labrecque

Why Annlett is a thing

While I enjoy Jeff Labrecques’s recaps of TURN: Washington’s Spies in Entertainement Weekly, I have to admit I find it frustrating that he just doesn’t understand why the TURN writers have paired Major Edmund Hewlett with Anna Strong. He seems to think Abraham/Anna makes more sense thematically and seems to find the Annlett pairing forced.

Maybe he can’t see it because he’s a man, and he’s not viewing it from the eyes of a woman who’s seen one too many stereotypical “Hollywood” romances. You see, I married my Major Hewlett 10 years ago - “Mended” is basically our second date when I tried to scuttle things because I was afraid he was much too good for me. Lucky for me, he didn’t give up on me.

So here are a few thoughts, after reading all of his recaps.

Hewlett isn’t a dolt. In season one, sure, he’s awkward and mostly used as comic relief. But he’s also the head of a garrison, which means constantly maintaining the delicate balance between his men (many of them young and single) and the townsfolk. No, it’s not because Anna and Hewlett “talked about the stars one night” that Anna finds herself falling for him - it’s because Hewlett reveals himself as a man who had his sights set on a life as a scholar, and only chose the military because family circumstances forced him to. He was never meant to be a soldier, he realizes he’s not a very good one - at least, he’s not a master tactician or suited for battle - but he’s doing the very best he can, every day. And he explains that he’s chosen the British side because he truly believes in law, order and authority - the rebel side, to him, is chaos. He’s a man of principle - unlike, say, Richard Woodhull, who Mary points out, only chose the side that would benefit him most financially. Anna can respect Hewlett’s convictions, if not necessarily agree with his point of view.

Now, Hewlett is a little slow to pick up on the fact that Simcoe is manipulating Hewlett and the townsfolks for his own ends (and, for sheer giggles) and that sleepy Setauket has an actual spy ring, but again: however we all like to tell ourselves that WE would never be so fooled - the reality is people make assumptions and draw wrong conclusions all the time. Hewlett is billeted with what he is told is a Loyalist family. Richard befriends him, as does Mary. It’s pretty clear that Abe has issues with his father, and Hewlett knows about the history of Abe and Anna, and Abe marrying Mary after his brother’s death. It’s possible Hewlett can even sympathize with a young man forced by circumstances into a life he didn’t choose. And when his suspicions are aroused, Abe and the rest of his family have glib responses to put his mind to rest.

Hewlett also has a rather substantial character arc. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was surprised when the writers put him through a rather grim kidnapping ordeal and and him not only rise to the occasion but best Simcoe with cunning and ingenuity. The man lopped off three of his own toes! He hid in a dead cow! He IS a soldier after all - it would make sense that he would have some military skills. The Hewlett we see in Season two is dramatically different than the Hewlett we see in Season one, and Seasons three and four show him changing even more dramatically.

As for Anna and Abe - well, their romance in Season one is rather understandable from her point of view, particularly when she thinks Selah is dead. It’s also completely predictable and not that original. But Abe’s affections - much like his initial patriotism - seems a lot more grounded in his desire to strike out against his father. You broke off my engagement? I’ll show you! I’ll take Anna as my mistress, so there! And after a few passionate encounters, even Anna recognizes there’s not much future in being Abe’s side-chick. Mary is hurt and humiliated - and I don’t think Anna really has anything against Mary or little Sprout. When people find out about the affair, it’s Anna who gets tarred as a harlot - very little happens to Abe. Even Mary’s sewing circle only accepts Anna at the behest of Hewlett.

When Abe finds out about Anna’s plan to marry Hewlett, he’s FURIOUS. Hewlett offered him a safe out - Abe and Mary could leave Setauket and live - but Abe is angry that Anna has defied him, and goes out of his way to scuttle the wedding - even telling Anna that it’s for her own good - which is breathtakingly arrogant of him. There’s no real sense that Abe even views Anna as anything more than his property - something he deserves to have merely because he wants it, when he wants it, when it’s convenient. Anna even tells him he’s destroying her one chance at happiness out of spite - and he doesn’t care.

In contrast, Hewlett doesn’t judge Anna - even though he knows all about the affair - and goes out of his way to treat her with respect and allow her agency. He’s not jumping Anna’s bones  in the tavern basement - he’s spending time with her - stargazing, teaching her how to play the harpsichord and probably discussing literature and art with her. He loves her, but it’s not just because she’s pretty - he’s connecting with her on an intellectual and emotional level. When she proposes beating Simcoe at his own game, he listens to her ideas and values her opinion. And he tells her again and again and again that he is courting her respectfully, and that his intentions are sincere. He doesn’t hold her past over her head, he doesn’t try to manipulate her emotionally - the only thing he asks is that she be honest and herself with him, and he will accept her as she is, and all that she is.

