tablet mg

Home > Entertainment, Film / TV, Quick Hits, Review / Recap > Quick Hits: Rubicon E1.03 — “Keep the Ends Out”

Quick Hits: Rubicon E1.03 — “Keep the Ends Out”

August 10th, 2010

I think Rubicon might have what it takes to be a real winner and a hit. As such, I’m putting some faith in it and am anointing it with instant recap status.  To read prior Quick Hits for the show, click here on my posts tagged #Rubicon.  Here are my Quick Hits for Episode 1.03, “Keep the Ends Out.”

As in past episodes, a scene without dialogue was deftly shot to narrate the story.

The third episode of Rubicon made me, for a moment, question whether the series was going to be too slow in its pace for its own good.  I love that the show gives you the time to process and I’ve enjoyed watching each episode so far a couple of times.  That said, not everyone is going to deal with a lack of action well… particularly when you draw some comparisons to the more high octane spy genre.  But the series continue to hint at big payoffs for the investment viewers are making.

The bicycle scene in Travers’ apartment best exemplified my excitement over this show. For the third straight episode, the finest segment was a nonverbal run-through by an actor seeking answers and wondering if what they’ve found is just new questions, rather than any resolution.

In this particular scene, Travers examines the bike that David left him, which he’s brought up to his apartment. After spending the night tearing it apart over a few beers, Travers flips through the Norton Commando’s manual, finding a photo of David guiding his son Evan on the bike. Doing so, you could see the resignation in Travers that he did, indeed, have to return this prized possession to David’s natural son… but on looking closer he noticed an anomaly.

In a show so keen as to ensure the veracity of his griminess with dirt under fingernails, Travers finds a something slight askew and keys in on it immediately. In the photo, the bike seat did not include a stripe down its middle. Examining it closer and peeling back the white, he found a series of ciphers: 10 Arabic numeral digits across and scores of lines down. He also noted that the bike seat had been stitched down the middle. On opening it up and reaching in, he finds and pulls out a Glock.

This epitomizes the show so far. There’s basic, on the surface activities that are relatively innocuous and drawn by regular activities and desires.  But there’s the promise of real pay dirt.  Yes, they haven’t yet delivered on promised action, but much like a sexy starlet will repeat, sometimes the big fun is in what’s not shown but anticipated.  We’re being granted questions and data to puzzle over, but only offered the promise of great action not seen.

Click through to keep on reading.

What little action we’ve received has been the “who’s watching” variety.  I think we can all agree that the spooks in Rubicon might be the least discreet in history. Notwithstanding the fact that they might not be trying to be conspicuous, they are pretty darned out-in-the-open. In the pilot, the train station spook served more as an announcement of their presence.

While the episode did feature a little scuffle, the promise of future action is what got the adreneline of the show moving a bit.

In “The First Day of School”, Travers again easily spotted an agent who was presumably following him. While some of this then becomes the paranoia of seeing things that are not truly there, the bigger question is whether Travers is only seeing what folks want him too see.  We know he’s being monitored both from afar and under cover, as well as overtly and, perhaps, aggressively.  Even after revealing themselves to Travers, the spooks seemed to have made a turn a pushing Travers to paranoia… and it’s working.  So the question is whether the folks causing that paranoia are the same people who worry whether Travers is still digging on the crossword.  Recalling David’s coded warning, “They hide in plain sight.”

Here are some quick hits from the episode.

  • If AMC needed to prove to me that it had some serious writers, it just needed to feature the scene with David Hadas’ widow with Travers and the security guard in David’s old office. The discussion of David’s intent on keeping church and state separate, with reference to the professional and personal realms of his life (she had not ever been to his office), was poignant. The observation that she didn’t know whether she was the church or the state was just downright poetic. That she couldn’t sense him in the office (despite the fact that Travers had some of David’s stuff replaced into the office prior to her visit) really put a great accent on the scene.  Outstanding writing and a good job by Meg Gibson in a featured role as Joan Hadas.
  • The Hadas family connection continued to be solid with the introduction of Travers’ brother-in-law Evan (Christopher Denham). Beyond the bike thing (which featured competing

    Wheeler plays an interesting role, both as friend to Katherine and member of the mysterious kabal.

    interests in both son and son-in-law’s token of memory from their father), there was good development both of Travers’ complicated relationship with his in-laws and David’s difficult relationship with his son and life quirks.  Again, the depth we’ve been granted in viewing David makes me think there is no way he won’t be popping up soon in another episode, having not been on the train.

