National Treasure: Edge of History

teens exploring a history bunker - National Treasure: Edge of History





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

It’s hard to keep secrets these days. Maps don’t have any blank spots. Mysteries can be cleared up with a thorough Google search. Folks talk about their innermost thoughts and feelings on social media.

Still, not every secret has been spilled. Take that fantastic treasure trove hidden by ancient Mesoamerican women back around the time of Cortez.

What fantastic treasure trove, you ask?

See? It’s a secret. But it might not be for much longer.

Indiana Jones, Meet Louisiana Jess

Back in the day—and we’re talking about 500 years back—a bunch of Spanish conquistadors strolled into the Americas and plundered it for pretty much all it was worth. Only they didn’t get everything. In a remarkable display of camaraderie (not to mention a dazzling manipulation of both time and distance), some important women from the Aztec, Mayan and Inca civilizations got together and squirreled away treasure untold. Only a trio of relics (each held by one respective civilization) would point the way to all this fabulous wealth.

These days, Jess—a 22-year-old undocumented “dreamer” living in Baton Rouge—could sure use the cash. After all, her landlord just jacked up the rent in the apartment she shares with best friend Tasha, and her job at a local storage lot barely pays the bills. Oh, and she’s pretty good at puzzles, too. Indeed, when her boss asks her to puzzle out a deadbeat who hasn’t paid his storage rent for six months, Jess finds him in no time flat.

But the deadbeat is none other than Peter Sandusky, the FBI agent from the National Treasure movies. Instead of paying his back rent, he sends Jess and her friends on a fantastic, dangerous quest to track down the Incan/Aztec/Mayan treasure.

Why? Well, as fate would have it, that same storage unit held a secret to that long-lost trove. And another clue might be hanging around Jess’s neck: an amulet given to her by her not-so-dearly departed father before he died.

But Jess and her pals aren’t the only ones on the hunt for the treasure. A rich-and-ruthless British hunter named Billie is on the scent, too—working for an even worse miscreant known as Salazar. And Billie has no reservations about sidelining Jess permanently.

X Marks the Spot

National Treasure: Edge of History is a sequel of sorts to Nicolas Cage’s puzzle-happy National Treasure films—sort of kid-friendly mashups of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The da Vinci Code.

Both of those National Treasure flicks are fondly remembered, despite both being decidedly “Rotten” according to Rotten Tomatoes. And Edge of History seems to be following along the same dotted line.

Despite featuring such luminaries as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Harvey Keitel, Edge of History will never be mistaken for prestige TV. It has the vibe of a light CW dramedy, with a little bit of romance thrown in with the mystery.

But compared to the bed-hopping characters on the CW, Disney+ keeps this fun little romp comparatively innocuous. While there’s a suggestion that Tasha cohabitated at one time with her ex-boyfriend (who’s still one of her BFFs), we’re not seeing any intimate escapades at this early juncture. That said, there’s a bit of suggestive dialogue.  

People fight and are endangered, but it’s more about the action than violence. Even the language is comparatively pristine—sequestered to a few mild misuses of God’s name. The Freemasons figure into the mystery, of course, because they’re behind pretty much every pop culture treasure hunt. But the story doesn’t delve into the organization’s philosophy.

It’s early yet, so it’s hard to say definitively where Edge of History will go. The TV-14 rating suggests that the series is leaving its options open for harsher content to come. But this National Treasure sequel feels of a piece with its reasonably innocent forebears. And if that holds true, that’s something viewers themselves can treasure. 

Episode Reviews

Dec. 14, 2022 – S1, Ep1: “I Am a Ghost”

At her boss’ request, Jess tracks down the owner of a storage unit who’s behind in his payments. His name is Peter Sandusky, a retired FBI agent and former head of the local branch of the Freemasons. When he spies Jess’s necklace—an amulet given to her by her father—Peter also secretly gives her a letter, and the first clue to a bigger mystery. And that letter puts her afoul of some powerful people looking for treasure.

In flashback, we see how Jess’s father died. Comically disguised as a nun, he finds a secret clue inside a church, hidden underneath a statue of the Virgin Mary. (He asks for Mary’s forgiveness as he presses a secret button somewhere around the statue.) Bad guys barge in and he fights with them, knocking them down with a chain (used to swing incense, presumably) and flees the scene. The man tells his wife (with baby Jess) to flee their Mexican home immediately: The bad guys find Jess’s father, knock him unconscious and set his house on fire as Jess and her mother escape.

In the present, Jess and her friends (Tasha, Oren and Ethan) try to solve an escape room that’s set up like a prison block. Tasha comments how “hot” the warden is. Later, the two go to a bar to talk to a singer there: Tasha encourages Jess to consider going out with the guy if the conversation takes that turn. “This … guy is hot,” Tasha says. “And a woman has needs.” We also learn that Oren apparently once lived with Tasha and Jess when he dated Tasha.

Oren’s life is imperiled by evil treasure hunters. Jess and Tasha’s apartment is ransacked by said hunters, and two of them masquerade as FBI agents. Jess and Tasha lie to a bus driver to make a quick escape. (Jess says that Tasha’s about to vomit.) The two lie elsewhere, too.

A flashback to Cortez’s conquest of Mexico includes shadowed images of violence and lots of fire. We see people drink wine at a swanky lunch outlet. Jess is an undocumented immigrant (though she hopes to take the citizenship test someday). She works for a place called “Almighty Storage.” We hear two misuses of God’s name.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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