‘Of Cabbages And Kings’ is the Turn episode that makes it abundantly clear that this series isn’t headed for greatness. I’ve been quite lenient with the first two outings of the show: a new show has to find its footing, set a tone and introduce its players. Most of the time a series will need more than just the pilot to achieve this, which I get, but it comes down to this: am I enjoying a show? Regarding Turn the honest answer to that question is a resounding ‘not really’: I’ve seen much worse shows and I find enjoyment in the period Turn‘s set in and enjoy some of the performances. The writing, direction and effects are all sub-par though, a notion ‘Of Cabbages And Kings’ solidified.
The episode focused on three plot strands: Abe visiting New York with his dad to do business/snoop around, Caleb visiting Anna, and Tallmadge trying to survive a mutiny. In the end all that what happened was that Abe found out useful information regarding a German mercenary army hired by the British, which he later told Abe and Anna about, and then Caleb was back on his way to Tallmadge who, by that time, had survived the mutiny. It wasn’t exciting, it wasn’t original, in fact I’m scratching my head to come up with a reason why this was a necessary story to tell. There was no character development, there were no emotional scenes that resonated; all we got was trite and expository dialogue, and scenes that felt like a repeat of scenes from past episodes (especially the one with Abe and his father). Everything’s also still painfully black and white, despite the show’s attempt at showing us that Washington’s soldiers could easily turn if they thought that would benefit their survival. The execution of this potentially intriguing plot strand was ham-fisted, the mutineers flat and dull characters, their rise-up told via clumsily shot action scenes. Who ever picks the side of the British is bad, is still what the show’s telling us, underlined by the cringeworthy writing of the Simcoe character and Samuel Roukin’s pantomime overacting.
As of right now the only interesting character around is Heather Lind’s Anna Strong, thanks to her performance, not to the material she’s been given. Lind exudes a warmth, vulnerability and fierceness that makes her very compelling to watch. Jamie Bell’s does what he can with his role, but the fact is Abe is just too much of a blank page to really care about. We learned a bit about Anna and Abe’s backstory, about the fact they used to be engaged until Abe’s father forced him to marry Mary instead, to honor a pact between two families. Meegan Warner’s Mary and Lind’s Anna had the best scene this week in which Mary confronted Anna, in which Mary declared she thought Abe and Anna were having an affair. It’s telling that this quite soapy scene stood out among bigger events this week, just because of the wonderful acting present.
Lastly a note on the special effects: atrocious! Especially in the episode’s last scene where Caleb got away in his boat. The terrible screen green effects killed any sense of immersion and made me stare at the screen in disbelief. I haven’t seen effects these bad in a long time, so please Turn, don’t do this again. Ever.
‘Of Cabbages And Kings’ was a dull, clumsy and overly simplified outing. I gave the show the benefit of the doubt before, but some sins I can’t forgive. 4/10