Those were the exact words that came out of my mouth when Rubicon returned from its commercial break with the closing credits. That’s how subtly the first season of AMC’s conspiracy drama ended. I have to say, it completely caught me off guard. Due to the unfortunate habit of AMC running commercials after the last bit of the episode, the punch of the ending was lost on me. It’s a shame, because I went back and watched the scene at the end. Knowing made it so much better.
That’s the only place where the ball was dropped in this episode. Of course, that’s also a testament to how good the episode was. Usually with television, I keep an eye on the clock so that I’ll know when an episode is close to completion. While watching “You Never Can Win,” I had my phone right in front of me, and I never checked the time. Not once. The episode was that engrossing.
Where to begin in my assessment? Should I bring up that Katherine Rhumor was simply offed? That was one of the most shocking moments of the entire episode — perhaps the entire series. When Michael Cristofer told me to expect that “some people are not going to make it out alive,” I thought he was talking about Kale, or Truxton. But no, it was the underused Katherine, who had a chance at becoming an important part of the series, but ultimately dropped the ball when trying to deliver David’s last message to Will. I’m frustrated about that, just honestly. If the series doesn’t get picked up for a second season, I’ll be even more frustrated. Did the writers ever intend to reveal what David was going to say, or did they just tease us with a red herring? With the state of season two in flux, that’s a good question.
Look at it this way: this episode served the purpose of setting up for a second season. If you watch with the assumption that there’s going to be a second season, it’s a great episode. It makes you want to know more. It sets up potential storylines. But if you watch with the assumption that it’s the last episode of the show, sometimes it comes up a little short. The Katherine issue is the biggest part of that. Looking back over the series, other than to provide a few facts to Will, Katherine did nothing. She might have been better as a peripheral character, unless she had delivered that DVD to Will, in which case her involvement would have been well worth the time spent with her. When and if the DVD finds its way into Will’s hands, perhaps then her importance will be revealed. One can only hope.
The team was all on their tip-top game though. Grant was endearing, despite the fact that he took over Will’s job, and his amiability toward Will was one of the surprisingly touching moments of the episode. I’ve come to really like Grant over the course of the season, and seeing him evolve in season two would be fantastic. Miles was also fantastic, and his depressive “weight of the world” emotions were what we’ve come to know and love. Next year, if the show is renewed, he’ll be even more of an integral part instead of the paper-pushing grunt he was this year. Tanya’s resignation probably means that we won’t be seeing her again with or without a season two. Despite that, her character got a happy ending and a chance at hope. It’s as happy as Rubicon gets. Well, except for Maggie, who got that bit of Will intimacy she’d been dying for since the start of the season. Good for her. I hope she and Will develop a good relationship next year (do I need to keep saying if there’s a next year?). Kale was horribly underused, but I have to say that his one scene with Miles was perhaps the best part of the episode. His strange look around the office after sipping from the water cooler — I have no idea what it was about, but it certainly added to the tenseness of the final confrontation.
That tenseness was between Will and Truxton Spangler. Spangler, ostracized by his Fisher Island cronies, was facing the threat of the four-leaf clover. The clover, obviously meaning that he was supposed to commit suicide, had shown up with a delivery of very funereal flowers. Spangler, who had apparently gone out of the roof for his last smoke, was confronted by Will, who basically conducted a trial. Spangler, strangely enough, reacted nonchalantly, telling Will to reveal his study. “Who gives a….” he asked, returning to the building with a final “Do it!”
So, that’s our final question. As Will looks to the roof ledge and sees the four-leaf clover, is Truxton returning inside to kill himself. Will he? Michael Cristofer told me he’d love to spend another year with Truxton Spangler, but will he get that chance, even if Rubicon returns? To me, we have the situation like what happened with John Goodman’s character on Treme. If he doesn’t die, it’s a cop-out. I say that, though, and I’ll probably be outsmarted by the wonderful writers of the series if the show is renewed. If the show isn’t renewed, I’d think it’s safe to say that good ole Trux is dead.
Look for a full review of Rubicon‘s first season later this week. In the meantime, I give this episode an A-.