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TURN Review: Not Seeing is Believing in “Judgement”

By on June 7, 2016

Samuel Roukin as Lt. John Simcoe - TURN: Washington's Spies _ Season 3, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Antony Platt/AMC

By Chris B.

It is never a good thing to look out the window and see John Graves Simcoe riding towards you.

The Woodhulls had been preparing to make a grab for their son and get out of Setauket with Caleb’s help when the Queen’s Rangers arrive and bring their plans to a grinding halt.  Simcoe bursts into the Woodhull’s farm cottage, presents Abe with the illegal weapon bearing his initials recovered in Oyster Bay, and drags him outside to kill him with it.

“I want to hear your husband lie one last time.”  Thus, Simcoe asks Abe to answer the question of why, “of all the people to rob in Setauket,” Rogers would choose only him.  At gun point and on his knees, Abe claims that Rogers forced him to look out for Robeson after the murder of Captain Joyce, else Rogers would reveal that he’d been with Anna Strong and would kill his son before his eyes.  “That is what he does: he finds out everything about you, your secrets and your shame, and he ties it around your neck like a noose and he chokes you.  I had no other choice.”

Before an amused Simcoe can pull the trigger, Abe vows to show him proof.  He leads Simcoe to his fruit cellar/spy cave where the latter examines the instruments of espionage and finds the bloody eye patch Rogers has left behind, convincing him that it had been indeed his nemesis’s lair.  Contrite Abe claims that he’s “a dead man now that you’ve seen this place.”  Simcoe posts soldiers around the farm and allows Mary to return to Whitehall, though Abe must stay:  “As you say, you’re already dead.  But you can serve a purpose.”  Ironically, just like Rogers, Simcoe plans to use him as bait.

Meanwhile, at the army camp in Middlebrook, Ben is avoiding a confrontation with Washington by tending to “other duties,” like handling a group of Tory prisoners, “eight men and one strumpet,” who just happens to be Sarah Livingston.  Ben searches for a reason to let her free:  “Were you pressured?  Did you aid these men under threat?”  But she delivers only the sad truth that she participated willingly in the ambush “since I learned I couldn’t stay out of this war, since the day it came to my doorstep and into my home.”  Still, Ben thanks her for what she did for him, and she asks for a return on that: “Get me out of here.”

That is not to be.

He presents her with an offer of becoming a Colonial spy, imploring her just to sign the paper and leave to do as she wants, but she will not.  Though he has virtually committed treason to make the offer, she tells him that she is “ready to die for her beliefs, but I’m not ready to die for yours.”  However, as Sarah sits in her prison, she is visited by a drunken officer who gives her both a fifth grader’s lunch and a chance to be raped; in the struggle for his pistol, she is shot and killed.  Though the officer tries to blame it on Sarah’s attempt at escape, Ben takes in the man’s gouged eyes and deduces the truth.  At this point, Major Tallmadge does not stand on ceremony; he pounces on the man and beats him bloody with a ferocity that would make John Simcoe do a slow clap.

In York City, Andre examines Philomena, his very own Dress Up Peggy doll.  Her hair expertly rolled by Freddie, her dress perfectly tailored with care—when John pulls down a curl from the back of her head, the illusion is as good as it gets.  This proves unfortunate for Abigail, who accidentally walks in on their sexual tryst.  The Major stumbles over himself to explain that “sometimes [his] job requires unorthodox methods to achieve results.”  He all but begs her not to tell Peggy what she’s seen when Abigail delivers the letter to her in Philadelphia.

Later, when Andre returns home, hearing Philomena singing in his drawing room, he realizes that the jig is up.  She is willing “to be the lady in the sketches,” but he basically tosses her out:  “You can never be her.  I was a fool to ever think you could.”  Ouch.  However, Peggy’s conversation with Abigail reveals she is waning, claiming her ability to convince Arnold to renew correspondence may not be possible, then demanding to know what John’s been up to when he’s not working:  “No hobbies?  Amusements?  And I assume he still keeps relations with Philomena Cheer.”  Abigail tries to deliver the Major’s line about ‘unorthodox steering,’ but that only makes Peggy feel as if she’s been used by him in the same fashion.   Though Abigail assures her that Andre loves her, Peggy, unconvinced and distraught, merely tells her to leave.

Not Seeing is Believing

Mary has a quandary—does she get her child, meet Caleb at the cove, and sail to safety; or does she find a way to fight what’s happened and help her husband?

True to the grit she’s displayed previously, she chooses the latter.  The Queen’s Rangers never should’ve messed with her.  She may appear demure, but her actions in this episode prove that Mary Woodhull is a beast who all men should fear.  If history has taught us anything, it is that hysteria is a powerful and deadly weapon; it is this weapon that Mary best employs to bring the Queen’s Rangers to their knees.

On their ride to Whitehall, Mary makes her first move, which is to scream emphatically that she has just seen Robert Rogers lurking in the woods.  One soldier nearly rolls his eyes at her, claiming, “There’s nothing out there; she’s just jumpy.”  Simcoe, however, is not so willing to let it go.  He sends three men into the trees to search all the way down to the cove where not Rogers’s “horrible bearded face,” but the angelic whiskers of Caleb Brewster have just come ashore.  Caleb exchanges gunfire with them and unknowingly provides a convincing back-up for Mary’s tale.

The next phase occurs at Whitehall.  Mary blows off Richard’s demand to talk, stays firm in her story to Simcoe that she saw Rogers, and is then redeemed by the timely arrival of the dispatched soldiers who affirm that they’ve seen Rogers by the water.  Simcoe’s eyes bulge dangerously, but Mary takes the opportunity to insist, “You need to bring my husband here where it is safe.”  All Simcoe can think of, though, is tracking Rogers, believing, “He’s returned for me.”  He deploys his men to mind the perimeter and search around the water in teams.

