Recap: The Captain Has Had Enough In ‘The Sympathizer’ Episode 6

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 20, 2024 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)
0
View all
The Sympathizer Episode 6 Recap - The Captain Has Had Enough
The Captain | Image via HBO

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

4

Summary

After some deviating, The Sympathizer returns to its core double-agent plot as the Captain feels trapped by his circumstances and makes some risky decisions.

If Episode 6 of The Sympathizer has a point, it’s that being a spy is a lot of work. The logistics are a nightmare. Once you’re living a lie, at what point do you become your own fiction? When do you forget about the principles that led you to a double life in the first place, and when you’ve forgotten, what’s the point in staying the course?

This is what The Captain is grappling with in “The Oriental Mode of Destruction”. He doesn’t find any easy answers. It’d be easier to sympathize with him if he didn’t keep executing people.

The General’s Plan Is Underway

The push and pull with the General is probably my favorite aspect of The Sympathizer. He’s somehow both an idiot and incredibly calculated; a harmless old eccentric who’s also slightly terrifying and perhaps not harmless at all.

In Episode 5, the Captain and the audience learned that he had been secretly building a private army of Vietnamese rebels in an effort to return to the homeland and retake it from the Communists. It’s a deeply terrible idea, but the refugees, including Bon, have embraced it.

This is in part because it’s the approach most radically opposed to what is later described as the contamination of Western culture. Like Lana, whose Americanization the General painfully laments, the only option available to the Vietnamese is to either give up as much of themselves as they need to in order to be considered American or spend their lives being othered.

The Captain Wants To Save Bon

In unanswered missives to Man, the Captain frets about his own predicament and Bon’s potential fate on what he considers to be an outright suicide mission. For once, he’s angry – at being ignored, at being banished to America, and at the fact that the General’s mission is likely to be carried out because it is being well funded by wealthy donors.

Enter Robert Downey Jr., who has some big moments in Episode 6. His racist congressman character Napalm Ned is helping to fund the general’s operation. His other racist character, Professor Hammer, reveals to the Captain that he wrote the titular Oriental Mode of Destruction under a pseudonym – as is often the case, his fascination with “Asian Studies” is rooted in wacky hatred.

Sonny Meets His End

Thoroughly disillusioned with everyone and everything, the Captain breaks into Ned’s desk and photographs a secret ledger, with plans to give the kompromat to Sonny so that it can be circulated far and wide.

But the Captain is losing it. He already hated Sonny before he stole his girlfriend, so despite having what seems like a pretty clear plan laid out, the Captain shoots Sonny to death using a revolver silenced with a Coke can. Talk about embracing Western culture!

This crime isn’t especially well thought out, but the Captain is able to get away with it since the only person who figures out what happened is Ms. Mori, who gives him an alibi on the condition that he leaves and never returns. Their relationship was over anyway, so this seems like a pretty fair deal.

The Captain Is Going Back to Vietnam

In a change to the novel, the Captain doesn’t get romantically entangled with Lana. He does pay her a brief visit in this episode but kisses her on the cheek only. In the flash-forwards, his North Korean interrogator makes a point of mentioning why this was included, presumably to draw attention to the change.

It’ll be hard for the Captain to maintain a relationship with Lana anyway since he’s going back to Vietnam. After finally receiving a response from Man, which reads “Request Denied”, the Captain goes straight to the General and asks to be included in the mission.

We already know that the Captain will be captured and interrogated. But what will happen to him after?


RELATED:

HBO, HBO Max, Premium Channels, Streaming Service, TV, Weekly TV
View all