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Sunday, 7 of March of 2021

Rubicon – “The Truth Will Out” & “Caught in the Suck”

In your mind, you already have.”

It’s an octopus.”

I’ve been a bad Rubicon cheerleader. I didn’t get to “The Truth Will Out” until today, and I skipped “Caught in the Suck” last night so I could watch the two episodes together. As a result, even though I’m caught up, I actually feel a little behind on the show now. Part of this is simply that I’m normally very good about watching shows I’m engaged with when they air, especially a serialized piece of work like Rubicon. Another part, however, is that these two episodes kind of left me out of breath, albeit in a good way.

Both episodes provide considerable steps forward in Will’s search for David’s killer (David, who, for whatever reason, now gets referred to by his last name Hadas, even by Will), which is good to see. One of the well-trodden complaints about a post-Lost TVscape was that shows with mysteries want to be like Lost, so they’d get wrapped up in the mystery and slowly eek things out even though most episodes simply felt like they were running in place (we’ll see how The Event handles this issue).

I don’t think that Rubicon is out to be a mythology heavy show like Lost, even though it is a mystery show. Part of this is that Rubicon‘s mystery is fantasy or science fiction, but paranoid thriller, so there’s some grounding to it: as an audience, we can wrap our brain around possibilities, think ahead, see patterns as it were. In Lost or FlashForward, there was no telling what could happen because, well, anything was fair game due to the genre the shows operated within. This isn’t to say that Rubicon can’t still pull the rug out from under us (Grant is the true mastermind behind EVERYTHING!), but that its rug pulling has to grounded in its genre, otherwise we’ll call foul and refuse the narrative.

But the other part of Rubicon‘s success is, and this was Lost‘s success as well, is that there are still characters operating within the narrative, characters we can latch on to in case things get “too weird.” And more successfully than Lost, Rubicon gives us narrative threads that, for all we known, don’t tie into Will’s search. Grant, Miles, and Tanya going through intel to discover what’s going on with George Beck and that terrorist network takes up portions of the episodes, giving us two threads to follow, two sets of characters to engage with, and two sets of mysteries. Even if Will’s conspiracy only develops a little bit, the George Beck story can develop a bit more (since it seems less important, overall), and we still come away from the episode feeling like the show has accomplished something.

In particular, these two episode do a nice job of managing these two narratives, as considerable development happens both in Will’s narrative (he simply wanders into Atlas MacDowell without being fully aware of it, and elicits excellent intel from the receptionist and steals a telephone directory) and the George Beck narrative (the group discovers the identity of the third person, realizes the CIA is involved). At the same time that the show balances these elements, it also gives us small personal bits: Grant’s home life is given some play (no one at API seems to have much success outside the office), Tanya’s drug use (narratively) pays off, Maggie’s relationship with Will┬ádeteriorates, and Miles continues to grapple with the philosophical and ethical ramifications of what his job does (“Guardians of the truth.”)

If there’s a weak link to be had, it is increasingly Katherine. To be fair, the character lacks of the skills and resources necessary to fully investigate Tom’s death (seeing her with documents spread out like Will only serves to reinforce this idea), so it’s only reasonable that her narrative would move at a slower pace. That said, it looks clunky compared to the other narratives at play in the show. While hopefully Wheeler’s mysterious photo will spur on the narrative a bit, the thread consistently feels like a bit of an afterthought.

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