I like detective or spy stories, but only those with soul and brains, and unfortunately there are not too many. I do not like conspiracy theories but I recognize that they make great thriller and action movies stuff – X-Files (arguably the best science-fiction series in the history of television) included. Rubicon is a combination of the two themes in the right ratio and is the best TV show I have seen in Israel this year. Unfortunately it was produced by a smaller American TV network, and did not enjoy the rating success that would allow it to survive more than one season. It happens unfortunately too often lately with shows I like – definitely my taste is not in tune with the one of the American mainstream viewers.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1389371/

 

The detective theme of ‘Rubicon’ centers within a Manhattan based spy agency, one of the many which seem to divide in pieces of puzzle the American spying and counter-terrorism system. It’s employees are not supermen or action people, but smart bureaucrats or analysts as they call them nowadays, they do not call the president on daily (or weekly episode basis) as in ’24′ and if and when they carry a gun they do it with the same tremor as you and me would do it. They are usual people who deal however with the same global terrorism threats as 24′s Jack Bauer did, and they are pray to the same pressures as the CTU, or even larger, fighting not only the enemy out there but also a malefic conspiracy of riches trying to manipulate the whole world. Their position is much worse however, as the corruption seems to have infiltrated to the higher echelons of the reporting line. As in the best novels and movies of the spy genre (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy comes immediately to mind) nobody can trust anybody in the organization, and the corridors of the building as well as its outskirts are permanently infested with surveillance cameras, electronic bugs and suspicious eyes.

 

(video source Telestrekoza1)

 

The best part lies however in the characters building. If the spy intrigue remains sometimes cloudy and murky we do not care as much because we have real human that build themselves beautifully on the screen. The series starts as the Israeli ‘Special Team’ with a new boss nominated to the team Will Travers (James Badge Dale) who replaces the former team leader who apparently committed suicide, deals with all the conflicts and will pay the price of trying to do the right thing. His boss Kale Ingram (Arlis Howard)  happens to be gay, so he may be the good guy (one of the more recent stereotypes in American cinema and TV scripts) but who knows in this suspicion filled atmosphere. Assistant Maggie (Jessica Collins) and smart but drugs addicted analyst Tanya (Lauren Hodges) fight each their own daemons. There are more characters, and each of them is clearly and carefully designed and by the time the series end we care for all and understand their motivations. More than a spy drama ‘Rubicon’ is a psychological thriller and maybe exactly the qualities that I appreciate in the series are not the ones that broader audiences attracted by the more immediate striking emotions in action series are used to. I feel to be in complete divorce with the mainstream taste that dictated ‘Rubicon’ to be terminated.