‘Rubicon’ – ‘The Outsider’: Tie game

A review of tonight’s “Rubicon” coming up just as soon as I come up with a formula for collateral damage…

“Intelligence is incomplete! That’s the nature of it!” -Kale

“The Outsider” was the last of the four episodes I saw before writing my initial review of the series, and it was the one that convinced me I was into this show for the long haul, in spite of my reservations.

What’s notable about “The Outsider” is that it has so little to do with the crossword puzzle conspiracy arc. Yes, Will has his “All the President’s Men”-style meeting with a CIA contact in the parking garage, and we spend more time following Katherine Rhumor as she makes incremental progress in finding out what her husband was up to. But the bulk of the episode stands on its own, and demonstrates that this world is an interesting one whether or not we get back to all the secret codes and such.

By sending Will off to Washington with Truxton Spangler (very well-played here by Michael Cristofer), “The Outsider” accomplishes three things. First, it establishes that behind all the odd pauses and other tics that suggest a scattered mind, Spangler is, in fact, a brilliant political operative – the necktie speech was one hell of a piece of oratory – a good man to have running API, and a potentially very dangerous enemy of Will’s, depending on what we ultimately learn about Tom Rhumor’s suicide.

Second, the glad-handing trip better clarified API’s position within the intelligence community, and also created some stakes for what could happen if Will makes too many waves with his investigation.

And third, Will being gone shined the spotlight more brightly on underlings Grant, Miles and Tanya, and their debate over the “irreversible” decision basically functioned as the “Rubicon” equivalent of a procedural storyline. This is the kind of thing these people do in the course of their regular, non-conspiracy-minded business that’s dramatically compelling, and it’s the sort of well the show can go back to from time to time when the writers feel the need to pause from the larger arcs.

(The only part of the storyline I didn’t like: Grant’s “out out, damn spot” moment as he’s on his way to tell Kale they’ve approved the assassination attempt. A little too obvious.)

It remains to be seen whether the bigger story “Rubicon” is telling will be worth the wait, but if the show can be this compelling on a regular basis, I have no problem sticking it out.

What did everybody else think?

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