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'Rubicon': 'Ruthless is not cruel; ruthless is whatever it takes"

Rubicon108"Rubicon" showed us something Sunday night that I hadn’t seen on television: a fictional depiction of the process by which the U.S. attempts to verify information from terrorist suspects detained in so-called black sites around the world during “enhanced interrogations.”
A suspect named Nasri might or might not have been able to verify whether Kateb survived an air strike (Will's team had played a part in deciding to launch the air strike to kill Kateb) despite initial reports that he was dead.

Miles and Tanya were flown 13 hours to an undisclosed site. There, they were asked to listen to what interrogators were able to get out of Nasri, who was shown hanging shackled from the ceiling of a cell in a nameless facility, screaming in pain. They listened to the sessions and assessed the information. Their opinion: None of it was reliable.

This was just one strand of Sunday’s episode, in which we followed Will inside an office of Atlas McDowell, the shadowy “leviathan” that Will keeps bumping up against in his rogue investigation of a colleague and friend’s death. Inside the company's lavish yet anonymous office on Gansevoort Street on Manhattan's West Side, he stole a telephone list and later reported to Ingram that there was an extension not only for their boss, Truxton Spangler, but also numbers of former generals, U.S. senators and the one-time head of the NSA.

Kale Ingram was everywhere – except at the black ops site. He met Maggie under one of the major Manhattan bridges (couldn’t tell which one -- can anyone ID it?) to learn what she might have found going through Will’s office trash and coat pockets. He met Ed Bancroft on a park bench to give him some leads to research in Will’s attempts to find out who killed David Hadas. He met Will several times on the roof of API, once to rat out Maggie and another time to tell an increasingly frustrated Will that he was aware of how Will perceived him -- but “ruthless is not cruel; ruthless is whatever it takes.”

And there was another meeting between Ingram and Maggie, after Will fired her, in which he confessed to telling Will that she was spying on him. He could tell she had grown to fond of him and would probably start pulling punches in her reports back to Ingram. “Believe it or not, I’m Will Travers’ guardian angel,” Kale told her.

People kept telling Will to “follow the patterns,” whether in a chess game or his work on the larger conspiracy. Here are a few things I learned from this episode, but please: Check my work, readers, and tell me if I’m missing anything important:

-- Miles and Tanya’s trip to the black ops site left them with the sense that the CIA had used them in the interrogation of Nasri to help determine whether Tanaz Zahar, the woman in the surveillance photos of George and Uri, was actually a double agent. This resulted in much consternation on the part of Miles, who thought they had been jerked around.

-- James Wheeler appeared to be shielding Katherine Rhumor from his fellow four-leaf-clover conspirators, and he may have been close to paying the price. According to Spangler, Tom Rhumor had compromised the integrity of the group -- but we don’t know how.  Wheeler spotted someone in a neighboring building looking into his office window with binoculars (again, this show has some inept surveillance teams). At episode’s end, he drew a clover on the back of the old photograph of the row of children he took from Tom Rhumor’s townhouse and sent it to Katharine.

-- If I’m not mistaken, Ingram confirmed to Will for the first time that David Hadas was purposely killed.

-- Kale Ingram has emerged as the most interesting character on the show. He is deliciously multi-motivated and extremely artful in playing people against one another. At one point, Ed Bancroft said he would not trust Ingram; yet he proceeded to follow his clues, and darned if they didn't lead somewhere important. The question is, is it truly important or just the place Ingram wants Ed and Will to be, for now?

I’m finished complaining about the slow pace of "Rubicon." It is what it is, a somewhat strange hybrid. There is stuff you kind of think you’ve seen before, with plot elements you kind of think you can anticipate.  … There is also, as one reader told me last week, an almost headache-inducing amount of things to keep track of. But then there will be a breathtaking stroke of originality or impressive, dramatic developments right off of the news. My question is how they’re going to wrap it up (how many more episodes can there be?), at least until they know whether it will be renewed for another season.

-- Kelly Scott

Above: James Badge Dale as Will Travers. Credit: Craig Blakenhorn / AMC

Comments () | Archives (14)

I agree with you about the pace of the program. It was frustrating me for several episodes. Now I've gotten used to the pace and the show itself seemed to have a taken a turn. Something is finally happening. What that is, I'm not exactly sure yet.

I'm as intrigued as you about Kale. I certainly have a love/hate relationship with him. Mostly because I can't figure him out. I generally like the characters of Will and his team (Miles rocks, doesn't he?) and I'm interested in what makes them tick as much as the storyline.

I think you've got it mostly right, though. And I agree with you on the completely inept surveillance going on. I think my 9 year old twins could do a better job of not getting caught spying on these characters!!

I look forward to this show every week. It's one of the few I like on tv right now, so I really hope the first season gives us a very satisfying ending. I have a feeling now that might happen. For several weeks, I was worried that the show would continue down such divergent paths that it would be impossible to tie up any loose ends.

Kale & Maggie's meeting under a NYC bridge was actually under the FDR drive just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. You can see the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance, identified by the gothic arches. This location is just outside of the buiding used for the location of API. In some scenes you can see cars go by on the FDR drive.

