Who by Fire || Turn S1 E2 || B
If the most recent episode of AMC’s Turn is any indication, being a spy is not all it’s cracked up to be. That is, at least in the case of Abraham Woodhull. Last week’s series premiere saw him narrowly avoid imprisonment by agreeing to act as a spy for the Continental Militia, although the decision was more out of fear than a sense of patriotism. So, as they say, it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire. While Abe has moved beyond the passive state we first saw him in, he’s put himself at the mercy of two people who now have a great deal of control over what he does and does not do.
What’s important though is that he’s becoming more polarized. He’s not taking sides just yet, but the lines are beginning to be drawn. As a result, this episode is a definite step up from the premiere. Abe now has some motivation, something to move towards. He needs to find out who burned down his storehouse, prove the innocence of his friend (and possibly illicit lover) Anna, and uncover Captain Joyce’s murderer. In its own way, this is liberating for Abe. At the same time, we see how confining it can be. At every turn, he’s essentially owned by someone. There’s Captain Talmadge on the side of the Continental Militia (although that may not be for long) and Major Roberts for the British. And as Roberts tells Will towards the end of the show, a spy is “the lowest form of life there is. Lower than a sodomite or a serpent’s belly.”
In spite of this, much of the episode seemed overly contrived. For example, why would Major Roberts ever want to have a drink with Abe and his father in the first place? And why would Will Robeson kill his lover for almost no reason at all? The show has hardly started and it is already going the way of The Walking Dead, where characters’ motivations are unclear or, worse, don’t make a drop of sense. This is dangerous ground to be walking on, because it makes the characters very difficult to relate to.
There’s a lot more than that going on in this episode, but unfortunately not a lot I care about. The show seems to be setting things up for later, but doesn’t give us very much indication of where it’s going. I would wager that because of this, many people probably aren’t going to be sticking around.
On a side note …
- Let’s be honest—the whole “gay lover played for shock value” thing is starting to become a cliché of its own. I was more surprised when Anna declared the lover was a woman. I understand these things were probably not as common during the whole Revolutionary period, but for a show aired in the 21st century, we as viewers know better. You can come up with better twists than that.