‘The Sympathizer’ Episode 5 Recap & Ending Explained: Has The General Made His Own Army?

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Previous week’s episode of The Sympathizer saw The Captain travel to the Napa Valley for the shooting of Niko Damianos’ The Hamlet. The Captain was tasked with checking out if the Vietnamese representation in the film was alright or not, and while it seemed like Niko’s intentions were right, his execution was completely wrong. He kept listening to Ryan Glenn’s racist opinions while sidelining The Captain’s genuine concerns about the Vietnamese cast. To make matters worse, Lana’s growing proximity to Jamie Johnson angered The Captain. Things got particularly heated up when Niko constructed a rape scene between Glenn and Lana, and The Captain interrupted it, thereby derailing the whole shoot. The shoot concluded with an explosion sequence that apparently injured The Captain. I was confused if that scene happened in real life or if it was just a figment of The Captain’s imagination. Episode 5 of The Sympathizer spends a significant amount of its running time clearing up that confusion.

Spoiler Alert


The General Wants to Reclaim Vietnam

The opening moments of The Sympathizer episode 5 confirm that Niko did, in fact, set off a chain of explosions without informing The Captain because he wanted to get back at him for “ruining” his shoot. Given how The Hamlet is a critique of Apocalypse Now, I am pretty sure it’s a reference to the series of bizarre “accidents” that happened on the set of the Francis Ford Coppola film. Anyway, The Captain is grievously injured and admitted to a hospital. He loses all sense of the past and the present as he begins reminiscing about his childhood with Man and Bon and how they stood by him when he faced racism and bigotry from his schoolmates. In the present day, he sees Bon staying by his side all the time and realizes how many things have changed, but the foundations of their friendship are still strong. 

The Vietnamese cast pays The Captain a visit, which makes him quite emotional. He gets a cactus from Sofia and a bouquet from Ned Goodwin. The lawyer who represents the studio tries to buy The Captain’s silence regarding the explosion with a bouquet and a check for $3000. But The Captain hilariously raises that price to $15,000, along with an apology from Niko. Then, Claude arrives and informs The Captain that The General is apparently making plans to “reclaim Vietnam,” and he wants The Captain to look into the seriousness of this apparently secret mission. After getting discharged from the hospital, The Captain decides to give the money he has acquired from the studio to The Major’s wife because she and her family are probably facing financial difficulties since the sole earning member is gone. When the wife says that she wants to donate it to The General’s operation to take Vietnam back from the clutches of the communists, The Captain realizes that there’s something serious brewing. So, The Captain reaches Madame’s newly-opened pho shop and finds out that The General is, in fact, making plans to wage yet another war in his homeland.


The Captain confronts Niko

The Captain meets Sonny again, and they have a little argument about the communists and The General’s alleged plans for Vietnam. Once Sonny leaves, The Captain notices an advertisement for a concert with his mother’s name, Que-Linh, on it. When he gets there, along with Bon, he finds out that this lady called Que-Linh is actually Lana. She has apparently not returned home after the shoot for The Hamlet was wrapped up, and she has built a whole new career centered around her singing and dancing skills. By the way, Vy Le has two performances in this episode, and both of them are excellent! If viewers aren’t demanding an actual concert performed by Vy Le, then what’s even the point of anything? Okay, coming back to the plot, The Captain assumes that Lana and Jamie are a couple, and that irks him a lot. Lana hints that she is not in a relationship with Jamie, but The Captain doesn’t believe her. 

To take his mind off things, The Captain decides to reunite with the love of his life, Sofia, and finds out that she is in a relationship with Sonny, of all people. The Captain tries to highlight Sonny’s cowardice for not fighting for his nation while claiming to be the voice of the Vietnamese people in the United States of America. But that backfires since Sofia is in love with Sonny’s vulnerable and honest characteristics. The episode then briefly cuts to The Captain asking the jailer to give him a break from his storytelling session and telling him to contact Man so that he doesn’t keep treating The Captain as a traitor. The jailer says that there’s no one called Man that exists officially, thereby casting doubt on the authenticity of The Captain’s stories. Then, the episode goes back into The Captain’s past to show his confrontation with Niko. He tells the pompous director that he neither wants his money nor is he interested in his apology. The Captain wants Niko to keep all the Vietnamese lines in his movie. Niko assures him that he is going to try to do his bidding. However, since the editing process is a difficult and free-flowing task, he can’t exactly guarantee what the final cut of his film is going to look like. And The Captain seemingly accepts Niko’s reasoning, even though Niko is the reason he has scars—physical as well as psychological ones. Maybe The Captain is just a big fan of the filmmaking process.


Has The General made his own army?

While attending another one of Lana’s performances, The Captain has an imaginary conversation with Man, where he basically convinces himself to keep doing the spy work that he has been doing all this while instead of getting lazy. Backstage, The Captain tells Lana that he is single. It’s clear that The Captain really likes Lana, but he doesn’t want to cross any boundaries because she is The General’s daughter. Talking about The General, he gets Bon to inform Lana that she needs to abandon her dreams of becoming a pop star and return home. Lana apparently thinks that this is The Captain’s doing, even though the truth is that The Captain has said nothing about Lana’s whereabouts to The General. Anyway, this motivates The Captain to restart his spywork. He takes detailed photos of The General’s plans and sends them to Man. In addition to that, he anonymously informs Sonny about what The General is cooking. He nearly gets caught red-handed by Claude, but he isn’t interested in what The Captain is doing currently. He is there to congratulate The Captain for intimidating Niko and nudging him in the right direction regarding the editing of the film. 

Then Claude proceeds to give a very relevant speech on the hypocrisy of “radical” filmmakers. He essentially says that as long as the government is overseeing the production and distribution of films, nobody is going to make a film that actually questions the status quo. They’re going to seem incendiary, but at the end of the day, these filmmakers and their films are going to appease majoritarian sentiments and call it a day. If you aren’t ignorant about what’s going on around you and how propaganda films are on the rise in the present day, this exchange should send a chill down your spine. At the end of The Sympathizer, episode 5, The General is seen reading Sonny’s report on his plans to reclaim Vietnam while taking The Captain to an undisclosed location. Apparently, The General’s plans are not a joke. He has organized an army, and Bon is training them in a secluded area in the hills. By the way, the army seems huge, but there aren’t enough people to take back Vietnam from the communists. Maybe the army is in its nascent phase, and more people are going to join The General’s cause, or maybe The General is headed towards a disaster of epic proportions. I really can’t wait to see the direction in which this story goes in the subsequent episodes.


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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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