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Sunday, 7 of March of 2021

Rubicon – “In Whom We Trust”

Could it be I’m paranoid?”

I don’t have a whole lot to say about “In Whom We Trust.” It’s not the episode isn’t good, because it’s up the level of quality that Rubicon has been consistently meeting all season. It’s just that, like what I hit with Community last season, I’m running out of ways to say positive things.

However, as things begin to merge and the endgame somehow comes into focus, the big block in my notes, and what spurred on a conversation on Twitter, was how to classify Rubicon‘s narrative structure, especially given the dual-focus nature of the show. So, really, that’s what I’ll tackle below. If you follow me, Jeremy Mongeau and/or Dan Winclechter on Twitter, then you’ve seen some of this already.

“In Whom We Trust” killed off Yuri and George, two of the targets Will’s team as been following all season (Tanaz was killed last week) (and, well, almost George, I think). Something big is about to happen as someone is tying off the loose ends. This development led me to think: Is Rubicon two shows in one? A strong procedural plot (what the team does)  as well as a serialized arc (Will’s whole thing).

Certainly the team’s plot feels procedural. It’s their job: sort through documents, draw conclusions, make recommendations, and then go home to their very unhappy lives (that we only see when those unhappy lives invade API, like last week with Grant’s wife). Each episode they edge a little closer to some new facts (or play solitaire on the computer). But, in the end, this is their job. Just like it was Lupo and Bernard’s jobs to chase down criminals with records and fingerprints.

On the other side, we have Will’s on-going investigation into the Clovers and why David was killed. This is the part that feels more like a serial due to the fact that the audience feels as in the dark as Will, with access to his clues, as well as bits of the truth thanks to our narrative vantage point. This feels like meaty arc stuff in the classic sense of hunting down Laura Palmer’s killer or figuring out what’s in the hatch. It moves slowly and then speeds up and then slowly again.

Of course, both plots are really serial plots. Just like The Wire‘s seasons are a serialized ones despite  being like very long procedurals (especially the first and third seasons), Rubicon‘s more procedural elements have been strung out across the entire season, just like Will’s arc investigation. Indeed, with Rubicon, you get, as Jeremy noted, two shows in one: “Will Travers Investigates!” [his words] and “The Really Slow Version of 24” [my words]. Both shows need each other to really work. Without the other, the individual plots would become tedious and repetitive. But by cutting between the investigations (plus Spangler’s dealings and Katherine’s search), you create a taunt and fully realized whole.

Now, the last nail in the coffin for the team’s investigation as a serial is, as Dan predicts will occur, is that the whole George-Yuri-Tanaz story will eventually dovetail into Will’s investigation. I’m less than crazy about this idea, as I would prefer it to be totally independent of what the Clovers are doing. I’m doubtful, however, that I’m right. Everything is connected, after all, so I imagine, in however small a way, both plots will come together in the end.

I just hope Will doesn’t spend the finale racing through New York to stop a bomb.

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