Off the Radar, Will
So last week we finally got the episode that shocked this series to life and this week, I expected much of the same. To some extent, my expectations were fulfilled: the characters seem more sincere and we're getting more plot exposition. It's also clear that Will (James Badge Dale) is getting more and more traumatized by the formal and informal weights of his job (it's not everyday we need to please the new boss and figure out if he had our father-in-law murdered). However, the episode was a bit choppy; the editors don't seem to have found their pacing, shifting from plodding and painfully slow to scenes that last about 10 seconds. A prime example is the opening scene where we see Kale breaking into Will's apartment and observing the post-it notes spewed over the carpet. Then we cut to credits, nothing more of that.
Will's narrative centers on his relationship with Kale (Arliss Howard), the boss whose intentions Will hasn't quite figured out (and us neither). He invites Will over for dinner, via Maggie, which is the first thing that stresses Will out in this episode. He arrives at Kale's sprawling, modern apartment and is greeted by Walter (who is never identified as Kale's boyfriend, but I doubt they're just "roommates"). This is a rather refreshing depiction of a gay couple, as it's never implicitly stated and that the writers haven't made Kale's character stereotypically effeminate. It's just a fact of life and no one seems to be thrown by it. There is a weird, Airplane -- "Have you ever seen a grown man naked?" -- type question about white bean salad, but otherwise, the scene was a pretty cool move by the writers.
Dinner soon devolves into shop talk and Walter, bored, excuses himself. Will grows a pair and brings up Donald Bloom. Kale reveals that Bloom was in a non-lethal car accident with another man, Edward Roy. He tells Will that Roy is the real X-factor in this equation and that he's willing to help Will figure it out, mostly because Will's arousing suspicions at API with his snooping. He tells Will to stay off the radar, offering his help several times despite Will's incredulous response. Kale doesn't admit to the break-in, but tells Will to sweep his place for bugs, which he himself does twice a week. Now Will's not even safe at home, a fact that bugs him the hell out, and he leaves.
Meanwhile, our group of ragtag analysts is charged with late-night surveillance of the wedding of George Beck's son. Miles volunteers because his family is still broken and he doesn't have shit to do. During his spying, he realizes he can't understand what they're saying and runs around the darkened API building to find an adult. He runs into Julia, who happens to be there late, happens to be pretty and happens to speak Urdu. They spend the night together, surveilling, and it ends with an odd romantic exchange where Miles is forced to admit he's still married because he still wears that ring (even though it ostensibly means nothing). It's a missed opportunity in more ways than one: Miles loses the chance at an office romance and the two don't find anything significant on Beck (although there is some chatter about donations to "the foundation" that seems to befuddle the characters. "ai Qaida" roughly translates to "the base." So... if I can make the connection, shouldn't two top analysts be able to as well? Or else I'm wrong. But I'm from Philly, we're never wrong).
This episode also probes deeper into Maggie's life. I like the way Jessica Collins plays her, but I can't stand the character. She also has a bangin' apartment for an administrative assistant of a government agency who was on its knees for funding two weeks ago. She leaves her daughter with her estranged baby-daddy for the night and wanders around her half-unpacked loft, pining for male company. It's not crying sad, it's pathetic sad, and Collins brings this across with her mannerisms.
Maggie calls Will, who rebuffs her as he is too busy finding bugs all over his house. They're in the thermostat, the smoke detector... and he's just getting started. He hangs up on her, which surprises Maggie, although Will has been so schizo in his relationship with her that I don't know why she keeps going back. The writers have got to let us in on their past soon because the back and forth is getting a little old. Are we to assume they did it, possibly while Will's wife was still alive? Or do they just have weird office sexual tension that's never been consummated? Regardless, Maggie calls up a doughy nice guy from her language class who brings Scrabble with him to a girl's house when her parents aren't home and she gets wasted and they bang instead. This complicates things when Will knocks at Maggie's door a few hours later, asking to crash on her couch, having spent his night being followed and finding his apartment crawling with bugs and freaking out at RPG-playing Asians in an internet cafe while Googling Edward Roy. The pain between them at the door is palpable, especially when Scrabble calls to Maggie from inside, revealing his presence and Maggie's shame. Will sulks away, and Maggie falls apart, throwing Scrabble out. She got what she needed, but not what she wanted. It sucks, and we feel it.
It's interesting that Will reaches out to Maggie, seeming weak and having no place to go. It came right after Will's ballsiest moment, when he pulls a gun on the guy following him. He can't get info from the mystery man, so Will snaps a picture on his phone with the hand that's not holding the gun and is basically like "Snap, I gotcha number, bitch." Will finally stands up for himself, telling the guy that he'll know everything about him by sunrise, so whoever hired him can stick that fact in their collective pipe and smoke it. Good for Will. But then he runs to Maggie. After that leads nowhere, he runs to Kale the next day, bringing up Roy. They head to the roof where Will brings up Atlas, a foundation/company in which Roy is an important figure. Kale reminds Will he's being watched - and not just at home now, but in his office too. When asked, again, by Will why he's helping, Kale repeats his oath to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. He's an enigmatic bastard and we're not supposed to trust him yet, but he's a pretty awesome and shady character. Keep it up, spyboy.
The mention of Atlas parallels Katherine's story, who's still the slowest to develop and could use a good kick in the pants for next week. She meets up with the widow of the professor in the article she found last week in Tom's secret office. Turns out that both men headed up the Atlas McDowell foundation (first the professor, then Tom) and both committed suicide after finding four-leaf clovers. Katherine leaves after discovering the clover connection; had she not freaked out, she would have also seen the black and white picture of kids on the beach that Tom kept in his secret townhouse. The connection goes deeper than just a corporation; these guys knew each other as kids, too.
The episode ends in a familiar way, with a tortured Will sitting at his desk in his darkened office. He's still thinking about bugs. The music crescendos as the camera focuses on a brass owl on Will's desk, ostensibly a camera or another bug. This is why you should never keep weird trinkets anywhere in your spy office. Fade to black, wait until next week, when the FBI gets involved and shit really hits the fan. "Rubicon" is finding it's stride, let's hope they can keep up the pace.
Adrienne Saia Isaac is a journalist and Philly expat living in Colorado with two pair of skis, seven Phillies hats and her pit bull mix, Juno. Her main goal in life (besides finding gainful employment) is to drink whiskey out of Lord Stanley's cup with Chris Pronger. You can read her rants and rambling at Ex-Pat's and Geno's.
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