“The Old Man” is an action thriller series by FX starring Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow as ex-US intelligence officials pitted against each other some thirty years after their prime. Based on Thomas Perry’s novel by the same name, the series presents former CIA agent Dan Chase having to run for his life after his old secretive life catches up to him. With two episodes out so far, “The Old Man” is a thrilling watch. With impressive direction and performances, it is able to create an intrigue that constantly builds up.
‘The Old Man’ Episode 1 & 2: Recap And Ending
An elderly man, Dan Chase, is seen living a solitary life with only two loyal dogs in his Vermont house. He is often visited by midnight memories of his late wife, who passed away some five years ago due to Huntington’s disease. The only human still in touch with the man seems to be his concerned daughter, Emily, who lives somewhere far off. Although Dan appears to be mostly like an ordinary senior citizen with a few quirks for the first few minutes, the fact that he has a lot to hide becomes more apparent when he suspiciously spots a new face in the neighborhood coffee shop. Dan puts up a makeshift alarm of tin cans tied to a string on his doorways, and his effort immediately pays off that night when a noise wakes up his two Rottweilers. Arming himself with a pistol, he goes downstairs to check and finds the same man he saw earlier pinned down by the two extremely trained dogs. Without wasting time, he shoots the intruder dead and arranges the scene to look like he had been shot at by the man and had killed him in self-defense. Dan, then himself, calls the police, but is quick to remove all guns and cash hidden beneath floorboards and inside cupboards in his house. He successfully convinces the cops of his story and manages to clear any suspicion from his name, and now drives away from the secretive life he has been living for thirty years.
Harold Harper, on the other hand, is the assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence wing who is still recovering from the untimely death of his son and daughter-in-law. He is called on to duty as an emergency has struck. A man the Bureau had been tracking has killed the spy they had sent to investigate him. It becomes clear that Harold and Dan did not only know each other but had, at one time, also worked together. Harold now establishes contact with Dan unofficially, through his own private phone, and tells him of the exact scenario—FBI agents are now on his tail as a tracker has been fitted to his car, and he must somehow escape the grasp of authority. It is quickly established that if Dan is investigated, then a certain history would become clear that might incriminate Harold as well. Dan drives away from a restaurant he had stopped at, and notices he is being followed by a car for a long time. He then takes a diversion and plans an ambush as the officers follow his car down a dirt track and lose sight of him. Just when they are ordered by their superior to search the place on foot, Dan rams his car into one of them and then shoots him dead, but is ultimately arrested by the other. However, as they drive away from the scene, the old man manages to create a disruption, causing an accident, and is then immediately helped by his two dogs, endearingly named Dave and Carol, who kill the FBI agent. Dan then makes direct contact with Harold through the agent’s phone and threatens to kill any other agents sent after him or his daughter.
Realizing the exact danger that his present situation poses, Dan calls Emily and tries to tell her about it as he swiftly drives away from the place. Emily, who had always heard tales about her father’s adventures, had always feared a time when people might come after the man, and hearing that her father is already being chased around makes her more concerned. Dan tells her that they cannot remain in contact as the authorities will soon come looking for her, and the only trace they can find of her is through her father, because nobody knows who Emily is, as her name and identity have been carefully changed by the man. Despite Emily not wanting such a situation, Dan has no option but to drop all contact with her. He crosses over state borders, getting hold of a local Massachusetts license plate, and also finds a house on rent to put up in for a few days. This temporary shelter plan does not initially work out, though, as the owner of the house does not want to allow dogs on the property. The owner, Zoe, fears that her ex-husband will charge her money if the dogs cause any physical damage to the place and asks Dan to leave. However, the man sees an opportunity to try and convince Zoe, and he cooks breakfast for the woman, who seems distraught over her personal life. She quickly changes her mind and allows Dan and his dogs to stay, and then also asks the man out on a date. Zoe opens up to him about her failed marriage, where her husband had an affair with a woman much younger than her, and also about the struggles of having to financially support her son’s education. While returning from the restaurant that night, local police stopped their car as part of a routine check, but let them go as they did not seem to recognize Dan yet. The two spend the night together, but Dan quickly starts to regret growing so close to Zoe, as he will have to soon move away and might also cause trouble for the woman. The next morning, as he is about to leave, Dan finds Zoe upset about something, and she reveals that her son’s education is being hampered because her ex-husband is intentionally being late in sending the alimony money. In order to comfort her, the man cooks breakfast again, and the two seem to grow even closer now, with Dan staying back, at least for some more time.
