Rubicon Episode 12 – Wayward Sons

Some thoughts on Rubicon as the show sadly accelerates towards the end:

Accelerate is an appropriate word, as the show’s snail pace has quickened over the last two episodes to that of a…faster snail.  Since the attempted Bloom hit, the show has taken a turn for the more dramatically intense.  In Wayward Sons, Rubicon often felt like a different show; angling closer to crime thriller than the ponderous mystery series of previous weeks.  This is understandable, given that the end is near.  It’s mostly unavoidable, due to what of the story remains to be told.  It’s also not a criticism, as Rubicon handles the increase in tension and pace well.

Kateb was exposed as Joe Purcell recently.  Given that he’s back on home soil, and the show is investigating his origin, I’ll refer to him as Purcell from now on.  You’re welcome.  The episode opens in a hotel room where we see Purcell properly for the first time.  He prays, watches cartoons, and chugs himself.  I presume that this is to show him as an otherwise normal American.  Back at API, everybody is on high alert after the discovery that Purcell is back in the US.

I forgot to mention this last week: Andy arrived at Will’s door, and she didn’t notice his head wound.  This week, when Will arrived at API, it was the first thing Grant spotted.  Andy must’ve been too concerned with knocking boots, the dirty tramp.  Sorry Andy.  I can’t help but feel that she’ll finish the show sad and alone, whether Will ends up with Maggie or not.

Maggie was a civilian in a strange place this week, as she was forced into a world of secrecy.  After being told by Ingram not to use names, she repeatedly mentions Katherine, Will and API, in discussion and on the phone.  When she collected Will’s documents from Andy’s she made a lot of noise, not thinking to run the tap to disguise it.  I may be over-analysing but I think that was deliberate to show her as a fish out of water.  Will isn’t fully competent with these things either, but he’s getting there.

The cinematography was excellent again; two shots really stood out.  As Grant interviewed Purcell’s female friend, he and FBI agents were beautifully silhouetted against the enormous school windows.  This shot was then paralleled with Purcell, writing a letter to the same girl,  framed by a blind-covered window of his hotel room.  Visually wonderful.

Time for mystery discussion.  The bigger questions are now being answered, some smaller ones remain.  We know what the clovers mean, but why?  Is there any significance to the clover itself.  This is far from something needing answered, but it would be nice if there was something specific to it.  More intriguing: What’s the deal with the Meet Me In St Louis DVD?  This could be small and simple, or large and unrealistic.  There may be a clue at one of the locations from the film, or simply a message behind the disk in the DVD case.  Time will soon tell.  God I’ll be sad when this show ends.

Back to Purcell.  At one point he stops for fast food.  This scene could simply be there to show him fuelling up for his attack.  But he ordered an awful lot of food.  Was this to show that he has accomplices, ones that may never be seen, lurking in the shadows, ready to attack?

The show often highlights the communication problems between API, the FBI, and various international intelligence agencies.  This again became prevalent as the FBI’s tactic for attack preparation seemed foolish to the API hivemind.  The FBI aren’t well-served by Rubicon, portrayed as slow and stubborn.  These communication problems are a particular bugbear of Miles’, which makes for comedy.  His passion for his work pours out when he’s frustrated by inter-agency problems.  This episode showed that well, as he gestured and huffed through talks with the FBI.

Last week, Will’s reason for Tom’s suicide was that he couldn’t live with his guilt.  This week’s theory, espoused by Ingram, was that he killed himself to protect Katherine.  If that’s true, it hasn’t worked particularly well, given that she’s now hiding out, with her life already threatened.  And if he was truly protecting her, why did he leave all those clues?

Ingram’s theory also allowed him to do something which is generally a bad sign in drama: the show’s title being mentioned in speech.  It wasn’t that jarring though the speech itself seemed out-of-place.  And while on the subject of the show’s title, what does it actually refer to?  As Ingram made abundantly clear, Rubicon is the point of no return.  But whose Rubicon are we referring to?  Is it a comment on the US’s foreign policy, that the country can never rest, always having to prepare for attack?  Is it a personal Rubicon?  Is it Will, who can never go back to his old life, knowing what he does about API, and about US companies profiting from disasters they themselves caused?  This line of thinking makes the title applicable to many characters.  Katherine can’t return to the same loving memories of Tom, with what she now knows.  Even Tom realised that there was no way out of his situation besides the grave.  Spangler had to try to kill Will to keep his secret safe; now he may have to off his friend and associate Ingram.  Is that not a definitive case of passing the point of no return?  It may be stretching the definition a bit to include Tanya and Miles, changed since they witnessed torture by American hands.  Ingram seems the one character I can’t apply this to, as I can imagine him returning to his normal life after all this finishes.  He might have found out a lot about Spangler, but I don’t think that will affect him much, except that he might take over API in Truxton’s place.