Forgot to mention in previous post, Rubicon was shooting about a week ago in Long Beach NY and was previously shooting in NYC about 6 weeks ago in the West 40s just east of the Port Authority bus terminal area. Don't know if this is for next season, but assumed (and hope) so.

I'm hanging on by a thread with this show. I'm getting weary of all the twists and turns and no resolutions ... what was the thing with Wheeler and the sex girl? Why would that make him "pay the price"? Too many questions for too many weeks. I can't believe they'll be able to tie it all up at the end of the season. The series reminds me of "Damages." Lots of intrigue at the beginning, but it wasn't sustainable and became a comic book joke. I like Will ... and his goofy team ... but I'm about to give up.

I really hope it gets renewed just for plot sake. I'm finally conceded this show as my new "Lost" replacement...not only has this show keep you guessing and paranoid throughout but I don't ever get the sense that it doesn't already have answers that are grounded in a more realistic world. I'd go so far as to say that it's the smartest show out there...and not because it gives you so much info you should probably start your own floor sprawl of info...just because you're constantly seconded guessing your opinion of what's really going on. Next to Damages, no other dramas are really trying to break the mold on this old concept.

I continue to watch, wanting to feel I have at least a clue to what's going on, but I wonder..... Should I have to work this hard for television?

Plus I think I saw Louis CK eating pizza in the background last episode.

They shoot the show at 42 Fletcher street to be exact. Look it up on google earth. This show is fantastic and it just keeps getting more and more interesting every week. I really hope it gets picked up for a second season.

I love this show. I don't know what's going on, and that's what makes the show so enjoyable.

I was a "Lost" fan, but towards the end the plot got so far removed from reality that it was frustrating.

You can nitpick about the inept surveillance, but I appreciate a show that is grounded in a world that I know little about (the intelligence / national security world) but gives a window into how people working in this world might do their jobs.

The actors are interesting-looking if nothing else:

Tanya must be brilliant -- how else could she even get this job? She looks so spaced out all of the time, I don't know how she even made it past the first round of interviews.

We now know how Maggie got her job, but we don't know why Kale Ingram is so concerned about the welfare of her daughter.

Miles is miles.

Spangler is the creepiest boss you can imagine.

Will Travers reminds me of Fox Mulder -- working from the inside to uncover the conspiracy/truth. Except that instead of being an outcast working from the basement like Fox Mulder, he's the bright young star that his boss (Spangler) thinks enough of, he shows him the ropes on a business trip to D.C.

Kale Ingram has to be my favorite of all the characters -- he actually makes me talk out loud to the TV set when he says something outrageous like

--Telling Will that Maggie was spying on him and "quite fond of him" in the same breath, with that devilish smile.

--Asking Maggie if Will has asked her out yet and says "he would be a fool not to ask her".

--Telling Ed Bancroft that "he's admitting Will was right about him" , when Will said that Ed was mentally "too fragile" to help him with his investigation.

There are more "Kale-isms", but those are the ones that stand out. Even his name is the most memorable: Kale Ingram.

I love his character! So devilishy sneaky he makes me angry, but so full of snarky comments, he makes me laugh out loud.

I hope this show gets renewed for next season.

Thank you, Kelly...
My wife and I have watched Rubicon since it began and, as more and more episodes trudge across our flatscreen, I leave it to my wife to keep up with what is supposedly going on.

I much prefer your guesstimates ("tell me if I’m missing anything important," "If I’m not mistaken," etc.) Keep up the good work keeping your eyes and ears open and helping to decipher what, to me, is inscrutable.

I read somewhere that there are 13 episodes. I hope this show gets renewed because it got me hooked from the very beginning. I look forward to it every Sunday night. I'm taping it and saving it on my DVR.

I enjoy the Miles and Tanya characters the most. They seem the most real to me.

How could Will simply walk into Atlas, prod the receptionist for information, walk into the lobby then stand there for 30 secs-1 minute then steal the phone directory??

I get it about "this show has some inept surveillance teams" But then I started thinking about. I believe the clover group wanted James Wheeler to know he was being watched because they preceived him of protecting Katherine Rhumor. He is now a problem and he knows it nad there is only one way out. For reasons I hope they reveal we will know why it was dangerous to to protect her.

And yes I agree that Kale is the most interesting character on the show. I believe him when he stated that he is sworn to up hold the Constitution.... because he gave a hint of his patriotism when he was having lunch with the assisin. Kale commented on "we were killing people" and tha assisin stated that that was half of the fun. Kale looks up in disbielf. Kale is indeed ruthless but it all has "higher meaning" in that his ruthlessness protects and defends the Constitution.

What I wonder about Kale is how will is homosexuality play into the bigger picture? The writers are dropping hints that it is important. The first hint (that I saw anyway) was when he told Will that he missed a button on his shirt. I think Kale is in love with Will and that is why he is Wills gaudian angel.

The show is great and them most interesting hour of TV. There is life after 24 and Sea Hunt (which I wish they would bring back


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