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Battleground, Episode 9 recap: It's Getting Ugly, Tak

Tak (Jay Hayden) and an inflexible cop (Bill Glass)
Tak (Jay Hayden) and an inflexible cop (Bill Glass)
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Synopsis: A break-in at campaign headquarters rattles the Samuels team -- especially George, who makes a confession to Tak.

Local references: Tiny Ancora cups are used by little girls who throw a play tea party, and by grown-up men who drink bourbon in a workplace.

Local landmarks: Teddywedger's, Mickies Dairy Bar and Stadium Barbers; UW buildings, including Humanities, Van Hise, the Medical Sciences Center, and Bascom Hall.

Locals seen on screen: Playwright and actor Sam White; and, extras eating at Mickies, working in the Samuels campaign HQ, and attending a campus rally.

Memorable character: An inflexible campus cop played by Bill Glass.

Quote of the episode: "A dysfunctional family is still a family." - Cole Graner

Review: The episode begins where many bleary-eyed mornings begin, at Mickies Dairy Bar. Tak (Jay Hayden) asks Cole (Jack De Sena) to return to the campaign. Cole drops a bomb: Rival candidate Jack Makers has offered him a job. In front of Tak sits a forlorn baked good, untouched.

Back at Samuels HQ, there is trouble. Someone has broken in, trashed the place, painted "DYKE" in huge letters on the wall and stolen the fax machine. Turns out it's very bad to have a fax machine stolen, because in their memories fax machines contain copies of old faxes, including secret campaign faxes, and today I learned something about fax machines, whatever those are.

Tak's dad, D-Day (Ray Wise), shows up. He gets off a couple of pop-culture-themed gags related to the mess in Samuels HQ. "What are you doing, filming Hoarders?" he asks. Zing! "Get this place cleaned up, will ya? Looks like Grey Gardens in here," he says. Pow! He has a tip for Tak. There's an opportunity for Tak to join a presidential campaign. A Republican presidential campaign. The news makes Tak look like he just watched an especially revolting episode of Hoarders.

Campaign stepson/doofus Jordan (Jordan T. Maxwell) messed up again. He invited the press to a Samuels rally on the UW campus -- today -- but he forgot to organize the rally. The staff springs into action. Social media whiz Ali (Alison Haislip) says she will do a full-court press using various networks, including LinkedIn, and it marks the first time in recorded history that anyone has ever used LinkedIn for anything.

On the phone, Tak pleads with a White House staffer. The president really should visit Wisconsin during this midterm campaign season, Tak says. "You're going to need this state in two years," he says. Never count out Wisconsin. Ben (Ben Samuel) and Lindsey (Lindsey Payne) volunteer to babysit Tak's kids so his unhappy wife Sarah (Kelly O'Sullivan) can get her hair done. Tak and Sarah have planned a make-or-break date night.

At the UW Humanities Building, the rally is about to get under way. Only one problem. A campus cop (Bill Glass) says that what the campaign has a applied for is a meeting, not a rally. "I didn't know there was a problem with the word rally," Tak says. "There is, sir," says the cop, sternly. "There is." Nothing like an inflexible bureaucrat to dampen the human spirit.

A compromise is reached, the rally, um, meeting, begins, and all is well. Except that George (Sam White) has something terrible to report. The vandals stole his laptop, on which are records of his political shenanigans in Milwaukee. "You know how it works in Milwaukee," George says, defensively. "You have to pay to play." What this campaign needs is a secret email system.

Tak's bad day continues as he learns that his dad, D-Day, is managing Gov. Creighton's campaign. Meanwhile, Ben and Lindsay's babysitting gig is going well, right down to the play tea party, though there is an awkward moment when the girls urge Ben and Lindsay to kiss.

Cole triumphantly returns to the Samuels campaign, and he and Tak celebrate with whiskey from -- I love this -- a soft-soap dispenser. But now Tak is drunk. He and Sarah are supposed to have a big night out, but he ruins it, because he is drunk. Probably he and Cole should have just celebrated with soda, or even some 5-Hour Energy shots. But it's too late for that, and hardly anyone even notices when KJ (Teri Reeves) announces the great news that the president is coming to Wisconsin.

Watch Episode 9 online.


Battleground, the first original scripted series from Hulu, was shot in Madison by Hollywood filmmaker and former Madisonian JD Walsh. New episodes premiere on Tuesdays through May 8. The dramedy follows young staffers running a Wisconsin politician's underdog campaign for U.S. Senate.

Did you watch the episode? Spot more Madison references or people? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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