A British scheme to crush the Continental Army ends in failure at the Battle of Monmouth on “Gunpowder, Treason and Plot” (Episode 210), the Season 2 finale of “TURN: Washington’s Spies” on AMC.
At the urging of British spymaster Maj. John André (JJ Feild), 1,500 infantrymen are left in New Jersey as bait while the Redcoats redeploy from Philadelphia to New York.
Convincing Gen. George Washington (Ian Kahn) to attack this seemingly vulnerable rearguard is Gen. Charles Lee (Brian T. Finney). But Lee is a traitor who’s promised a small fortune for luring his soldiers to their death.
“He will march half of Washington’s army into the jaws of a trap,” André says of Lee, “and then preside over a disastrous retreat. Their columns, their spirits will be broken!”
Determined to thwart Lee is Maj. Ben Tallmadge (Seth Numrich), the liaison for Washington’s spy ring. Lee, in turn, positions Tallmadge and his dragoons at the perilous “tip of the spear” in what could be a war-ending battle.
Observing from a hilltop, André is smugly confident of victory when Lee orders his men to fall back rather than form a defensive line.
“Washington expects us to hold,” Tallmadge insists while blocking Lee’s retreat. Lee then threatens to execute Tallmadge if he doesn’t stand down.
Fortunately for the Patriots, Lee’s disloyalty is already known by Washington, who secures a victory by arriving with reinforcements.
“What the hell are you about, man?” Washington yells when confronting Lee. “To the rear!”
Shortly after the American triumph, Tallmadge warns Washington of an assassination plot uncovered by spy Robert Townsend (Nick Westrate). Tallmadge apprehends two of the conspirators, pointing out they both can be hanged “and no one will know how close they came.”
André, meanwhile, agonizes over the Monmouth defeat and his separation from Philadelphia socialite Peggy Shippen (Ksenia Solo). Acting on André’s wishes, Peggy pretends to adore American Gen. Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman) so she can help turn him into a British asset.
“To General Benedict Arnold,” André proclaims in a drunken toast. “May his treachery bring us victory, and may victory bring me Peggy!”
As for Peggy, she angers Arnold by claiming her older sister must marry first. But Peggy quickly placates Arnold by offering to become a friend with benefits.
“We may have to wait for our wedding day,” Peggy says seductively, “but that doesn’t mean we have to wait for our wedding night.”
Finally, American spy Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) must write a detailed intelligence report for Ma. Edmund Hewlett (Burn Gorman), commander of the British garrison in Setauket. Hewlett naively believes Woodhull’s lies about trying to root out a band of rebels in New York.
“But my mission was a failure, sir,” Woodhull protests, fearing André would realize the report is riddled with falsehoods.
Hewlett won’t back down, however, because he wants to prove he’s more valuable to the British military than his hated rival, Capt. John Graves Simcoe (Samuel Roukin) of the Queen’s Rangers.
Just as he’s about to murder Hewlett in desperation, Woodhull is drawn away by his wife, Mary (Meegan Warner). She persuades him to spare Hewlett but kill Cpl. Eastin (Nick Basta), who’s delivering the dubious report to New York.
After shooting Eastin on a country road, Woodhull is violently subdued by mercenary Robert Rogers (Angus Macfadyen), who performed covert operations for the Redcoats until he was betrayed by André.
Now Rogers intends to bring down André by aiding — rather than destroying — the American spy ring.
“So,” Rogers says with a gleam in his eye, “let an old trapper show you how to set the proper trap!”