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TURN “Blood For Blood” Review

By on June 26, 2017

Photo credit AMC

By Chris B.

The episode opens with the Woodhulls face to face, literally being carted away to their fate.

Benedict Arnold dispatches a Mr. Parker with the 500 pounds in gold coins.  Lyme, Connecticut is to be the sight of the trade—the Woodhulls for Caleb Brewster, as arranged through Colonel Cook.  Mr. Parker later finds himself in a card game with Akinbode, and as the latter feels the pinch of the surrounding Queen’s Rangers whom he deserted, he volunteers to accompany Parker on his mission in Connecticut.

Simcoe learns of the plans for the exchange and orders one of his men to muster a dozen others “from the old ranks, Rogers’s men” with which to track and, disguised as bandits, destroy all involved, “the rebels, Tories, and especially the hostages…no survivors.”  The money is theirs to do with as they please.  Simcoe will remain in York City.  Why?  “Alibi.”

 Though he is morose, Judge Woodhull struggles with the need to make quick and life-altering decisions, like the necessary one to kill the Royal officers.  Richard knows that Tallmadge made the right decision, but his own business has hinged on the ability to weigh facts to make careful choices, so how can one know the quick decision is right in the moment?  

Abe, in thinking back to the poor Ensign Baker (whom he had to kill in his own home during the first season when the Ensign overheard talk of Abraham’s secret activities for the Patriots), knows “you cannot; you just carry it with you for the next time.”

Judge Woodhull marvels that at one time he envisioned Abe as a soldier in the King’s army, but Abe demurs, “No, Thomas was always the fighter, not me.”  Dad surprises him, though:  “Thomas was older and stronger; you were always the fighter.”  That’s the closest thing to a compliment that one gets from Richard, and it’s been a long time coming for Abe.

Caleb is traded for the Judge, but before Abe can be handed over for the money, Akinbode hears some odd chirping, the signals of the hidden Rangers taking aim on their party.  “Something ain’t right,” he declares has he takes up his weapon.

Then, it begins.

Before the group can take cover, Parker and the Judge are dead.  Abe, Ben, Caleb, and their men take cover in the nearby mill.  Akinbode dispatches three Rangers before he realizes he’s been abandoned on the shore by Parker’s associate, who beats a hasty retreat on the water.

Ben has to rally Abe, who is briefly catatonic over his murdered father being left outside; then, he has to rouse Caleb to make sure the gravely wounded man is able to fight.  Ben observes that the remaining Rangers plan to set fire to the mill to draw them out, so Abe volunteers to sneak out through the mill wheel to draw their fire.

Caleb inches past the mill wheel and enters its dry stone trench, finding one of the Rangers picking the pockets of his father’s dead body.  He raises his gun, but is unable to shoot the man in cold blood.  It does, however, give him a chance to see Richard for perhaps the last time and close his lifeless eyes.

Akinbode circles back around as the Rangers begin their attack.  He notes their positions, then sees Abe’s head sticking up from the dry canal.  The two dead men inside the mill are used as decoys, allowing the rebels to dispatch a handful of the fire-wielding Rangers.  When their reinforcements approach from the other side of the mill, Akinbode takes out a few for them.

Abe sees the man flee who’d robbed his father’s corpse, so he pursues him.  In the ensuing combat by the water’s edge, he is nearly overcome.  Until Akinbode kills Abe’s attacker, takes the money, and disappears.  Later, he must bury the bulk of it in the woods, extracting but a few gold coins for immediate use.

The last seconds are a tragic parallel to the opener—father and son, lying next to each other in Ben’s cart.  This time, though, only one will continue on; even as Abe links their hands, he knows he must find a way to fight on alone, for the remains of his family and his country.

The Un-Merry Wife at Windsor

As they wait to be traded, the Woodhulls strategize.  They figure they’ll be taken to Cook as the Colonel “will want to see what he’s paid for.”  While there, Abe suggests they get a look at his books because “where they send their sterling, will tell you where they’ll send their army.”  After all, Shakespeare said it best:  “Money is a good soldier.”

Ironically, the Continental Army is apparently not sending its sterling anywhere, least of all to its good soldiers.  Back at the New Windsor camp, Anna is approached by a Major Randall; knowing that Anna and Tallmadge are close, he’s come to beseech her help.  She realizes that Randall is the one that Ben beat after he shot a prisoner (Sarah Livingston, with whom Ben had an intimate connection).  He is seeking a round-about path to Washington as the men, unpaid for over a year, may “seek restitution in blood.”

Since Ben is away, Anna tries to appeal to Alexander Hamilton with the rumors of potential insurrection, but Hamilton has no time for rumors.  He even suggests that a revolt is just what the army needs since no amount of writing to Congress has secured what they need for provisions and salary.  He advises her to appeal to her husband, as Selah apparently now serves in Congress, to “secure the bounties and back pay we need to forestall mutiny.”

So that’s what she does, penning a letter to Selah, inviting him to come to the New Windsor encampment and see for himself the conditions faced by the army “before it becomes too late.”

Unhappy Wife, Unhappy Life

Benedict Arnold clearly has no doubts about the wisdom of Falstaff’s words.  He is chaffing under the bills that his wife is accumulating, for mirrors and clothing, in her efforts to not be lumped in with the distasteful nouveau riche. 

While the drama unfolds in the woods, Simcoe visits Rivington’s for some billiards.  He’s cleared the table by the time General Arnold trudges in, his usual taciturn self, demanding and guzzling some madeira.  Simcoe is able to make a bit of headway by casting dispersions on Cook as someone who “values commerce over justice.”  He does even better by trading in what Arnold loves most:  flattery.  In his cheery falsetto, Simcoe claims, “I couldn’t agree more; this war would be over if we had leaders who were unafraid to finish it.”

Then, Arnold whines to Simcoe about wives and how “they sometime press for favors that go beyond our better judgement.”  This gives Simcoe the opening to bring up Philomena Cheer and the disagreement he’d observed between her and Mrs. Arnold at the Kennedy House party.

Peggy is thrilled when Abigail and Cicero show up at her door; she promptly rids herself of her currently housemaid, who then spills the beans about Akinbode “skulking around here…from up north, looking for [Abigail] and her boy.”  Peggy’s joy is short-lived when her grousing husband arrives home and is aggravated by Abigail’s reinstatement, sniping that his wife should “allow [him] to be the judge of what is in [his] favor.”  He does not appreciate the newcomers as they are reminders of Andre’s life, though Peggy insists that by employing them, it shows that they “honor his memory and sacrifice.”

When Arnold interviews Philomena, he learns that she had served Major Andre and that the Major had paid Freddie when he wanted her to resemble Ms. Shippen.  By the time Benedict gets home, he’s in a fury.  He drags the entire setting off the table and calls his wife a “lying, lascivious wench” to whom he’s given his money, his country, and his honor.  He accuses her of being in league with Andre to manipulate him and is more than happy to tell her that Andre had “begged” for them to call off their engagement, offering a large sum of money in return for Peggy’s hand.  Benedict, though, had been thrilled to inform him “that his light-heeled whore was already well-broken in.”

She bites back, telling him that she does indeed wish that Benedict had died instead of Andre—no, instead of “John.”  Only after she storms from the room does Arnold pick up an item he’d thrown from the table, a box that Peggy had placed on her husband’s plate.

Inside are a pair of baby booties.  General Arnold’s marriage complications have just begun.

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