'Rubicon': Hardly a rushing river [*Updated]
In its third episode Sunday night on AMC, “Rubicon” slowly moved the story forward with sporadic bursts of new information about what David Hadas is trying to tell Will Travers from the grave. There also was a hint of the origins of the Cloverleaf Cabal in a childhood photograph, and incremental discoveries about Uri, George and the mystery man that David’s, and now Will’s, team of intelligence researchers are under the gun to identify for the guys “upstairs.”
What we learned: Will’s secretary-spy Maggie has a problem ex-husband. She confides in her spymaster Kale Ingram, the boss of the intelligence analysis office and he tells her not to take him back. (What exactly is their relationship?) David’s troubled son Evan asked Will to give him the motorcycle that David had given to Will the night before he died. And his late mentor and father-in-law also left Will a code on a strip of tape down the bike’s long banana seat, as well as a handgun buried in the seat’s foam. (Will finds both before he hands it over to Evan.)
We also learned that the Al Gore-lookalike researcher Grant is named after Ulysses S., regarded by the team as one of the 10 if not five worst U.S. presidents.
Will was being followed by the most inept movie or TV tail ever, a guy who would stand alone on deserted street corners down the street from Will’s building dressed like an undertaker. Once he was explained away as an out-of-practice FBI agent checking up on Will for his new security clearance — in the same highly suspicious deadpan malevolence Arliss Howard brings to all of Ingram’s scenes — a second team, slightly more artful, took over following Will.
Meanwhile, Katherine (Miranda Richardson) has taken to her bed over the discoveries she’s made since her husband Tom (Harris Yulin) shot himself after finding a four-leaf clover in his morning newspaper. [Updated: An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly identified the actor playing Tom Rhumor as Stacy Keach)
She’s clearly not going to get any straight answers from James Wheeler, her late husband’s supposedly best friend: We glimpsed Wheeler (David Rasche) through the door of the room where three seeming cabal members gathered after Miranda’s husband’s death in the last episode; plus, does Rasche ever play a sterling individual?
David Hadas’ old friend Bancroft helped Will decode the bike seat message, which contains some numbers that correspond to Yankee World Series wins and others that will identify certain people. Will they be the surviving cloverleaf conspiracy members? What are they conspiring to do? Will we care by the time we find out?
I’m still waiting to see if I’m going to love “Rubicon.” It has a lot to draw you in, among them James Badge Dale’s Will — he’s a great depressive brainiac, and the camera loves to watch him think. But so far the show has an almost perverse tendency to string together disjointed dialog, scenes and discoveries in what I’ll politely call a stately pace. The hope is that the show will eventually gather strength, power and relevance. The fear is that Rubicon’s plot will mirror its opening credits, which try feverishly to draw connections between everyday printed material — kind of like the work John Nash was doing in his secret workroom in “A Beautiful Mind.”
— Kelly Scott
Photo: Jessica Collins, James Badge Dale and Arliss Howard in a scene from "Rubicon." Credit: AP/AMC