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TURN’s “Mended” Proves All is Fair in Love and War

By on June 14, 2016

Idara Victor as Abigail, Heather Lind as Anna Strong. Photo Credit: Antony Platt/AMC

By Chris B.

There is no perfect solution to the problems of war.  This is made abundantly clear in “Mended,” the latest installment of Turn: Washington’s Spies.

At camp, Ben has finally broken the bad news to Washington about the implosion of the Culper ring; the commander “feels like his eyes have been gouged out” since he is blind to the enemy in New York once again.  Given this failure, Tallmadge tries to resign his position as head of intelligence, but though he’d been initially reluctant to keep Ben in the position, Washington does not accept this.  According to the the General, being a soldier and being a spy “go hand in glove.  There is nothing more necessary than good intelligence, and nothing requires greater pains to obtain.”  He notes how Ben showed bravery in battle, so why desert now?  There’s still hope.  “We may have lost our man in New York, but we have not lost our woman there.”

As we see this conversation unfold, inserted are slices of Andre trying to negotiate for movement to procure Arnold as their asset in the rebel army; while Andre gleans the worth of his target being wrapped up in his financial woes, General Clinton is more interested in the fact that Arnold’s court martial at Middlebrook means that the “jury of his peers” must also be there, making it a prime spot for a rout.  Clinton promises to send Governor Tryon’s provincial forces from Stony Point to get “a crack at the old fox.”  Andre’s superior pronounces that they have no need of Arnold, sneers at the Major’s obsession with Philadelphia, and exits.

Meanwhile, Robert tells Rivington that he is thinking of selling his share in their business and returning to Oyster Bay, but that’s before a disturbing display of disdain for Washington via creative verses to the tune of Yankee Doodle.  The raucous and self-serving laughter keeps Townsend awake and motivates him to sneak down to the printing presses to uncover the story that James indicated would mean a huge boost to their business.  Upon seeing the headline of a rebel massacre at Middlebrook, he immediately gallops off on his horse to Long Island under cover of darkness.

In Setauket, Abe is startled when his leaf-pile toilet chastises him; Caleb is hiding under its cover, out of the gaze of the Ranger lookout on the farm.  He updates Abe on the real Simcoe sniper: “That was your wife.  She’s the crazy one…It was her who sent them after me.  She used me as a bloody decoy, Abe.  Who the hell did you marry?”

Abe has no answer for that, but he knows that they need to get out of Setauket to avoid Simcoe’s reign of terror that has already cost Robeson his life and caused the tavern proprietor to literally piss himself in the center of town.  Simcoe has vowed to raze the entire village if he does not get the names he seeks, to uncover what he believes is Robert Rogers’s circle of spies.

Whatever It Takes

How far are you willing to go?  That is the question haunting many different characters this week, but each responds much the same: all the way.

After murdering and terrorizing, Simcoe’s next strategy is to cultivate the help of Richard Woodhull by hinting that he will make random strikes at people in town until the conspirators are brought to light.  Richard suggests that perhaps Rogers is not there after all:  “He missed his chance to kill you; a clever man would cut his losses.”  But Simcoe is undeterred, certain that his foe is as dogged as he:  “He and I are cut from the same cloth; neither of us will cease until our enemy has been destroyed.”  He appeals to Woodhull for secrets of the townspeople, “greed, revenge, perversions—the sort of secrets that cannot be hidden in a small town…that can be used against someone…by Rogers, of course.”  Sure.  Right.  Whatever.  Richard, clearly unconvinced, still agrees to make a suitable list for the Ranger.

A softer version of this occurs when Ben approaches Anna about making use of their one remaining asset in New York; however, in order for her to be allowed entrance to the city, she’ll need a pass, which can only be granted by someone with authority—a certain officer, for example—but Anna is aghast at the thought as she’s had no contact with Hewlett since leaving him broken at the altar.  She does not wish to lie to him once more, and Ben’s pleas that she would be doing so “for her country” do not ease the pain of it:  “A lie for my country is still a lie.  Sometimes you ask too much of people!”  Ben’s sad agreement to this makes it seem that he has Sarah Livingston on his mind.  Though he softens a bit, he does not relent, acknowledging that it will be painful for Anna but “necessary for the cause.  We make sacrifices so that others won’t have to.”

The bloody flag she mends, used hastily as a tourniquet for a injured soldier, seems a physical representation for her dilemma.  Thus, Anna writes a letter to Hewlett, begging for a chance to see him so that “this gaping wound can, if not be healed, then at least be closed.”

Also getting past wounds is Robert Townsend, who is treated to Simcoe’s outrageous display of tyranny when he dismounts his horse in Setauket, allowing Abe the chance to arrange a meeting with him at his farm.  There, Caleb faces Robert, apologizing openly for what happened to the elder Townsend.  “Abe’s orders were clear as day—he was not to be touched, so that’s on me.  It should never have happened.”  Robert listens, silent and stone-faced, prompting Caleb to add, “You can knock me, if you like, to even things up…Eye for an eye.”  Just as Abe starts to explain to Brewster how Quakers do not believe in violence, Robert abruptly pops Caleb square in the face.  Problem solved.

Then, Robert moves on to the business at hand.  He claims that he is still out of the spy ring, “but this is bigger than me.”  He passes along the upcoming headline from Rivington’s paper and flatly orders, “This must get to Washington with haste.  They know where your camp is; it is only a matter of time.”

