‘Rubicon’ – ‘In Whom We Trust’: Under the bridge downtown

A review of tonight’s “Rubicon” coming up just as soon as I call you “old man”…

“I wasn’t always like this.” -Will

One of the more important questions of this season – beyond whatever the hell it is that Spangler and his Legion of Doom are up to – is the effect this kind of work has on the people who do it. Miles’ marriage is over, Grant’s seems on its way to the same place, Tanya’s drug use accelerated and Will is a twitchy, paranoid mess.

And now here comes Katherine Rhumor, whose parallel story finally intersects with Will’s at roughly the moment at which she has become the female Will Travers, hiding stacks of papers and looking for a weapon whenever there’s a knock at the door. The two team up only briefly before Donald Bloom takes great pleasure in scaring them apart, but in that time, Katherine asks Will if the rest of her life is going to be this way. Seeing how bad things are even for the characters who aren’t aware of the four-leaf clover conspiracy, this is definitely a world it’s been her poor fortune to become a part of, even beyond the actual death of her husband. Regardless of the outcome of their parallel hunt, will there ever be a day when Katherine Rhumor isn’t looking over her shoulder, isn’t wondering what someone new is saying on the phone when she’s not around, etc?

I have to say, though, that even with Will and Katherine’s team-up, I still remain far more invested in the more traditional doings at API, from Tanya stuck in the basement and dealing with the counselor to the team realizing that Kateb is planning something big. It may turn out that the Kateb/George/Yuri/etc. storyline ties in with the conspiracy, but for now I remain impressed that a story where virtually all the action has taken place off-screen remains as compelling as it has. This show, and the nature of the work its characters do, requires it to violate six or seven different rules of dramatic storytelling each week, and yet somehow it works.

I also think the Kateb stuff is also more interesting because we get the team talking about it with each other, whereas Will for the most part is working in silence, aside from the occasional chat with Ed or Kale. James Badge Dale is very good solo, but it’s an unfair fight.

A few other thoughts:

• Is Andy playing Will? I think at this point it’s more interesting if she’s not. For her to be a mole planted in the apartment across the street on the off-chance Will would visit her feels sketchy, and like the sort of thing “24” would do. And nothing against “24,” but this is a very different kind of show.

• I liked seeing Grant admit, without saying it, that he’s learned to like Tanya and misses her, even if some of his motivation for staying to help was to avoid his angry wife. And I liked the time-lapse editing of Tanya’s therapy session, so we got to see her go from denial to acceptance in only a couple of minutes and have it feel earned.

• Kale remains on the outside looking in and in trouble with Spangler, but he at least got to help Maggie with her problem ex and was able to turn the bug hunt into an excuse to do something nice for his partner. I also liked seeing Arliss Howard in a USMC shirt all these years after “Full Metal Jacket.”

• The Bloom/Katherine scene makes it clear that the show was filming under the Manhattan Bridge, yet the earlier scene with Will and Katherine on the same bench looks oddly green-screened, perhaps because of the quality of light at that hour. Similarly, I couldn’t tell if the scene with Spangler, Bloom and Mr. Roy on the ferry was green-screened or weirdly-lit. The show’s photography is usually so good that those distracting bits stood out.

What did everybody else think?

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