Patriot spy Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) is eager to reunite with his family after being released from a New York prison. But first he makes a detour that yields crucial intelligence for the Continental Army in “The Prodigal,” Episode 209 of AMC’s “Turn: Washington’s Spies.”
Abe is surprised that Robert Townsend (Nick Westrate), a potential spy on Manhattan Island, suddenly sold his boardinghouse. What he left behind was Abe’s bill containing a secret note warning of an assassination plot aimed at Gen. George Washington (Ian Kahn).
Initially unaware of this urgent message, Abe seeks out Robert’s father, Samuel (John Billingsley), at his Long Island farm. Unfortunately for Samuel, his horses were seized by the British Queen’s Rangers. And when Samuel requested payment, the rangers beat him and burned the stables.
The barbarism inflicted on his father convinced Robert to join the Culper Spy Ring. That’s why he used proceeds from the boardinghouse sale to purchase an establishment frequented by British officers and government officials.
“I have realized with harsh clarity,” Robert wrote to Abe with invisible ink, “that one cannot turn from the injustice of this occupation, for it will come home.”
Robert’s intel about the assassination scheme comes at a crucial time because Washington just turned over half his army to traitorous Gen. Charles Lee (Brian T. Finney).
Washington orders Lee to attack the Redcoats as they redeploy from Philadelphia to New York. But Major Ben Tallmadge (Seth Numrich) knows Lee isn’t to be trusted. Accordingly, Tallmadge and his cavalrymen will fight alongside Lee’s troops and watch for suspicious activity.
As for Abe, he’s eventually escorted home to Setauket by Captain John Graves Simcoe (Samuel Roukin), the sadistic commander of the Queen’s Rangers.
“The prodigal returns safely to the bosom of his family,” Simcoe creepily proclaims as Abe embraces his wife, Mary (Meegan Warner), and toddler Thomas.
Setauket has changed dramatically in Abe’s absence as Simcoe and his hated rival, British Major Edmund Hewlett (Burn Gorman), wage a covert struggle. Simcoe tried to murder Hewlett during a recent “rescue mission.” Now Simcoe hangs one of Hewlett’s soldiers and calls it a suicide.
The dead Redcoat suffered from a “melancholic temperament,” Simcoe claims.
“I just hope his despair isn’t contagious,” Simcoe says to Hewlett as the rangers laugh derisively. “There are so few of you as it is.”
Attempting to make peace, Hewlett argues that “allowing two British parties to bloody themselves further wouldn’t be good for either of us.”
Simcoe will back down only if Hewlett resigns his commission and leaves Setauket. Hewlett refuses, of course.
“Despite your pretense of control,” Hewlett angrily tells Simcoe, “you can only contain your inner beast for so long. And next time it lashes out, I will be ready with all the excuse I need to put you down like the mad dog that you are!”
While this bitter exchange plays out, Abe and fellow spy Anna Strong (Heather Lind) rendezvous in a cellar to read Robert’s message about Washington. Eavesdropping on the conversation are two rangers who force Abe and Anna at gunpoint to reveal the whereabouts of their courier, Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall).
Just when it seems the rebel spies are doomed, Anna whips out a knife and ferociously stabs a ranger while Abe subdues the other one.
Anna warns Abe that he’ll be arrested as the prime suspect when Simcoe finds his slain commandos. That’s why Abe plants evidence making it appear Hewlett’s men are to blame.
“There’ll be more blood,” Anna cautions.
“But at least it won’t be ours,” Abe remarks with a heavy sigh.