By Adrienne Saia | TV | August 2, 2010 |
By Adrienne Saia | TV | August 2, 2010 |
It’s been a while since the sneak preview of the season premiere of Rubicon (a dead chemist and a Draper divorce later, to be specific). Note: for those of you who just bitched about spoilers in the last sentence, you can blow me. I have no patience for you people who insist on waiting for the two greatest shows on TV to come out on Netflix. Anyway, I don’t even remember the main character’s name or why I’m supposed to care about him at all, except for the fact that everyone he’s ever loved is dead. There’s a tense opening shot of him on the roof of a building, looking down at the ant-people on the street and out to the harbor, and during which everyone in the world except for James Badge Dale knows his character’s not going to jump. Then the credits roll. And now this show has to suck me back in.
Unfortunately, it didn’t. It just sucked. It’s full of long coding montages, backed by the same tediously ominous music, the characters looking pensive and too little exposition about anything, including the red herring plotline we’re supposed to be following. There’s very little dialogue or background given about the characters, making them inapproachable, even the “nice” ones. They’re mere caricatures: the brooding leading man is super brooding, the asshole in the tie is a HUGE asshole, and the creepy awkward people are so awkward and creepy (for no explicable reason, yet) that it’s painful to watch their scenes.
This episode occurs approximately a week after the death of Will Travers’ (James Badge Dale, who resembles Lindsey Buckingham, which kind of turns me on) father-in-law. Will has taken the dead man’s job, which puts him in charge of his peers, a rag tag group of code breakers. You have the huge asshole, the girl with a drinking problem and bad taste in breakfast pastries (Tanya, played by Lauren Hodges), and Will’s over-worked, Nigeria-obsessed buddy Miles (Dallas Roberts). They’ve been tasked with finding intel about Yuri Popovich, a rich Russian with ties to former KGB members who might be running weapons to terrorists. They’re given a series of photos and must uncover the identities of Yuri’s conspirators. This is probably the worst group of code breakers for the job: Miles can’t tear himself away from the Nigerian uprising that he predicted and that went ignored by international governments, Asshole is preoccupied with being an asshole and Will is still obsessed with the crossword ciphers discovered in episode one, going as far to enlist “not Hal,” the inevitable sub-continent genius stereotype to help him cipher them, off the record of course. Drunken Tanya is, remarkably, the only one focused enough to do her job (which, in turn, gives me hope for my future).
There’s many inexplicably poignant sentences exchanged between Will’s creepy boss and his even creepier superior. We know nothing about either man except they are powerful, white and ominous music plays when they’re in the scene. Similar moments occur between Will’s creepy boss and his equally creepy secretary, Maggie (Jessica Collins), who insists on awkwardly hitting on Will despite his showing zero interest in her (and compulsively looking at photos of his dead wife). She seems to be keeping intel on Will and his employees for the boss, but we don’t know the reason. I don’t know if we ever will.
The sub-narrative with Miranda Richardson (the widow of the guy who blew his brains out in episode one) is less developed. She learns that her husband kept an opulent townhouse on the Upper East Side and she’s convinced he was cheating (she’s his second wife and ostensibly much younger, so I’m not sure why she’s so outraged and shocked. Maybe I’m just a cynic). Her creepy lawyer (who is apparently not listed in the credits but is recognizable) insists her dead husband was faithful. He colludes with more creepy old white men who are accompanied by ominous music and, at this point, I’m terrified of my grandfather.
The rest of the episode plods along at the same morose pace, even when Will narrowly misses being hit by a wayward cab whose brakes suddenly gave out (there is no more explanation than this). Even Will’s emotional explosion at his lazy team feels awkward and forced. We’re offered more scenes of him trying to unlock the code behind his father-in-law’s letters with little explanation of what the payoff might be about. This show is quickly falling into the “meh” category for me - too many undeveloped characters, too slow a pace and virtually no exposition. Rubicon needs to give some answers quick, or at least give us insight into who these people are, if the writers expect to build a loyal audience (riding “Mad Men’s” coattails ain’t gonna cut it).
The episode ends with Will, again on the roof, not killing himself. He’s being spied on by two old creepy men from an adjacent building. One asks, “Why hasn’t he gotten us yet?” The other replies, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
Adrienne Saia 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.