On the upside, this affords Robert a chance to see Abe and Caleb in quite a different light than he had at their ill-fated Thanksgiving dinner.  Caleb, fearing for his friend’s life, wants to get him and his family out of town immediately.  However, Abe defers to the greater good, using Robert as his example of what is more important than personal feeling.  “Townsend is right; there is no time to waste.  You’ll be faster without us…This man had every reason to run, but instead, he’s run to us because he’s the only man who could.  Now, if you don’t get this to Washington, who will?  If I don’t stand up to Simcoe, who will?”  The glimmer of a smile crosses Robert’s impassive face, a small spark indicating perhaps he is not quite done with the Culper ring after all.

Later, Washington, amused at the lurid alliterative headline, is nonetheless suspicious that the information is genuine, given Culper Jr.’s previous decision to exit the ring, and “now he’s riding to Setauket like he’s Paul Revere.”  However, Caleb, pointing to his bloodied nose, vouches for Townsend already having gotten his scores settled.  Ben eagerly suggests using the intel to strike back at Clinton, “so hard that he’ll think twice before ever trying it again.”  Ben, fluffy hat and all, carries out a successful midnight raid on Stony Point, taking the fort for the rebels and flying their embattled colors there, proving that one can indeed be both soldier and spy.

The failure of Tryon’s militia causes Andre and Clinton to take stock of the situation.  Andre realizes, “They knew we were coming.  We have a traitor in our ranks.”  (How about Robert fills up those glasses while you consider that?  Good—enjoy!)  At the same time, Tallmadge and Washington take stock of a different kind—all of the weaponry they’ve confiscated from their raid, as well as the officers who they intend to interrogate to find out who has given away their position.  They, too, must unearth a mole.

The latter team gets a boost when Anna stops to see Abigail and Cicero.  They discuss their various romantic troubles, which leads them into the topic of the man in whose house they sit.  The Major has been kind to Abigail, so she confesses,“What I need to do and what I think best are two different things.”  Still, “we’re just making conversation, right?”  She tells Anna about Andre leaving behind in Philadelphia the woman in he loves so that she could make the introduction to him of a certain Continental general.  Finally, Benedict Arnold’s name has made its way to the Culper ring, and—spoiler alert!—things will only get uglier from here.

Bitter Hearts

In York City, Philomena Cheer has an unfortunate encounter with a street vendor with the worst sales pitch ever:  “I can cut your throat before you can scream for help.”  It is Rogers, moving forward with the intel he received from Townsend.  As he is trying to threaten her into compliance, she shoves him off and stymies him by offering more vehemence for Andre’s demise than Rogers himself feels:  “He’s a liar and a cad.  I did every thing he asked, and how does he thank me?  By dressing me up like some trollop from Philadelphia!”  Both have been thoroughly used and callously discarded by the Major.  Unexpectedly, Rogers has found a willing ally who can come and go with impunity where a fugitive like him cannot.

The most wrenching scene of the night comes from the meeting of Anna and Hewlett.  They greet each other stiffly by formal title; Anna says that he looks well, to which he answers, “Well, looks can be deceiving, as you know.”  Awkward.  She insists that she did not intend to disgrace him, but Hewlett believes that she did, to save him since Judge Woodhull was questioning the authenticity of her divorce from Selah.  How did Anna know that he would take the blame?  “Because of who you are.”  She means it as a compliment to his honor, but it is taken as an insult, that he’s a man who could not beat Simcoe.  Anna has to clarify that it is not Simcoe, but Abe, from whom he needed protection.  She reveals that she was a spy as well, and since she had to choose, she decided “it was better for you to fall on your own sword than to perish from his.”

Hewlett’s face is a mask as they speak.  “You’ve played me for a fool.”  She claims that she initially used his interest in her to protect Abe, but “as you and I grew closer, I discovered you were a man of honor, of intellect, of kindness.”  Edmund wants to know why she’s come, or rather, why she was “sent” to York City; Anna remains firm that it was merely to set the record straight with him.  “Look around, Edmund.  You could have me arrested.  I chose to tell you this of my own accord and against my orders because I cannot tell another lie to a man who never lied to me.”

But she is lying to him and using him.  Again.

Then, Hewlett asks the million-dollar question:  “Did you ever love me?”  Anna gropes for words.  She simply assures him that when she’d suggested that they marry and leave America, she was quite serious.  Not good enough—he repeats his question.  Her lowered head and tears are all the answer he needs.  Struggling to remain dignified, he states quietly, “It is good that you have quit Abraham; now I must quit you.”  He walks out, leaving her alone at the table.

In Philadelphia, Peggy plans a small and hasty wedding, prompting her mother to wonder if she is doing so out of need:  “This is all so sudden, Peggy.  Is there another guest on the way?”  Peggy scoffs at this as much as her father does from the lack of servant presence in Penn Manor, a situation that Arnold swears will be rectified when he is reimbursed.  “You needn’t worry, sir.  I will get what I am owed.”  (Oh, how I do love ironic famous last words!)  He informs the Shippens that he has been offered the command at West Point, news that Peggy is less than thrilled to hear, especially when she realizes that he intends to sell his newly restored home and she’ll have to go with him.

But finally the big day arrives:  the marriage of Benedict and Peggy.  As they take their vows, we see a beaming groom and a wide-eyed, tearful bride, though her brimming emotion is certainly based more upon the man she misses than the one she’s captured.

In the end, the lines made in the sand, the ones we swear could never be crossed, inevitably will be obliterated and forgotten.  Indeed, all’s fair in love and war.

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