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Rubicon Recap: Who’s the Boss?

After weeks of unsuccessfully attempting to gin up a compelling sense of paranoia using the core characters, Rubicon this week calls in the big guns for outside help: the Federales. It seems there’s a leak inside the API and — sirens blaring, boots stomping — the FBI storms the offices in order to plug it up. (Strangely, no one thinks to just do the obvious and lower the shades. These people have confidential material thumbtacked to the walls for God’s sake!) The result is a lot of twitching (obvs), a whole bunch of lie-detecting and some ... Well, that’s all, really. Baby steps, Rubicon, baby steps!

We open on Will, reclining nervously on his couch. He gazes at a power outlet (bugged). He gazes at a smoke detector (also bugged). Then he goes to work and picks up the statue of an owl that for some reason is on his desk. He can’t resist opening it: Zoinks! Another bug! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the people listening in on Will must be hardcore boredom junkies. This guy doesn’t do anything!

Speaking of not doing anything, let’s get the Katherine Rhumor business out of the way early. So, this week she’s enjoying her usual Tuesday night ritual of a generous pour of cabernet and a floor-full of photos of her dead husband when she hears noises. Hey: this is actually exciting! A break-in! Freaked, Katherine runs into her walk-in closet’s walk-in closet. She hears voices. Will they find her? Wait for it ... no. The men just leave — apparently without finding what they were looking for and assuming that Katherine just leaves full glasses of wine out on nights when she’s not home? — and the police don’t believe her, suggesting that maybe it was just “an animal.” At this point, we realized that maybe Katherine was spending the night at her luxurious, wood-paneled mansion and not her luxurious wood-paneled townhouse and the fact that this wasn’t clear (and doesn’t matter) is kind of a problem in and of itself, no? Anyway, Katherine responds to this crisis by packing up and tossing the keys to the mansion onto the front yard which is totally normal behavior for bereaved rich ladies, we think. (It’s also what she must have done with all the children she had in the pilot because they’ve certainly never been seen again. Maybe the intruders were from child services?)

Back to the API! Miles is twitching harder than usual: he’s misplaced a classified document. Grant Test is testier than usual: his wife is haranguing him about showing up on time for their daughter’s school play that afternoon. And Tanya is more hungover than usual because she likes to drink alcohol every night and often pays the price for it the next day. (See? We can also be spies!) Anyway, everything goes topsy-turvy when the aforementioned FBI raid occurs. The whole place is on lockdown: no calls in or out, polygraph tests for everyone. And the Super Team is trapped with each other (Also present: Maggie, a stern FBI agent guarding the door, and Miles’s rabid ghost-leg which at this point is behaving like one of those inflatable dancing people that hang out in front of car washes) Grant is furious because not only will he miss his daughter’s performance as an asparagus, he can’t even call his wife to let her know. Tanya just wants to focus on Tanaz, her evil, teetotalling doppelganger from Planet X9 the mysterious woman who spoke to George Beck (drink!) at the Urdu Wedding.

Upstairs, Spangler is having none of this. Not only does he doubt there’s a leak, he doesn’t think the FBI could find a mole if one was “in a cardboard on their doorstep.” Which makes sense because hanging out in cardboard boxes is classic mole behavior. Spangler also has an Atlas McDowell paper weight on his desk that he helpfully tosses around so Will can get a good look at it. Come on, dudes. Even the FBI could have spotted that!

In typical Will fashion, Will mentions the paperweight to Kale in the elevator and also the bug in his office. Kale, in typical Kale fashion, lets Will mention these things then tells him “not here” — as if the people listening won’t have just heard him suggest taking their secret conversation elsewhere. These people! Anyway, Will asks Kale: “Who are we working for?” And we have no snark here: this is a direct and important question! If this is the mystery of the entire season, then, okay, a little late to bring it up, but a totally valid choice. Let’s all place bets in the comments. (My guess? Sanofl-Aventis!)

