tv review – AMC’s Turn, episode 1.9

‘Against Thy Neighbor’ was all about Simcoe’s plan to… frame an entire village? The last couple of weeks he had been looking for spies and traitors among Setauket’s inhabitants, but during the latest Turn episode he took it a step further. First he poisoned Major Hewlett’s horse to make Hewlett think the rebels wanted to kill him, then he had Judge Woodhull shot, and, eventually, he pinned both these acts on Caleb Brewster’s uncle and Ben Tallmadge’s father. Why? Because these family names were on his list of supposed Washington sympathizers and he tried to apply pressure to flush out other villagers who possibly signed a presumed petition, which, fortunately for him, happened. It’s absolutely insane that Simcoe’s course of action yielded these results, especially because, as Hewlett himself put it before his horse died, Simcoe basically had nothing more to go on than hearsay. We already knew that Simcoe was mad, but the fact he sacrificed a horse and two possibly innocent men to possibly find out more out rebels, certainly reinforced that notion. It all was a bit of a stretch, a plan that just doesn’t hold together all that well when you start dissecting it. But, bonkers as it was… it was entertaining.

It seems I’ve finally gotten used to Simcoe’s mustache-twirling ways and his nonsensical plan really played up that nature of the character. Not only that: his interactions with Abe this episode were fun to watch, because both men know actually what the other is but they don’t come out and say it. It made for a nice tension, something which definitely made the scenes of these two together fun to watch. Especially the court scenes were good: Abraham took over for his father as the Judge to process the men Simcoe held accountable for the poisoned horse and assassination attempt of Abe’s father, which the goal to mess up, setting the men free. It allowed Jamie Bell to finally let loose and step out of Abe’s usual mannerisms and quiet attitude; he really hammed it up, conducted ridiculously intense interrogations, something that was so over the top that it was very comedic. The final note to this plot strand was also a great surprise: Abe made Simcoe ruin his own plan when the pallet retrieved from his father’s wound didn’t match up with the accused’s weapon. ‘Against Thy Neighbor’ put together a nice pastiche of different genre conventions and twisted them in a way that, in the context of Turn, it moved at a great pace and made perfect sense. Despite it’s pulpy quality it was still very enjoyable and, in the end, isn’t that what counts? Now, with the Setauket villagers set free once again, Abe made it his personal goal to bring the man responsible for shooting his father to justice, and it’ll be nice to see how that plays out.

Additionally we were given a few Ben, Caleb and Silah scenes, which were basically about Washington’s tactical prowess: he sent the boys up north to lure the enemy into trap, to have the British thinking that Washington’s army is afraid and not strong enough in order to lure them in. When a Setauket fugitive encountered these soldiers though, Ben and Caleb made up their minds: to return to Setauket and do something about its occupation. Meanwhile Mary found Abraham’s secret log, so it seems that, in next week’s final episode of Turn‘s first season, a lot of things will come to a head, other than showing us the historical Battle of Setauket.

‘Against Thy Neighbor’ ranks among the season’s best episodes: it moved at a brisk pace and embraced a less self-serious tone that made for many enjoyable moments. 7/10

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