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Rubicon Recap: Stuff Happened!

The Bugatti Veyron is currently the fastest car in the world, able to go from zero to sixty miles per hour in an astonishing 2.46 seconds. By contrast, Rubicon, the slowest television show in the history of the world, goes from zero to sixty in roughly nine episodes or a brisk 540 minutes. Which is another way of saying: stuff happened this week! Actually, the sudden adrenaline on display in "No Honesty In Men" was almost too shocking: watching these formerly somnolent (but twitchy!) depressives running around doing human-being type things like flirting, eating food, and having sexual intercourse (!) was downright disconcerting. The overall effect was like giving a four-year-old ice cream for dinner: uncoordinated, hyperactive, and not really operating with an “inside voice.” But, hey, at least he’s eating, right?

So, after a few weeks of making googly eyes at the exhibitionist painter who lives across the way, Will decides to do what normal people in New York City do when they want to make a more lasting connection with an inappropriate neighbor with privacy issues: he packs up a duffle bag and knocks on her door at midnight with a bottle of wine, a tomato, and a well-worn folder of Ed Bancroft’s best Certified Crazy™ papers. What a romantic! “You brought me a tomato,” banters the painter, banteringly. “You looked pretty,” grunts caveman Will. And yet she lets him in anyway! It turns out the painter (who must have had a traumatic childhood incident involving curtains that the producers are clearly too delicate to tell us about) is named Andy. Oh, Rubicon! Flattery will get you everywhere.

Anyway, they make BLT sandwiches and drink terrible wine and even bring up the whole Will-is-emotionally-frozen-because-his-wife-died-in-9/11-when-he-must-have-been-like-23 thing. Andy, as a representative of the human race, is absurd: intensely forward and manic-pixie-dream-womanish the sort of person who lets strangers into her home in the middle of the night, offers them drugs, and isn’t offended when the stranger in question is a paranoid loon who is more interested in stashing folders in her bathroom and staring at his own apartment window than her company. However: as a character on Rubicon Andy is pretty great precisely because she lets some of the pompous air out of the room — the idea of someone outside the so-called conspiracy playing a role on this tightly wound, myopic show is a good one. Plus banter about low-fat mayonnaise is always a pleasant change of pace from terrorist-assassinating airstrikes, no matter how forced it may seem.

Fast-forward through the sexless, Rear Window-referencing night. Kale is jogging! Spangler emerges ominously from a Town Car and hands Kale a cup of ginseng tea. dun-DUN! He then references “Romeo and Juliet” because all villains made out of this stuff have to quote the classics at some point, right? Anyway, this scene just made us feel bad for Ed because he loves tea and is probably still out wandering around Kale’s neighborhood in his bathrobe in search of some.

To the office! Maggie is being replaced by a young Miss Blankenship (truly we are living in a comic secretary golden age!) and she has some news for Grant: his wife is outside and she is ticked! Grant plays the scene as well as can be expected considering he and this awful red-haired woman have clearly never met before. She’s been fired and is worried about money. “We’ve got children! Do you get that!” she demands just like absolutely no one, ever. Grant can’t comfort her because only people with G7 level clearance can do things like that. Oh well. Then Will shows up and maybe he is still drunk from the night before? Or just buzzed on actual human contact? Because he is acting super weird! (Also acting weird? Actor James Badge Dale!) Miles tells him that Tanaz has been killed and also some other top-secret stuff because, clearly, a public street is definitely where these guys should be discussing such matters. Julia, Miles’s geek soulmate, will now be on their team because focus-group testing has suggested that America prefers shows where there is romantic tension in the workplace Tanya is in rehab. They say some things about Yuri and George and Iran and Paul Green (hey — a new boring name!) but we don’t care about any of that so we’ll move on.

