By posing as an innocuous law student, Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) gathers vital information about the British military in “Hard Boiled,” Episode 202 of AMC’s “Turn: Washington’s Spies.”
This latest mission was nearly stymied when Major Richard Hewlett (Burn Gorman) decided that a Redcoat officer should watch over Abe at all times while he traveled from his Setauket, N.J., home to a New York college.
Hewlett assigned the guard to placate Abe’s wife Mary (Meegan Warner), who purportedly fears her husband will fall prey to rebels. But she privately told Abe he must halt all covert activity for the sake of their family.
To shed his escort, Abe “confesses” to the major that he once had a “shameful, misguided friendship” in New York with a band of Patriots called the Sons of Liberty.
“If I can find them, convince them that I’m still on their side, I can deliver you the names of the whole group,” Abe promises. But to expose the traitors, Abe obviously must be unaccompanied once he boards the Brooklyn Ferry.
Suddenly free to pursue his espionage, Abe observes a waning troop presence and intensified naval activity. If 5,000 Patriots attack the island, Abe speculates, the war for independence could be won.
When he’s in New York, Abe stays at a boarding house operated by Robert Townsend (Nick Westrate). Robert discovers that Abe writes his secret notes on hard-boiled eggs using an alum solution that’s only visible when the eggs are peeled.
But rather than betray Abe, Robert fries the incriminating evidence.
Back in Setauket, Hewlett nervously attempts to woo Anna Strong (Heather Lind), a spy whose rebel husband Selah (Robert Beitzel) fled during a British attack. Hewlett informs Anna that she can seek a divorce on grounds of desertion.
Anna, however, is only interested in a package from Philadelphia that Hewlett delivers.
Hidden inside is a message from Abigail (Idara Victor), the housekeeper for Major John André (JJ Feild), head of British Intelligence. Abigail overheard that American General Charles Lee (Brian T. Finney) is a traitor.
André regards Lee as “a poor investment,” however. A much better asset would be Gen. Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman), whose “virtues are often matched by his flaws.”
Arnold, a close friend of Gen. George Washington (Ian Kahn), rallied the troops in Saratoga and turned “a rout into a win.” Gen. Horatio Gates (David Bryan Jackson) took full credit for the victory, however, while Arnold nursed a leg wound.
Now André wants Arnold to ponder this injustice while “the many slights to his vanity” fester.
Another method of turning Arnold, André suspects, is by using Peggy Shippen (Ksenia Solo), the daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia couple. Arnold lived in the Shippen mansion when Peggy was 14 years old.
Does he reminisce about this young beauty? Most assuredly.
Finally, André has a new assignment for sadistic Capt. John Simcoe (Samuel Roukin), who’s been relegated to menial duties since his court-martial. Now Simcoe will command the “murderous savages” of the Queen’s Rangers as they train for a special mission.
When Simcoe meets the rangers in a Pennsylvania forest, he admits to having “no more desire to lead a provincial force than you have to serve under a royal officer.” But follow his orders, Simcoe vows, and he will mold them into the “finest light infantry in the land.”
When the rangers refuse to line up for a “fop in silly clothes,” Simcoe makes an example out of one man by breaking his arm, scalping him and putting a bullet in his head.
“Now, let’s try this again,” Simcoe says impatiently. Fall in!”