David’s missing white paper was explained, as it referred to security problems in the very place that Purcell hit.  Was David’s paper something that needed to disappear to shift focus away from the target, or was the idea of hitting Galveston Bay inspired by his work?  To me it seems like the latter.

There was a funny moment, possibly intentional, involving Spangler.  As usual.  He takes the phone to speak to the FBI chief, and says “It’s Truxton…Spangler”.  I wasn’t sure if this pause was due to his odd speech patterns, or if he felt the need to elaborate.  Could this FBI chap possibly know another person named Truxton?

In the same scene, there was a very subtle moment, possibly something I just imagined.  As the analysts resume work, right as the scene ends, Tanya shoots a scowl at Julia.  Watching it (sadly) in Standard Def, I couldn’t tell if it was genuine or just a fault in the film quality.  And could the show be littered with moments like this, lots of little things that I’ve missed?

A sign that I was never that interested in API’s investigation is that I’ve never written Tanaz/Tanasz, or know how to spell it.

Will has become very trusting of Ingram.  Travers has now uncovered just how much Bloom was involved with Kateb.  And he saw Bloom at dinner with Kale before.  But he still seems to have put a lot of trust in Ingram recently.  However, could this be less a case of trust and more about lacking options?  Who else can he confide in, and who would be able to help?

The writing worked well in giving a believable reason for Will to return to API.  Will Truxton and Travers manage to get a scene together before the end?

Grant continues to look like Will’s replacement.  He went from being left behind in New Jersey to heading interviews.  How did that happen?  I’m still fixated on a The Wire-style montage ending, with Grant walking into an API meeting room as Will’s replacement and closing the door on the camera as music plays.

I know so little about cinematography but I presume that there’s a rule of thumb, much like in photography, of not centering your subject as it looks too staged.  Rubicon regularly flouts this rule, and the show looks all the better for it.

God, I want a brass owl.

Purcell always strikes at 21.20GMT.  Will we find some numerological significance to this?  I recall rumours that 9/11 was planned for that day because of the number’s association with emergency.  Is this something similar?

Maggie was shook when Kale found out that she had left Katherine.  It seemed like Maggie thought she might be responsible if Katherine is harmed.  So many others shows would’ve had her feelings expressed in dialogue.  Things like this make Rubicon smarter and better than your favourite show.

With his looks, love of cartoons and desire to fumble himself in hotel rooms, Joe Purcell is the All-American boy.  He looks like some young action star, breaking out after a recurring role in The OC.  Interesting casting decision.

The episode’s title is Wayward Sons, and a similarly-named song plays on Joe’s boat.  What’s the significance of the title?  Dictionary.com defines ‘wayward’ as:

1. turned or turning away from what is right or proper; willful;disobedient: a wayward son; wayward behavior.

2. swayed or prompted by caprice; capricious: a wayward impulse; to be wayward in one’s affections.

3. turning or changing irregularly; irregular: a wayward breeze.

It looks to be as simple as referring to Purcell taking the ‘wrong’ path.  But note that the title is ‘sons’ not ‘son’.  It’s unlikely that the title is a mistake.  Who else could it refer too?  Spangler?  Me?

As I still have to avoid googling Rubicon due to spoilers, I’ve never been able to check if there’s any other musical significance in Rubicon.  I don’t remember much music being used outside of the score.  I know that during the Bloom clean-up scene, On A Rope by Rocket From The Crypt was played.  That’s all I got.  In some ways I’m looking forward to the end of the show, so that I can start looking things up.  There’s still no word, at least in the UK, of a DVD or Blu-ray release.  I’m already impatient.  I demand to own.

Anyway, we saw Joe check his explosives on the boat.  I presume that was rockets that he had.

Will threw everybody out of the room except Miles.  With Grant away, Tanya was the only original member of the team left.  When Will called her name she must’ve thought he needed her.  No doubt she’ll be miffed about only being told just to close the door on her way out.  When Miles found out about Bloom’s involvement, he said that he was the one who pulled Bloom’s records.  I’ve little to no memory of this.  I can remember Will harassing some IT guy for info, but that wasn’t Miles.  And now that I think of it I remember records being delivered in a car park.  I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Miles either.  Hmmm.

And what of David?  Despite mentions of him over the last few weeks, his clues, and how he placed them, have mostly been forgotten.  The car parked in space #13, the bike, the baseball code.  Is there one clue left?  Probably not.  His son’s gone, and sadly it looks like Ed is too.

I was underwhelmed by the reveal of Purcell’s target.  Though I wasn’t the only one.  Julia said the same, that the boat attack seemed almost anti-climatic.  The full extent of the event was quickly explained by Miles, also addressing the viewer.  Nice writing.  And a quarter of all oil goes through Galveston?

So, more awesome from Rubicon, building the drama for the finale.  It’s taken me so long to post this that the last episode starts in 13 and a half hours.  Not that I’m counting.

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