‘The Sympathizer’ Can’t Have Sex Without Thinking of His Mom

Hopper Stone/HBO
Hopper Stone/HBO

After the explosions at the end of last week’s episode of The Sympathizer, Captain (Hoa Xunde) is whisked away to a hospital. He’s out like a light, but we do get to see his dreams—in them, a younger version of himself makes a blood promise to Bon (Fred Nguyen Khan) and Man (Duy Nguyen), his closest friends. They set forth into the jungle, ready to explore Vietnam.

Captain wakes up to find Bon at his side. “That asshole really fucked you up,” Bon says. Captain is so dazed that he doesn’t even know who Bon is talking about. Oh, right—it’s Niko (Robert Downey, Jr.), the director of that explosive (literally) movie Captain was working on as a Vietnam Consultant. Some of the Vietnamese extras have stopped by with a gift: part of the headstone from his mother’s prop grave.

These youthful hallucinations keep finding Captain in his sleep. Once Bon and the crew have left, Captain slips off into a slumber, where he dreams about finding a decapitated soldier’s head in the jungle with Bon and Man as a child. Captain also dreams about being teased by his pals for being mixed race, fighting back against them with the fact that his ancestry actually makes him “twice” of everything. Are these recollections? Or is Captain’s mind creating these memories based on what’s been happening in his life recently?

David Duchovny Plays a Murderous Method Actor on ‘The Sympathizer’

A handful of visitors stop by to visit Captain in the hospital. Ned Godwin (also Downey, Jr.) sends flowers with a card from Cap’s girlfriend Sofia (Sandra Oh), which is eyebrow-raising. The studio reps for Niko’s movie also pay Captain a visit, offering him $3,000 to keep quiet about his injuries. Captain pushes back: He wants $30,000 and an apology from Niko. After some arguing, he comes down to $15,000 and the apology—if the reps can manage to hunt Niko down.

Claude (again, RDJ) is Captain’s final visitor—he wants Captain back on his feet. The General (Toan Le) has been erratically reporting back to Claude, so Captain needs to go check in on what’s going on. To lift Captain’s spirits, Claude suspiciously gifts him two tickets to see a live show called “FantASIA,” some sort of glamorous act that will remind him of home, maybe.

Vy Le in The Sympathizer.

Vy Le.

Hopper Stone/HBO

Once he’s out of the hospital, Captain wants to make amends. First stop: the house of the late Major Oanh (Phanxinê). Captain attempts to give Oanh’s widow (VyVy Nguyen) some money to help with the twins, but she’s unwilling to accept the money. She believes a sinister communist force killed her husband, so she wants to donate the money to the General, who is working on some sort of plan to reclaim their homeland.

Whatever, sure, Captain obliges; he has to see the General anyways. Working out of the basement of the new restaurant he owns, the General has been planning a “revolution” to take back Vietnam from the communist party. Captain advises him against this military raid, but the General is hell-bent on using the money he’s earned in America to start the war back up again.

The Courtroom Twist That Turns ‘The Jinx: Part Two’ Upside Down

Now it’s time for FantASIA—how exciting! The star performer of the evening is Que Linh, which is odd on two accounts. Firstly, that’s Captain’s dead mother’s name. Secondly, “Que Linh” is actually Lana (Vy Le), the General’s daughter. While performing on stage, she teases that there’s someone very important in the audience, which brings a smile to Captain’s face. That smile slips off as soon as she reveals who she’s actually talking about: her co-star, Jamie Johnson (Max Whittington-Cooper).

After the performance, Captain finds Lana backstage and apologizes for ruining her performance in the movie when he interrupted her scene. In return, she apologizes for never visiting him in the hospital. They’re friends again. Lana invites Captain for dinner, but he says he wouldn’t want to be a third wheel with her and Jamie—yet Lana teases him for thinking they’re an item. Do I sense some romantic tension between Lana and Captain?

Technically, Captain never cut things off with Sofia. Bon later shames him for this, claiming he wants to stop taking care of Captain following his injuries and let a woman do it. So, Captain goes to visit Sofia—but finds his worst enemy at her place. Sonny (Alan Trong), the communist journalist who loves to tease Captain, is now seeing Sofia. He’s helping her understand her Japanese ethnicity; they’re taking a trip to Japan. Captain has been replaced. But he makes peace with it, because secretly, Sonny is technically an ally.

Toan Le in The Sympathizer.

Toan Le.

Hopper Stone/HBO

Captain has bigger grudges elsewhere. Namely, he’s upset that Niko still hasn’t apologized, so Captain goes to Niko’s big Hollywood mansion to demand what he’s owed. In fact, no; because of the delay, Captain now wants something bigger. He wants Niko to ensure that all the Vietnamese lines they added to the movie end up in the final cut. Niko hesitates, saying he’ll “try,” but he also “can’t predict the journey” of the editing process. What a load of crap.

We’re back at FantASIA, where Captain wants to see Lana again. After some hallucinations of Man—Captain is really struggling, here; what’s actually real?—Captain goes backstage to see Lana. She apologizes for using Que Linh as her stage name, that was just her first big character name, and now, it’s her identity. Lana not-so-subtly asks Captain how his girlfriend is, which prompts him to tell her that he’s now single. The pair look like they’re about to kiss—which is nice. I like them! But it’s a little weird that this is now the second time Captain has had a conversation about his dead mom right before shagging a lady.

First Black ‘Doctor Who’ Ncuti Gatwa Injects Life Into Flagging Series

Alas, they don’t. Bon storms in and says that the General has found Lana and wants her to return home immediately. Captain seems to have ratted Lana out so that while the General is occupied with his daughter, he’s free to sneak into the General’s office and take photos of the Vietnam raid plan. Captain sends an encrypted message to Man and, somewhat questionably, a bunch of photos of the plan to Sonny.

A few days later, Captain is driving the General to an unknown destination when they read Sonny’s latest story—which happens to leak all of the General’s plans. The General is upset that he’s been found out, but perhaps even more pissed that he still has a spy pestering him. No matter; the General is more intent on showing Captain what he’s got going on out in the middle of nowhere than he is on this.

The General has trained an entire army here in California, ready to strike Vietnam at a moment's notice. Isn’t the war over? Hasn’t he learned? Poor Captain has more spying to do—it seems like this may never end.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.