Turn, episode 4 “Eternity How Long” marks a major turning point in Richard and Abe’s relationship.
Major Hewlett’s order to desecrate Setauket’s graveyard by digging up headstones compromises Richard’s honor and riles the townspeople.
Richard takes up the task of selecting headstones that the British can use to fortify the area. Richard’s dilemma could have changed the course of Setauket leadership, but instead it only fueled Abraham’s rebellion.
It stands to reason that Richard accepted Hewlett’s task because he wanted to maintain peace. When the town assembles on his lawn with torches, pitchforks, and guns in the late night hours, he fully understands the horror of his dilemma. He tells the crowd the stones will not be disturbed without their consent. This is an impossible decision. If the townspeople refuse, they will be treated as rebels, but if they agree, they face damnation.
Richard tries to drown his sorrows with liquor and Abraham seizes the moment. Abe recognizes the moment is ripe for rebellion. He helps his father see that Hewlett is powerless because he is desperate not to lose the town. Richard has the power to lead and liberate his people. When Richard is sober, he reinterprets his leadership potential.
Mutiny is evident, and Abe is exhilarated at the prospect of his father leading Setauket’s rebellion. He proudly stands with the angry mob, determined to protect its family burial plots as his father takes his position between it and armed British soldiers.
In an episode wrought with manipulation, Richard pulls the ultimate mind warp. He tells the crowd that God calls them to make sacrifices. This may sound like the beginning of inspiring liberation, but sadly, he uses faith to further enslave his town.
Richard’s speech ironically alludes to Abraham, not his son but the Biblical Abraham who is called to sacrifice Isaac, his son. Richard even alludes to God’s sacrifice, allowing the crucifixion of Christ. He leads the town, alright, but not in the way Abraham had hoped.
Abraham watches in disgust as his father digs up Thomas’s (Abraham’s dead brother) gravestone. The town is moved by Richard’s sacrifice and joins him by digging up the gravestones of their loved ones. This is too much for Abraham to bear.
On some level, Abraham may feel responsible for his father’s mislead attempt to protect the town from British violence. Abraham was the one to urge his father to take action and to lead the town. Though Richard digs his shovel into hallowed ground with disgust and anger, his act is still one of surrender to Major Hewlett’s will.
Hewlett arrogantly muses “this is how you tame a colony” while he watches the town betray its beliefs. Honorable Abraham is moved to continue to do what the British and Patriots deem dishonorable, spy. This “dishonorable” act is the only means to defeat the tyranny that thrives on stilted principals and skewed morals.
The relationship between Abraham and his father, Richard, is at the heart of this series. Richard strives to protect Abraham,but his efforts continue to disempower his son and community, alike. Earlier in episode 4, Richard unjustifiably expressed disappointment in Abraham, but at the end the tables turn. Abraham has genuine cause for disappointment in his father who firmly fixes Setauket under Hewlett’s thumb.
How far will Abraham go to protect his own son from the tyranny of British rule and the cowardice of Loyalist? We will have to tune into AMC next Sunday at 9:00 to see. What do you think about Richard’s decision? Is his response an act of betrayal or peace? You can post your opinion in the comment section.