With the fugitive Dan’s direct threat to Harold and his team to back away, the FBI counterintelligence department prepares for a more widespread investigation into the matter. One agent in the team, with connections with the CIA as well, Ray Waters, gradually suspects that the case has something to do with Harold’s personal past, and he even makes it clear to the senior agent, who avoids discussion on the matter. Harold then visits a retired investigative agent with high influence and acclaim, who seems to have been superior and mentor to both him and Dan at some point in the past. Asking for ways to deal with the situation, Harold is given a phone number to contact, who can apparently help him in the matter. The FBI department gets to work on their own, and Harold instructs his immediate junior and almost his protégé, Angela Adams, to find traces of any Emily Chase that can be found. Angela’s search comes up with a strange result, though, as she reports to Harold that the Emily Chase most matched to the person they were looking for had died by suicide many years back, in 2003. While Harold does seem to find a track of Dan from traffic stop reports, as Dan and Zoe had been stopped for a routine check earlier that evening, the FBI officer does not work on it in any official capacity. Instead, at the end of the episode, he is seen calling up the number that his now-retired superior had given him, and the man on the other side of the call seems to be a professional hitman. Warning the man about the high skill and intelligence that Dan possesses in terms of self-defense, Harold gives the hitman the address of Zoe’s residence, as she had been seen with the fugitive.
Why Is Dan Chase Being Looked For By The FBI?
The real identity of Dan Chase has not yet been revealed in “The Old Man” Episode 1 and 2, but it is pretty well established that Dan was an American intelligence agent with brilliant skill and efficiency who disappeared some thirty years ago, when he had been posted overseas in Kabul, Afghanistan for some operation. After being posted there, possibly even undercover, Dan had grown a close relationship with the leader of the militant rebel group, Faraz Hamzad. In a scene from the past, a younger Dan is seen in a conversation with a younger Harold, trying to make the American intelligence agencies provide arms and ammunition to Hamzad and his cause, despite Harold’s argument that the USA did not want to participate in the local-level conflicts and was also distrusting of the rebel leader. The senior official and mentor that Harold visits in the present, named Morgan Bote, also talks of how Dan went rogue during the mission, not listening to his official orders and instead acting on his own ideas and getting involved in the local war. It is Bote that Harold reveals to what he fears has happened—despite initially having a good relationship with each other, Dan and Hamzad had a fallout over some unknown reason, and Dan had returned to America and had been in hiding since then. Now, Hamzad, who seems to be adequately influential to pull strings around in American intelligence, has ordered someone to directly conduct a search for the ex-rogue agent now in hiding, Dan Chase, and the FBI quickly followed suit. Dan himself seemed to be aware that a manhunt of this sort might be conducted against him at some time, as he had warned his daughter and wife about it as well. With only the agenda of protecting himself, the man seems capable of going to any extent to ensure this. When he and Zoe are stopped by the police, an imaginary situation plays out in Dan’s mind, where the police recognize him and are about to arrest him when he shoots them dead. When he then asks Zoe to get in the car and accompany him, the woman denies doing so, and Dan immediately kills her too, suggesting that the ex-agent is ready to kill anyone to save himself.
Why Harold Harper tries to help Dan out of the situation, at least initially, is revealed, or assumed, by his junior colleague Ray Waters. The fact that Harold had information that Dan was alive and also knew how to personally contact him suggests that the two had some sort of unofficial agreement between themselves to protect each other’s backs. Whatever happened with Dan in Kabul would also bring a lot of official blame on Harold if information about the same came out, and so Harold has personal reasons to keep the past under the blankets. Agent Ray Waters, in an effort to convince Angela Adams about the possible involvement of Harold in the case, reveals some more information about Kabul—during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, local warlord Faraz Hamzad had a trusted and formidable second-officer who was also an ex-Agency, meaning that he had been an American spy. Ray and many others with this information in the CIA suspect that this second-officer, feared by all in the region at the time, was Dan Chase himself. The fact that Dan, an American spy agent, had gone rogue in the desert valley could not have been unknown to the chief of station posted in Pakistan to oversee the CIA’s support of the mujahideen at the time, who happened to be Harold Harper. With these connections, Harold’s involvement in the whole matter is also very suspicious, if not equally questionable.
What To Expect Next From ‘The Old Man’?
With the tension and thrill of the chase building up, along with the gradual exposition of the past, ‘The Old Man’ is expected to get more exciting from here on. What actually happened with Dan Chase in Kabul, of course, remains the biggest question still, and what role Harold Harper played in it also needs to be looked at. Dan’s personal life poses enough questions of its own, too, as he keeps talking with his daughter Emily, who is reportedly dead. The old man himself seems aware of the possibility of him losing cognition like his wife, and whether his communications with his daughter are part of his failing memory can be explored. However, it must be noted that this still looks unlikely, as Emily is heard constantly talking on the phone and also sends her father text messages. Finally, what might be the fate of Zoe is also something to look forward to, as the woman seems more attached to Dan than he would like, and how he will either take her along or leave her behind will be seen next, especially with a hired hitman on their tail.
See More: ‘The Old Man’ Episode 3: Recap & Ending, Explained – What Happened Between Dan & Hamzad? Who Was Emily Chase?