New character portraits from the second season of TURN: Washington’s Spies have been released. The series returns for a two-hour premiere on April 13, 2015, mere weeks away. The complete first 10 episode season has recently been released on Netflix, as well as on DVD and Blu-ray.
Season 2 features returning cast members Jamie Bell as Abraham Woodhull, Seth Numrich as Benjamin Tallmadge, Daniel Henshall as Caleb Brewster, Heather Lind as Anna Strong, Meegan Warner as Mary Woodhull, Kevin R. McNally as Judge Richard Woodhull, Burn Gorman as Major Richard Hewlett, Angus Macfadyen as Major Robert Rogers, JJ Feild as Major John André, Samuel Roukin as Captain John Graves Simcoe, Ian Kahn as George Washington, Stephen Root as Nathaniel Sackett, Idara Victor as Abigail and new cast members Ksenia Solo as Peggy Shippen, Owain Yeoman as Benedict Arnold and Nick Westrate as Robert Townsend.
George Washington: This is not the George Washington we are used to seeing on the dollar bill. A 44-year-old general in charge of the Continental Army, he is a detail-oriented perfectionist who is well aware of his shortcomings. Washington is hard on himself as a leader, carefully presenting an image of strength and confidence to a ragtag army lacking those qualities themselves. A man of strong emotions, Washington has learned to restrain himself through sheer strength of will and tries to instill the same discipline in his army and his country. Knowing the fate of the revolution hinges on an alliance with the French, Washington focuses on the bigger picture and keeps his own counsel, which often creates conflict with his spymaster, Ben Tallmadge.
Abraham Woodhull: Abe is one of the true faces of the Revolutionary War — a man at war with himself and torn between his ideals and his desires. In season one, he risked everything to fight for what he believed in by joining with his friends to form the Culper Ring. His attempts to keep the war far away from his own doorstep proved impossible when his wife Mary discovered his secret and Abe was forced to take the life of the Redcoat soldier quartered in his home. To cover up the murder, he conspired with Mary to burn down the farmhouse he spent years building, a symbol of the last shred of his independence from his father.
Benjamin Tallmadge: Ben is a Continental Dragoon in Washington’s army and serves as a liaison between General Washington and the agents in the Culper Ring, his childhood friends. A Yale-educated cavalryman and passionate believer in the patriot cause, Ben’s unshakable resolve was tested last season as the stakes escalated and he found his loyalty torn between his friends and his Commander-in-Chief. After disobeying a direct order from Washington, Ben led a daring rescue raid on Setauket, saving his father and other patriots from being hung by Captain Simcoe. Now Ben must return to Washington to face the consequences of defying him.
Caleb Brewster: A vital member of the Culper Ring, Caleb acts as a courier, constantly putting himself at risk by relaying messages between Abe and Ben. Though very little intimidates him, Caleb was shaken to his core last season when Captain Simcoe executed his uncle right in front of him during the Battle of Setauket. Normally a man who relishes action, Caleb had advised Ben to wait before rushing headlong into battle and now harbors resentment towards him for his rash decision. Vowing revenge on Simcoe, he buries the rage he feels towards Ben, but his anger can only be held down for so long.
Anna Strong: A smart, headstrong woman, Anna has a complicated past with Abe, her former fiancé. Despite their history, they worked together to pass along crucial information to George Washington and the Continental Army, strengthening their own bond in the process. Believing her husband, Selah, was dead, Abe and Anna re-consummated their love, but soon learned they were mistaken when Selah returned to town with the Patriots during the Battle of Setauket. At the end of Season 1, Anna was faced with the choice of leaving with Selah and the other Patriots during the retreat or giving up everything to stay behind. Anna jumped from her boat and swam back to Setauket, securing her status as a Loyalist in the eyes of Major Hewlett and the other soldiers in town, and providing her with crucial access to continue her work with Abe and the Culper Ring.
Mary Woodhull: Mary’s life revolves around her family, relying on Abe to provide and protect for her and their son, Thomas. In season one, she felt her husband pulling further and further away from her and believed his attention was focused on Anna Strong. Mary realized the truth was far more dangerous when she discovered Abe’s hidden codebook and pistol. While confronting Abe with her discovery, their argument was overheard by Baker, the Redcoat who lived with them and a man whom Mary regarded highly. When Abe was forced to kill Baker, Mary showed that she is no wilting flower and calmly plotted out a plan to cover up the murder. After burning down their house and blaming it, along with Baker’s death, on the patriots, Abe and Mary are forced to move back in with Abe’s father, something Mary had wanted all along. Knowing the truth about Abe, Mary now holds a major chip in the game.
Richard Woodhull: As the local magistrate of Setauket, Abe’s father, Richard, is the protector and moral center of their town. Richard appears to be a die-hard Tory loyalist, but in truth he’s just weighed the facts like any good judge, wanting to be on the right side when the war is over. He believes there is no way for the rebellion to succeed against the might of the British army, but as the corruption of the occupying army begins to weigh on his town, Richard discovers that the path of loyalty is not an easy one to follow. At the end of season one, the rising tension hit him personally in the form of an assassin’s bullet – a plot by Simcoe to frame Ben Tallmadge’s father for conspiracy. Even though he was wounded and weak, Richard tried to see through the lies, and his own rivalry with Ben, to discover the truth behind the attempt on his life. The answer may change his beliefs about the war.