Will meets Kale on the roof in order to check out his new sunglasses. Will plays it cool but he’s definitely impressed by them. Also: muffins. Kale says that there are no microphones on the roof but there are definitely cameras so eating there isn’t at all suspicious. They fall right back into their flirtatious patter: “And who exactly are they?” “You tell me!” God, kiss already, you two! But they don’t and so Will heads back to the painter’s place with a head full of steam (metaphor). While he was out she found his gun (helpfully wrapped in one of her old shirts) and instead of freaking out that a stranger brought a loaded handgun into her apartment she just leaves the door propped open and jumps his bones. (Remember, fellas, as Chekhov said: if you introduce a gun in the first act, that gun is definitely having gropey panic sex in the third act. Look it up!)

Unfortunately, Kale’s night is less romantic. During a stroll through SoHo with his boyfriend, Kale spots someone following him. He instantly knows that Spangler sent the tail because the tail is so easily made and scurries off when he’s spoken to. Kale rushes back to the office and confronts Spangler, who is eating cereal alone in his office because he is an adult who can do things like that in his office if he wants. (Other things Kale can do in his office: run with scissors, ask “why are you hitting yourself.”) Spangler says that if Will is a problem “he will be handled . . . as problems are.” Boom. Then he goes back to comparison pricing sharks with frickin’ lasers attached to their heads on Evil-eBay.com. Meanwhile, below them, Miles and Grant have a very well written and played scene about the personal price they pay by choosing to do what they do. No snark here, writer Eliza Clark. This was good!

What else? Well, Will’s post-coital spooning was interrupted by Donald Bloom rifling through Will’s apartment with all the subtlety of a Katy Perry song. (Breaking and entering in front of an open window? Excellent work. Very professional spy.) Will leaves an actual human woman who likes him to meet Kale for pie and more Hepburn-and-Tracy back-and-forthing (Will: “Stay away from me!” Kale: “You need me!” Us: “Get a room!”) Spangler, once again proving his magna cum laude degree in Supervillainry was no fluke, suggests to Grant that Will might not be long for this Earth. Miles gets a date. And Katherine Rhumor spends the whole episode out of her house.

Wait, what? It’s true! Our least favorite agoraphobe makes like Ed this week (sans bathrobe) and goes for a long walk with the first ex-Mrs. Tom Rhumor and then over for a goblet of buttery Chardonnay and girl talk with the ex-Mrs. Dead Professor who points out Truxton Spangler in the little-boys-at-the-beach photo. Then, at episode’s end, she wanders down to the API. Careful, Katherine! Don’t get too close. Don’t you know the main plot is in there?

What we know:

• That we haven’t completely given up hope on these characters. This episode was a slightly frustrating but overall improved attempt to make Rubicon worth watching to the rest of us. But there’s a lot of bad juju to undo. Andy is a good addition — and a great name! — but the overreliance on her, a complete stranger, is a lot to overlook. The decision to make Will a total misanthrope with no family or friends seems more and more like a mistake.

• Instead of playing stickball, giving each other wet willies, and gradually drifting apart only to re-connect years later for awkward dinners with their wives and children like the rest of us, boyhood pals Spangler, Wheeler, and Rhumor et al instead formed a devious, globe-controlling, suicide-inducing villainous cabal. Okaaaay.

• Andy manages to live in a fancy East Village apartment on a painter-and-executive’s-assistant salary. But she also likes a man with a gun so we won’t nitpick.

What we don't know:

• Is this Will’s first physical encounter with another lady since his wife died nine years ago? And does this mean that the Maggie-train has officially left the sex station (metaphor)? Because we’re 100 percent okay with that.

• Did Kale and Walter ever make their dinner date? And what does Walter think of those snazzy sunglasses, anyway?

• So we suppose all of this is leading towards Tanaz/Yuri/etc.'s big terrorist attack plot on NYC — and perhaps Truxton Spangler’s League Of Extraordinarily White Gentlemen is poised to profit from such an attack? We don’t know. But as long as Rubicon keeps making an effort at humanizing its twitchy analystbots we’re perfectly happy to remain in the dark. (Until Donald Bloom shows up with a flashlight, of course.)

Photo: AMC