What’s not to love about a duel? Stand 10 paces apart from a man who’s insulted your honor. Flip a coin to see who fires first. Aim. Shoot. Kill or die. In 1804, the sitting vice-president of the United States, Aaron Burr, killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in Weehawken, N.J. American history was forever changed. In Sunday’s episode of Turn, Abraham Woodhull found himself staring down the barrel of a Captain Simcoe’s pistol after the ruthless British soldier returned to Setauket with his eyes set on Anna Strong. Abe had been led to believe that Simcoe was dead — that was the whole genesis of the Culper spy ring in the first place — but his return following a prisoner exchange pressured Abe into a deadly scenario. How could a farmer who’s never killed before possibly survive a duel with a cold-blooded professional soldier? READ FULL STORY
Tag: Jamie Bell (1-4 of 4)
It’s Christmas in 1776. The British are celebrating in New York — drinking, hammering George Washington pinatas, diddling ladies of the theatre — while waiting for the inevitable news that the rebellion has been crushed. In Setauket, Long Island, the fury over the dismantled gravestones hasn’t passed, especially in the mind of Abraham, who hasn’t forgiven his Tory father for digging up his brother’s resting place to defend the British artillery. Perhaps hard feelings can’t be warmed over a glass of sherry, but it’s still the holidays for the relatively secure and well-off Woodhull family.
But what of the American slaves? Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? After an earlier episode of Turn, I expressed concern that the black characters might be shortchanged, especially since the inconvenient facts of American history reveal that their interests are served best by a British victory, which would, in most cases, secure their freedom. Last night, to the show’s credit, it veered right into that storm, with Judge Woodhull’s legal confiscation of imprisoned patriot Selah Strong’s property liberating his slaves on Christmas Eve. The slaves rejoiced, but Anna appealed the decision to the unsympathetic Major Hewlett, who is so paranoid of rebel attack that his horse is now quartered inside the former church. “It’s cruel, this business of freeing slaves of suspected patriots,” she said, and it was important, I think, to hear a colonial slaveholder express that widespread sentiment, because of all its ironic complexities and ramifications. Cruel to the slaveholders — boo-hoo! — but Anna seemed to also imply that it was cruel to the slaves as well. How will they possibly survive without their benevolent mistress? READ FULL STORY
It was the third episode of Turn, AMC’s Revolutionary War spy thriller, but it sure felt more like a season premiere. Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) had been a somewhat lackluster protagonist in the first two episodes, a farmer victimized by bad luck who has the added misfortune of consistently being the second or third smartest person in every room he’s in. This is the guy who’s going to help turn the tide for General Washington’s Continental Army by spying on the redcoats in New York? This is the guy who’s going to make history interesting for TV audiences who watch Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire? Not bloody likely. But the writers finally put Abe in position to “be a man…not just a petulant boy,” as his father barked at him at one point, and maybe, just maybe, Abe and Jamie Bell have got the goods. READ FULL STORY
A popular and comforting misconception of the American Revolution is that aggrieved American patriots united to take up arms against British redcoats, and that a new nation rejoiced as one after finally throwing off the yoke of tyranny in 1783. In fact, our war for independence was a civil war that divided families and neighbors — Ben Franklin’s son was a devoted loyalist, for example, and thousands would flee the colonies after America’s victory. Another substantial segment of the population tried to straddle the fence — switching sides depending on whose troops were closest that day.
That’s the background for AMC’s new Revolutionary War spy drama, Turn, which set the tone by declaring, “Insurgents have declared war against the Crown.” In other words, we are the traitors. It’s autumn 1776, and revolutionary fervor has subsided in Setauket, Long Island, a few months after the Declaration of Independence. George Washington’s troops were just spanked by the British in New York and chased into New Jersey with their tails between their legs. A quarter of Manhattan burned during the American’s panicked withdrawal, with some accusing Washington of sparking it intentionally. Maybe all this “give me liberty or give me death” talk was a little premature, huh, Founding Fathers? READ FULL STORY
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