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Home > Entertainment, Film / TV, Quick Hits, Review / Recap > Quick Hits: Rubicon E1.11 — “A Good Day’s Work”

Quick Hits: Rubicon E1.11 — “A Good Day’s Work”

October 16th, 2010

Not much in the way for production stills from this episode. So back to the trusty credits logo.

So Rubicon has finally started to pick up, putting a little umph into the faith I’ve had that the show has what it takes to grow into a real winner and a hit. To read prior Quick Hits for the show, click here on my posts tagged #Rubicon.  Here are my Quick Hits for Episode 1.11, “A Good Day’s Work.”

Alas, twelve episodes in, Rubicon realizes its potential. Good grief, that was good television. In a season dominated by the best episodes Mad Men has to deliver, finally Rubicon held it’s own on a Sunday night. You had outstanding acting, particularly from Miranda Richardson. You had legitimate action, even if not always of the traditional sort, until the episode’s end. You had the piecing together of the conspiracy, deftly done so that the audience is permitted to follow along, neither ahead nor behind the API team. Heck, you even had a near “Sheeeeeeeet” moment from Clay Davis, himself, Isiah Whitlock, Jr.

In sum, this was the first real time where so many of the pieces with potential in the show all came together and made the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

I’m a couple weeks late in getting this review up, so I’m going to keep it concise and shoot it right through with the Quick Hits.  Click through to read.

  • Richardson was, quite simply, amazing as Katherine Rhumor in this episode. The scene where she first realizes that she’s become a shut in was really done with the perfect balance of subtlety and clarity. As has been Rubicon‘s hallmark, they accomplished this in a scene in which the actor conveyed as much without words as they could have by speaking.  Her catching the eye of every suspected, potential onlooker, looking into a reflection in a taxi mirror and then turning back to her downtown abode was just great acting.

The API team has emerged as a cohesive unit we actually can care about, apart from the specifics of each team member.

  • A second consistent mainline in the series has been the strong use of scoring. That was never more true than with this episode. There was the elegant base score in Richardson’s emotional agoraphobic breakdown, the standard investigative background music during moments of private thought, and a new, stirring buildup during the confrontation between Will and Bloom at the end.
  • Also accomplished deftly is the dovetailing of the parallel investigations of Atlas MacDowell and Kateb. We’ve followed both wondering how they would tie together and, in this episode, we’ve learned that it’s not necessarily what was expected; furthermore, we’ve learned that they truly do come together at a head.
  • The discovery that Kateb might be Joseph Purcell, a white, New Jersey born man who was suspected of having been converted while studying in Yemen was a nice touch.  It was less ridiculous than the American Talibani but focused on the nightmare of the American intelligence community: extremists who (i) can pass in middle America and (ii) carry a United States passport.  The sad reality is that its more shocking that these types of terrorists haven’t emerged on the world or criminal justice stage.  In any respect, the move toward where we (as an audience) and the API team (as the tip of the United States intelligence sword) are has been steady, consistent and with the promised payoff.
  • The sit down between Spangler and Will was quite a parallel (or at least tangent off) of the sit down they shared in Washington in the fourth episode, entitled “The Outsider“.  Instead of speaking with longing of the job and the lack of understanding of family, Spangler hit on the grounding nature of David and the dangers of becoming unhinged in profession.  It was a prelude to the hit Spangler put on Will, but it was nicely done and ominous.  There also was a sense of regret and almost longing in Spangler as he pondered what he had set in motion for Will.

Michael Cristofer had one of his finest episodes as Truxton Spangler. Long journey of perception for a guy who started out as a misfit in the pilot.

  • At the end of the conversation, when Spangler asked (or perhaps exclaimed) that Travers had tagged Purcell in the intelligence database and among the intelligence community.  This meant that eyes would be out for him, both human and electric.  There was a hint of worry in his voice, as if to show that he knew who Purcell was and that Will had made it more difficult for Purcell to accomplish what he intended to as Kateb.
  • Fight night between Will and Bloom was very well choreographed. In a space as small as a studio, you could feel the fight travel, and yet experienced the tight spacing therein.  Its execution was not unexpected or surprising, particularly the head shot ending. But you absolutely had tension and it was very well done.
  • There was a tinge of Harvey Keitel’s cleaner from Pulp Fiction when Kale comes in to dispose of Bloom. It played best, perhaps, because of the regret that shown through on Kale’s face as he prepared to sanitize the scene of the death of his old friend (and perhaps lover). All this took place with Will suffering the after effects of being injected with heroin.
  • Spangler’s continued courting of Grant was another nice touch. Perhaps most important to remember in the scene was that Spangler knew that he was seducing Grant professionally while he was having Will assassinated. The man is ice cold and Michael Cristofer played him perfectly. Almost better was Miles’ reaction when walking in on the courtship.
  • Perhaps the last bit of contrivance (other than the continued appearance of Maggie, of course) to survive this episode was the bit with the ugly jewelry box that Tom Rhumor left Katherine. That Katherine would find the box and then discover the note inside was no less ridiculous as a plan from Tom than his leaving Professor Bradley’s obit in his MRQ Alternatives office. It really is the one weak point in this episode.
  • As with Miranda Richardson earlier in the episode, you had really great acting at time from James Badge Dale in this episode. From beginning to end, he delivered a fine performance. Better than anything he had previously accomplished on the show or on The Pacific before it. From his interplay with Annie, to the shock and awe of having killed Mr. Bloom, to the stark realization that, for lack of a better term, the cleaners had “missed a spot,” he was excellent.

If only the initial few episodes of the series could have been this good. I haven’t heard one way or another, but I would think that Rubicon is probably a close call with respect to being picked up for another year. With two episodes to go, the show really is living up to the lofty expectation’s I had for it. But it doesn’t have a huge audience.

Here’s hoping that AMC chooses substance over form.

AMC’s “Most Talked About Scene” (Will Shoots To Kill)

AMC’s Episode Summary

  1. Matt
    October 19th, 2010 at 16:55 | #1

    Does anyone know the name of the raucous song (something about a “roof”) that Kale plays to cover the sounds of the cleaner?

  2. admin
    October 19th, 2010 at 17:43 | #2

    Don’t know it, off-hand, Matt. Best bet would be to play the scene in front of someone with an iPhone and that app that can identify songs. It’s called Shazam.

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