TURN: Washington’s Spies Reckoning Season 4 Episode 9 – Previously in Episode 8, Abe and Sergeant Champe find themselves in the British Army heading for battle with the rebels in Virginia. The episode ends with Abe, Simcoe, and Caleb in the same place, struggling to survive in the heat of battle. Simcoe is bloodied, near death, but still breathing when his fellow troops go to his side.
TURN: Washington’s Spies Reckoning Season 4 Episode 9
TURN: Washington’s Spies Reckoning Season 4 Episode 9 images from amc.com
Episode 9 begins with Peggy Shippen about to give birth and having nightmares, about her husband, the notorious traitor Benedict Arnold. Arnold is far away from home in Virginia but still occupying her thoughts. Also in Virginia and aligned with a rebel militia is Caleb who rescues Sergeant Champe but hasn’t yet located Abe.
Meanwhile, in a surprising change of heart, General Washington announces his decision to move troops south to Virginia after all. This concession meets with widespread approval from Washington’s retinue who had previously tried to convince a stubborn Washington to fight in Virginia. A fair question is raised by one of Washington’s generals. “What made you change course?” asks General ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne. Washington tells his cadre that one of his spies in the British camp has made clear that General Cornwallis is vulnerable at Yorktown. He also plans a feint designed to convince the British he will soon move to attack New York. Major Talmadge comes up with an ingenious way to convince British General Clinton that the city will indeed be under attack.
Women at War
Female characters play front and center in the episode with Mrs. Barnes delivering a purloined love letter to General Clinton. It is Mary Woodhull who duped Mrs. Barnes into believing the letter was real, intending for her to carry it to Clinton. The letter itself was written by spymaster Talmadge — purporting to be about a steamy love tryst between himself and Anna Strong. Anna is amused as she listens to Talmadge tell her the details, an effect both genuine and ironic.
While the chaotic battle in Yorktown rages to a victory for the American side, Peggy Shippen is with Abigail fighting a battle of her own. She has wondered all along how Abigail knew so much about Peggy’s beloved John Andre, finally concluding that Abigail was on the side of the rebels. Her anger explodes and she cruelly orders Abigail out of the house and into the streets. Peggy’s agitation stimulates the birth process as she finds herself in pain with mounting contractions. She wants to call for the doctor but there is no time. Abigail tells her the baby is breached, that she suffered the same experience when giving birth to Cicero. Abigail is her only chance. What may sound mawkish in the telling is actually very touching on the screen. Abigail successfully delivers the baby boy, named Edward, after her father. With the baby in her arms and Abigail to thank for it, the two women are reconciled.
Major Hewlett’s Revenge
The main body of the letter (fake news?) refers to an attack by the rebel forces upon New York. Major Hewlett knows more than he can say when he warns General Clinton of possible unreliability of the intelligence Mrs. Barnes has obtained. Judging by the glow of Major Hewlett’s eyes, he has yet another agenda when he asks to personally deliver General Clinton’s order to Cornwallis.
We find out later that Colonel Simcoe is clinging to life in a British field hospital. Simcoe is waiting to be evacuated to England on the Bonetta. It looks like curtains when Major Hewlett pays him an unfriendly visit and puts a knife to his throat. Hewlett has payback on his mind but sees that even a villain like Simcoe has redeeming qualities. Simcoe has shown mercy to his Queen’s Rangers militia, relaxing his iron clad grip, freeing them to avoid certain slaughter at the hands of the rebel victors. As for Simcoe, he’s not exactly reformed. When Hewlett balks at killing him, Simcoe sneers that Hewlett is a weakling. But clearly, Hewlett has the moral high ground here.
Yorktown, Beginning of the End
The famed Battle of Yorktown looms ahead with French ships moving to bottle up British troops at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. When the battle begins, the French ships attack the British and provide fire support for the troops attacking British positions on land. Abe fights furiously alongside Caleb with Anna Strong bravely providing what support she can for the wounded. Abe takes a rifle ball in the shoulder and must be evacuated to the field hospital where little Thomas is roaming amongst the wounded and dying. Mary comes across her bloodied husband, extracts the bullet and stitches the wound. The human fictional side of the Turn story is rendered in poetic fashioni with a good part of the cast in one place and exulting in victory.
Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness
With one more episode to go in “Turn: Washington’s Spies” it appears that a happy ending is in sight, at least for the American revolutionaries. A new country is born and British ships sail back to England. But as the devoted audience of this drama series know, there are many emotional issues yet to be resolved. Is Abe’s heart truly back with Mary and Thomas as depicted in the current episode?
And what of Anna Strong? She’s still married to her politician/statesman husband back in Philadelphia. It would appear she has no interest in going back to him. What of her relationship with Abe? With Talmadge? What is her heart’s desire? These are moral as well as emotional issues, tugging at the heart of the principles we hold dear. Loyalty. Fidelity. Honesty.
At the same time, the Declaration councils that we have a right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ Often these concerns are in conflict and at the heart of many plot twists and intricacies in the AMC series.
Simcoe: The Man We Love to Hate
We now know also that Simcoe was severely punished, lingering near death while Hewlett subjects him to psychological torment in a scene near the end. For his part, Simcoe is true to his school (where does strength end and cruelty begin?), though he shows a rare human side in a final message to his beloved Ranger militia. We last see him aboard the Bonetta, a ship destined for his home in England. We know that he, with all his flaws, is as much a part of the American experience as Washington, Abe and Caleb, Anna Strong, Mary Woodhull and other marvelous characters who have captured the spirit of the age.
I’m glad they didn’t kill Simcoe off, at least not yet. Maybe in the final episode, he’ll be back in England living the life of the country gentry and, while walking down a country lane, he gets run over by a horse and carriage. Perhaps a similar thing is in store for the reasoned and rational Major Hewlett who would otherwise be happy to pursue his interest in science. I see Hewlett surviving, however, perhaps inventing something of great importance to the Industrial Revolution.
The series certainly has something for everyone. The historical accuracy and research required of the show’s creators and actors (one and the same, after all) saves it from criticism of being a period soap opera. This penultimate episode was sweeping in its scope, dynamic in its representation, and satisfying in its emotional intimacy.
Other Episodes of TURN Washington’s Spies reviewed on TV Eskimo:
TURN: Washington’s Spies Season 3
TURN: Washington’s Spies Reckoning Season 4 Episode 9 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)
Lt. John Simcoe – Samuel Roukin
Major Hewlett – Burn Gorman (Jamestown, And Then There Were None, The Man in the High Castle, Game of Thrones, Spies of Warsaw, The Dark Knight Rises, Torchwood, Layer Cake, Bleak House, The Oxford Murders, Pacific Rim)
General George Washington – Ian Kahn (The Box, Homeland, Billions, The Unusuals, Bull, Secrets in the Walls)
Benedict Arnold – Owain Yeoman (The Mentalist, Troy, American Sniper)
Robert Townsend – Nick Westrate (Ricki and the Flash, Care, Beach Pillows)
Mrs. Barnes – Tina Benko (The Avengers, Flesh and Bone, Brotherhood, Royally, That Awkward Moment)
Abigail – Idara Victor (Mad Men, Rizzoli & Isles, Vegas, The Choir)
Cicero – Darren Alford (Same Fruit Different Tree, House of Cards)
General Henry Clinton – Ralph Brown (Alien 3, Wayne’s World 2, Genius, Agent Carter, Legends, Stoker, Killing Bono)
Peggy Shippen – Ksenia Solo (Black Swan, Orphan Black, Lost Girl)
John Champe – Chris Webster (About a Boy, Hidden, DCI Banks, American Assassin)
Jordan – Aldis Hodge (Leverage, Straight Outta Compton, Underground, Hidden Figures, Friday Night Lights)
Alexander Hamilton – Sean Haggerty (Lincoln, John Adams, Hard Boiled)
Marquis de Lafayette – Brian Wiles (Public Morals, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest)
General Cornwallis – Jessejames Locorriere (Ant-Man, Banshee, Under the Dome, Sleepy Hollow)
General ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne – Michael J. Burg (Vinyl, Gotham, Love Is Strange, The Night Of, Capote)
Major Dundas – James Donadio (Gordy, The Fundamentals of Caring, The Blind Side, Fist Fight)