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'Rubicon': It's complicated

Rubicon 1
A doorknob is seen turning, the door opens slightly, and a figure in black leather -- including gloves -- enters the apartment we have come to know as Will Travers' Manhattan studio. As the camera follows the figure slowly walking into the room, we see the notes and clues Will assembled at the close of last week's episode are fanned out on his braided rug. And then, this being "Rubicon," and since we've come to associate double-dealing and heavy-handed manipulation with a certain character, we shouldn't be surprised when the camera pulls back to reveal that the person breaking and entering is ... Kale Ingram, Will's boss at the government data-analysis center API.

Judging from some of the comments I've seen after "Rubicon" posts, other viewers have shared my impatience with the show's pace, minimal dialogue and maddening school of red herring in its opening episodes. Last week, it powered up a little, and this week's show absolutely launched it. You should have stuck with it, naysayers.

My take on the proceedings, and please tell me if you disagree, is that Kale tried to co-opt Will this week, giving him one document and offering his services in Will's investigation of David Hadas' death (and the connections to it), as long as Will didn't work it at home, didn't call undue attention to himself and stopped asking Hal to run computer searches for him. He implied that his apartment was not a safe place, and when Will returned home, he found several bugs (the electronic listening kind). But the way it played to me, Ingram just wanted to stay on top of what Will found, stay ahead of others who were also tracking his quest and try to get Will to trust him. I don't buy his stated duty "to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," but maybe this is what the show wants us to think, and Kale is an honorable sort?

Katherine Rhumor made progress this week, finding the widow of a man whose death was reported in a newspaper clipping she found in her late husband's files. Her first attempt to contact Carol Bradley didn't  get anywhere, but she went back and was able to get the woman to talk a bit more. Carol was one bitter survivor of a spouse's suicide, but she offered Katharine a look at some of her husband's things that she kept in a cardboard carton. Katharine's hand went immediately to a Plexiglas object -- a small desk ornament that held a single four-leaf clover, like the one found near her husband's body. After Katharine bolted for the door, Carol Bradley absently rearranged the carton's objects, and we saw a framed photograph of a lineup of boys or young men -- the same photo that James Wheeler removed from Tom Rhumor's secret townhouse.

Much of the scene of Katharine's second meeting with Carol Bradley was shot strangely, as if from a balcony or loft over the living room, almost the vantage point of an overhead hidden camera.

A great sequence this week involved Miles and a translator working the graveyard shift at API. He was pressed into service to translate a satellite transmission of the wedding of the daughter of one of the figures that the analysis team was tracking, George. Miles clearly has problems in his marriage. In another episode, it became clear he was concealing his separation from his wife -- but in this episode, he didn't respond to the female translator's semi-flirtatious overtures. She was monitoring the wedding toasts and at one point translated the toast by the father of the bride to the wedding couple, a standard though heartfelt look back at the toaster's love affair with his wife and his hopes for his daughter. Miles, his eyes glistening, was riveted to the blasé translator's account, and you felt the different ways the speech was playing to each of them -- to one, it is almost an anonymous cliché; to the other, it was a painful reminder of the goals and dreams we set out with when we marry, no matter how well-worn the words.

A company or organization called Atlas McDowell surfaced as another link in the conspiracy, in findings by both Katherine and Will. Ingram tried to steer Will away from Donald Bloom and toward an ex-CIA agent named Edward Roy, who was associated with A-M. Katharine found references to it at home and in her late husband's files. Ingram was apparently gay, we found when Will arrived at his apartment for a command-performance dinner and was greeted by Walter. We also learned the depth of Maggie's loneliness; she reached out to Will but ultimately lost a step in any potential romance between them.

In all, an eventful episode. What did you think? And where do you think Kale Ingram is going to wind up in this thing?

-- Kelly Scott

Photo: James Badge Dale is Will Travers on “Rubicon.” Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / AMC

Comments () | Archives (15)

A great episode, the best so far. I hope they continue to keep up the good work.

I wouldn't trust Kale, but I don't think Will does anyway.

I guess my "gaydar" is not well developed as I didn't see the gay thing coming. Will didn't seem surprised, however.

I like the views into the characters romantic problems - it makes them more human. If the show was just spy games all the time it would get tedious pretty fast.

Hey Rubicon, Molasses called... it said, "Speed up"!
Deliberation is all fine and dandy, but if I want exposition this slow, I’ll go over and watch them repair the 405!!!
(or read a book…)

I'm a big fan of the show, but thought last night's show was the weakest episode offered to date. The bit with Will showing up at Maggie's after she slept with some schlep was all too predictable. For the first time in the series I found myself looking at the clock, hoping something would happen soon, and if not the episode would be over even sooner. In viewing the previews for next week which look action packed, I thought that perhaps this week was the set up and next week will be the pay off. I hope so.