What follows is a panoply of polygraphy. Everyone is dragged into side offices where they are strapped to lie-detecting machines and asked highly leading, extremely specific questions seemingly designed for each of them by Agent Basil Exposition. Kale purrs “I suppose you’re a very skilled polygrapher” and makes it sound like cocktail chatter at the Moulin-Rouge. (He also says extremely Kale things like “I have a resting heartrate of 46 beats per minute.” That’s so Kale!) Grant gets asked if he’s ever cheated on his wife and his negative reply is so obviously phony that even the polygraph machine starts laughing. As for the woman delivering the test, she goes off-book and says super Grey’s Anatomy things like “maybe you haven’t cheated on her but in my opinion you will. In your mind you already have.” Very professional polygraphy there. She then moves onto the super-tough brainbuster section of the quiz by asking “Are you a member of any terrorist organizations?” Excellent question! Makes us all feel super-safe.

Polygraph, polygraph. Spoiler alert! Tanya is asked about drugs and drinking. Miles admits that he lost a confidential paper about George Beck (drink!) in a cab — but he’s not the leak they’re looking for and will thus only get a slap on the wrist. (This also leads to the single best line in the short history of Rubicon, as delivered by the chief FBI man: “You know, Fiedler, it’s the best part of the job. You’re not supposed to take it home with you.”) And Will’s polygrapher mentions that he hasn’t been lie-detectin’ in that office since he was doing an internal investigation of David. Come on! You can’t just give that info away! To quote Alan Moore: WHO LIE-DETECTS THE LIE DETECTORS?!


So, of course, while Spangler is under the wire himself, Will saunters upstairs and rifles through Spangler’s office. And here is where we checked out. The API is supposed to be the most important and secretive intelligence agency in the country (despite their liberal attitude towards windowshades) — yet during an FBI lockdown in which some characters aren’t allowed to leave a conference room, Will is able to just slide right into the boss’s office? Without a key or anything? The office of a man who has just announced “If I’m your leak this country implodes”?!? Okay, fine. Sure. Yes.


Will (easily!) finds and unlocks a file cabinet containing a folder helpfully marked “DAVID HADAS.” Inside, there are spy photos of David and Will together (maybe Spangler was just jealous?). And a CD marked Top Secret that Will pockets and replaces with a blank CD. Again: good to know the technology here is up to early-nineties standards. We bet the wedding footage from last week was shot in crisp Pixel-Vision. Then Kale - in his new role as creepy good-ish guy - catches Will and yells at him. This exchange occurs:

Will: “Who do we work for?”

Kale: “We work for the United States government.”

Will: “How do you know?”

[Brooding, searching stares.]

Us: SO MUCH DARKNESS, SO MANY SHADOWS!

And finally: Miles flirts with the Legend of Zelda girl. The actual leak is a nerdy financial analyst (ain’t it always!). Tanaz was the third person in the Bulgaria photo that we still don’t care about. Tanya celebrates with a pitcher of martinis cupcake. Spangler gives a guy two cigars and fires him. The bug — missing during the lockdown — is back in Will’s owl. And that night, Will breaks out his discman (perfect) and listens to a phone call between David and Ed: David realized the use of Ed’s go-code in the crossword puzzles meant that Spangler was running an outside op. He tells Ed not to help Will if Will should come to him. And meanwhile, the sexy painter across the way — the one who is as allergic to windowshades as the API — makes kissy faces.

What we know:
• According to Maggie, “everyone has secrets.” Also according to Maggie: summer is hot, water is wet, and she just can’t believe it’s not butter.

• Spangler is the key to whatever is actually going on here with Katherine Rhumor, Atlas McDowell, and the train death of David Hadas.

• We will be seeing the sexy painter again because she’s played by Annie Parisse who was on Law & Order and thus couldn’t be so hard up for work that she’s just going to make goo-goo eyes from another apartment. Right?

What we don't know:
• This photo in Bulgaria with Tanaz, George (drink!) & Yuri: is this totally dull strand ever going to connect with the Atlas McDowell business? Or is it a totally separate plot introduced to give the Super Team something to do and invest us in the work of the API?

• Why is Ed helping Will? Or is he no longer doing that? Was he trying to mislead, Will in order to pay tribute to David? Or was his own curiosity so great about what happened to his friend that he just couldn’t help himself?

• What is the intended audience for this show, age-wise? Because Tanya calls Grant “old” for not knowing Boyz II Men. Dude, hello? Boyz II Men sang back-up for Justin Bieber this week! Newsflash, Tanya: you are old if you do know who Boyz II Men are!

Photo: AMC