An unassuming farmer with some truly bad luck finds himself forced to make a life-changing choice in AMC’s historical drama Turn, which bowed Sunday at 9/8c.
His quandary: Pledge loyalty to the British forces occupying his Long Island hometown (resulting in a safe, if cowed, existence) or become a spy for the rebelling colonial army (which could help vanquish the Redcoats but which will endanger his family and may cost him his life).
In a moment or two, we want to hear what you thought of the cable channel’s newest drama. First, though, a recap of the first episode.
Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) plays the aforementioned cabbage farmer, Abraham Woodhull, in 1776 Setawket, NY. He’s got a wife, a toddler son and a Crown-loyal father, but all Abe wants to do is stay out of everyone’s way until the Redcoats end their occupation of New York.
That task becomes very difficult when Abe, visiting the tavern belonging to an acquaintance to whom he owes money, gets involved in a skirmish with some drunk British soldiers and winds up on the Redcoats’ bad side.
“Legacy is everything,” Abe’s disapproving father tells him, warning him to obey the rule of mother England and offering to help him out of his financial distress. But Abe’s pride won’t let him accept, so he instead trades some cabbages for silk and cash on the black market – which happens to be run by a childhood friend named Caleb.
On the trip back to Long Island, Abe is stopped by colonial soldiers who suspect he’s a British spy as well as an illegal trader. Their interrogation (including a harrowing precursor to waterboarding) is suddenly stopped by Ben Talmadge (played by Seth Numrich, The Good Wife), another old friend of Abe’s who is now a Connecticut dragoon fighting against the British.
Ben’s offer: Help the Colonial Army gather military intelligence on the British in Setawket in exchange for being set free. “We’re of a mind that if you can smuggle cabbage, you can smuggle something more valuable,” he tells his put-out pal. Abe refuses to cough up the name of the privateer to whom he sold the veggies but reluctantly agrees to help Ben figure out what the enemy is up to.
Unbeknownst to Abe, even more trouble awaits him at home. There’s a murder that some people – including Abe’s father – think he may have committed. There’s Abe’s former fiancée – the now-jailed tavern owner’s wife, Anna (played by Heather Lind, Boardwalk Empire) – who convinces her old flame to help the colonists and agrees to play a part in the espionage. And there’s Abe’s wife Mary, who begs him, “Whatever you’re doing? Don’t. We can’t afford to lose you.”
By the end of the first hour, Abe and Anna have successfully gotten word of a planned ambush to the Colonial Army – whose ranks, as it turns out, include Caleb. (The group of friends ultimately form the Culper spy ring, which was an actual espionage group during the Revolutionary War.)
Ben and his men get the jump on the Redcoats, whom they then massacre. Still, Ben wonders, who is the spy leaking important intel to the British? And back at home, Abe loudly and publicly pledges his loyalty to England while Anna, Mary and the rest of the town look on.
The drama from Nikita EP Craig Silverstein is well paced, well acted and well worth watching. Plus, the premiere sets up plenty of situations I’m looking forward to see resolved. Who killed the British captain? Exactly how much feeling remains between Anna and Abe? And when is Capt. Simcoe going to get the boot between the eyes he so sorely deserves?
That’s what we thought; now it’s your turn. Grade Turn via the poll below, then back up your choice in the comments.Follow @kimroots