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Samuel Roukin as Capt. Simcoe in "Turn: Washington's Spies," Season 3, Episode 2 (photo by Antony Platt/AMC)
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Ksenia Solo as Peggy Shippen and Owain Yeoman as Benedict Arnold in "Turn: Washington’s Spies," Season 3, Episode 1 (photo by Antony Platt/AMC)
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Daniel Henshall as Caleb Brewster in "Turn: Washington's Spies" (photo by Antony Platt/AMC)
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Jamie Bell as Abraham Woodhull and Angus Macfadyen as Robert Rogers in "Turn: Washington’s Spies," Season 3, Episode 1 (photo by Antony Platt/AMC)
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Samuel Roukin as Capt. Simcoe in Season 3, Episode 2 of "Turn: Washington's Spies" (Photo by Antony Platt/AMC)
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Burn Gorman as Maj. Hewlett in "Turn: Washington’s Spies," Season 3, Episode 2. (Photo by Antony Platt/AMC)
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JJ Feild as Maj. John Andre in "Turn: Washington's Spies," Season 3, Episode 2 (photo by Antony Platt/AMC)
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Meegan Warner as Mary Woodhull in "Turn: Washington’s Spies," Season 3, Episode 1 (photo by Antony Platt/AMC)
Previously on The Hat, I attended a screener at the Virginia Historical Society for the beginning of the third season of AMC’s show “Turn,” about the network of spies operating to assist the Revolutionary Continental Army defeat the British.
“Turn” is filmed around Central Virginia, and it’s enjoyable spotting streets and houses you may know almost as much as regional actors you may have seen elsewhere. In this episode, for example, Colonial Williamsburg stands in for old Philadelphia, where Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman) is military governor for the Colonial side. Here, too, we get to see Arnold’s loving side, as he’s head over heels for Peggy Shippen (Ksenia Solo) whose wiles are used to “turn” Arnold to the British side — and who becomes engaged to him.
Angus Macfadyen — who plays the vengeful mercenary Robert Rogers — directed a film version of "Macbeth" here with Virginia Commonwealth University film students. Here's a behind-the scenes look from "Turn's" first season.
On hand after Monday's showing were Paul Levengood, president and CEO of the VHS, who moderated a discussion on espionage during the Revolutionary War. The panel featured “Turn” actor Samuel Roukin, who plays the seething love-to-hate-him British Capt. John Graves Simcoe, Andy Edmunds from the Virginia Film Office, and professor Edward Lengel and Lynn Price from the Washington Papers at the University of Virginia. Lengel wrote the book on Washington, well, one of them: "First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His — and the Nation's — Prosperity."
During this first episode, Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell), in deep as a double agent, must dig up a slain courier and place false papers on him for discovery as Rogers alternately threatens and praises him.
Levengood pointed out during the discussion that what we call the Revolution was also a civil war. As “Turn” acknowledges — and, as we well know — that sub-genre of conflict is the worst of the batch. “Soldiers on both sides, American and British, committed acts that today we’d say rise to the level of atrocity,” Levengood said.
Roukin said that playing a fictional variant on the real Simcoe is quite enjoyable — villains are always compelling to portray. As Lengel emphasized, one aspect of “Turn” is that it gets into the nuances of these characters and series television allows them to become more fleshed out as people. Simcoe had a job to do and he intended to discharge his duties.
Prior to entering the lecture hall, we were treated to of Blue Bee Cider’s Hewe’s Crab (a favorite of our Founding Fathers, including Washington and Jefferson). Courtney Mailey, Blue Bee’s owner, told the intriguing story about Hewe’s Crab Apple. Mailey explained hard cider’s popularity in Colonial America due to the lack of safe drinking water. John Adams drank a tankard every morning — and lived to 91. Washington and Jefferson also partook, and Jefferson grew Hewe’s in a Monticello orchard. In the period of “Turn,” thousands of apple species proliferated throughout the South. Then came Prohibition and diseases, and that number shrank to 300, and the Hewe’s Crab apparently went extinct. Except during the 1990s, outside Williamsburg in a commercial orchard, the Hewe’s was re-discovered, grafted, and returned to become fruitful and multiply.
Thus, to get into an authentic mood when watching the next episode of “Turn,” get some Blue Bee Hewe’s Crab Cider. The second episode, titled "Cold Murdering Bastards," airs Monday at 10 p.m. on AMC.