tv review – AMC’s Turn, episode 1.10

Turn‘s finale, ‘The Battle Of Setauket’, was a serviceable last episode to the first season of the show. It failed to be as grandiose as the title would have you believe though, since it mainly revolved about Major Hewlett’s men seeking refuge up in the town’s untakeable church, while Ben Tallmadge an his soldiers tried to come up with a way to rescue the hostages Simcoe kept there. Abe obviously proved instrumental in achieving this goal; he was sent there with Tallmadge’s demands, which angered Simcoe and saw him kill Caleb’s uncle as a result. Hewlett then had Simcoe tied up and set the hostages free as a gesture of good will, to make up for the unnecessary death caused by someone under his command. Tallmadge and his soldiers then fled town once the British reinforcements arrived.

What happened almost seemed to change the shows dynamic going forward: with Tallmadge, Silah Strong had also returned to town and his wife Anna was of course surprised to see him: she’d been thinking he was dead ever since her visit to New York. Once Washington’s soldiers left, Silah had Anna come with him while they boarded the boats to get away from the British. It seemed like, if we’ll get a season 2, Anna was going to be part of another environment than we had seen her in all season long, which seemed like a surprising but bold step that could possible reinvigorate the new run and treat viewers to a break from the familiar. But, it wasn’t long before Anna looked back at the shore, saw Abe standing there, and jumped ship. It seemed that, in that moment, Silah knew these two were lovers, but a season 2 will undoubtedly follow up on this decision of Anna’s.

If the show goes forward we will see some changes though: when Abraham found out his wife learned he’s a spy, she burned his notes and he tried to reason with her, private Baker once again came in at the most inopportune moment. Abe was forced to shoot him, and Mary then was suddenly all aboard with her husband’s occupation: she suggested they’d get their child, burn the house down, pin the murder and destruction on the rebelds, and then move in with Abraham’s father. And so they did. The episode ended with image of the Woodhull farm engulfed in flames, which felt like an anticlimactic final scene for a season of TV. Additionally ‘The Battle Of Setauket’ treated us to another change going forward: John André relieved Robert Rogers of his duties as the mercenaries’ leader, after which Rogers left André’s villa laughing maniacally. It was a moment that really had no place in an episode so firmly focused on Setauket, especially not because that storyline tried to play it straight (Simcoe’s antics notwithstanding), something Rogers’ outlandish and cartoonish reaction really didn’t gel with.

Much like the entire season ‘The Battle For Setauket’ was plagued by inconsistencies in tone and a lack of depth to its characters. Anna’s reaction to Silah’s return simply wasn’t there, because the plot had to move forward, and for that the episode glossed over the emotional turmoil Anna should’ve been feeling at that moment. Once again Turn proved that the writing of its characters leaves much to be desired, that it’s a show that’s wholly plot-driven. It’s only the more baffling then that the series’ hook, the espionage angle, really hasn’t been all that well-developed all season long. Abraham himself and his profession are hardly as important as they should be for a thrilling and interesting story about America’s first spy ring. Woodhull still seems like a bystander, and quite a dull one at that. During this last episode he became somewhat more vocal, but only because people pushed him. Jamie Bell makes sure there’s a fire there in his character, but narratively his personality still fails to be organic or make much sense. Even in ‘The Battle For Setauket’ the series’ primary protagonist still felt like a stranger, like a man we still don’t know much about, that we don’t really care or root for. While the show has quite a few problems, the lack of a strong lead is undoubtedly its biggest drawback.

‘The Battle Of Setauket’ was a fitting conclusion to Turn‘s first season: it was inconsistent, not all that engaging, but it moved along swiftly enough to at least keep viewers somewhat interested. 6/10

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