Turn 1.10 Review: “The Battle of Setauket”

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The Battle of Setauket is a real, short-lived battle that took place in Setauket, Long Island, New York in 1777 during the Revolutionary war. This week’s Turn not only depicts that battle, but throws all of our main characters into the thick of the fight. What a great episode and epic history lesson!!

Last week we left our characters in some interesting scenarios. Mary found out that Abe was a spy, Simcoe and the British army had taken Reverend Tallmadge and some other locals captive, Robert Rogers is on his way to meet with an unhappy John Andre, and Ben, Caleb, and Selah (that Anna and Abe don’t know is alive) are marching into Setauket, guns a-blazin’.

We return to Mary to find out that she has decided not to confront Abe right away. Instead, she tells him that she is scared (about the spies and traitors. Yeesh. Passive aggressive much?) He confides in her that he’s certain that John Simcoe is the one responsible for shooting his father (using an accomplice, of course) so that he could blame Reverend Tallmadge to take revenge on Ben and Caleb. She and Abe duke it out about the war for awhile before…er…their reconciliation.

The next day, they (Abe, Mary, and Thomas) ride into town just in time to get mixed up in the rebel assault on the town. The rebels take the town pretty easily, but not before Simcoe hangs one of the prisoners and takes the rest into the church, where Major Hewlett and the remaining royal soldiers stand. The rebels have “captured” the townspeople and a few soldiers, including Abe, Mary, Anna, and Ensign Baker. As Ben and Caleb maneuver through the town, they exchange glances with Abe and Anna, and they are some of the best moments of the episode. I’m always going on about the acting on this show, but Seth Numrich (Ben), Daniel Henshall (Caleb) and Jamie Bell were nothing short of brilliant in that scene. They all said a lot without saying nothing. During this scene, Selah comes into the town with some more men, and runs to and kisses his wife.  Anna seems shocked, but not necessarily happy to see him. He’s not happy, either, since the tavern has been sold.

The battle goes back and forth a bit. Selah is sent with a group of men to flank the church, and Abe cleverly makes a scene in the bar to get a private conversation with Anna, Ben, and Caleb. He’s none too happy with them, since they arrived with no warning whatsoever. Abe, in the heat of the moment, tells them he’s going to quit spying (yeah, see how long THAT lasts), but they need him to deliver the terms to Major Hewlett. All they want is the prisoners to be exchanged, and then they will stand down. The terms are attractive to Major Hewlett, but Simcoe wants none of it, and in a fit of rage, takes Caleb’s uncle outside and shoots him point blank. This was a brilliant showcase of the psychotic side of Simcoe that the British army tries to ignore, but is ever present in pretty much everything he does. Samuel Roukin has just been brilliant in this role.

You can imagine that Simcoe’s actions didn’t go over to well with Caleb and the rebels, but fortunately for everyone, they didn’t go over well with Major Hewlett either. Once Simcoe has been subdued, Judge Woodhull advises Major Hewlett to let the prisoners go, with no exchange, and that Reverend Tallmadge would stop the fighting from there. Reverend Tallmadge (in a humble moment for all three parties) agrees that he wants no more bloodshed in his town. This scene was really important, mostly because it showed the growth of Judge Woodhull as a character. In the first episode he was merely a staunch loyalist, but Kevin McNally has brought layers to the role, and shown us some serious growth in the last ten weeks.

The battle is over, and of course Abe agrees to stay on as a spy, but only if they change his name to Mr. Culper (the Culper ring, it all makes sense now!). The rebels leave town, and Anna goes with them, but when Hewlett’s reinforcements arrive and go to take a few final shots at the rebels, Abe runs out with them. Upon seeing Abe, Anna quickly decides that the cause needs her and goes back to shore, where she is welcomed by Abe. I don’t know if any of you saw the look on Selah’s face after this, but I’m pretty sure he knows why she really went back.

Meanwhile, in one small yet brilliant scene, Rogers and Andre meet for the first time. Andre is unhappy with all of Rogers’ tactics, so he pays to put someone else in charge of the Queens Rangers. There are lots of reasons that I want this show to get picked up for Season 2, but this might be the biggest one.

In the final scene of Turn’s maiden voyage, Abe returns home to find Mary burning the book with his codes in it. She was upset by the battle coming to Setauket, even though Abe knew nothing of it. As they discuss his being a spy, there is another inopportune interruption by none other than Ensign Baker. Everything I’ve seen on this show so far led me to believe that Ensign Baker would be cool about it, but that was not the case. Ensign Baker felt that he had no choice but to turn Abe over to Hewlett, so Abe instead shoots him. As Abe grieves (Baker was an okay guy, after all) Mary comes up with a cover story that will absolve them, but it unfortunately requires burning down their house. Quite the twist ending, really.

Acting superlative this week was extremely tough. I tried to mention a lot of standout performances that were given in this episode, because frankly, everyone brought their A-game. Every actor in a major or minor role was compelling, strong, and truthful. But this week, I feel as though the distinction belongs to Burn Gorman, who plays Major Hewlett. Previously, we’ve only seen Major Hewlett sparingly. He makes a decision here, gives an order there, and is heavily influenced by his friend Judge Woodhull. This week, however, we see a Hewlett without Woodhull’s counsel, who cannot handle the diminished sanity of Captain Simcoe as well as an impending attack that Simcoe himself may have caused. Gorman’s portrayal of a Major losing a battle was incredibly authentic and there was emotion exuding from his performance. Very well done, Mr. Gorman!

Overall, I found the characters in this show to be the driving force of the story, and it was brilliantly acted from all sides. I’ve had a blast covering season 1 of Turn, and I found the story extremely compelling, yet educational. Hopefully, there will be a season 2 so we can find out what happens in the aftermath of the battle, and what’s next for the Culper ring. I hope you all have enjoyed reading these as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them! Let me know what you thought of the season as a whole or the episode, in the comment section below!

[Photo via AMC]

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