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Home > Entertainment, Film / TV, Quick Hits, Review / Recap > Quick Hits: Rubicon E1.08 — “Caught in the Suck”

Quick Hits: Rubicon E1.08 — “Caught in the Suck”

September 20th, 2010

Although I’m apprehensive about its somewhat slow pace, I still think Rubicon has what it takes to grow into 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 1.08, “Caught in the Suck.”

The return of Ed Bancroft was a welcome one in Rubicon's eighth episode.

Another week without time to really spend on TV.  Caught up a bit this weekend and took a brief break from trying to figure out the baseball season.  Not going to spend too much time on this past week’s episode, “Caught in the Suck.”

What I will give Rubicon credit for is that it most certainly has discipline.  You can somewhat tell that the producers had a clearly defined skeleton for the conspiracy and how they wanted to lay it out.  It was largely piecemeal at first and, in that structure, it risked having trouble catching on and holding onto audience.  My brother, for example, abandoned the show quite quickly with the lack of any visible path or hint of action.  Taking to the show really was a leap of faith on the part of anyone who chose to become dedicated to it.  Of course, AMC has earned some goodwill with their successes on Mad Men and Breaking Bad.  Add in a solid cast and the promise of a grand plan, and there was some reason to look forward to it developing.

But therein lies the rub; the producers discipline has been strict.  Although they almost certainly went with a few tweaks after the pilot aired and feedback was received (e.g., ditching the idea of Katherine having kids), there’s been a near remarkable steadfastness and lack of panic on the part of producers.  Yes, the marketing side has been atwitter with trying to thieve Mad Men viewers.  And they’ve really been pushing their somewhat frail website.  But the storyline’s stress free canter continues unabated.  And even after we’ve received some of the most significant revelations to date in episode seven, it’s still hard to grasp what we’re actually looking at.  We’ve gotten a few of the sections of the jigsaw puzzle connected, but the portrait being painted remains far from focus.

Some quick hits, after the jump.

I’m not sure whether or not I find the pace annoying or effective.  Several times this show has tested my patience.  For example, last weekend I didn’t really pay attention to “Caught in the Suck” and didn’t care to rewatch it until this week.  I somewhat regret that, because there were some positives.

Bancroft's analysis of Kale proved to be the finest scene of the episode. It also opened it.

  • Ed Bancroft returned and that was a positive.  Although certain elements of his character are a bit over the top, in a John Nash kind of way, it works.  What somewhat doesn’t is how grandpa codebreaker traipses down to the Financial District and the softball field over on 10th Avenue in Chealsea (pretty sure that’s the field he was sitting at) from Putnam while wearing what can graciously be called a cardigan and what really looks more like slippers and a bathrobe.  In any respect, the chess playing was a nice touch and a fine reminder that Travers has much to learn.  The one rub, of course, is that there almost no chance Travers wouldn’t have been a solid player.  I’d think most all code breakers have to be.
  • The big payoff in Bancroft’s return was his analysis of Kale Ingram.  It was elegantly written and with a solid last line to drive it down.  The admiring language was of the type of character who could succeed in operations (the job history to which Kale credits Bancroft’s distrust of him).  It was almost a poetic description of a driven, pure patriot.  Yet when Will asks Bancroft if he can trust Kale, the answer is a stern “Hell no.”
  • Bancroft’s later interaction with Kale was somewhat less stellar.  It was a necessary interaction… a way for Kale to push Bancroft (and the plot of the show along), but the way they even got there (Kale piecing together the Japanese hard candy) was just a bit derivative and pushy.

Dallas Roberts continues to shine as Miles.

  • Even better than Bancroft’s return was the ditching of Maggie.  Her character, one can hope, will be permitted to fade into the background a bit.  She was tossed under the bus by the disruptive Kale who saw her utility as limited (she’s no spy) and her closeness to Travers a threat to her loyalty.  I still don’t fully understand what the purpose of her character is.  She provides limited sexual tension as a love interest and they can’t seem to figure out if she wants to be a main character or not.  Now, with her dismissal, one wonders if the producers are going to bring her out of her shell more or if they’ve listened to feedback and decided she just doesn’t work.  Let’s hope for the latter.
  • The trip to the Rendition torture site was, technically, action.  The actual scene showing torture was interesting and well done, initially.  It was also well acted.  There’s something really cool about how Dallas Roberts plays Miles and it was well reflected in his reaction, as contrasted by Tanya.  Again, Miles continues to be the most compelling character in the show and one can only hope that he gets more time with Julia, soon.
  • The actual plot ties with Tanaz and the interogatee were, probably, a marginal piece of the puzzle but, again, a dutiful reminder of the diligence of the producers in piecing together this show.  It’s another increment forward in the paced game of cribbage, slowly moving toward the finish line.  I like how they’ve transitioned us from Yuri, to Boeck and now to Tanaz.  The head fake with the solid bombing strike episode in “The Outsider” turned us on this same side path, but the connection to Tanaz brings it all back to the main plot line.  I’ve no doubt that we’ll eventually tie Tanaz to the Cloverleaf conspirators in some way, but for now we’re just following the path with a promise of payoff.
  • I really liked the one CIA spook line about being double crossed.  “The CIA doesn’t get worked… we just have unreliable sources of human intelligence.”  Classic US government and one of the better lines in the show so far.

Tanya and Miles' side trip to wherever, proved again the producers' determination toward their storyline.

  • James Badge Dale isn’t a bad actor.  Not at all, but it’s clear that he’s at his best in the scenes where he’s piecing things together.  Part of that is that the producers have pegged a very compelling score for the show, the same base music that makes the narrative-style (well, narrative for Rubicon) opening credits so effective.  The scene where Will pieces together Bancroft’s intel only lasts for 10 or 15 seconds, but it was a reminder of the scenes with Travers and also with Miranda Richardson as Katherine which got me hooked in the first two episodes.  I’m not sure why they work so well, but they do.
  • The journey to the Atlas MacDowell / Citizen’s Institute offices was interesting, even if the receptionist gave way too much information.  Better, though, was the delivery from Wheeler to Katherine of the swimming hole photo of Wheeler and Tom Rhumor as kids.  The photo has shown up a few times, but Wheeler was the first to hint what one might have assumed already — that the conspirators were raised together in some way.  That Wheeler drew on the photo the clover was some confirmation thereof.

So one of the outstanding questions is why Kale is helping Travers.  We know why Travers trusts Kale (because he’s not found him in the investigation).  But why is Kale helping Will?  My guess is it’s because he’s not happy to be left out.  We’ve seen his near jealousy of Mr. Roy and Spangler from their interaction with Bloom.  Perhaps that is simply a follow-on to that.

I’m not confident anymore that we’ll see a bump up of action in this series, but I’m officially all in to see how this mystery plays out.

AMC’s “Most Talked About Scene” (Can Will Trust Kale?)

AMC’s Episode Summary

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