Turn: Washington’s Spies Spyhunter General Season 4 Episode 1 Recap – Last year’s Season 3 Finale left the audience dangling as both Major John Andre and Abe Woodhull faced death by hanging. In the shadow of the gallows, British officer Andre asks General Washington for two favors. That he be shot as a British officer rather than hanged as a spy, and that he be executed honorably and in the uniform reflective of his status as a British officer. Washington ensures that Arnold, whom he respects as a fellow officer, can wear his uniform at his execution. He cannot, however, oppose the military tribunal’s verdict of death by hanging.
Meanwhile, Abe Woodhull’s execution is proceeding expeditiously. As he dangles grossly from the rope, Judge Woodhull can no longer contain himself, rushing forward to rescue his son – with the help of a high ranking British officer.
General Arnold has been discovered to be a traitor and fled West Point. He’s been promised command of a British regiment and a post of rank equal to what he’d obtained under Washington.
Turn: Washington’s Spies Spyhunter General Season 4 Episode 1 Recap
Turn: Washington’s Spies Spyhunter General Season 4 Episode 1 Recap images from amc.com
Episode 1 of Season Four opens with a chase as mounted British soldiers catch up to an American rebel fleeing across a field on foot. Another contingent of troops arrests another rebel spy in the village. And another. These are the fruits of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal. The roundup of spies continues and poses a major threat to the American revolutionary forces.
Will Robert Townsend too be exposed? A dangerous moment occurs when he’s approached at his by Hercules Mulligan who is there to convey a message from rebel headquarters. Mulligan is a tailor by trade and a rebel by choice. Mulligan is quite the jester, insulting Arnold when the newly commissioned British general comes to arrest him. “Aren’t you the former commander of the rebel fort across the Hudson. The troops are wondering where you scuppered off to.”
This draws laughs and ridicule from the other customers. Arnold slams Mulligan’s head down on a table as an astonished Rivington steps up to object to the brutality: “General Arnold! This is where we report the war, not wage it!” The arrogant Arnold then vehemently explains his purpose: “I have been appointed by General Clinton as Spyhunter General!”
At his field camp in New Windsor, General Washington is enraged at the unmasking of Hercules Mulligan, a spy known only to a few in the rebel command. Talmadge announces that forty accused spies were arrested in the same sweep. He wants to lure Arnold into a trap and kill him, a plan that washing rejects. Washington prefers to capture Arnold, and to “make a public example of him.”
Anna Strong is back at the center of the Culper Ring. We see her selling cooking supplies at the 18th century version of a moveable flea market. She’s among the poor and bedraggled camp followers of the Army. There’s money to be made there, following the soldiers who have need of practical things like sex and cooking utensils – in equal priority. At hearing of the execution by hanging of Major Andre, one of the prostitutes quips of Andre: “ I didn’t see him hanged, but I saw him hung – if you catch my meaning, eh?”
Anna is the subject of camp gossip as she follows Talmadge to his tent. “She don’t act married, does she?” asks one prostitute of another. But Anna is not “knocking” with Talmadge. She’s helping Talmadge and Caleb in planning an attack on the British supply lines. Three hundred tons of wheat and other supplies are destined for British Headquarters in New York City. “Too much to steal,” says Caleb. “But not too much to burn,” says Abe. Anna helps the two devise a plan that will get them and the rebel forces close to the British supply depot without being seen.
A Pissy Conversation
The episode is lively and not without humorous vignette. General Arnold has been given his command but not his regiment. For this he needs funds which yet have to be released by the Crown. At a party given by loyalist socialites, Arnold implores Colonel Cook to intervene on his behalf so that the funds for his regiment can be released. Colonel Cook’s main concern is to get to the bathroom. His aging bladder is about to burst. Arnold pursues his quarry into the bathroom and, complete with watery soundtrack, makes his argument.
Fathers, Sons, and Semantics
Judge Woodhull had gone over to the American side after the British nearly succeeded in hanging his son. But his full commitment to the cause comes into question when Abe finds his father has been doing business with Colonel Cook. Abe angrily accuses Judge Woodhull of ratting on his friends, though the judge’s defense is that he’s “doing it for you (Abe).” The judge’s loyalties are divided, saying that the British are only doing their duty, and worried about the men Abe would willingly “slaughter.”