Is "Rubicon" based on a book by any chance? If that were the case I would be either reading furiously or flipping pages ahead at the same pace. Either way, it is just far enough off the usual "spy-crap-map" that I have to keep watching.
The "schlep" Maggie slept with is going to be an important piece before it's all over...you heard it here first!
And I wouldn't trust Ingram any further than I could spit.
He's a great bad guy cuz half the time ya just don't want to believe it. Doesn't get any better than that. Robert Ludlum couldn't have written a better badnick!

I had such faith in the show! First episode got me intrigued. Second episode started to worry me. And I was lulled to sleep in the middle of the third one.

Besides, I can't really get over the fact that Will Travers = Will Schuester's older brother.

Then again, if Will Travers starts to burst into songs, that might've kept my attention...



OMG! I looove this show!!! Thanks for giving it a needed boost. Thanks to AMC for realizing that there is an audience for shows about espionage, intrigue, that are plausibly believable.

I've never worked in the intelligence arena, but boy does Rubicon make it look interesting. Sure you have to plow through tons of data (without the use of computers from the looks of things at API) but it must be amazing to work around intelligent people who really have the fate of the industrialized world in their hands.

Cheers to you for giving my new fav show some love!

If you're a fan, head over to AMC or IMDB and post so that the show's producers will give this show at least a full season.


Mesmerizing Rubicon gets under your skin like a timed-release drug, and then it hooks you for good.

Thanks for posting a blog for LA Times -- there are alot of watchers of this intelligent thriller, but like API, they are under the radar. Followers of politics, conspiracy theorists, and smart, smart folk will appreciate this show. Impatient iPad & Twitter sheeple need not apply.

Great show last night -- Kale in fine form, Will turning the tables on the guy tailing him -- Miles & the translator gal giving us a peek into modern-day surveillance. The world is small, people. Here's your look.

And all shot in location in NYC ... no fake backlot posers here. True NYC location shooting gives this show an authenticity like no other.

For those of you who have missed the show or just couldn't sync in the last few weeks, give it another shot -- this is like a video novel whose pages demand to be turned. A recap Marathon on AMC is coming up -- back to back episodes. Do NOT miss it.

I am so glad show tracker picked up Rubicon - I wasn't sure about this show at first, but now I am hooked. Yes it is slow, but I agree with the previous posts that it moves like a book and while I would certainly be flipping the pages to see what happens I would then go back and read for the wonderful detail. I realize I may be in the minority, but I enjoy the personal stories just as much as the conspiracy plot line. The Maggie/Will, Miles/wife, plot lines mirror the tension (albeit sexual), uncertainty, paranoia, and pure loneliness anyone would feel in a conspiracy. A great show capturing 9/11 confusion and uncertainty about the future...Arliss Howard is GREAT as Kale Ingram.

I like the slow moving thrillers.

However, Will works for a high security gov't organization, yet he's shocked to find his apt. is bugged, he's enraged that he's tailed by the world's worst operative, and yet when his team decides to kill a terrorist with a dozen or more deaths to innocents, .

The higher up you are in the organization, the less work you have, so you can spend your time on the 4 Leaf Clover conspiracy.

i love all the personal drama too---and i love miranda richardson---so nice to get to watch her every week.

Rubicon, Mad Men & Breaking Bad....all three on the same network. They make Sunday the topping on the cake.

I fear this show has already jumped the shark. Unlike the ADD-suffering viewer above, the appeal of this show was that it slowly, beautifully revealed one layer of a mystery only to reveal another. Every moment seemed was timed to perfection. Now we're being bludgeoned over the head with the obvious, subjected to yet another comical sex interlude--wow, that's new--and artful restraint has now given way to the blunt object.

How sad, a show that started out so amazingly well has already turned into standard TV fare.

RUBICON Review -- this hypnotic intelligence thriller injects you slowly, and before you know it you're addicted. This is a show for adults -- everyone else can go home.

AMC needs to run an 11:00pm showing of the show because this is the time slot it will play best -- in the dark of night, when shadows are not what they are supposed to be, and the mind starts to play games between real, the unreal and sleep.

Arliss Howard, Michael Cristofer and Miranda Richardson are superb. And James Badge Dale is an unexpected, handsome, authentic surprise -- no Hollywood poser here. Catch this intelligent thriller as catch can.

I love this show....You're right CRPT...it is like a drug and yes ...I am a big Fan! Thanks...Sunday night TV just got better!


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