June 21, 2016
A major story arc in the third season of AMC’s “TURN: Washington’s Spies” chronicles the transformation of Gen. Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman) from a Revolutionary War hero into one of America’s most notorious traitors.
Arnold’s metamorphosis is complete in “Blade on the Feather,” the season’s penultimate episode. In exchange for money and status, Arnold shows Redcoat spymaster Major John André (JJ Feild) how to capture Fortress West Point.
Before André begins his journey up the Hudson to meet Arnold, British Gen. Henry Clinton (Ralph Brown) urges caution. If André is caught, he could hang as a spy.
André feels safe, however, because Arnold commands the fort with its garrison of motley troops.
“The Lord protected Daniel in the lion’s den,” André says. “And at West Point, Arnold is the Lord.”
André is far from safe, however. His jilted lover Philomena Cheer (Amy Gumenick) knows André sailed aboard the HMS Vulture. And she shares this intel with André’s bitter rival, mercenary Robert Rogers (Angus Macfadyen).
After the sloop anchors, André comes ashore and meets Arnold for the first time. Their bargaining breaks down when André refuses to pay Arnold a princely sum.
“Let me remind you,” Arnold bellows. “You’re not just getting West Point. You’re getting the Gen. Arnold, victor of Saratoga. I’m a bloody war hero!”
Arnold strengthens his hand by divulging that Gen. George Washington (Ian Kahn) is inside the fort and vulnerable to a British raid.
“We can end this war now,” Arnold exclaims. “Capture Washington and it’s over!”
This revelation convinces André to grant Arnold’s demands — on one condition. He must end his relationship with Peggy Shippen (Ksenia Solo), whom André fell for while stationed in Philadelphia.
“You get your fortune, you get your hero’s welcome,” André says, unaware that Arnold and Peggy married recently. “All I want is her.”
These talks cease, however, when Patriot artillery opens fire on the Vulture, forcing it to retreat with André left behind. So he sets off on foot, disguised as a civilian. And tucked inside his royal officer boots are Arnold’s plans for attacking West Point.
Now Rogers exacts his revenge on André with help from local militiamen John Paulding (Brad Ashten), David Williams (Edward Gelhaus) and Isaac Van Wart (Levi Krevinghaus). They intercept André on neutral ground and drag him to a Patriot outpost commanded by Col. Jameson (Jay Paulson).
Major Ben Tallmadge (Seth Numrich), head of American Intelligence, arrives shortly thereafter and is startled to realize Jameson has a British spy in custody.
When word of André’s capture reaches Arnold, he hurries to Peggy in a panic.
“We are undone,” Arnold cries. Then he flees in a rowboat, just as Ben rushes to the river and aims his pistol.
“Feather your blades,” Arnold tells his oarsmen, giving Ben a clear shot as the boat slows. But Ben misses and Arnold escapes with a farewell salute.
In Setauket, meanwhile, Captain John Graves Simcoe (Samuel Roukin) and his Queen’s Rangers terrorize the town in a futile hunt for Rogers.
Simcoe mistakenly believes Rogers is the head of Washington’s Culper Spy Ring when in fact it’s cabbage farmer Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell).
To end Simcoe’s tyranny, Abe convinces Redcoat Captain Wakefield (Ashley Smith) to leave his arsenal unguarded so the townspeople can arm themselves. Wakefield changes his mind, however, and alerts Simcoe.
When Abe enters the arsenal, Queen’s Rangers await.
“Get a rope,” Simcoe hisses, ordering a summary execution.
Does this mean an American spy and a British spymaster will both swing from the gallows?
With the season finale up next, the fates of Abraham and André remain decidedly undecided.