Richard Hewlett: Commander of the garrison in Setauket, Hewlett is a proud man who believes in the superiority afforded to him by his social position. Stoked by pride and tweaked by paranoia, Hewlett is a man of flawed vision — often unable to see things happening right under his nose. One of those things was Captain Simcoe, a violent and unpredictable subordinate, who poisoned Hewlett’s horse to lure him into his plot to frame patriot conspirators. Eventually, Hewlett saw Simcoe for the monster he was, arresting him and sending him for court martial. It is only through Hewlett’s honorable action that a massacre was avoided in town.
Robert Rogers: The mercenary leader of the Queen’s Rangers, Rogers fought alongside Washington in the French and Indian War, where they were both soldiers in the King’s militia. He is the man personally responsible for capturing Ben Tallmadge’s best friend, the ill-fated spy scout Nathan Hale. An expert in guerrilla combat and a skilled spy hunter, Rogers set his sights on Ben and planned to set a trap by using his brother Samuel as bait. When Rogers discovered that Samuel died on a prison ship, he remained undeterred, deciding to use Selah Strong as a decoy instead. At the end of season one, Rogers breaks the military rules of engagement and disrupts an official prisoner exchange, prompting John Andre to remove him from his command of the Queen’s Rangers, and leaving Rogers with nothing.
John André: The head of British Intelligence, John André is far more versed in counterespionage tactics than his counterpart Ben Tallmadge. Not above using sex, money and the promise of power to get his man, André is known for his keen eye for human weakness. He successfully blackmailed high level Continental General Charles Lee into agreeing to betray Washington, but the plot was stymied by Washington’s surprise victory at Trenton. Despite the setback, André remains patient, waiting for his moment to strike.
John Graves Simcoe: John Graves Simcoe is a born attack dog who harbors an intense dislike for most colonists, especially Abe. He holds a deep infatuation for Anna that is both menacing and disturbing. A skilled fighter and true believer in the British cause, Simcoe is as crafty as he is dangerous. After suffering under the harsh interrogation of Ben Tallmadge, Simcoe was released back to the British in a prisoner exchange. Returning to Setauket, he engaged in a dramatic duel with Abe in an attempt to claim Anna as his own. Ultimately, Simcoe engineered a conspiracy designed as retribution against the families of Ben and Caleb. When his plan is foiled by Ben’s raid, a furious Simcoe executes Caleb’s uncle at point blank range, forcing a horrified Hewlett to have him arrested and gagged.
Peggy Shippen: Hailing from one of the richest and most distinguished Tory families in the capital of Philadelphia, Peggy is called the most beautiful woman in America, renowned for her charisma and allure. Beyond the glittering exterior, she is clever and mature beyond her years. Both an urban sophisticate and a homebody of sorts, Peggy is devoted to her family, particularly to her father, Edward. She flouts her father’s wishes when she secretly falls in love with Major John André; however instead of eloping with him, she heroically sacrifices her happiness for the cause she believes in and the man she loves.
Benedict Arnold: History knows him only as a traitor, but Arnold is seen by his contemporaries as Washington’s finest battlefield commander, the hero of the pivotal Battle of Saratoga. A soldier’s soldier, Arnold is famed for his bravery and grit, but off the battlefield he has a talent for making enemies, a trait exacerbated by his quick temper. Virile and rugged but repeatedly injured while serving his country, he is passed over for promotion in favor of less talented men, one of a series of slights that leaves him justifiably embittered. Denied battlefield glory while he recuperates from his wounds, Arnold takes refuge in his personal life, particularly his dogged romantic pursuit of Peggy Shippen.
Robert Townsend: Secretive and reserved, Robert Townsend is best summed up in the words of historian Alexander Rose: “A man of parts and halves in a time of wholes and absolutes. Half-Quaker, half-Episcopalian, part secular, part devout, an American who refused to fire a musket for his country, a Loyalist who struggled against the British.” The proprietor of a boarding house in British-controlled New York, Townsend has survived by living under the radar, using his considerable wits not only as a weapon to disarm others, but also to keep his true feelings hidden. He quickly recognizes Abe as another who keeps his nature under wraps, and opts not to turn him over to the British when he uncovers evidence of his spying. Seeing Townsend as the missing New York-based piece in the Culper Ring, Abe tries to recruit him, but struggles to overcome Townsend’s ingrained mistrust of others and fear of taking action.
Nathaniel Sackett: A civilian member of the Committee to Detect and Defeat Conspiracies (a proto-CIA), Sackett works alongside Ben Tallmadge in devising novel ways to obtain intelligence. He is as offbeat as his ideas, several of which are far ahead of their time, while others are completely harebrained. His intellect and creativity are prized by Washington, who secretly funds a workshop where Sackett contrives new gadgets for spycraft, a sort of 18th century version of Q’s laboratory from the James Bond movies.
Abigail: As a slave, Abigail was sold at 13 by her father/master to work in the household of Anna Strong’s father. The two women grew up together and Abigail became not just Anna’s housemaid, but her confidante. After being sent by Major Hewlett to work as a servant for John André, Abigail became a trusted member of his household, valued for her loyalty, discretion and even the sound advice she gives to Peggy Shippen. Unbeknownst to André, she is actually working as a spy, sending intelligence back to Anna hidden in gifts for her son, Cicero, in exchange for Anna’s continued care for her son. Though Abigail is sympathetic to the patriot cause, her ultimate loyalty is to Cicero and she will do whatever she thinks is best for her son’s future.