Frontier is like Survivor, circa 1770
The show: Frontier, Season 1, Episode 2 The moment: The alliance. In the late 1700s, the fur trade monopoly that England has enjoyed in Canada via the Hudson’s Bay Company is being threatened by American, Scottish and French interests. Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit), a British soldier who just killed a Scotsman for undermining the HBC, plots with Grace (Zoe Boyle), a tavern owner — and information trader — in Fort James.
“Interesting approach you have to problem solving,” Grace says. “I respect a man whose actions are decisive. Have you given our partnership some thought?”
“What do you have in mind?” Chesterfield asks.
She suggests skimming a few bundles of pelts from each shipment that comes into the fort.
“How exactly does this lead to me becoming governor?” Chesterfield asks.
“If you want to be in charge, you’ll need money and plenty of it,” she answers. “And you’ll need to discredit Lord Benton in the eyes of London.”
This Canadian-American coproduction is Discovery’s first original scripted series (in the U.S. it airs on Netflix).
Handsomely made, populated with great-looking, mostly young actors, and knee-deep in blood thanks to near-constant hacking (knives, hatchets, etc.), it clearly aspires to be a non-fiction Game of Thrones (Game of Furs?).
But thanks to its many scenes of backroom plotting, its ever-shifting alliances and deadly betrayals, the series Frontier reminds me of most is a hyperreal, period version of . . . Survivor.
Imagine the promo: “Survivor 1770: The New World. Rival groups of telegenic people compete for scarce resources in the wilderness, doing whatever it takes to stay alive.”
Count me in.
Frontier airs Sundays on Discovery. Johanna Schneller is a media connoisseur who zeroes in on pop-culture moments. She usually appears Monday through Thursday.
Zoe Boyle as Grace and Evan Jonigkeit as Captain Chesterfield in Frontier.