‘TURN: Washington’s Spies’ recap: Still some life in battered Culper Ring
By all rights, the Culper Spy Ring should be kaput.
Setauket farmer Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell), a.k.a. Culper Sr., is guarded by Queen’s Rangers and has ceased contact with Gen. George Washington (Ian Kahn).
And Manhattan coffeehouse proprietor Robert Townsend (Nick Westrate), a.k.a. Culper Jr., refuses to spy for the ring because rebels posing as Queen’s Rangers pummeled his father Samuel (John Billingsley).
But when an impending attack threatens to crush the Continental Army, the ring suddenly resurrects on “Mended,” Episode 308 of AMC’s “TURN: Washington’s Spies.”
A letter to the British from treasonous Gen. Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman) inadvertently reveals that Washington and his top officers are camped at Middlebrook, N.J. This prompts Redcoat Gen. Henry Clinton (Ralph Brown) to order a strike.
News of a British victory is penned prematurely by Robert’s business partner, publisher James Rivington (John Carroll Lynch). So when Robert reads headlines declaring “Washington Trounced” and “Rebels Massacred,” he rides at full speed for Setauket.
“This needs to get to Washington with haste,” Robert urges Abe and spy ring courier Lt. Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall). “They know where your camp is. It’s only a matter of time.”
“Compliments of Culper Jr. and Sr.,” Caleb says to Maj. Ben Tallmadge (Seth Numrich) when presenting an advance copy of Rivington’s front page. “Ring’s not as dead as you thought!”
While Washington focuses on moving his soldiers, Ben strategizes on how to punish Clinton.
“Rather than merely dodging a blow,” Ben suggests, “why not hit back so hard that he’ll think twice about ever trying it again?”
Accordingly, Ben and his light infantry capture the Stony Point fort while most of its militiamen, commanded by Gov. William Tryon (Randall Newsome), march toward deserted Middlebrook.
“They knew we were coming,” Maj. John André (JJ Feild), head of British Intelligence, informs Clinton following the defeat. “We have a traitor in our midst.”
Back in Setauket, Capt. John Graves Simcoe (Samuel Roukin) and his Queen’s Rangers maniacally search for mercenary Robert Rogers (Angus Macfadyen), mistakenly believing he heads the spy ring.
Abe reinforces this misconception by alleging that Tory farmer John Robeson (Jamie Harris) collaborates with Rogers. Simcoe reacts by impaling Robeson on a spike.
“You’re scared of Robert Rogers,” Simcoe yells at the cowering town folk, “but you should be scared of me! Whatever he threatened you with is nothing compared to what I will do unless those aiding and abetting him come forward!”
Rogers, meanwhile, sneaks into Manhattan with the aim of murdering his hated rival André. Eager to assist is actress Philomena Cheer (Amy Gumenick), who despises André as “a liar and a cad.”
André jilted Philomena because he’s smitten with Philadelphia socialite Peggy Shippen (Ksenia Solo). And heartbroken Peggy, thinking André and Philomena are a couple, just wed Arnold on the rebound.
Meanwhile, Patriot spy Anna Strong (Heather Lind) must renew her ties with Abigail (Idara Victor), André’s housekeeper in New York. Requiring a pass to enter the city, Anna reluctantly approaches her former fiancé, British Maj. Edmund Hewlett (Burn Gorman).
Anna admits she initially encouraged Edmund’s affections to protect Abe — a onetime lover — from being exposed as Culper Sr.
“We were both swept up by our passions,” Edmund observes, for he was infatuated with Anna and she with Abe, a married man.
“It is good that you’ve quit Abraham,” Edmund says sadly. “Now I must quit you.”
After achieving closure with Edmund, Anna visits Abigail. It’s a critical encounter because Abigail and her son Cicero (Darren Alford) divulge that a Patriot officer is communicating with André.
Who’s the rotten turncoat?
“Gen. Benedict Arnold,” Cicero states emphatically.
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