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The FBI Takes a Leak

By Adrienne Saia Isaac | TV | September 7, 2010 |

By Adrienne Saia Isaac | TV | September 7, 2010 |

Last night was the third fast-moving and interesting episode of “Rubicon,” where secrets were revealed, as were weaknesses and strengths of our characters. The FBI raids API because there’s a leak in the building. Everyone’s put on lockdown and forced to take polygraph tests. What could have been an episode that makes the audience as stir-crazy as the employees turned into an evaluation of how each member of API deals with stress and how it affects the decisions they make. We also learn that Asshole is probably a philanderer, Will and Miles narrowly escape being fired and Kale is a badass.

I’m going to get my complaints out of the way: first, why does Katherine’s narrative exist at all in this episode? We got about two minutes of Katherine scenes and it feels like they could have been shelved until next week and been further explored then. We don’t need to see every character in every episode. Katherine’s scenes were unwelcome interruptions in the API/leak storyline, and could have been sacrificed to give more time to the polygraph exams (like Maggie’s, which we didn’t see at all). All we know is that persons unidentified break into Katherine’s house, she hides in a closet and then the cops don’t believe her because nothing was stolen. Later, she finds something pushed into her mantle (honestly, it looked like a pushpin, but if anyone has ideas, let me know). In the next scene, she stands outside the house, tosses the keys into the bushes and drives away. Not exactly a Thelma and Louise-style female empowerment getaway. This storyline is “Rubicon“‘s weakest element and needs an episode’s-worth of exposition to bring the narrative back into the realm of relevancy.

My second complaint deals with the editing of the show, which still seems too choppy to me. We get each scene in 10-second snippets scattered throughout the show, with each scene cutting away as soon as shit gets interesting. I’ve combined the scenes according to character, because I’m not entirely sure the chronology matters when it comes to each 10 second revelation. Maybe it’s good that each scene leaves me wanting more, but sometimes, it feels like television blue balls. It hurts. Good thing the guys I dated in college never knew that feeling.

Back at API, Will finds a bug in the owl before the FBI locks every one down. Grant (Asshole) argues with his wife and Tanya stumbles in with dark glasses. Miles is frantically searching for a file. Everyone is annoyed at something not work-related and unfocused as they enter the conference room for their morning meeting. Grant presents on Tanaz Sahar, a guest at Beck’s son’s wedding and the director of an Afghani non-profit to whom Beck has donated upwards of $1 million. Then shit gets real as the FBI busts in. Spangler calls for Will and the rest are sequestered to the conference room for the day. Grant is the most pissed, as he’s now sure to miss his daughter’s school play and is going to catch hell from his wife who he cannot contact or email.

The team leaders, including Kale, Will and five others, meet in Spangler’s office with an FBI guy. Spangler thinks this entire thing is bullshit, and even later refuses to take a poly (he refuses for about 30 seconds then relents and is totally pissy about the entire process). He’s probably more embarrassed that there’s a link and it comes through as being difficult. He reminds the leaders that although they don’t know each other, they are a team and work in service of America.

Will and Kale share an elevator on the way back from Spangler’s office. Will apparently has learned nothing and starts spewing off about bugs in the office. Kale silences him, annoyed with Will’s inability to learn that he can’t talk about these things at work. Will mentions that he thinks he saw a bug in Spangler’s office too. Kale looks ready to punch Will in the head until he shuts up. Will’s refusal to understand the rules of engagement is going to lead to his demise.

The first polygraph test we see is Kale’s and he sets the standard for chill badassery and highlights everyone else’s callow nervousness in the subsequent polygraph scenes. When the poly examiner tells Kale to relax, Kale replies that his resting heart rate is 46 beats per minute. This also explains Kale’s pallor, since apparently the blood doesn’t get pumped around too often. He doesn’t answer too many questions, especially when his sexual exploits are examined, but throws around a lot of shade. Kale’s becoming my favorite character; his character is still mostly a mystery and we’re only given bits of his persona in each episode.

In a complete 180 from Kale’s coolness is Tanya, who can’t even answer the question about her name without setting off the poly. The machine thinks she’s lying about everything, which brings he character’s loyalty to API into question. Throughout the episode, she’s the only member of the team to put her personal bullshit aside and try to examine Sahaz’s connection to Beck. It seems that work is her escape from her personal life, unlike the others who see it as an interruption to their attention to their crumbling family lives. But now we can’t be sure of her motives, especially since she can’t just relax when asked the most basic of questions.

