tv review – AMC’s Turn, episode 1.7

‘Mercy Moment Murder Measure’ surely has to win the award for most cringeworthy episode title of 2014, and is a perfect example of why alliteration isn’t always the best way to go. Regardless the outing itself was quite decent: it focused on Simcoe’s return to Sitauket and, being the loose cannon he is, he caused trouble there for nearly every person he encountered. First the Major wasn’t happy to see him and explicitly told him not to cause a ruckus, then Anna was scared out of her mind but sensible enough to take advantage of Simcoe’s stalker ways, and finally even Abe wanted to kill the poor bastard. I guess beating up a man for no particular reason other than to claim a girl who isn’t yours, isn’t really how you make friends. All of Simcoe’s shenanigans, fueled by his desire to catch the Sitauket traitors and win Anna for himself, led to a dual and, despite a few bangs, it ended with a whimper. We sort of knew that going in, though: Simcoe’s the closest the show has to an antagonist and Abraham is its protagonist. The deus ex machina in the form of Abe’s father and Anna, who both tried to stop Simcoe from killing Abe, came practically gift-wrapped. Anna had hoped Abraham would put an end to Simcoe’s life though, which he didn’t because, basically, he’s a coward.

While the dual scene was executed well (no pun intended), the entirely predictable outcome made it lack tension and impact. There were a myriad of ways the show could’ve handled its lack of consequence though, but the way it went about it was very mediocre because it didn’t give us any new information and didn’t really affect change in any of its characters. The dynamics more or less remained the same throughout ‘Mercy Moment Murder Measure’ and the end of the episode saw Anna and Abe riding off for business, providing a starting point for next week’s episode instead of letting the current events breathe some more and allow the characters some time to deal with what’s happened. Because Turn is such a plot-drive show, most of the time it really rushed through all the different moments it wants to present its audience with, just to get the plot to a certain point. Its characters are merely pawns being moved around, people who need to perform certain actions to cause reason for or resolution to certain situations, and that’s why most the characters are utterly bland and one-dimensional. It’s entirely up to the actors to add that layer that makes you believe these characters are human, that layer you need to actually care about what happens to them. Kevin McNally and Heather Lind manage to provide heart and, despite plot contrivances, make you buy their actions and words. Samuel Roukin and Jamie Bell fare less well: Roukin just chews scenery and Bell doesn’t bring much else to the table than either angry or pained stares. Don’t misunderstand me: the actors don’t have much to work with, but some deal better with that fact than others.

The B-story this week involved Robert Rogers setting a trap for Benjamin by sending him a letter containing the lie that Ben’s brother Samuel was still alive and that he was to be met at a certain location. Ben’s joy after reading the message was effective and sad because he is obviously set up for disappointment, at the very least. Because Ben really couldn’t desert his post Caleb promised his friend to pick up Samuel, so let’s hope that whatever is waiting for Caleb doesn’t kill him. My guess is Ben wouldn’t handle it very well.

‘Mercy Moment Murder Measure’ pushed the plot forward, but Turn is still hampered by its lack of relatable characters and predictable… turns. 5/10

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