Phase Three happens when Mary learns from Richard that Simcoe has threatened her son.  The elder Woodhull knows that she and Abe have lied about Rogers and tells her to flee with Thomas, but Mary will not as that would expose Abe.  Richard rants that “Simcoe is not a problem that will go away,” to which Mary responds ominously, “Unless he does.”

Mary distracts Simcoe with a special dinner, then grabs his rifle and sneaks outside.  She plans to shoot him as he sits at the table, but her target abruptly leaves the room.  No matter.  She positions herself in the bushes surrounding the front of the house, takes aim at him in the bedroom upstairs, and drops him with a single shot.  Some of Rangers come running at the sound of gunfire.  The first man to her tries to drag her to safety, so she unsheathes his dagger and stabs him until he looks like a deflated pin cushion and she is covered in his blood.  As Simcoe staggers outside and the men regroup, Mary replaces the rifle, hides her blood-soaked clothes, and hops into her bath.  Save the telling bloody handprint on her bedroom wall, mission accomplished.

For his part, Caleb has doubled back to Abe’s farm and realizes that Rangers are dotted around him.  He takes one out with his pistol and, by using the dead soldier’s rifle to buzz a lookout, gets the rest to start firing on each other.  The chaos allows Brewster to sneak into the farmhouse where both men realize no one’s seen Mary and that she’s the only one who knew Caleb would’ve be down at the cove.  Believing Simcoe has applied more leverage, Abe sends Caleb to Whitehall to check on her while the freaked-out Rangers descend upon the cabin for shelter against the specter of Rogers they believe is lurking around them in the woods, ready to kill them at any moment.  Abe fuels it: “I told you; he’s everywhere.”

The thread of hysteria is tied into a neat bow by Caleb, who arrives at Whitehall in time to see Mary lead the Rangers in circles.  He chuckles, “You want Rogers, I’ll give you Rogers,” and provides some more distracting gunfire from the woods.  By now, their unseen foe has Simcoe and the Queen’s Rangers at DEFCON 1.

The High Cost of Loyalty

“I will make do, Benedict.”  Peggy has to acclimate to what most people would still consider very posh surroundings with merely a cook and a housemaid.  Arnold stumbles over himself to reassure her again that once he gets all of his years of back pay from Congress, the high life will be theirs once more.  He is confident that he will win:  “All I must do is show them the truth, that I am loyal to the cause, not the treasonous villain that Joseph Reed makes me out to be.”  He seems apologetic about this, given Peggy’s past encouragements to strike out on the side of the British.  “I would no sooner betray my country than betray you.”

After what she’s recently learned about John Andre’s involvement with Philomena Cheer, this show of devotion seems to strike a chord with her.  She gives Benedict some useful advice on how to argue effectively, to temper the anger in his candor and “instead of saying ‘I’ try to say ‘our country’ whenever you can.  Identify yourself with the army, so that when Reed attacks you, he’s really attacking America herself.”  A grateful Arnold gushes, “You make me a better man with every word that you speak.”  He’s not wrong; Peggy is shrewd in the extreme, but her motivation is clear when she chokes up over the idea of loyalty for, as she believes, “that is what makes the man.”  It seems Andre’s activities may have cost him more than he realizes.

At Dickerson’s Tavern, Benedict Arnold faces his court martial.  Reed questions Secretary Matlack about the schooner that was permitted to port in Philadelphia, supposedly captained by a Tory whom Washington had tossed from his camp; this is something that Arnold’s cross examination reveals he could not have known about as he had been “up North, with the army…off to battle,” and what’s more, the captain in question has twice turned out for duty with the Continental militia.  Timothy is ignorant of this, but insists he “heard profits were made in [Arnold’s] favor.”  Arnold excuses the Secretary’s ignorance, for “in times of war, we must not always hold men responsible for what they are not aware of.”

The next charge, which “involves giving menial offices to a free man of the militia,” is presented as ludicrous to the council of Generals:  “We order men to put their heads in front of cannons; God forbid we ask one to fetch a barber.”  Then, Arnold insists that though he has used inactive military wagons, he’s done so on his own quid.  He presents Reed’s accusations as “a civilian’s vendetta” motivated by jealousy of military accomplishment, a “vile prostitution of power” that is more representative of the tyranny they are trying to defeat than the nation they wish to become.  In the end, he is fully acquitted of two charges, and for the last two, he is to be issued a reprimand from the Commander in Chief.

Though Reed is outraged to have lost, Arnold does not exactly look thrilled with the outcome, either.  This is only augmented when he realizes that he’s not getting any money from Congress; Henry Knox reminds him that thanks to the counterfeiters (which Arnold’s intel helped to fuel, though I doubt he’s making that connection), they are bankrupt; the court martial was merely to restore his honor, not line his pockets.

When Benedict returns home, he is tired and somewhat broken, but he is greeted with Peggy’s gushing praise.  She has read the court record and pronounced his performance “marvelous.”  Further, his absence has caused her to reconsider some things: “You’ve had your fortune and your honor restored; you should have the wife to go with them.”  She doesn’t want to wait until March to get married; she wants to do so at once.  Arnold’s response is muted.  He goes alone into the living room where he tosses into the fire the court record of his exoneration (that he’s paid to have reprinted in multiple languages), and he watches it burn with tears welling.  It seems as if his connection to the Colonial army has just gone up in smoke.

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