Turn: Washington's Spies, Season 4 (2017)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

John Simcoe is a well-known figure in Canada, a former governor and abolitionist, so the four-season long fictionalized slander of him as a psychopath has irked me as much as the other massive “inventions” of the screenplay has frustrated my American Revolution historian friends. So, when the series finale finished by telling you what became of each character, Simcoe included (“… he became…”), I said something unkind to the television I shan’t repeat here.

In this super-fictionalized version of American history, the notorious traitor Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman) discovers he is less popular in New York than he hoped. His wife, Peggy (Ksenia Solo), tries to ingratiate him into society while mourning her lost love, Major Andre. Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) enlists his father’s help to commit a high-stakes raid on English supplies, but it turns out more devastating than either of them hoped when the ruthless Colonel Simcoe (Samuel Roukin) routes and peppers them with gunfire. When the smoke clears, Abraham’s father lies dead.

Furious, and determined for revenge, Abraham throws himself into a dangerous mission as an undercover spy, while Anna Strong (Heather Lind) serves among the women in Washington’s camp, and the great general devises a means to end the war.

I gave up on this show’s historical accuracy a long time ago, when I realized Abraham could never have cheated on his wife since he didn’t have one; in this season, his father dies long before he did in history. The writers rearranged events, skewered and forgot facts, and characters come in and out as the plot needs them, with no advancement in making any of them more likable. Turn has suffered since the start from selfish, obnoxious leading characters, so I feel nothing for them, nor anguish when they come to harm. As I sat through the impressive battles in the second-to-last episode, I thought, “I’m sure this would move me, if I cared.” But I didn’t. I stopped a long time ago.

I’m sure Turn has its fan base and if you enjoyed previous seasons, this one has nothing to dissuade you. It spends less time in bed and more time on the battlefield. Lafayette even gets six whole lines, up from his usual two. Some found the finale a little lackluster, but I thought it did a good job in resolving plot lines, wrapping up subplots, and sending off each of its characters interestingly. I just hope the actions of these characters, who bear no resemblance to their historical counterparts, does not influence public opinion against long-dead figures who cannot defend themselves.

Sexual Content:
Several sex scenes that come in at the "end" of the scene (heavy breathing, sounds, movement).
 
Language:
Scattered profanities. Jesus' name is taken in vain several times. Uses of s**t.
 
Violence:
Infrequent but graphic, including a hanging that severs the man's head; characters are shot, stabbed, and strangled. A man hangs, twitching and alive, until two men grab his legs and break his neck. Bloody wounds.

 
Other:
Abundant historical inaccuracies.