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TURN Recap: Abe & Hewlett Team Up to Take out Simcoe in “Cold Murdering Bastards”

By on May 3, 2016

Jamie Bell as Abe Woodhull - Turn _ Season 3, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Antony Platt/AMC

By Chris B.

Rivington’s front page story about the death of General Washington is a bit premature on this week’s episode of TURN: Washington’s Spies.

Meanwhile, Andre sits down with New York’s Royal governor and mayor, wishing to meld his intelligence efforts with theirs. Worthington is their man in Washington’s camp, a Reverend who takes the men’s confessions and “offers them council,” as he had with Hickey and Bradford. As they talk, Robert Townsend sweeps past and requests that Rivington take out an ad—a message to set the wheels of the Patriot spy ring in motion.

Meanwhile, blaming Simcoe, et. al. for the death of Corporal Easton, a squad of Royal soldiers attack a solo Ranger who rides into Setauket to prepare camp for his fellows. They tie him up and lash him repeatedly in the center of town—that is, until Simcoe arrives and demolishes the soldier who dished out the beating, blood spattering his wild face once more.

“One can’t be too careful when dealing with spies.” So says Hewlett as, backed by Richard, he tells Abe that he means to see him hanged for treason, to which Abe counters that he’d not go down alone. After all, whose letter saved him from the jail? Under whose authority had he traveled to York City to begin with? Hewlett has been complicit all along, whether he knew it or not. If Abe is taken down, then he promises Hewlett “you will be shown to be the fool you really are.”

When Thomas trundles into the room, Abe moves to scoop him up and is threatened by the loaded pistol of Hewlett. Mary thrusts herself between the gun and her family; she claims that Hewlett will have to shoot her first, offering herself as a hostage and ordering her husband to go. Abe tells his father to say goodbye to Thomas as the elder Woodhull shall never see his grandson again. With one last plea, this time from Anna, Hewlett relents, and Abe leaves with his son.

Elsewhere, the elder Townsend visits York City to pick up correspondence for Mr. Culper via a Geneva Bible. Rivington accosts him, referring to his own religion of sorts as that of a newsman: “While some seek to worship mysteries, I seek to dispel them.” He presses the old man to “lift the veil on the mystery of [his] son who says so little…It’s always the quiet ones who have the darkest secrets.”

Ultimately, Robert finds himself playing draughts with none other than John Andre, two men of measured words with many a secret between them. Thus, the business of Washington’s spies perhaps has taken a significant turn.

Hard Choices

This installment definitely highlights that the quagmire of war comes with nary a simple solution. First, Benedict Arnold arrives at camp to plead with Washington over his encounter with “a swarm of gnats and flies” of bureaucrats in Philadelphia. He claims that Joseph Reed is intent on pursuing charges against him for the same reason that Reed railed on Washington behind his back as George’s aide: “he seeks to undermine those he is threatened by.”

Arnold tells Washington of his impending marriage, one for which he desperately needs his money reimbursed so that he can give his new bride, “a woman of means,” the life she is accustomed to having. Washington ruefully informs him that currency is grossly inflated in value and is near worthless, so that return won’t be coming any time soon. Instead, he advises Arnold to take the power out of the bureaucrats’ hands and put it back into a military arena. How? Apply for court martial; then, he can restore his honor, “once and for all.” Arnold must decide whether or not to risk his reputation with the one platform that has brought him a degree of the acclaim he so desperately covets.

Another dilemma surfaces when Simcoe arrives to meet with Hewlett under a flag of truce. He tells Hewlett that “perhaps there’s a third party who hoped to encourage conflict between us,” along with Andre’s intel of a Long Island spy named Samuel Culper, which Anna overhears. Hewlett is dubious to trust anything that Simcoe has said, despite his recent encounter with Abraham.

Hewlett debates his next move with Simcoe, telling Anna his plight is like that of Odysseus, torn between Simcoe and Abe as the Greek hero was with Scylla and Charybdis. Instead of losing his whole ship to the whirlpool, Odysseus had sacrificed a handful of men to each of Scylla’s heads—he chooses the lesser of the two evils. Anna councils Hewlett to do the same: since fighting Simcoe is certain death, Anna advises Edmund to “use the rock to smash the hard place” and “use rebels that you’ve just been made aware of” to kill Simcoe. Thus, Hewlett approaches Simcoe with a proposal: he offers a forged list that gives various individuals’ names as codes for places. This presents Samuel Culper as the name for Rocky Point, a location a day’s ride east of Setauket. Hewlett suggests that they should capture the spy in a joint operation to “bury the hatchet” between them. Simcoe rides off in pursuit of this foe.

However, Abe is reluctant to agree to Anna’s plan that he conspire with Hewlett to kill Simcoe, thereby stopping a war he’s tried so hard to get started, but Anna offers convincing motivation: Simcoe would win that war, and it would only be a matter of time before he centered in on Abe as Culper. Abe, too, must pick the lesser of the evils, to kill the devil and take his chances with the deep blue sea.

Blurred Lines

An expedient that soldiers face on any battlefield is the adage, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” It is what America counts upon in its alliance with France, else the whole Revolution would be for naught. But knowing just how far to take this can be tricky, and a number of key players grapple with how their various partnerships take them to the brink of becoming the very thing they had once despised.

Abe returns with his son to the farm where he is met by Rogers. While Rogers playfully tries to charm the little boy, Abe nervously dodges him, no less so than when Rogers shows him the newspaper with the message from Townsend; the former Ranger, having read all of Abe’s notes, knows well what the message means. Abe tries to dissuade him from a meet in Oyster Bay because of Thomas; Abe tries to act as if he doesn’t know why he’s not hanging from a noose after being outed to Hewlett. But Rogers is too savvy, quickly deducing a blackmail scheme with the latter, then riding off to meet with Robert’s father himself to solve the former. Abraham has no option but to let him go, to trust his unwanted and unpredictable associate.

Later, Abe and Hewlett meet under cover of darkness. They posture at one another; Hewlett warns Abe not to push too hard as “your wife’s not here to protect you,” and Abe counters that Hewlett’s men are not there to stop him from “dropping another King’s man by the side of the road,” as he had done with Easton. Hewlett explains he’s learned that “pragmatism must, at times, trump ideals” and “having Simcoe dead is ideal for all concerned.” They agree to put aside their mutual distrust to “kill this murdering bastard.”

Rogers returns from Oyster Bay; his guise of Austin Roe, humble cabbage farmer, was successful in obtaining the book from Mr. Townsend. The application of reagent to the book reveals the information about Reverend Worthington. Fearing a double-cross, he shadows Abe to his meeting with Caleb in the woods, keeping his rifle trained on the pair to be sure that no mention of the former Ranger is made. Anna shows up unexpectedly, revealing to Caleb that Abe has been sold out and has to leave Setauket. She is aghast to discover that Abe has no intention of leaving; he vows to kill Hewlett once Simcoe is dispatched.

In the study at Whitehall, Anna discusses the arrangements with Hewlett, her mind racing. She asks him if he’d thought of what lies ahead, after the war—leaving all of it behind and going home to Scotland. He has: “Whatever moral certainties I may have entertained have turned to cynicism.” Anna is the one light, he claims, “the only one that [he] can trust.” Her tears, from grief or from shame, overwhelm her. She knows there is only more darkness to come.

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