Episode 2 of The Old Man starts off with a customary flashback to contextualize Harold’s flustered state. The time is not defined but must be somewhere between 1979 and 1989 – the Afghanistan-Soviet war. He stands in a desert, waiting for Dan. But he calls him Johnny, who comes in style riding on a horse.
“Did you bring them?”, Dan asks. “No”, replies Harold. The two are talking about guns that Dan will provide to Afghan revolutionaries fighting for Hamzad. His conviction is ironclad and hence, he wants to provide all the help he can. Harold sounds off a warning of coming after Dan – on the government’s behest – if this transaction’s knowledge becomes public.
In the present, Harold inspects the site where Dan left the bodies. Waters is still on his case. This cold war will probably be a great arbitrage for Dan, who can completely – and most probably will – capitalize upon it. Chase ditches his battered car and picks up a new one to head to Collierseville, Pennsylvania. A new – and seemingly, significant – character introduction awaits us in the form of Zoe. She is a widower and the next-door neighbor of Dan’s. When Dave and Carol join their owner to meet Zoe, she outright asks Chase (he calls himself Peter Caldwell) to empty the apartment, as she has a strict no-pets policy.
At the FBI office, we meet Agent Angela, Harold’s protégé. He entrusts her with the task to discover Chase’s daughter, Emily. This is a piece of information we learn Harold had no clue about until Dan slipped up during their conversation. Morgan Bote adds to the list of character introductions. He immediately comes off as a person of resources and means: someone you won’t play around with.
Bote was Dan and Hardold’s mentor. He warned them several times about getting involved with Hamzad, something that is now coming back to bite them in their behinds. A phone number rests on the desk in front of Harold. Until he picks up the note, he has the choice to use/not use the services. Bote warns Harold that he is vying for his “life”, which Dan has the capability to destroy in an instant.
In a last-ditch effort, Dan cooks breakfast for Zoe. Scrambled eggs, just like her mother used to make for her when she was upset. Dan’s arrow in the dark has struck gold and he is allowed to stay. The impression is strong as Dan is asked out to dinner by her. First dates have not started on a weirder note than two people bonding on the medicines they take at that time of the day. With pride, they discuss the issue.
Other important highlights of the conversation are pieces about their respective partners. Zoe’s is more noteworthy because of how the scene is written. In an effort to pass off her as the victim and the ex into the villain, she morphs the truth.
After all the years of marriage, she found herself still unable to find happiness in her choices. The ex tried but ultimately, chose to find happiness on his terms. It’s interesting, if self-flagellating take, which automatically makes Zoe much more interesting than a traditional love interest.
Through Waters’ attempts to sway Angela towards her, we get a background of Hamzad and his connection to Dan and Harold. His story about the “baba-khorkhore” – the beast who ate everything – was the stuff of legends. It was right out of Afghan folklore but such was the influence and capability of the man, everyone feared him. Although there’s no confirmation, we’re pretty sure it is Dan. He was Hamzad’s right-hand man in the war against the Soviets and other revolutionary sects.
His presence made Hamzad untouchable. No guesses are needed to identify the CIA’s Islamabad station chief at the time: Harold. The Langley vs. Quantico banter cools off as Waters warns Angela. “At Langley, they taught him us the person easiest to turn was the one who strongly believed that they couldn’t be turned. It is only a matter of time”. Zoe’s relationship with her son is complicated.
He calls in between the couple’s drive back to ask if she has paid the fees for college as he has a mid-semester exam tomorrow. Up ahead, a police roadblock sends Dan into action mode. The curls slide to cover the side of his face (read – bruises), and a pair of reading glasses to complete the camouflage. Zoe and Dan are asked to step out of the vehicle. Zoe seems unconvincing and the moment Dan suspects his cover might be blown, he kills the officer standing next to him with his knife; uses the gun to kill the other officer, and pleads Zoe to get in. She doesn’t and he shoots her too.
The daydreaming (or nightmare-ing) ends when Zoe asks her to get in the car and drive back. She invites him in for “coffee” but Chase is reluctant owing to his vagabond-like obligations. She sees no problem and he goes in. Despite being with Zoe, Dan isn’t able to shrug off Abby from his dreams. In a mocking tone, she taunts him that he is afraid to move on and find another partner, afraid of what would happen when she learns of the truth. She then asks whether he would tell the truth or she would, and ostensibly walks up to Zoe’s side of the bed to wake her.
The next morning, Chase decides to leave for good. He goes to say goodbye but finds Zoe emotional. Her son wasn’t able to sit for his exams due to the check bouncing. Why? Because her husband shortchanged it, in order to get out of paying alimony. Dan does not say a word after his offer to pay for her son’s tuition is turned down and straightaway starts making scrambled eggs.
‘II’ Ending Explained
Harold joins Angela in her cubicle, making a joke about how her work is her life. In the middle of this, an officer walks up to them and Harold learns that Dan’s daughter, Emily, committed suicide in 2003. This leaves him shocked.
Angela then asks Harold about Waters’ intel. Harold responds, “You’re seeing the end of a very long story that no one has any answers for”, whatever that means. The man from Bote’s note is Julian, someone we only hear, as Harold decides to use his “services”.
The officers relayed the stop report to the FBI office and Harold knows exactly where Chase is. He gives Julian the address and wants him that “Chase is dangerous and would do anything to protect himself”. This man is probably someone a lot like Chase – a ruthless killer interested in self-preservation.
Given how much shaken Harold was with disbelief that Bote would even offer this contingency, he seems to be a high-level operative. It will be interesting to watch the two go toe to toe. More broken and bruised ribs for you old man!
The Episode Review
Considerably less action than the previous episode but more serious-minded groundwork, gives us a lay of the land. Episode two of ‘The Old Man’ is like the older brother who lets his younger, more ferocious brother hog the spotlight.
The narrative gives more weight and adds to the gaps that episode one had in the story. We now have more information – enough, rather, to start revelling in anticipation. Harold can try to run and distance himself from Chase as much as he wants, his destiny is tied with Chase’s.
I am pretty sure Julian would not be enough to stop Chase, or he might spring a surprise out of nowhere. But Harold will have to embrace his reality sooner rather than later. When the two episodes are viewed together, ‘The Old Man’ comes off as one of the better-written television shows of 2022. It packs great energy and thrill, something that we will relish as the pace picks up.