This wasn't the big turning point I was hoping for. "The Outsider" took things in a different direction, but in so doing it rested most of the storylines that were already in play. That seems like a terrible decision, as audiences are surely clamoring for revelations and developments not fresh material. Still, it was nice to leave the usual confinements, with Will (James Badge Dale) accompanying API boss Spangler (Michael Cristofer) to Washington D.C, for a meeting with military top brass to convince them their company is still a necessary and vital part of intelligence-gathering that demands heavy financing. Will was the titular "outsider" of the hour; learning that Spangler cherishes the "gifts" of solitude that espionage brings, whereas Will's unconvinced by the lifestyle. Spangler even made attempts to befriend Will (buying him a briefcase, singing his praises to the officials), but is he just playing a game?
Back at API, Will's team had to work to a deadline without their leader, trying to ascertain if it's necessary for the US government to order an airstrike on the hideout of a mujahideen operative, even if it might cause collateral damage that includes innocent children. It was a pretty simple moral quandary, although the interaction of Grant (Christopher Evan Welch), Miles (Dallas Roberts) and Tanya (Lauren Hodges) appears to be coalescing into something fairly interesting to watch. It was also interesting to see how much stock they put in Will, to guide them to the right decisions. It was almost like they're siblings who've been set a tough homework assignment by a teacher, and struggled without their wiz kid brother around.
There were only a few strands that connected to the ongoing story: Will receiving intel from a CIA contact called Daniel, who has researched the seven decoded names Will discovered last week, and discovered six were part of the CIA's Middle East division in the '80s, but only two are still alive; while Katherine Rhumor (Miranda Richardson) received the personal effects of her late-husband, including a cell phone with a threatening voicemail ("if you keep this up, you know what's going to happen"), before getting confirmation her husband's friend James Wheeler knows about the townhouse she was bequeathed because he ordered Chinese takeout from there. Will also noticed that an attractive woman is suddenly noticeable from his apartment window, living n a building close by, so I'm assuming she must be surveilling him.
A strange episode, when all's said and done. Too much of the previous week's storylines were ignored, despite the fact Rubicon hasn't reached a point where a break from the matters at hand would be appreciated. So I'm still waiting for the moment when the story begins to crystallize and it's not so willfully vague about everything. But "The Outsider" also felt a little fresher than usual, and turned Spangler into one of the show's best characters in the blink of an eye (his speech about ties was a little clunky, but delivered so well it worked.) I guess the show's intriguing enough that it manages to keep me tuning in every week, but I'm restless for that moment when the show makes enough sense that I can properly invest in the characters and the situations they're embroiled in.
written by Richard E. Robbins / directed by Jeremy Podeswa / 28 April 2011 / BBC Four