Published on October 19th, 2010 | by Ernie Estrella1
Rubicon Season 1 Finale Episode 13: You Can Never Win
With the walls closing in on Truxton Spangler (Michael Cristofer) in the Rubicon Season 1 Finale, he never backed down; instead he challenged everyone who would confront him.
Surrender and powerlessness are over-arcing themes in this finale, as well as the series. The future of the American Policy Institute is in doubt, as is the integrity and reputation of the work done there and that’s why Kale (Arliss Howard) tells Will (James Badge Dale) to back down from his attack on Spangler despite the attempts on his life and David’s murder. Kale’s the weathered soldier and understands Will idealism, but winning one battle doesn’t mean the war is won. One person was going to wave the white flag in this episode and it’s the person we least expected.
The head of API was warned by the other conspirators that he had gone too far, and that too many people knew– Will in particular–what they were up to. Everything they’ve done has been designed to make Iran a scapegoat and become a casualty of a manufactured war they could profit from. More innocent lives would be exchanged to fatten their wallets. But fearing they may have gone too far, or that they might be exposed, they cast their votes and send Spangler the dreaded bouquet of flowers and four-leaf clover that’s used as a message. In other words, “You’re a threat to us. End your life or else we will kill you and your entire living family.”
But Spangler’s not going out like that. He was so bold and brazen that he stood in front of his employees, scolding them for failing to prevent the tanker bombing in Galveston, Texas and challenging them to find out who was behind the tanker bombing. Shrugging off the countless other innocent deaths he’s been responsible for, television has never seen a man this cold.
Will did exactly as he was directed and confronted Spangler with all the evidence and threatened to expose the conspiracy. Spangler replied, “Make your report, Will. Knock’em dead. I’m sure it will make for interesting reading. ‘Skullduggery in high places.’ Do you really think, anyone, is going to give a shit? Do it. Do it.” On top of the stakes presented to him by the conspiracy, and now everything Will lays out, Spangler just walks away.
For 13 episodes Will has lost or failed in everything he’s done. This simple, but brilliant analyst just wanted answers for his father-in-law’s death, not a pile of dead bodies rising around him. Katherine Rhumor (Miranda Richardson) was the latest to be taken out, right before she was going to give him proof of her husband’s involvement in treason and mass murder. Tom gave Katherine one final message, to go to an address if she feared for her life. Surprisingly, that tip led her to Andy (Annie Parisse), who is not such an innocent peeper after all.
Everything that happened came together wonderfully on Sunday night as Will made all the connections he needed to indict Spangler, after getting Miles (Dallas Roberts) to help him connect Donald Bloom and Atlas McDowell, the company spearheading all of the troubles at the global hotspots, to Galveston.
Which leaves viewers wondering–if there is a second season–what will Will decide to do, and after that decision, what will happen to API?
Within Will’s team, Grant’s been promoted to team leader, getting what he had hoped for his entire career, while Tanya (Lauren Hodges) has decided the life of an API analyst is making her miserable and is a large reason as to why she depends on the drugs. She resigns to the disappointment of the team and her superiors, as well as the audience. Whether it was the drugs, the alcohol, or the therapy, Tanya like Will was willing to see the bigger picture and her peculiar behavior grounded the team in some strange contrasting fashion. Maggie (Jessica Collins) has found her way back into Will’s good graces and in a vulnerable moment Will gives her what she’s wanted from the beginning, his trust.
Grant’s the company man; he finally got the promotion he felt he was ready for when Will was picked instead. No truer words were spoken when Will tells Grant, “This promotion should have been yours a long time ago.” There would have been a lot less bloodshed if that were the case. Everything would have been status quo, but then again, we wouldn’t have had a story.
Rubicon has crept up and become one of the more promising new shows this season. With its highly decompressed story, the slow candle burn is an ambitious attempt at debunking a crime of this magnitude in real time. While most shows would try to fit what happened the entire season into the pilot, Rubicon is purified air in the otherwise polluted TV airwaves. But the Sunday nighttime slot has not been forgiving for a show that moves with this precision, competing against heavyweights like Showtime’s Dexter and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, as well as the NFL.
Still, there’s a strong pulse that’s begun to beat and the characters that inhabit Rubicon have those innate qualities that are rarely found in the hustle of primetime. James Badge Dale has been an incredible lead actor, especially in the last month where Will has been forced into unfamiliar action; Arliss Howard and Michael Cristofer, though, portray two of the most unpredictable and astounding characters on television.
For there to be a follow up season, Will has to sit on this information and retreat, but he would have to tell Grant what he knows. Otherwise Grant would jump on the Iran lead and take the U.S. wrongly into war. Will would be able to operate without the scrutiny of being a team leader. Still that would eat at his soul given the knowledge he has. It’s noticeably taken quite a toll already. If the Spangler situation somehow gets resolved, there are still four men that remain in the conspiracy.
Could Will really sit on the truth, especially when it’s this horrific? If Will chooses to go public, it would be up to Kale to take that report and do something that would put API in harm’s way and Spangler on the run against everyone. It would prompt a house cleaning, that’s for sure. Kale cares about API above almost everything outside of European furniture; he has incredible resources that would make him one badass boss and maybe Ed Bancroft could be brought back (Roger Robinson). This conspiracy was 50 years in the making, certainly one season of Rubicon couldn’t be enough to unravel it. Something has to give, let’s just hope AMC lets us see it.