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Wednesday, 16 of October of 2019

Rubicon – “Keep the Ends Out” & “The Outsider”

I hate us.”

“Keep the Ends Out” is probably the dullest episode of TV I’ve seen in a while. It’s a struggle to get through and it was a struggle to write anything about. “The Outsider” is perhaps aptly name since it pushes back whatever conspiracy Will is investigating to the backburner as he and Spangler visit D.C. to shore up API’s standing with powerbrokers there. If “Keep the Ends Out” made me wonder why I was watching, “The Outsider,” at the very least, reassured me that the show can be engaging and interesting.

That said, both episodes still work through notions of grief and guilt, ideas that I feel are central to the show far more than any 4-leaf clover based conspiracy.

Most clearly representative of this is Katherine’s search for answers about Tom’s suicide and his other life. And unlike Will’s search, Katherine benefits from not being an analyst, from not having esoteric clues to figure out (I certainly wouldn’t know the dates that the Yankees won the World Series if I hated them). Indeed, her role as a grieving widow gives her access to credit card records from Chinese restaurants and the freedom to wander aimlessly around her newly acquired townhouse (I guess the company she got is running itself just fine?).

Katherine’s investigation allows her to not only work through her grief, but provide a portrait of grief, of questioning that people experience in the aftermath of an unexpected suicide. While I think that House handled the issue with finesse that few shows manage to do, I think Rubicon, especially through Katherine’s story, will perhaps offer some other insights. My concern, of course, is that while I find it an interesting reading, I know it’ll eventually lead Katherine to Will’s search for answers about David and may undercut the weight of the theme in the process.

Will, of course, is burdened not only by grief at David’s death/murder, but also the guilt at surviving his family. While I feel like this motivates his work at API, he’s able to solve things that others can’t in, it’s also an effort to lock himself away from dealing with those emotions by engaging in purely analytical exercises. He works through David’s death with clues David left behind. Taking apart a motorcycle that meant the world to David would be the normal thing to do, a way to feel connected to David. Instead, David leaves a cypher and a big gun in the seat. To each his own way of working through sorrow.

In each case, the struggle to make sense of death and loss underlines the actions the characters take, and this, for me anyway, creates a compelling story and world. I just hope the conspiracy doesn’t overtake it too much. Certainly that’s supposed to be the draw of the show, the conspiracy serialization, but I think, from time to time, the serialization of grief, will be more interesting, and, ultimately, more rewarding. Spangler makes the points at the end of “The Outsider” that solitude and separation are gifts in the intelligence business. They’re gifts in coping with death, too.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Even the secondary characters fit into this thematic framework, too. Miles’ working through being cut off from his family, especially his children, is played out in his desire for an as-close-to-definitive answer about the order to attack a terrorist leader, who who has killed children.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed Spangler’s riffs on briefcases and ties. What else is a man who may be a part of this fourth branch of government supposed to think about?
  • “That’s what MILF means.” Oh, Grant.


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