Country: United States
Director: Allen Coulter
Starring: James Badge Dale, Peter Gerety, Jessica Collins, Lauren Hodges, Dallas Roberts, Christopher Evan Welch, Arliss Howard
Music: Peter Nashel
Writer: Jason Horwitch
Creator: Jason Horwitch
Rubicon is a hard series to describe in a few short paragraphs. Plotwise, not too much happens – but I’ll get to that later. The shows strength is that it fairly drips with atmosphere, albeit a mood that is pretty bleak. There is a sense of claustrophobia. Most of the scenes are very darkly lit – visually there is not much room to breath.
This claustrophobia, when added to the mixture of characters in the series, who all seem to project their own mania, ads up to an intense – without being action packed – viewing experience. The main characters in Rubicon work for an un-named intelligence agency, where they are office bound and set the task of analyzing and deciphering the intelligence that comes in. Each of these people is exceedingly intelligent, but they are socially awkward. The characters, through prolonged exposure to their work, have evolved into an individual collection of neuroses.
Will Travers (James Badge Dale), himself rather unkempt and confused about his direction in life, is the most human and nominally the show’s hero. He also happens to be the son-in-law of the department head, David Hadas (Peter Gerety). The backstory here – which takes place before the events depicted in Rubicon – is that Travers wife; Hadas’ daughter, has died, however the two men still retain a father, son relationship. Travers is Hadas’ star pupil in the department.
The story opens with a suicide. A wealthy, powerful mover and shaker, Tom Rhumor (Harris Yulin), receives a four-leaf clover in the mail, and proceeds to shoot himself.
At the agency, Travers has noticed an unusual pattern in a crossword puzzle that has been published simultaneously in multiple newspapers across the country. He suspects that there is some code transmission taking place but he cannot make head nor tail of it. He takes his information and presents it to Hadas. Hadas says to leave it with him and he’ll look into it.
Hadas does take it further. He presents it to his superior as his own findings. From the outside it initially looks like, he is taking credit for Travers’ discovery, but in fact he is keeping the junior agent out of harm’s way.
Later, under rather tragic circumstances, Hadas is killed when two trains collide. The department is now directionless, and Travers is approached to become the new section chief. He is not sure he wants the job. Lately he had been questioning his career path, and now that his mentor is dead, he is wondering ‘what is the point?’ But eventually he is convinced to take the job.
Rubicon is not as flashy as many spy shows on television. It is discerningly paced, and definitely focuses on character rather than action. The story and the machinations happening behind the scenes, are only being revealed in small sections. It is not really a show, where you could miss an episode. But if you are patient, and wish to watch a piece of thoughtful, quality spy television – and let’s be honest, there’s a lot out there in TV land to chose from at the moment – then Rubicon may just be the spy show for you.