Part of what makes Annlett so compelling is that the writing is superb. Both of these characters have been damaged by the war, and at their core, it’s pretty clear that they both harbor substantial doubts as to whether anyone can truly love them. We’re on tenterhooks for them, because there are SO MANY ways their fate could go horribly wrong - not the least through their own misguided choices - and there is real suspense as to whether they’ll even get a happy ending. When was the last time the fate of a romantic couple on a television show felt so completely against the odds?

Finally, it has been noted that actor Burn Gorman is not George Clooney’s twin. He’s definitely got a unique look, so maybe that’s where some of Labrecque’s head-scratching comes in. But thousands of Gormaniacs can’t be wrong: Gorman is a very fine actor who is equally believable as a  romantic lead, comic relief or psychotic killer because he brings skill and intensity to every role, even if it’s only a handful of scenes or a small part. He never “phones it in” - when he’s on screen, you can’t take your eyes off him. And there are plenty of people who appreciate his looks - the man has entire Tumblrs and fan fic dedicated to his jawline, eyelashes, mouth, hands, etc.

Pretty faces are a dime a dozen, and I can name you half a dozen “hot” actors who are about as much fun to watch on screen as watching paint dry. Is Hewlett sexy? HELL YES. Watch him and Lind in any scene - there’s a reason their performances have been analyzed here and other places frame by frame with the intensity of the Zapruder film. Lind matches him - gesture for gesture, look for look, intensity for intensity and the results are breathtaking.

So, hell yeah, I’m rooting for Annlett with every fiber of my being. Maybe a small part of it is that the world today seems overrun with evil men and uncertainty, and it’s something to hope this one fictional couple can find their way to love, healing and happiness.

Turn series finale recap: 'Washington's Spies'

“The Revolution never ends…” —Abraham Woodhull

There was a version of AMC’s Turn that ran several more seasons, chronicling the new country’s clumsy first steps, but while the Revolution never ends, the show is complete. After the excitement of Yorktown in the penultimate episode, the finale was basically a coda that settled accounts, literally and figuratively. What becomes of the war’s survivors on both sides of the Atlantic?

Not everyone makes it to independence. King George refuses to recognize the new reality after the humiliating loss at Yorktown, and while his advisers suggest a peace overture, the king is still marching to the symphony of war that plays only in his head. He fears the weight of history, the legacy that awaits him if he loses the American colonies. More men have to die before he’s persuaded otherwise, evidenced by the slaughter at the Battle of Groton Heights in Connecticut, where the victorious British officer accepts the sword from his defeated American opponent — and then skewers him with it. Benedict Arnold commanded those Brits — but did not approve this bloodbath — and while he castigates his men, Cicero grabs the opportunity to flee into the darkness. He doesn’t get far before he’s grabbed — by Akinbode. The former Queen’s Ranger fulfills his promise to Abigail, miraculously catching up with Arnold and Cicero, not south in Virginia, but north in Connecticut. Their reunion is rudely interrupted when they stumble into an American ambush. Akinbode’s Ranger uniform and Cicero’s specially made military valet coat dismiss any hopes of them convincing the patriots they’re friendly or freemen, and they are not only imprisoned, but a ransom note is quickly sent to Arnold to negotiate their release.

When Abigail receives the note demanding 50 pounds and shares it with Arnold, he’s hurriedly packing up his essentials to leave New York for England. And by essentials, I don’t mean Peggy and his newborn son. They will follow him to London later, after he’s safely away from Washington and the patriots who wish him ill will for his betrayal. On her own, Peggy is inclined to help Abigail, but Arnold is adamant that no coin be spent in the effort to recover his former valet.

Abigail is resourceful, and she approaches Edmund Hewlett with a bargain: help her leave the city and get through enemy lines to recover Cicero and Akinbode and she’ll disclose everything she knows about the Culper ring. Hewlett shocks her with the news that he already knows those secrets, though he assures her that he has no intention of arresting her. He’s planning one last trip to Setauket before he leaves for good. Abigail pleads with him to bring her too, so that she can connect with the Setauket members of the Culper ring and get word to Ben Tallmadge about her son. But Hewlett warns against such travel, for American victory has made life very dangerous for her race. Southern slave-catchers have frothed up from the South, keen on recovering former slaves who escaped behind British lines during the war and nabbing additional freedmen who don’t have the support to fight back. Rather than join him in Setauket, he urges her to jump on the first freedmen’s boat to Nova Scotia.