Abe objects to his father’s use of the word “slaughter.” Slaughtered? They are not sheep. They are soldiers,” Abe says. “And they’re on the wrong side. You’re in a war now father, and this is how it’s done.” But ultimately, Abe sees that Judge Woodhull has his own plan, and that he’s fully committed to the American Revolution. The two are reconciled, with Abe having a deeper appreciation for his father.
Fans of the show can’t help but be amused by the encounters of rival femme fatales Peggy Shippen and the Philadelphia actress Philomena Cheer. Early in the episode and during a dinner party introduction, Peggy has an eloquent and arch way of telling Philomena that she’s both phony and transparent. This skillfully veiled putdown stems from past competition for the attentions of the late Major John Andre.
Later on during an encounter on the street, Philomena gives as good as she gets when she turns the previous catty contretemps on its head under the guise of an apology. Peggy Shippen brightens at the prospect of an apology and the hope of Philomena’s further humiliation. But Philomena lets the hammer down: “John (Major Andre) testified that in portraying you, I in fact outshined the original. Perhaps that is because I chose to play you as the woman you might become rather than the fumbling child he knew. Apart from that, you were absolutely right. You could never do what I do.”
The language is flowery and in keeping with the style of the day. This sort of dialogue and historical attunement requires something of an audience besides idle gazing, but the effort is worth it. “Turn: Washington’s Spies” is back with a strong option for summer viewing.
Other Episodes of TURN Washington’s Spies reviewed on TV Eskimo:
TURN: Washington’s Spies Season 3
3.10 Trial and Execution
3.9 Blade on the Feather
3.6 Many Mickles Make a Muckle
3.5 Hypocrisy, Fraud, and Tyranny
3.4 Hearts and Minds
3.2 Cold Murdering Bastards
Turn: Washington’s Spies Spyhunter General Season 4 Episode 1 Recap characters and cast include:
Abraham Woodhull – Jamie Bell (Snowpiercer, King Kong, Jumper, The Adventures of Tintin, Billy Elliot)
Ben Talmadge – Seth Numrich (Private Romeo, Gravity, How to Kill a Mockingbird)
Caleb Brewster – Daniel Henshall (The Babadook, These Final Hours, The Snowtown Murders)
Mary Woodhull – Meegan Warner
Judge Richard Woodhull – Kevin McNally
Anna Strong – Heather Lind (Boardwalk Empire, Demolition, Mistress America)
Jordan – Aldis Hodge (Leverage, Straight Outta Compton, Underground, Hidden Figures, Friday Night Lights)
Lt. John Simcoe – Samuel Roukin
James Rivington – John Carroll Lynch (Shutter Island, Gran Torino, Crawford, American Horror Story, Manhattan, Zodiac, The Americans)
General George Washington – Ian Kahn
Benedict Arnold – Owain Yeoman (The Mentalist, Troy, American Sniper)
Peggy Shippen – Ksenia Solo (Black Swan, Orphan Black, Lost Girl)
Robert Townsend – Nick Westrate (Ricki and the Flash, Care, Beach Pillows)
Abigail – Idara Victor (Rizolli & Isles, Safe Haven, The Choir, Mad Men)
Hercules Mulligan – Kelly AuCoin (Billions, The Americans, Drunk Parents, The Wizard of Lies, The Blacklist, The Slap, House of Cards)
Mrs. Barnes – Tina Benko (The Avengers, That Awkward Moment, Vinyl, Flesh and Bone, The Good Wife, Brotherhood)
Martin De Young – Christian Clemenson (The Big Lebowski, Apollo 13, United 93, Colony, American Crime Story, Legends, Boston Legal)
Col. Jonathan Cooke – Jonny Coyne (Mom, Salem, The Night Of, 11.22.63, Manhattan)
Philomena Cheer – Amy Gumenick (Natalee Holloway, Arrow, Supernatural)
Aberdeen – Karen Abercrombie (War Room, God’s Compass, Remnant)
Freddy – Joshua Price (It’s Fine, Devious Maids)