Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will Needs a Vacation: The Rubicon Season Finale

One of the best things about AMC's new series, Rubicon, is that its creators know the psychological/ conspiracy genre (think THE CONVERSATION) and aren't afraid to pay homage for 13 episodes. Plus, they've created the right context for this genre workout, and it all feels kind of new. 

Critics and friends of mine criticized Rubicon for being slow, and that seems fair, but if you tuned in for the final 3-4 episodes, you know that the show picked up and was really plot-tight and engaging. 
For the most part, Will (James Badge Dale) lives the paranoid life: jetting around NYC with a stack of loose papers, checking owl figurines for bugs, and thinking everyone is out to get him. And as it turns out, almost everyone is out to get him (see: tagline..."not every conspiracy is a theory"), that is, everyone except his artsy-fartsy girlfriend, Andy (Annie Parisse). She's Rubicon's Kramer. She never leaves the apartment, doesn't seem to be employed, and still attracts the opposite sex somehow. Oh wait, she's hot, and Will spies on her from his apartment window. 

Andy makes Will a more interesting character. By living in her art-world and allowing Will to come into it, she creates two lifestyle spheres for Will: his API-paranoid sphere and his sitting-around-doing-nothing-cuz-I'm-at-Andy's sphere. We'll call it his art-sphere. Though the show is "slow," the only time Will actually seems to slow down is when he's in her apartment. Even in his own apartment, he constantly sweeps for bugs and phone taps, grabs for his trusty baseball bat, and cracks open beers to make it look like he's relaxing. Never filmed sleeping at his apartment (to my knowledge).

In the art-sphere, Will can get perspective on his life. He can form a meaningful relationship. And most importantly, he can watch his other sphere from a distance. It is in Andy's apartment that he watches phone tappers come in and do their thing. It is a safe haven for his files (he retrieves them in the season finale) and for his gun. The art-sphere and the paranoid-sphere seem connected, but they don't influence each other.

That is, until the final episode when Katherine Rhumor (Miranda Richardson) returns to her safe haven to find it's Andy's apartment too. Will's spheres collide, the girls assume Will's banging left-and-right, and we have our first fatality. It also marks the first time (tmk) that Andy leaves her apartment. And leaves with a gun in hand, not a paintbrush. 

So what are Rubicon's makers telling us? That we all need to find our inner artist? That we should check our light switches for bugs? That when there's terrorism, our many lives become singular? I don't know, but I hope they answer these questions and more in Season 2, which looks like it will happen despite poor ratings.

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