APPLE TV+ entered the TV streaming race in 2019 with a small but splashy stable of originals. The Morning Show has Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

For All Mankind Paired Battle star Galactia's creator with an alternate history of the space race.

See spent millions per episode on Jason Momoa tromping through forests. And then there was Dickinson, an odd, anachronistic period piece from first-time creator Alena Smith that cast Hailee Stenfield as a young Emily Dickinson.

Surprisingly, Dickinson became the breakout. Smith's bizarre creation caught on because it felt alive and impassioned in its messiness. That momentum persisted and suffuses the show's third, final and most ambitious season.

Rooted is an intelligent, wild sensuous performance from Steinfeld, Dickinson remixes facts and conjectures about the poet's life into an exuberantly implausible family dramedy.

We meet Emily on the precipice of childhood. She has found the love of her life in her best friend, Sue { Ella Hunt }, who is destined to wed Emily's brother, Austin [ Adrian Blake Endcoe ]. To her family's dismay, the rebellious Emily has no intention of marrying.

Why should she waste her life keeping house when she could be writing brilliant poetry? Also, she sees things - like a horse drawn carriage whose passenger is Death, personified by rapper Wiz Khalifa.

As this detail suggests, the show mixes realism and fantasy, 19th century and 21st century. Alongside a punchy pop soundtrack, Smith peppers the dialogue with contemporary notions; ''I just don't know why this had to happen in our 20s,'' someone whines about the Civil War.

This style can be jarring, but it's no gimmick. It recontextualizes Dickinson and her poetry, scribbling over stiff black-and-white portraits to reveal a truly colorful character.

Following a sharp second-season in which Emily grappled with fame, Season 3 finds her pondering her role during wartime.

By intertwining her story with that of a Black journalist who travels to aid the abolitionist cause, Dickinson leaves us with a timely message: even in the darkest days, words matter. [J.B.]


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