In Turn’s Epiphany episode, Abe Woodhull laid out a consenting Anna Strong on his kitchen table. They passionately groped and kissed, giving in to what appeared to be years of repressed lust. Their dalliance was a fleeting moment as the Redcoat soldier stationed in the Woodhull home interrupted their lovemaking.
However brief, their moment was not one without consequences as explored in the latest offering, the awkwardly titled Mercy Moment Murder Measure. The episode had a vastly different structure than the previous offerings, using single tense moments to build to a decently tense conclusion.
As suspected, the return of Captain Simcoe spawned much of the drama. He returned to Setauket with a mission to profess his psychotic adoration over the married Anna Strong, who continues to stand by her man and fight for a pardon from his treason conviction. Simcoe overhears Baker, the Redcoat stationed in the Woodhull house, confess what he knew of the Abe/Anna incident to Abe’s wife, Mary. After demanding to know what had upset her, Simcoe stalks Abe and severely beats him in a dark wood. Simcoe considers Anna’s honor besmirched even if, as later conveyed to him in the episode, Anna was a very willing partner in the affair. Baker saves Abe from the assault, and the whole mess is brought before Major Hewlett who asks them to settle their grievances as gentlemen. After all, it is Hewlett who professes to use fair treatment to win over the colonists rather than brute force.
Simcoe’s version of acting gentlemanly naturally involves gunplay, which leads us to the episode’s climatic morning duel.
Against a frozen river at dawn, Abe wins the coin toss and is able to shoot first. However, as discussed earlier in the episode, Abe is a terrible shot, unable to hit a scarecrow from relatively close range. He shoots and strikes nothing but air. As Simcoe draws and prepares to presumably strike Abe down, Anna and Richard, Abe’s father, interrupt the presumably illegal proceedings and beg the two duelers to forget their argument.
Headstrong Abe wants to proceed and almost moves forward with a second shot at Simcoe before submitting to his father’s pleas (and the flashback to his toddler son) thereby ending the duel. Simcoe, I suspect, will not be deterred from his affection for Anna, and we will see much more of this love triage of sorts in the final episodes of the season.
There were two other items of note in this episode that didn’t revolve around Ye Ole Loins of Anna Strong. First, we see the beginnings of the Anna/Abigail spy ring as Abigail relays a message concealed in a birthday present to her son. Second, we follow Robert Rogers, still engagingly played by the show MVP Angus Macfadyen, as he continues to search for the Colonist who killed one of his Rangers. His investigation takes him to a prisoner ship in search of Samuel Tallmadge, Ben’s missing brother, where Rogers learns that Tallmadge is dead. Rogers decides to use the information and sends a fake letter indicating Samuel’s pardon to Ben with the intent of ambushing him at the collection point. As the episode concludes, Caleb Brewster rides to meet “Samuel,” establishing a thread that will presumably set up the run to the finale.
One final note of frustration with this episode: Turn obviously spends a great deal of time and effort painstakingly recreating the village of Setauket and its surroundings. However, the creative team has an unfortunate penchant of relying on poor CGI to convey vast seascapes and massive ships. The effect is extremely jarring and obviously fake, betraying their great success in the overall series art direction.
It’s an unfortunate blemish in an otherwise compelling show that, if the creators want to be taken seriously, has to be quickly remedied.
No one accustomed to something like Game of Thrones would accept less.