Sunday, August 13, 2017

TV Show Review: TURN: Washington's Spies (Season 4)

The television show based on the saga of Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) and the spy ring he built to help the American colonies defy the British Empire in the Revolutionary War came to an end. The final season moved the timeline towards the end of the war and saw the death of major characters and the final relaying of information that proved crucial to the British defeat. I had given up on this show back in the second season finding the acting a little corny and the dialogue strange, but when I decided to catch up on it, I found myself enjoying the dramas of the characters alongside the pressures of war. Anna Strong (Heather Lind) finds herself in the refugee camp after refusing marriage to Major Hewlett (Burn Gorman). She conspires with Ben Talmadge (Seth Numrich) and Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall) to root out the spies in the camp who seek to betray General George Washington (Ian Kahn).

Woodhull has been so close to being exposed on numerous occasions especially as he was hunted by John Simcoe (Samuel Roukin). The plot at the beginning of the season sees Woodhull parting from his wife Mary (Meegan Warner) who has taken resistance into her own hands before including shooting Simcoe, and pretending to be captured with his father Judge Richard Woodhull (Kevin McNally) by the rebels in order to free Caleb. This plot goes terribly wrong when the Judge is shot during the prisoner exchange and Abraham is nearly shot too if he wasn't saved by Akinbode (Aldis Hodge). The murder of his father gives Woodhull the chance to disguise his motivations for joining the British army. 

In the army, Woodhull works to discover information about the traitor Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman). Arnold's wife Peggy (Ksenia Solo) has turned against him and eventually conspires with her maid Abigail (Idara Victor) to betray her husband. Anna Strong becomes aware of a rebellion growing in the ranks of the soldiers and pleads with Alexander Hamilton, who makes a brief cameo, as she also grows fond of Talmadge. Woodhull works to traffic in information but is hindered by the appearance of Simcoe's battalion though he goes unrecognized for some time. Major Hewitt reemerges as head of intelligence for the British and threatens to expose Woodhull but his hatred for Simcoe overpowers that and leads him to conspire with Woodhull to kill the man. Their plan struggles to take off as Simcoe take precautions against assassination.

Woodhull is able to transmit information back to the rebel army through his contact in New York, Robert Townsend (Nick Westrate). Woodhull is distressed to discover that he will be marching to fight instead of staying in the barracks. He finds himself in the middle of battle and during one of the most exciting episodes confront Simcoe just as Caleb Brewster on his march to find Abraham, spots them in battle. Caleb shoots Simcoe just as he is about to strike Woodhull allowing Abraham to knock him down and gravely wound him. Major Hewitt has a chance to kill Simcoe but exhibits mercy and allows him to head up to Canada to begin anew. The war winds down in the final episodes as Woodhull is captured by rebels only to strive to prove he was working for America all along. He then seeks to get paid for his work as the final fighting ensues. Everyone moves on to an unsure future as the war has taken its toll on the characters.

TURN takes an interesting look at history with exciting stories and different perspective to the common story of American independence. The key players are interesting to look up in reference material to see how they did influence the Revolutionary War, something that is not fully taught in history and almost forgotten. Jamie Bell does a decent job leading the series and Samuel Roukin is an impressive villain that so great at being unlikable. I found the last two season a little more exciting than the slower second as the drama ratcheted up near the end of the war. My review can hardly capture all the various stories that weave together for such an exciting tale about the spies and deception that assisted the American army in outsmarting the much larger British one. It's a show that I'm glad I took the time to revisit and give a second chance with a solid ending. 

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