Many twists and turns during this episode (some admittedly hard to follow with all that whispering). I will focus on one particular storyline for this post however.
The British soldier Simcoe finds himself and American prisoner after a failed ambush tipped off by Woodhull. The American captors, Brewster and Tallmadge, recognize that Simcoe’s low status on the British totem pole will gain them very little actionable intelligence. However Simcoe’s Imperialist taunts quickly set off the thin skinned Americans. In no time, we find ourselves witnessing an ‘enhanced interrogation’ session that almost ends in an execution if not for the timely entrance of American higher command. Tallmadge is reprimanded for his treatment of a British prisoner and subsequently threatened with court martial.
Does Simcoe bring this fate upon himself? One is left unconvinced. Brewster and Tallmadge take a noticeable step down in the ranks of Patriot heroes. Lives are at stake as in any war, but there remains nothing to be gained from this scene other than perhaps a lightly veiled commentary on modern interrogation. Perhaps there was more at stake in the encounter that the series was letting on. We may never know why sending Simcoe off to a prison camp apparently was not an option.
Gentlemanly codes of conduct frowned on torture and harsh treatment of officers during the 18th century. The real harsh treatment fell upon enlisted men and civilians who were shipped off to prison camps or prison barges to suffer starvation and disease.
Washington insisted on fair and honorable treatment of prisoners. Even the dreaded Hessians were treated humanely. This was a policy that served he and the American cause well. Washington’s status of a man of honor grew as people realized he would not discard the principles of the Revolution in order to win the war.
These principles seem to be the same ones that saved our villain Simcoe. One certainly suspects he will be around much longer to prove to us that killing him would of been the better option. This is a moral conundrum that has been touched upon in movies like Saving Private Ryan. These situations (scripted or not) seem to test our faith in our principles and basic human dignity during a time of war.