Grant’s poly doesn’t tell us much about his API life, but his personal life plays a big role here again. When asked if he cheated on his wife, he answers no and the poly freaks out and screams that he’s lying. He repeatedly insists he’s not a philanderer to the same result. His poly examiner says that the actions don’t matter, that he’s already cheated in his mind and probably will in real life in the future. Now, thinking about something isn’t the same as doing it, so I’m pretty sure that’s not a fair assessment. But, time will tell if Grant’s got a wandering penis (and if I were badgered by his wife like he was in the beginning of the episode, I might stick it somewhere else too).

Back in the conference room, Miles confesses to Will that he took a classified file home from the office. Okay, that’s bad. It was German intel on George Beck: bank records, travel records, “everything.” He then admits that he left the file in a cab. Will tells Miles that there are bugs everywhere and to shut up. Miles is incredulous, especially since in the next scene, the FBI sweeps Will’s adjacent office and yells “clear!” Miles is stressed because he’s convinced he’s the link and Will’s stressed about everything.

During Will’s poly, he banters with the examiner, who offers his condolences for David’s death. The examiner said that he administered David’s re-certification polygraph after the “investigation.” Will fixates on this; he continually asks about this investigation. The polygraph examiner ignores him but Will can’t get this off his mind. This fixation will lead to Will’s BONEHEADED move in which he sneaks into Spangler’s office and looks through his stuff. Will finds an Atlas paperweight and takes a CD from David’s top secret file. You need to suspend your disbelief while this is happening too, since suddenly the security guard outside isn’t at his post, the FBI suddenly is nowhere to be found and Spangler’s office is unlocked. Even more unbelievable is that Kale catches him in the act and doesn’t can Will’s ass on the spot. Kale is inexplicably in Will’s corner - at least, we think he’s in Will’s corner. The best part about Kale and Will’s relationship is that we have no idea if it’s nature is malevolent at the core.

One of the most tedious scenes is Miles’ poly, which he makes through all 2.5 seconds of before spewing about leaving a classified file in a cab. To his credit, this probably saves his ass from getting fired immediately. His punishment is a week’s suspension without pay and a follow-up investigation. Miles learns that he’s not the leak, at least not the one the FBI is concerned about, and now he’s free to fixate on his separation from his wife (which we learn has been about six months in the making).

Meanwhile, everyone who’s been poly’d sits in the cafeteria. Grant fixates on being told he’s going to cheat and Tanya can’t shut up about the Beck intel. Miles meets up with hottie boombattie interpreter from last week and the sexual tension flies for about a second until the FBI cock blocks that shit. They bust in and arrest Mr. Porter, a doughy financial analyst who used intel for his own private gain. Later, Spangler gives his unassuming team leader the boot as well, in front of the same team leaders who met in his office earlier. Spangler gives everyone a lecture until he notices a top secret file sitting on the open on his desk. Will and Kale share a smile and Spangler sends everyone home. Of course, this doesn’t apply to Will’s team, who stay in the cafeteria, diligently working on the Beck case. They’ve all taken Tanya’s lead and pushed the personal shit aside to focus on their work. It’s what a lot of us do, throw ourselves into our jobs to block out the bad. Here, it ends in a break through for them, as they’re able to further connect Sahaz and Beck. Now that story is finally getting somewhere.

Back in Will’s apartment, we see him pull out a DISCMAN and listen to the CD he found in Spangler’s office. It’s a recording of David and Bancroft (I think) talking about the crossword puzzle codes. During this whole time, Will and his weirdo artist neighbor are checking each other out through the window; where this relationship is going, I’m interested to see, and I’m joining in the paranoia and assuming that her motives are nefarious. I didn’t catch the last words before the fade out, so I’m going to have to check the ol’ OnDemand to hear what David said, but the CD will hopefully be a breakthrough for Will so he stops acting like a loon in his search for the truth (breaking into Spangler’s office was just so, so bad for his character). Rubicon’s on the right track finally and I feel like we’re getting somewhere. Keep working, API.

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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