Abe, Mary, and Thomas Woodhull have already resettled in Setauket, but they’ve given up their rights to Whitehall. It was Abe’s deal with Hewlett: If the British spymaster dispatched John Simcoe, Abe would transfer ownership of the Woodhull family estate to him. As a result, Abe has settled — and settled — back in his old decrepit farmhouse. Times are tough. He has no money, no crops, and few friends willing to loan him either. After Hewlett arrives and they conclude their real estate transaction — Hewlett, in turn, quickly sells Whitehall to an overeager De Young — Abe hits him up for a loan. Hewlett regrettably rejects the request, claiming that he needs every cent for his future plans, but suggests that Abe go right to the top: Washington. Not only was George Washington the general of the victorious army, but he was also one of the wealthiest men, if not the wealthiest man, on the continent. Mary thinks that idea makes sense, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have suspicions about Hewlett. Did he really fulfill his end of the bargain and kill Simcoe? (Um, no.) “I assure you,” Hewlett says in perfect fine-print-speak, “the man you knew as John Graves Simcoe is dead and gone.” At least Hewlett kept his word to Abigail and brought her urgent message about Cicero, which Abe can deliver to Robert Townsend in New York and send up the chain of command.

But of course Simcoe is not dead and gone. He’s in England, recovering from Caleb’s shot and angling for another commission. General Clinton has embraced his own post-war vacation and brushed Simcoe’s persistent letters aside, but he can no longer ignore the matter when the Ranger limps onto his estate and interrupts his fox-hunt. (Col. Cooke is there, too, apparently, with his new wife: an actress from New York. I like to think it’s Philomena Cheer.) Simcoe is wired differently, Clinton understands: like his hounds who are relentless once they pick up the scent of their prey. But there are no rebels for Simcoe to fight in Spain or India, certainly not with his current injury. Taking mercy on Simcoe, Clinton suggests Canada. There are no battles to be won there, but there is a new country to be built. Did you feel any affection for Simcoe as he was steered toward post-Revolutionary greatness…or were you still hoping he’d drop his cane and fall down the steps?

Washington’s victory tour leads him through Philadelphia on his way to New York. In Philly, Selah Strong wins over a reluctant Anna by inviting her to help him craft legislation to get the states to compensate the veterans who fought the war. There might never be great passion between these characters, but if Anna has demonstrated anything in four seasons, it’s that she values and oftentimes insists on being treated as an equal in a man’s world. Selah’s recognition of Anna’s talents and their shared politics could serve as the solid foundation of their revitalized relationship.

Abe’s dire finances (and no doubt Mary’s harping) encourage him to plead his case for reimbursement (and bring Abigail’s message) to Washington in New York. He meets with Robert Townsend in the country first, telling his sometimes reluctant partner that he intends to argue his case as well. Townsend, living comfortably on his father’s farm, is less desperate financially. In fact, he’s more at peace with the deeds he’s committed, the lies he’s told, and if some financial hardship is the only price of his sins, he considers himself fortunate. They part on good terms, after a friendly game of checkers. (Recap continues on page 2)

In New York, the city is bustling as one army exits, another enters, loyal Tories and freed blacks flee en masse, and the rest of Manhattan quickly hides the Union Jack in their attics and starts waving the Stars and Stripes. Ben is part of Washington’s entourage, and Abe grabs his pal’s attention by yelling his Culper code number. It’s very awkward as Abe hands Ben a stack of receipts, invoicing the money he and Townsend are owed. Clearly, this is a crucial matter for Abe, but maybe he chose the wrong time to bring it up. Perhaps the money can wait, Abe allows, but Cicero and Akinbode can not.

Washington’s first stop in New York is Rivington’s, which lost its high-class clientele with the British exodus. Only Rivington himself is inside when Washington and his guards enter, but His Excellency is not there to have a drink. He knows Rivington — or at least he knows his work. “Rebel Rabble Routed at Monmouth,” says the general, reciting some of Rivington’s most notable alliterative propaganda headlines. “What are facts but opinions expressed as truths,” Rivington says in his defense, but with such little conviction that he may as well have said “Hashtag Fake News.” Washington isn’t there to settle any scores, though he’s well aware of Rivington’s other slanderous stories about his wife, Martha. He also remembers that Rivington once believed that “the liberty of the press represented the great security of freedom,” and he assures the printer that there will be no reprisals against the Royal Gazette or its owner, though he suggests a name change. “We shall need vigorous voices to hold pride in check, lest our young country go down the same road as the one we just defeated,” Washington says, granting Rivington his blessing to be the journalist he once aspired to be.

