Although we saw the exact moment Harper knew Angela was the mole and she was Dan’s daughter, episode 5 of The Old Man confirms it in the very first scene.
Sitting in the plane going to a place they don’t know, Angela and Harper finally confront each other. She cracks a joke and the lid is open. Harper feels cheated and says that she no longer feels like family. Angela tries to reassure him that she is the same person.
Her conflicted mind has not been able to do justice to Harper and Dan, her “fathers’. They’re still unsure of what the other will do, but so are we! More on this later in the episode.
In the Afghanistan flashbacks, we see a silhouette of the older Abby conversing with Dan about Zoe in the present.
“She isn’t you.
No. She still has a choice.”
Cut to the dinner scene in the present. Dan is surprisingly unmoved by Zoe’s demands. He quietly accepts them and tells her why. All he has ever wanted is the safety of his family. And money is no measure for him if he cannot do that.
He reveals Emily is in danger and he has to leave to make sure she is okay. Morocco is his destination. Zoe agrees to come along. In the flashback, Hamzad and his sister have yet to break Pavlovich. They are confident of doing so in the next couple of “sessions”. Abby pulls Dan aside and tells him why it won’t be a good outcome. She has been spying for Hamzad in the Soviet troops. Pavlovich will realize her in an instant and tell Hamzad that she is working with the Soviets.
Abby/Belour gives a really responsible and logical reason. When the Soviets leave, there will be a power vacuum in the region. Someone will have to take over. She wants Hamzad to be that person and lead the country forward. She also tells Dan why she won’t reveal the same to Hamzad.
A few months back, she talked to a local tribal leader’s wife who told her about a foreign tongued-man – a Greek pirate – looking for something in the hills. The Soviets spotted s prospecting crew. Their discovery? “A mineral deposit of unimaginable value”. Abby refrains from telling its location – that she alone knows – to Hamzad or anyone else because she feels power like this can corrupt a man and send him to dark places that they never come back from.
This is the reason Hamzad is still after Dan. Zoe is still unsure of playing Marcia as Dan imagined. We cut back to the plane where Angela bashes Harper for springing that surprise and personal detail about her mother from the last episode. So that scene did mean something to her. Shawkat did a tremendous job acting it out. Harper asks her the bigger question: what identity will she choose?
In a heartbreaking moment, Dan leaves Dave & Carol, his loyal Rottweilers, in a pet care facility. He leaves the job to get them back to “Dixon”. Does that mean he is not coming back and he wants Zoe to take care of them? That is what Dan alludes to Zoe in the car. But for some reason, I feel Zoe will be able to convince Dan otherwise. She didn’t just randomly appear in his life. It has all been for a purpose, and we will see that later in the episode.
Waters receives a call from Morgan Bote. Waters’ boss tells him to do whatever Bote wants without asking questions. He wants Waters to be a part of a team that retrieves Harold Harper. Julian walks into the parlor where Bote is sitting. The old man tries his sincere best to explain what happened to him in Dan’s case was not his mistake.
He then reveals that he himself put the mole in Harper’s team. And, that he did “what a good father would do”. Is Bote Dan’s FATHER? “More or less”. But he then also refers to Harper as his son, so he is clearly talking metaphorically (is he?). Bote asks Julain to “hurt his sons”. Another mystery for the finale that will spring a surprise. Just remember that line Angela said about her “fathers”.
Dan and Zoe stop by Zachary’s house. She insists that Dan let her talk to Zachary and convince him. Before she is back, Dan has another vision of Abby talking to him. Dan has yet to make peace with her demise. He still holds her “prisoner” in his memories, unwilling to let her go. He has a multitude of things stored away inside that will finally come out when he lets Zoe in. Zoe walks back with a smile on her face, indicating she got Zachary to agree.
Harper and Angela land somewhere in North Africa. Hamzad has given Harper a test to find “the needle in the haystack”. He is looking for the manifest of the plane in April 1987 that Dan and Abby used to escape. He knows the details because he arranged the exfil for his assets. Despite finding the details, Nina says it is not enough. A memorandum charting his guilt will be released by Nina’s team to fully destroy Harper’s life.
Angela isn’t ready to give up. She throws the idea to kill Hamzad and then plans to spin a narrative that absolves Harper. Zoe and Dan bookend the episode with a revealing conversation that progresses beautifully through its course. She tells him how Dan feels like “he is not a person” or “how he is built to defend things”. But that is not true. She sees the parts that humanize him; the sensitive and caring parts that make him a person. She is the partner that Dan “needs” to remind himself of everything left after he is done with his work.
The Episode Review
There’s just something so magnetic and majestic about ‘The Old Man’ that feels so pure, rustic, and familiar. They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Another impeccable episode.
The creators have firmly established their story as a gorgeous slow-burn that is as much about its characters as about the events that happen around them. The characterizations are indeed spot on. Director Zetna Fuentes does an enviable job of putting those developments and changes in the protagonists into perspective. Her craftily made sequences give an other-worldly beauty to the rich dialogue. In terms of grace and sensuality, this episode was by far the best.
We made admirable progress towards the final conclusion but were intimately put in the middle of the life of Dan and the others. Julian is coming back for blood and that is an ominous sign for Dan and Harper. Hamzad’s fear still remains but we can see a fightback from Angela.