5 Reasons to Binge Amazon Prime's Original Series Patriot
Binge Worthy Television
1- Originality. The Spy Genre has been done a million times over. JAMES BOND, JASON BOURNE, AGENTS OF SHIELD, THE AMERICANS, and HOMELAND have all established tropes that are used in every espionage tale before this series. PATRIOT fights against those tropes. It takes most of the bureaucracy out of it. The story revolves around a family of spies, and the one son, our clinically depressed main protagonist John Tavner, would rather do anything other than the family business. The series isn’t built around the martial art driven action that normally accompanies these types of stories. It’s much more low key, subtle. If I were to imagine an espionage story by Wes Anderson, this series would be it. It’s far more dark comedy than an action thriller.
2- The Old Men. Leslie Claret and Tom Tavner are played by television vets Kurtwood Smith and Terry O’Quinn. Leslie is a constant threat to John’s undercover identity. He sees through John’s horrible portrayal as a knowledgeable expert in piping. Throughout the series, Leslie makes John’s life miserable, but Kurtwood’s masterful performance makes you sympathize with him against our hero. O’Quinn will always have a special place in my heart from his performance on LOST. He always has that fatherly aura around him. Even when he’s kind’ve being an overbearing douche that forces his son into an impossible situation. Tom is willing to put the mission before his son’s well-being, but at least he does what he can to protect John along the way. The dynamics of the relationships between these two men and John couldn’t be more different, but they’re both enthralling to watch.
3- Michael Dorman’s portrayal of John Tavner is flawless. I’d never seen Dorman before, so I had no expectations going in. I figured he’d be just another run of the mill action guy, with more bravado than substance. I was terribly wrong. John has the depth to spare. All he wants to do is make music and ride his bike through the streets at night. He desires peace, to remain stationary, and to be left alone. Unfortunately, his father forces him to leave his promising career as a folk music artist behind. He’s far too good at his work with the CIA, and the safety of the country comes before John’s happiness. His father’s misguided priorities take a toll on our protagonist. We see him fall deeper and deeper into depression with each new dark act he commits. He is a simple man. He does exactly what he says he’s going to do, but more on that soon. Normally, when you watch an espionage show or film, you root for the hero to save the country, stop the bomb from going off, or save the hostages. In PATRIOT, all we want is for John to be left alone, to sit down with his guitar, and entertain us with his incredibly honest words and melancholy music.
4- The humor. It’s dark. It’s not laugh out loud funny. It’s more like HA that was messed up, humorous. It’s a very dry humor based on physical comedy. From pushing an innocent man in front of a truck, to toting a man around in a knapsack and falling down the stairs, to promising his “friend” that he’ll stab him in the thigh if he doesn’t leave him alone and then doing just that, John’s actions leave you smirking at things you absolutely shouldn’t.
5- The espionage. When everything is said and done, this is still a spy story. While there’s not as much action as an episode of 24, there’s a solid story. The mission is to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear. The oversight stops with John’s father. The US hasn’t sanctioned the mission, so John is forced to take on an undercover identity with very little prep. He basically walks into an interview at a pipe factory in Milwaukee, blows the interview due to lack of knowledge, and then scrambles to figure out a way in. The factory has a contract, and without the job, John won’t have a way into the country. Unlike most espionage stories, this features more of the behind the scenes story. There’s less of what John does in Iran and more about what he must do to maintain his cover. It doesn’t help that he’s under investigation by a relentless detective, and someone he was forced to hurt in order to get the factory job is slowly getting his memory back. If you like spy thrillers, dark humor, developed characters, emotional folk music, and great drama, you’ll love this show.