Rubicon, “In Whom We Trust”

When Rubicon began, I was fairly hooked just because I like conspiracy stories and thus had less problems with the pilot episode than others. But as the series has transitioned away from a conspiracy- and mystery-heavy series, or at least balanced those elements with more procedural, character-based fare, Rubicon has quickly gone from good to great to oh damn, this is so good I can’t miss it live in just a few weeks. “In Whom We Trust” is a nice balance of the series’ two main stories and while the conspiracy stuff is no longer as good as the Kateb-fueled ongoings at API, it’s nice to have movement on the former plot.

On one hand, it’s nice to have Katherine Rhumor — loved how the series made fun of her name, just as we all do — finally meet up with Will because it’s at point where they’re both so spooked and so twitchy that watching them try to feel one another out is a fantastic thing of beauty. However, on the other hand, it’s something of a slap in the face to have the character pairing we’ve been waiting for all season actually happen and then break it up within 15 minutes. In that sense, I can’t imagine Katherine is back next season (if there is one) because she more or less existed as a vessel for a sliver of information that Will absolutely needed, but that’s all she really offered. Miranda Richardson was just fine, but she stalked around for 10 episodes and then served her purpose.

But now, the conspiracy stuff is cooking. Will’s figured out that David was obviously looking into Atlas Macdowell and its operations around the world and now he knows who some of the people are that are involved in this cabal. Will Travers is a smart guy, it shouldn’t take him too long to realize that Atlas and all the other arms are fronts for this super-group’s powerplays, but I’m not sure he can really take them down. Instead, it seems like we’re heading towards an ending where Will knows the truth, but can’t do anything about it. If he acts out, he gets killed like David. Maybe he holds on to the information until the right time, or maybe he gets Kale, who is now taking down the bugs in his own apartment (something he told Will not to do), to help him bring down Atlas.

But again, the more interesting stuff this week happened inside the walls of API. The team figures out that Kateb is still alive, attacking on 4:20 p.m. NY time and eliminating some of his cohorts in preparation for something very, very bad. One of the charms of Rubicon is that all the API-related drama is actually happening off-screen. We don’t see this bombings or attacks that the team researches or signs off on. But instead, we see the consequences, the turmoil leading up to and leading out of those decisions and somehow, it’s still all exciting. When Will figured out the 4:20 p.m. time pattern, I pumped my fist. It was just a dude sitting there, thinking and then saying words. But I bought into the process and what that means.

There’s been a lot of discussion about how or if the Kateb plot will dove-tail into the Atlas arc, but I’m not sure that I actually want it to. From all indication, the series’ production team is more dedicated to the API-centric standalone efforts if there’s another season, so making the Atlas people even more evil or more dangerous when it’s not a story that’s going to be told in the future doesn’t make complete sense. There’s no way Will’s going to bring them down as they are and if they’re in cahoots with a dangerous terrorist, I can’t imagine he’ll take them down too. In fact, I’d almost prefer to have Kateb be something of an ominous villain who doesn’t go away, perhaps he can just randomly pop up and the team has to deal with him again next season. That’d be fun.

Finally, a number of great moments for Grant and Tanya this week, who are certainly less inherently likable than Miles. The edited-together sequence of Tanya admitting and dealing with her possible substance abuse issues was one of the best things they’ve done in season one and Grant’s basement visit was heartfelt and honest (they both knew he was doing it partially to avoid his crumbling relationship with the wife). At this point, all three of them have been defined in great and different ways so that we can really see what this job can do to a person. Miles is divorced, Grant is on his way, Tanya is an addict and Will is a flat-out mess.

No matter what happens with Kateb or Atlas, that probably won’t change. This job messes you up, no matter how much effort you put into it. And that’s one of my favorite parts of this great series.

Other thoughts:

  • I really hope Andy isn’t some sort of plant or mole. This isn’t 24. Make Will deal with more emotional trauma instead of just professional espionage.
  • Truxton is really ramping up the threats isn’t he? Will the sloppiness lead to Will uncovering something really, really awful?
  • Kale’s defense of Maggie and her daughter was a great, small moment that really drives home how multifaceted the character is. Despite his shadiness, he’s willing to protect his own and that’s good for Will.
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