The dynamic in the relationship between Charlie and Emma shifts yet again in The Company You Keep episode 7 ‘Company Man.’ With the pair having partnered up to help save both of their families from Daphne and her ongoing power trip, the former lovers are now agent and asset.
Daphne wants to give the painting stolen last week back to Brad Wilford and wants an invitation to Pine Grove, where she knows Wilford will be. Emma sets Charlie up with his cover, Brook Stern Jr; a man now retired from the government, ex-CIA, and whereas previously whenever the pair had been alone in a room together, there had been sparks of chemistry, now it feels and seems like things are bitterly cold; “Last week you said you loved me.” “Last week you were a bartender.” The silence is awkward and uncomfortable rather than humming with electricity, the quiet is eerie and somewhat unsettling.
Birdie and Leo have a long overdue discussion about Simon’s departure from her and Ollie’s lives ten years ago. It’s revealed that he found Simon passed out, high out of his mind while Ollie was alone in a freezing cold bath. He tells Birdie that he gave Simon an ultimatum: “…to get clean, or else” and put a loaded pistol to his temple as he did so. Now, I’ve known family members do some OTT things when mad before, but Leo wins the “You did fucking what?!” prize for taking things to the extreme. It is however Birdie’s response that brings home the real impact of what Leo’s actions meant for her and for Ollie. “If I’d known, I wouldn’t have spent the last ten years wondering why he gave up on us; on me.” As someone who knows what it’s like to have someone vanish from their lives without a word, I related and will always relate to and feel Birdie’s hurt.
‘Company Man’ features several call-backs to the pilot, but the focus on Negronis, as Charlie and Daphne sit at the bar, is the best of the bunch – notably because of the look on Emma’s face (she’s listening in on events via comms) when he orders them
The episode is considerably emotionally driven, with several key moments heavily led by Birdie and emphasised by Sarah Wayne Callies’ incredible talent. Having gotten the whole story now from her dad, she meets with Simon. “…I spent the last ten years wondering what was wrong with me…” she tells him, tearfully. “…I had to be damn sure that I was sober for good…” he explains, and to a point at least, I agree and commend him for his efforts.
I have never been particularly sporty – though I loved to belt a tennis ball at my opponent during gym class in high school – and I certainly can’t pull of sporting attire quite like Charlie and Daphne do as they continue to work on establishing the connections and contacts she’s after. I would however very much like to partner with Charlie for a game of Pickleball, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Birdie opens up to Ollie about Simon, explaining – all in ASL – that he wants to meet her properly. Ollie in response is sensitive, in all the best ways, about how long it’s taken him to get sober, and questions what she should do. Birdie’s reply brought a smile to my face. “…it’s your choice.” The recognition that although Ollie is young, she should still be able to make the decisions that can and will impact her life herself is hugely important and I’m glad the episode brought it into focus.
The character development in The Company You Keep has been strong from the start but in ‘Company Man’, it reaches a whole new level thanks to what the audience learn from and about Daphne. The rough, hardened, business-like exterior is, for a while at least, stripped away, as, through an incredibly powerful performance from Felisha Terrell, she tells Charlie about her mom working two jobs, her diagnosis of cancer and learn that: “…she didn’t see me graduate…” I almost teared up at that point as I reflected on how, had I gone to university a year later than I did, my dad wouldn’t have seen me do so either.
A brief in-person chat between Charlie and Emma causes chaos as the episode approaches its end. A friend of Emma’s, Vic, and his partner Diaz, who are working counter surveillance, pick up on a signal caused by Emma and Charlie’s comms getting too close. Vic and Diaz search the properties; Emma crushes her comms under her foot before she’s scanned, and a few minutes later, saves Charlie – who’s been busy with Dalton Bridges – from being discovered thanks to a silent plea through a window to Vic who turns off the scanner before running it over him. Objectives achieved, Daphne and Charlie end their trip on surprisingly comfortable, almost genuinely friendly terms.
“…were you out there to save your operation or save me?” Charlie asks Emma once they’re back at the Collar Bar. “The operation” she replies, though the look in her eyes says different. Vic calls her, angry. “I just home this asset of yours is worth it” he tells her as he hangs up. The final three episodes should hopefully reveal the answer to that…