Rubicon, “Caught in the Suck”

This week on Rubicon, many of our API favorites deal with consequences. Sometimes it might seem easy or at least easier to make life and death choices in the boardroom of API for Miles, Tanya, Grant or Will, but rarely do those choices come right back to slap you in the face with a sober dose of reality. While I don’t think Miles, Tanya and Grant took their decision to co-sign an air strike on a terrorist lightly at all (I mean, that’s what so much of “The Outsider” was about after all), having to face the aftermath of that decision is not a welcome instance.

But too bad, as a few spooks sweep in to API and zoom Tanya and Miles off to an undisclosed location where they’re required to experience an “interrogation” so that they can confirm or deny that the suspect they agreed should die back in “The Outsider” is, in fact, dead. Of course, the interrogation is more of a torture sequence that the CIA can get away with because they’re not actually doing it, but just watching. And watch they do. Before long, the skirmish Miles and the jonesing Tanya cannot take it. Miles figures out the whole thing has been set up just so the CIA can get a confirmation on a theory they’re already working and thus it’s all been a mild waste of time. After a conference call with everyone else back in NYC, Miles and Tanya realize that they are caught in the middle of a bureaucratic nightmare that won’t change anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Will spends the episode trying to avoid any major consequences and attempts to just stick to the answers. He’s still hanging out with goofy ole’ Ed, but refuses to poke around in his brain because he knows that if Ed gets going with patterns and files and whatever else, he won’t stop. And when he hesitantly goes to Atlas McDowell, he finds out that Truxton does have a phone extension there and it looks as if API is some sort of arm for Atlas, which goes by many other names and surely has many other arms. But Will doesn’t want to dig anymore himself. He wants answers from Kale, consequence-free. But Kale is of course unwilling to part with said answers, if he has any at all. They both know that Atlas killed David, but are fairly powerless to do anything about it.

Despite his hesitance to help Will directly, Kale works hard behind the scenes all episode to make sure Mr. Travers is on the right path. He rats out Maggie and her spying so that she can go out with Will (presumably to make Will less insanely stressed), but then offers oh so eloquently to help her stay on at API.  And even though Will won’t allow it, Kale creepily sneaks up on Ed and more or less acts as a drug dealer pushing a junkie off the straight and narrow by giving Ed the list of names needed to create a pattern. Playing the smart guy with lots of information (but not all of it) is a meaty role for any actor, and Arliss Howard is having one hell of a time working all sides of these people. He’s always in control, but we’re never sure exactly what his motives are.

This episode really hammers home a major point that I think Rubicon is working with thematically: No matter what Will does, no matter what Miles or Tanya do, the evil in the world is going to continue. And though we look at evil in a violent or vicious way, it’s the companies like Atlas McDowell and its octopus-like arms and the bureaucratic mess that is inter-agency dialogue that are the real “terrors” that can’t be stopped. Even if Will does figure it all out, he won’t be able to stop it completely. And no matter how much underlings like Miles or Tanya protest, their skills are going to be used for things that aren’t quite right. This is how the world works. It sucks, but that’s how it goes.

Finally, I have to give props to the writers for figuring out that it’s not the conspiracy plots or the cryptic clues that keep a series truly interesting, it’s the characters. And instead of wondering about the clover nonsense (which, at this point, is kind of nonsensical), every week I am more intrigued by the people themselves and the knowledge their withholding or not. Series that do this well (like Lost) make people the keys to answers or stories, not events, items or whatever else. So without unlocking some of the mystery behind Kale or Truxton, we won’t unlock any mystery. That’s how it’s done.

A few more unconnected thoughts:

  • We see something of a meeting of the minds with the conspiracy/clover people tonight, which includes Truxton and James, Katherine’s friend. Just as I discussed above, they cavalierly discuss whether or not to continue to operate in a country where there’s a lot of death, proving that it’s all just money and rhetoric to them. Though James is clearly trying to protect Katherine, and the rest of the crew doesn’t like it, so they’re spying on him. He sends Katherine a photo featuring a slew of young boys (I’m guessing the clover crew as kids) and puts the mark on it. Helpful, dude. Helpful.
  • I’m not sure I buy that Will would still date Maggie after finding out about her spying, so either the reveal was to A.) get rid of her or B.) I’m wrong. I guess I’ll have to be wrong in some way.
  • How freaking beautiful does this series look? The scenes with Tanya and Miles in the undisclosed location were bright, but grimy and suffocating and the multiple scenes with Kale on the rooftop were particularly pretty. AMC sure knows how to make their products look good.

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