What do you do when your life and work don’t reflect who you really are? What can you do when your obligations to others outweigh your own desires? We’ve all faced these questions at one time or another, but none of us has faced them in quite the way John “Lakeman” does in the Amazon original series, “Patriot”.
Truly unique and stunningly unpredictable, this Fargo-like dark dramedy unwinds the plot twists with heart-wrenching humanity. It does what the Cohen brothers do, only better. John “Lakeman”, aka John Tavner, is an intelligence operative with the Pentagon working to undermine Iran’s nuclear capability. It’s a critical, dangerous job, one in which John must hide his identity from all those involved, including his family. And this is where the problems start. While John’s patriotism is unquestionable, his loyalty to his father belies an even greater connection, that between father and son. His father, Tom Tavner, is also his boss, which makes for an even more complicated relationship, especially since his father seems to have no problem sending him out on missions that require him to do things against his nature, like kill people. And that makes him what one character calls, “L’homme triste”. The sad man.
In his heart, John is an artist. He writes folk songs, spilling his soul out in melancholy, beautiful lyrics which unfortunately for him, detail his day job with astonishing truthfulness. John likes to sing these in public and that’s a problem for his dad since they often contain top-secret information. He introduces these songs in such a way that there can be no doubt about their meaning. “This is a song about a guy I just killed.” You’ll fall in love with him quickly. His sorrow is his unwitting seduction.
The complicated plot leads to humorous situations where each mistake or miscommunication means more trouble for John. He reacts to each incident with admirable fortitude, but it becomes harder and harder to keep up the charade and please his father. He starts doing things an undercover operative would never do, involving civilians in his plans, and telling them the truth about what he’s doing. He begins to want the things we all want, closeness, friends, an authentic life.
The writing and performances are the best you’ll see anywhere. Michael Dorman plays John Tavner with beauty, honesty, and straight man, comedic skill. His father, played by Terry O’Quinn (Lost), could not be better. Other standouts include his wife played by Kathleen Munroe, his brother, Edward Tavner, played by Michael Churnus, his boss played by Kurtwood Smith (That 70’s Show), and many, many others. Binge this one and never feel guilty – It’s time well spent!