The Sympathizer – Episode 5 “All for One” Recap & Review

All for One

Episode 5 of The Sympathizer picks up from the aftermath where the Captain is severely injured from the bombing scene of the film. He stays at a hospital for 3 weeks where he’s taken care of by Bon and visited by some refugees since they had nothing to do with the filming over. While in the hospital, he dreams of his childhood where he was bullied and beaten by children until he met Bon and Man, who offered to become the 3 musketeers with him. That was the first time he found acceptance for being himself.

The three youngsters, Bon, Man and Captain, cut their palm and vow a brothers’ bond. We find that Man was sympathetic towards the Viet Cong since his childhood, explaining to Captain that they are their own countryfolk as they buried a severed head of a soldier while Bon doesn’t participate and harbours a deep hatred for them since his father’s murder by them.

In the hospital, Niko’s studio team visit the Captain for compensation regarding the accident and after a brief negotiation, they settle on $15, 000 and an apology from Niko. Later, Claude visits him and gets him out of the hospital stating that the General is up to something and Captain needs to keep a check on him. Since Captain is suffering from homesickness, Claude hands him a ticket for a Vietnamese musical. Upon reaching the venue, the Captain remembers he missed a lot of information and we rewind to him visiting the Major’s family. He hands $10,000 to Major’s wife but she asks him to donate it to the General’s cause.

The Captain visits the new restaurant opened by General’s wife where we learn that the General is raising funds for a military operation to reclaim Vietnam from the communists. This is also where we learn that Lana had been missing since the filming concluded. Captain tries to subtly discourage the General from the operation but in vain. He ends up reluctantly giving the money meant for the Major’s family to the General. When he goes back to the front of the restaurant, he meets Sunny who’s had a whiff of the General’s plan and wants information to write a story. He also feels that the General is giving false hope to the refugees by orchestrating such a plan and setting the clocks in the restaurant to Saigon time.

And now we come back to the musical night where Bon and Captain are surprised to find that the lead singer is none other than Lana with the stage name “Que Linh”. Later, Lana apologises for keeping the Captain’s mother’s name since she needed a stage name to keep her parents from tracking her.  

Back at home, Captain prays to the departed and explains that after losing himself, he’d started becoming more mindful of such practices.  Bon comments that he needs to “get laid” and the Captain promptly arrives at Ms. Mori’s doorstep only to find that she’s moved on and is now dating Sunny. Infuriated, he tries to call Sunny names but Sunny’s humility only helps to strengthen Ms. Mori and Sunny’s bond.

Back at the re-education camp in Vietnam, Captain pleads to the officer to stop this. We find that Captain is in re-education camp because the officials cannot track Man and so, there’s nobody to appear as a witness to the Captain’s efforts.

Through Captain’s memories, we arrive back in America where he visits Niko’s house to convince him to keep the Vietnamese lines in the final cut of the film. Captain wants to feel that his time on the film set had not passed in vain. However, Niko goes on a monologue over the artistic spontaneity associated with the act of editing and replies that although he would try his best but he cannot guarantee the Captain anything.

Later, Captain finds himself back for Lana’s musical night and hallucinates Man encouraging him to keep a check on General’s efforts. Later, while talking to Lana, there’s a slight suggestion that they are attracted towards each other, at least the Captain but this is when Bon appears saying that the General knows where Lana works and that she needs to go back home. This sours Lana and Captain’s moment as she thinks Captain tipped the General about her location.

Free from all kinds of distractions, the Captain begins his spy work, writing letters to Man and sending photographic evidences regarding the General’s plan to launch an attack. While on his way to the post, he meets Claude. Claude praises him for convincing Niko to keep the Vietnamese lines since he considers artists as people who need to be kept in check. Simultaneously he hands over a newspaper article written by Sunny criticising the General’s efforts to reclaim Vietnam.

Later, the General visits an unknown location along with the Captain, who soon realises that it’s the military base where soldiers are preparing for battle. Bon is amongst the trainers. He remembers the severed head of the Viet Cong and the blood brotherhood between the three friends. Back in the prison, he’s slowly becoming agitated and losing his mind.

The Episode Review

In this episode, the Captain’s divided self is manifesting into a his identity crisis. It’s quite glaringly visible in his hallucinations. On one end, he meets the Major, for who’s death he feels guilty about. Moreover, the Major represents his American identity, while Man, who he keeps conjuring to feel some sense of purpose, is his nostalgia for his homeland.

Although the episode is not very explicit in suggesting the mental trauma, confusion, guilt and existential crisis that’s surrounding the Captain, it does manifest in these little details. Not only does the Captain feel a lack of purpose, but it’s also reflected in the General’s character and his delusions where he thinks he can reclaim Vietnam with a handful of soldiers.

There are also splashes of memorable dialogues where Man’s hallucination comments, “Old soldiers don’t fade away. The war went on too long…for them to stop”. Although on the surface, his words seem to add a purpose to Captain’s identity but on the other, suggest a profound idea, the difference between a physical war which seem to end with the bloodshed, as opposed to the destruction of a psychological and ideological war that continues forevermore.

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