Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman) daring Ben Tallmadge (Seth Numrich) to shoot him (Turn: Washington’s Spies, Season 3, “Blade on the Feather”).
Much like the Culper Ring itself, most of Season 3 of Turn: Washington’s Spies was a hot mess until the final two episodes delivered a one-two punch that made up for the soggy storylines and left viewers breathless and wanting more.
- Although the focus on Benedict Arnold’s defection gives Owain Yeoman a chance to show his character’s vulnerability and self-doubt instead of chewing the scenery and sulking, the Best Acting award for this season goes to Ksenia Solo (Peggy Shippen). Her face at the ball when she realizes that John Andre has betrayed her with another woman is a masterpiece of hiding grief under a public mask of amiability.
- Much like Yellowbeard, my boy, Robert Rogers (Angus Macfadyen) is never more dangerous than when he’s dead–or in Rogers’ case, persona non grata to both sides. Angus Macfadyen has been given more chances to highlight his scene stealing skills and now, sporting an eyepatch, he looks more pirate-y than ever.
- The Best New Addition to the Cast award goes to James Carroll Lynch as James Rivington. As the unctuous printer/gossip monger who is part owner of Townsend’s tavern, Lynch cuts a figure both comical and sinister.
- The winner of the Most Surprising Character Turn has to be Burn Gorman as Major Hewlett. Hewlett’s transformation from incompetent British functionary to a romantic and even chivalric figure has made him much more sympathetic. With Andre gone, I hope that General Clinton will ask him to stay on in Philadelphia.
- The Biggest Reveal of this season has to be how much Abe (Jamie Bell) and his father, Judge Woodhull (Kevin McNally), are alike. Both are close, secretive, and manipulative. It doesn’t make them nice people, but it does shed new light on their relationship.
- Mary Woodhull (Meegan Warner) continues to earn more and more of my respect every season. This year, she–not any of the men including the crafty Robert Rogers–is the one who came closest to killing Simcoe.
- And the winner of the Best Closing Line has to be Judge Woodhull who’s “Get out of my town, you pathetic amateur” is just stone-cold.
- Topping the list of ridiculous plot elements this season has to be Ben’s doomed-from-the-get-go quickie romance with Loyalist widow, Sarah, followed by her tragical death that the audience saw coming a while back. Yes, Seth Numrich looked remarkably sexy in that episode, but this is the kind of melodramatic rubbish that Turn doesn’t need and yet the writers seem unable to resist.
- When you’ve got a tigershark like Simcoe (Simon Roukin) by the tail, it’s a shame to let him chase it and yet that’s exactly what the writers have done to our favorite villain. Having established Simcoe’s villainy at the high end of the scale and having given him no redeeming qualities (I’m pretty sure that neatness of person doesn’t count), the writers really have no place to take the character.
- Although more understandable from a plot standpoint, it’s still painful to see our suave spymaster, John Andre (JJ Feild) off his game. Andre pines for Peggy although that doesn’t stop him from dallying with actress Philomena (Amy Gumnick) to salve his wounds.
- Where the heck is Selah Strong? With Anna back in Washington’s camp, I halfway expected some sort of awkward reunion between the two, but nothing. I can understand the actor not making an appearance, but at least give Anna and Ben a few lines to suggest his fate.
One of the things that I learned from Alexander Rose’s book was that Arnold, after he joined the British, turned spycatcher and began trying to root out the Revolutionary spies in New York. There was even a failed attempt by Washington’s forces to kidnap Arnold and extradite him to the American side for trial. If the producers grace us with a Season 4, I hope that we’ll get to see that part of the story played out.