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Home > Entertainment, Film / TV, Quick Hits, Review / Recap > Quick Hits: Rubicon E1.12 — “Wayward Sons”

Quick Hits: Rubicon E1.12 — “Wayward Sons”

October 17th, 2010

This Sunday is the finale for Rubicon. Here's to hoping for a re-up for season 2.

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 1.12, “Wayward Sons.”

This episode was a bit unique in how it was shot. Unlike the dark, stuffy character of most of the Rubicon episodes, we were treated to more wide shots showing off views or airy spaces. Even in Katherine’s safe house, it was a light atmosphere. And the shots from the Harbor High, New Jersey field command were sweeping in nature, both in the windowed cafeteria and looking over the gym headquarters. The technology, too, was eye popping, something that had been missing from the old-research library feel of API.

That style of cinema played through to the plot, as well. This was the most ambitious episode since the premiere, with legitimate action and endpoints reached in advance of the finale. True, much of the action remained off-screen, but it was a bit thrilling nonetheless. You had confrontation, an active chase of conspiracy on two fronts, and the great reveal of at least two key elements to the seasons plot arcs.

The scene with Kale and Katherine in the safe house (accompanied by a still useless Maggie) was well done and reflective of the grander vision of the episode. In the first interaction between Kale and Katherine, they played well off each other, particularly as Kale spoke of the show’s namesake. He told the story of Cato the Younger, an opponent of Julius Caesar who, upon Caesar’s legion crossing the Rubicon and with defeat inevitable, took his own life so as to permit his family’s reconcile with Caesar. The parallel, of course, is that Rhumor took his own life as a way out that permitted the escape of his wife Katherine from the consequences of his sins. That’s all well and nice, of course, but the historical accuracy is somewhat dubious. Cato killed himself while on the run in Africa after repeated stands and defeats at the Thirteenth Legion’s hands. The historical record hardly seems to look too kindly on his act, indicating that Cato chose to kill himself rather than to seek mercy and a pardon because of his pride. Historical accuracy aside, there’s a nice element of literary ties therein. And I’m not going to beg accuracy from a show that loves its Mercator Projection Maps.

The style of the episode wasn’t always more poetic, though. In many ways it was simply more cinematic. The way it was shot and the action therein reminded me immediately of two terror-related movies: The Siege, in which Islamic fundamentalists hold New York hostage in fear, and The Jackal, in which the criminal justice and intelligence communities track an assassin across the country. I liked both movies and I loved this episode.

Dang, Rubicon is finishing strong. Click on through for my quick hits.

  • The producers of the show really know how to do a solo scene.  They perfected it with the “thinking things through” moments with Will Travers and Katherine Rhumor, but they also did a top notch job on the opening scene of “Wayward Sons.”  It featured Kateb (AKA Joe Purcell), indistinguishable from your average, post-college age white guy in America. Watching cartoons in a motel, the only truly off element is his continued chants of Allah O-Akbar.  Kateb had been praying, presumably hiding in his motel after crossing the border. The scene was contrasted with Will’s wake up, post drugging and attempted murder.  The one element that, perhaps, ties him back to reality and prevents him from thinking the attack was a figment of a hazy, drug-fueled sleep is the spot of blood he had spied the night before.

Will Travers showed some after effects from Mr. Bloom's attack. That said, he was pretty active for a guy stuck with a heroin needle.

  • They’ve done a pretty solid job developing Kateb very quickly and Scott Evans (brother of the more famous Chris) pulled together a pretty solid performance in limited screen time. Kateb is shown as a dichotomy of impressionism, subject to American culture (he watches cartoons, listens to classic rock and gorges on a potential last meal of burgers, tenders, burritos, fries, a cherry coke and a chocolate milkshake) and Islamic extremism. They gave some background through interviews with his friends and family. We learned that Kateb got converted to Islam by following a friend into a group who “talked to Muslims” as a means of breaching the cultural divide. As a natural follower (or non-leader, at least) he ended up being converted.  We also see him, in the hotel post-gorging, masturbating to pornography.  While one might be inclined to assume that’s continued branch in his cultural dichotomy, it should be noted that several of the September 11th hijackers spent the night before the flight in a strip club,
    sinning before making their push for martyrdom (don’t try to bring logic to a fight with fundamentalism).
  • The Breakfast Club meeting of the Clover / Fishers Island conspiracy was notable in that more shrifts was given to some of the secondary characters. They expressed their anger towards Spangler over “leaving them exposed” will the failed hit on Travers and the bungling of the Katherine Rhumor problem. It was interesting to see Wheeler continue to take a back seat, even while sitting there. Especially as one reasonably assumed he would be a more major character early in the season. A similar surprise is how Spangler seems to be the one really running the show from the inside out. In the premiere, he seemed more like an errand boy. Now he appears as one might imagine a money manager dealing with unhappy investors. In reality, we’ve learned that they are a boyhood cabal, working together – sometimes with regrets – through a corrupting means to a profitable ends.
  • So continuing in the world of the ridiculous reliance on Katherine’s investigative skills, we learn that Tom Rhumor had left another coded message to his wife, suggesting that she continue to celebrate their anniversary, which was marked by a tradition of watching “Meet Me In St. Louis.” Will immediately identified the ridiculous idea that Tom would be able to use the Judy Garland movie as a clue to bringing the conspiracy to light. It remains one of the key clues we don’t quite get yet… well, that and why they continue to push Tanya and Maggie on us without any tangible payoff or reason. Of course, Katherine would choose to leave the safe house and return to the townhouse in order to search for the missing tape. Almost certainly, she’s bound to be picked up in the next episode, perhaps by Mr. Roy.

Having not seen it, I have no idea what the significance of Meet Me In St. Louis is, but there better be a payoff. Hrmmph.

  • Spangler’s discovery that Kale is working with Travers was well acted, even if it’s hard to believe it was that much of a surprise for the boss man. He had been watching Kale already, but the actor playing Spangler reflected true surprise. Their confrontational non-confrontation was well framed with sharp camera cuts and pulling from a wide shot to extreme close-ups of Spangler. Spangler’s thanking of Kale was evocative of his words with Will prior to putting a hit on him.
  • Jeez, it’s time to just admit that my early prediction that David Hadas definitely wasn’t on the train and would reappear… well, it ain’t happening.  It does genuinely look like Hadas died. Sadly, the producers also seem to have given Ed Bancroft up for dead as a character (figuratively, not literally).  He’s been gone several episodes now.

In any respect, the episode was the second straight one which left me thinking the series had hit a high point. There is just one episode left, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store.

AMC’s “Most Talked About Scene” (The Houston Connection)

AMC’s Episode Summary

  1. tvguy
    October 21st, 2010 at 01:46 | #1

    thanks for keeping me up to date on this issue.

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