When we first met Abraham Woodhull, the saddest cabbage farmer in all of 1776 Long Island, earlier this year, he was suffering through the psychological discomfort of sitting on the political fence while his childhood friends took up arms for the patriot cause against the garrison of British soldiers in his hometown of Setauket. Ben Talmadge was a Connecticut Dragoon officer. Caleb Brewster had gone underground to disrupt British operations. And Anna Strong, the woman Abe gave up to marry his dead brother’s fiancée, was likely spitting in the redcoats’ whiskey as she served them at her husband’s pub. Slowly, Abe became the key player in what became the Culper spy ring, the secret New York intelligence operation that George Washington relied on to conduct his war strategy. But though he’s a valuable asset, Abe mostly has been a lover, not a fighter. Despite his resurgent passion for Anna, he’s perceived by most as an upstanding family man — a conflicted husband, a devoted father, the son of the town’s most prominent Loyalist — and in the season premiere, when he was suspected of murder, he could honestly claim that he’d never killed anyone before. Well, not anymore. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Turn (1-10 of 10)
With all due respect to Mary Woodhull, the plain Tory wife of Turn‘s Long Island cabbage farmer — and patriot spy — audiences have spent the show’s first seven episodes wondering, “Why did Abe marry her?” She’s not Abe’s type at all, and her main character trait so far has been to express disapproval and disappointment. Abe clearly was meant for Anna Strong, the brave and buxom patriot he was secretly engaged to before Mary, and the short answer to the question has always been that Abe was simply a loyal son and brother. Mary had been arranged to marry Abe’s older brother, Thomas, before his untimely death, and Abe filled his dead brother’s shoes to honor his family’s commitment.
A noble gesture, for sure, but one that never quite added up. Why would Abe, the clear black sheep of his family, give up a future with Anna to please a father who he never saw eye to eye with anyways? Abe married Mary, and soon had a son named Thomas. Anna married a wealthy patriot named Selah Strong, an especially unlucky choice once Selah was sent to a notorious British prison ship in New York harbor. But tonight, Abe explained why he chose the path he did. And it was worth the wait. READ FULL STORY
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
Abraham Woodhull is the American’s lone productive spy in 1777 New York, but did we see a glimpse of his bloody fate? In the episode’s opening moments, he meets with an undercover British officer in a tavern teeming with Redcoats. After a quick exchange of passwords, Abe leaves with a special coded egg, marked with the intentions of the British troops — Philadelphia By Land. But outside, he’s harassed by a hungry British soldier, and in their haggling, the egg breaks, Abe’s ruse is discovered, and he’s shot in the gut. The Brit yells, “Traitor! Traitor! I’ve killed a traitor!” while Abe bleeds to death in the gutter.
This can’t be happening now — but is this somehow foreshadowing something in the future? Or is this just a worst-case scenario of Nathaniel Sackett, the American spymaster (Stephen Root) who later chastises Benjamin Tallmadge for his sloppy — but fortuitous — intelligence operation in Setauket? Or, perhaps, is this what actually awaited Abe in Manhattan if hadn’t been sidetracked by a desperate American patriot on his way to the city — and if newly free Captain Simcoe hadn’t stabbed Sackett’s undercover agent in the neck during dinner at John André’s? Had Abe been scheduled to meet the same American agent clumsily trying to pass himself off to André as a captured British officer? READ FULL STORY
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
At the conclusion of last week’s episode, Caleb made a daring — if not exactly clever — sailboat escape from British-held Setauket with the help of Anna’s brew and bosom. It seemed rather tacked on to the episode, which otherwise dealt with Abe’s rededication to the patriot cause, but his derring-do made waves that set tonight’s plot in motion.
A panicked Major Hewlett is worried that his depleted garrison is now vulnerable to rebel attack, and the only course of action is to maneuver the British artillery to more open ground — and shield the heavy guns with the tombstones of the town’s dead. Obviously, the town, and even Judge Woodhull, is adamantly against the plan, but Hewlett is insistent and requests that Woodhull himself select the 10 stones that will be recycled into a barricade.
In earlier episodes, Hewlett was more conciliatory and gentle, and seemingly under the impression that the rebels didn’t need to be annihilated so much as disciplined and welcomed back to the fold as prodigal sons. But the slaughter of his troops in Connecticut and the fear of a rebel spy with the knowledge of his weakness has clearly changed the equation for him. He now aims to bend the people to his will, and the displaced tombstones will be doubly effective, he thinks, since the rebels will be hesitant to fire on them out of respect. 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
Remember, remember! The fifth of November, the Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions did the scheme contrive, to blow the King and Parliament all up alive.
In 1605, a Catholic Englishman named Guy Fawkes was arrested and executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament and assassinate King James. His demise was celebrated every November by the British, and 175 years later — after American patriots fell at Concord in the “shot heard ’round the world” and a new spirit of resurrection began to spread — the idea of British infallibility was still unshakeable to many of those shooting fireworks and burning a rebel effigy on Nov. 5, 1776.
In Turn, which picks up months after the British Navy has chased George Washington out of New York, some shady events have unfolded in the backwater Long Island town of Setauket. It can’t be ignored any longer, not after 20 redcoats from the Setauket garrison walked into an ambush in Connecticut, sending many of them home in barrels. Captain Joyce’s murder, which preceded the skirmish, remains a mystery, but Robert Rogers is now on the case since the ambush was punctuated with a pointedly directed middle-finger.
Abe Woodhull has been excused of suspicion in the crime, thanks to his father’s influence, but Rogers isn’t so sure. He at least makes sure to rattle the Woodhulls’ cage when he arrives to investigate the town’s “unusual amount of smuggling, arson, and murder.” (The arson being Abe’s shed full of cabbage by two riders in Guy Fawkes masks.) READ FULL STORY
A Dramacalypse is upon us.
Mad Men. Game of Thrones. The Good Wife. Once Upon a Time. Californication, if you’re into that kind of thing. They’re all airing new episodes this Sunday — and so are comedies like Veep and Silicon Valley. And reality staples like The Amazing Race. And the MTV Movie Awards. All this, plus a new hour of NBC’s Believe — what’s a couch potato to do? 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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