In London, Peggy and Arnold are awaiting his audience with the king. Peggy’s few friends are enamored with the gossip that she once had an affair with the tragic hero John André, and Arnold is focused on getting royal approval to return to the colonies with a fresh army and defeat the Americans. “I’m not done fighting and my legend is yet to be written. I will return to the colonies and I will win!” he barks at Robert Rogers.

Yes, that Robert Rogers. The rogue has hit hard times, but he’s never given up his obsession for revenge. He wants the king dead, and the night before Arnold’s audience, he confronts the turncoat in the dark and makes the case for redemption: be an American Guy Fawkes and assassinate the king. Rogers can’t realistically think that Arnold of all people is the right man to pull the trigger, but fast-forward to the next day, as a barking-mad king pisses on his flowers and interrupts Arnold’s request for troops by lionizing André, and you can almost imagine the proud officer snapping and putting a bullet in George’s temple. As a viewer, I thought Arnold was just as likely to put the bullet in his own head, for at that moment, you could almost see him recognize the future and his place in it — Brutus, Judas, Benedict Arnold. He will never know peace.

Back in Long Island, it’s hard to imagine that Abe isn’t getting paid when George Washington himself rides in to town. After all, the most famous man in North America wouldn’t make that trip after Ben passed along Abe’s invoices just to tell his top spy, “You’ll get nothing and like it.” But that doesn’t make it any less awkward when the Culpers sit for a private dinner at De Young’s (soon to be Selah Strong’s again, at least temporarily) and Abe interrupts a toast to basically ask for the money’s he owed. Washington intones sternly that the spies he knew, present company notwithstanding, “gave of their service selflessly,” but Abe will not be deterred. He doesn’t qualify for veterans’ pay and he needs the money now or his crop will be ruined. Washington requests privacy to discuss the matter, and once they bond over cabbage farming, he decides to give Abe the money due from his private account. Abe protests the gesture, but Washington insists, with a quote co-writers Craig Silverstein and Michael Taylor should take great pride in: “It was a very hard lesson, but I have learned well: that failure to settle accounts can turn friend to foe, whereas the payment of a debt is freedom felt by all.”

Abe sobs — with either gratitude or shame, and perhaps elements of both. It would’ve been a near-perfect ending.

Instead, we were treated to an old-man letter from Abe to Thomas, looking back on his life. I didn’t mind the voice-over epilogue, but it felt slightly gimmicky, a catch-all to conclude unresolved matters (Abe and Anna’s true love); to parse the contradictions that defined both heroes and villains (contrasting Simcoe with Washington’s stance on slavery, which kept Abigail apart from Cicero and Akinbode, at least for a time); and to tug on your heartstrings by dropping little Thomas’ battlefield death in the War of 1812.

Yes, the Revolution never ends. There will always be tyrants like King George, powerful figures whose ambition and/or ignorance threatens the peace. And there will always be the blueprint of freedom that includes the principles of checks and balances and a free press. That conflict still wages. The value of Turn was that it showed 21st century Americans how the patriots of the founding generation were just like us, for better and for worse. And that should give us hope.

I (finally) found and completed my gemsona!! I picked Topaz since I’m a november baby—- high five to my fellow scorpios~!

Aight so, introducing Imperial Topaz. She’s a homeworld gem aligned with Yellow Diamond. Topaz is a relatively small gem, but she’s very durable. Topaz’s main powers are solar manipulation and plasma-based weapons. Her psychic powers are unknown, but her fellow gems suspect it’s mind control due to her intense stare lmao

EW First Look: Deepwater Horizon! Deepwater Horizon (Sept. 30)On April 20, 2010, 41 miles off the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burst into a ball of fire and sank beneath the waves. The ensuing environmental disaster would dominate headlines for months, overshadowing the deaths of 11 rig workers who perished in the explosion. Lone Survivor director Peter Berg reunited with star Mark Wahlberg to capture the brothers-in-arms heroics of the workers, including Mike Williams (Wahlberg), who escaped from the doomed rig. –Jeff Labrecque