty” in 1861. At the center of this national tragedy is the Rhodes family of Lynchburg, Virginia. There is young John Rhodes, who is off at West Point, along with his sisters, Estella and Kate. The third sister, Lorelei, is married to the dashing Robert Sumner, who is also at West Point and from the North. Finally, we have the patriarch of the family Ralston Rhodes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict where this is going.
The central focus of this pilot episode is to get the Rhodes family right on the issue of slavery. In an early scene set in the West Point chapel John Rhodes addresses his fellow cadets after hearing of the firing on Fort Sumter. The young cadet denounces the institution of slavery and pledges to free his family’s slaves, but commits to fighting for Virginia and the Confederacy. With that he walks out, along with his fellow cadets from the Deep South – apparently unaware that their states seceded months earlier. A few moments later Robert Sumner confronts his brother-in-law demanding to know how he can denounce slavery, but still fight for the Confederacy: “Read the Confederate Constitution. This war is all about slavery.” John fires back that, “They write in ink. We write in blood.” And with that John establishes his good character by committing himself to remain untouched by the evils of slavery. Before departing John reminds Robert that through his marriage to Lorelia he will always be welcome unless that arrival is accompanied by invading Yankees. In that case Robert will be dealt with as such. Continue reading →