  • That Katherine appears to be staying and sleeping in the townhouse on 73rd street is somewhat interesting. In the last episode, Miranda Richardson was so elegant and convincing in expressing Katherine’s distress and puzzlement over her husband’s death and the home of which she wasn’t a part. Although she clearly is still investigating and confused, seeing her engrossed in a California king and sleeping in just seemed a bit off, even if she was staring at a picture of her husband as a young boy, wondering who it was she’d married. Tom Rhumor’s best friend and a shadow member of the kabal, James Wheeler (played by noted character actor Tom Rasche), later discussed the need to forgive the ones you loved in ways you would never forgive those you didn’t.
  • I’m intrigued to see how Team F’s Yuri assignment plays out. Will it actually have any significance toward the overriding story arc? It’s an effective tool as an introduction to the team and the dynamics therein, and it serves its purpose as a test of the Travers’ leadership. It offered an opportunity to see API as a real entity and Kale and Spangler as real bosses. Watching Tanya, Grant and Miles mill over the Bulgary photo and Germany’s assistance was an extension of that, as well as a chance to review each of the team member’s personalities.
  • D-bag... enough said.

    While Tanya is still somewhat of a wild card and Grant is a stuffed shirt, there’s something about Dallas Roberts’ Miles character that just has life breathed into it. Sneaking out to call his absent wife was a nice touch and makes one wonder the true cost of working at API.  One gets the sense that the explanations and home life stories Miles tells his co-workers are all a front.  Something is wrong in his world and his relationship with his wife is lacking. Miles’ examination of George Beck in the Yuri file became obsessive and compulsive. He quite obviously envied George and his relationship with his family, taking vacations, belonging to associations and clubs, and doting over his daughter at a security checkpoint.  His effort to take his wife on a cruise showed desperation for something that’s not there.  His wife’s reaction?  Rejection.  Again, something to watch for, going forward.

  • As a political and history buff, I loved the little ditty between Grant and Tanya on the legacy of Ulysses S. Grant. That it came down to a technicality (whether US Grant was the fifth or seventh worst President) was the perfect way to end that little debate.
  • I really thought I was going to like Maggie’s character at first. Maybe I thought she was going to be some amalgam of Mad Men‘s Joan and The West Wing‘s Donna. Her character is pretty unlike what she appeared on the surface. She’s both victim and spy, mother and love interest. I’m not sure what to think, but I will say that the lisping adorableness of her daughter is something they need to drop, and fast at that.  Obviously, we’ll have some story arc featuring her troubled ex-husband, but I’m not too jazzed for it.
  • I loved the Ed Bancroft line when Travers asked him about the 10 digit cipher: “Any ideas?” Bancroft replied, “None worth repeating.” Adding in the bit of advice about Travers needing to give David’s bike to Evan was touching too. It was not just a talk about David, the bike and Travers, but it was also a hidden talk about how to run one’s life. It was tied to David having worked too much and, perhaps, not being around enough for his son. It was also tied to the giving of the bike to Travers with David’s instructions to run away. Culminating the scene, Travers asks Bancroft if he thought it was possible that David know he was going to be killed. Bancroft’s answer: “Do you mean ‘Do I think he was murdered?… Yea..s.” Creepy, and yet expected and comforting, almost.

Bancroft's interactions with Travers have become a strength of the show and a possible avenue of revelation. Say what you will about the content or the pace of the show. The producers have done a good job of structuring it with several outlets for the thinking viewer.

  • When Travers broke the code (it correlated to the twenty-seven dates on which the Yankees won the world series) the excitement picked up. They knew the code and could crack some of the other numbers. One date immediately stuck with Bancroft because it was a date on which Ty Cobb had been ejected for fighting after being called mixed race. With both teams well short on players for the nightcap locals were recruited to fill positions, including a young buck named Aloysius Travers who pitched for the Tigers and gave up 24 hits to the Atheltics that day. Such was and such is the way the game plays out. But with that find, Travers knew both that he had the code and he was the one intended to crack it.
  • As a side note, one might question the encyclopedic knowledge of some of these folks.  Yes, it might strain credulity, but lets not forget who we’re talking about.  Bancroft and Travers represent the best of the best and they are “Rain Men” style bookworms.  They read everything, much as Robert Redford’s Condor did.  It is their job to know arcane things and baseball is the sport (and the data set) for folks with those types of minds.

It had escaped me a bit that Clay Davis (actor Isiah Whitlock Jr., playing “Mr. Roy”) was the head spy managing the surveillance on Travers. This was bad enough. Making it worse is that Mr. Roy missed two golden opportunities to drop a “Sheeeeeet.” And later, he ratted out Travers for still tracking the crossword. Sheeeeet.

In any respect, I worry a bit about whether Rubicon will be able to hold onto viewership.  It seems to be gathering a good buzz, but its lack of pace is a bit alarming.  I’m loving it, but I’m not sure America will.  Again, the promise of a payoff is delivered with Travers loading and holding the Glock, and the spooks realization that Travers is still looking.  In any regard, I can’t wait for episode four.  This already has skipped well ahead of Mad Men in getting played off the DVR.

AMC’s “Most Talked About Scene” (Travers and Bancroft break the code)

AMC’s Episode Summary

Comments are closed.