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Rubicon (2010) - General Discussion

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Started a rewatch of this show, which drew critical raves but not enough ratings to get more than one season.

I recognize many of the things in the first two episodes but don't recall how it ended so it's almost like watching for the first time.

The striking thing is that they are looking at books, old newspapers and so on.  They have cell phones but smart phones haven't taken off yet.

Still they should have all manner of online search tools?  Even before Google, there used to be systems like Lexis and other online resources, even going back to the '90s.  

I don't know if they'd have had newspaper crossword puzzles online though.  Probably still don't have that now, though imagine the work of digging up old newspapers (not even microfiche) to look for similar or same clues in different newspaper crossword puzzles across several years.

So it takes days to do these kinds of queries, which seems even quicker than one might imagine.  But you can see the separate plots about the billionaire who killed himself, after seeing a four-leaf clover in his crossword, and Will looking for crosswords which require that clue.  He has someone else check crosswords going back decades and find a similar pattern of same clues across several international newspaper crosswords and discover that the last time it was done, in 1983, it was an order for action, which may be related to the bombing of the US Marine barracks in Lebanon.

The suspense in the first two episodes comes from the manner in which David, Will's former boss and mentor, is killed and Will being surveilled at the roof top of the American Policy Institute, the front name for this unit of analysts and being followed to his home.


I can see why this didn't appeal to a big audience.  I don't know what kind of expectations AMC had of this series but it was right in the middle of the Mad Men run.  Breaking Bad had started it's run 2 years before so it was in the middle of its run as well.  Mad Men had a lot of male-female intrigue and BB had a lot of action.  Rubicon was suspenseful, even as they make connections in the worlds of intelligence and geopolitics.  But it's about analysts looking for patterns, solving puzzles, which might show what certain individuals or states may be up to.

The stakes are, some former Soviet guy who may look to be selling unsecured nuclear weapons to terrorists.  Will had lost his wife and child on 9/11 so terrorism was still in the zeitgeist, at least in the intelligence community.

But the show requires viewers to pay attention to these details, try to solve the puzzle at the same time as the characters.  Lost was ending its run in 2010 so maybe there's some influence from that as well since that show inspired a big following of people trying to solve puzzles and easter eggs.

However, we now know that this kind of analysis is done by the NSA, spying into civilian communications of all kinds or using supercomputer tools to process huge volumes of data or information of the kind shown in Rubicon, looking for patterns.

Otherwise, the cast is good but maybe not charismatic enough to draw a big audience.


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Finished it.  They did a good job with rendering the paranoia Will must have felt when he couldn't trust his bosses.

It appears the writers didn't expect to be canceled after 1 year because the ending is unresolved.

Interesting, they do get "downloads" from the NSA but API is there to sort through the data and make sense of it all.

Andy, the sexy neighbor, turns out to be a player in the game as well but they don't reveal it until the end.

Ending is unsatisfactory because the characters that viewers were mad to sympathize with kind of lose in the end.

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