‘The Sympathizer’ Episode 6 Recap & Ending Explained: Did The Captain Kill Sonny?


The Captain spent the majority of the fifth episode of The Sympathizer recuperating in a hospital after surviving an explosion, set off by director Niko Damianos, on the set of the movie, The Hamlet. He kept slipping in and out of consciousness and dreamt about his childhood with Man and Bon. Claude brought him back to reality after he informed him that the General was apparently planning to “reclaim Vietnam.” The rumors were confirmed to be true by The General as he took The Captain to a South Vietnamese boot camp where Bon was training a bunch of nationalist men to wage war against the Communists. As if that wasn’t disturbing enough, The Captain found out that Sofia had broken up with him and was in a relationship with Sonny. All this, combined with Lana’s career move as a singer, motivated The Captain to restart his spy work. So, he informed Man about The General’s plans and leaked information to Sonny about what The General was up to, in the hopes that an article by Sonny would dissuade The General from marching his people to their death. Episode 6 of The Sympathizer shows whether The Captain’s gamble has worked or not.

Spoiler Alert

The Captain Has A Weirdly Intimate Conversation With The General

Episode 6 of The Sympathizer opens with The General giving The Captain a tour of the South Vietnamese boot camp where the men are training to go to Vietnam and kill the Communists. The Captain is angry about the fact that, after barely making it out of Vietnam alive, Bon has decided to go back and sacrifice himself for a hollow cause. He realizes that Bon is too motivated to be discouraged by him. So, he tries to scare The General by saying that his operation is going to be exposed via Sonny’s news reporting. The General tells The Captain that his plan is completely foolproof because it has been listed as a charity organization, and it’s being funded by none other than Ned Goodwin. Therefore, unless Sonny somehow jeopardizes Ned’s election campaign by accusing him of funding a terrorist organization, The General and his army are safe. 

Naturally, The Captain manages to weasel his way into Ned’s house and becomes Ned’s wife’s assistant. He gets a rough idea of the cabinet in which Ned keeps his official (as well as unofficial) documents, and then leaves to meet Lana. While having drinks with her, The Captain starts to formulate a plan to use Ned’s documents to get Sonny killed. Yes, he makes it seem that he isn’t bothered by Sonny and Sofia’s relationship, but it’s pretty clear that he is seething with anger. He tries to rationalize his decision to kill Sonny by saying that that’s something that The General wants him to do. He meets Sonny and uses the paper trail that exists between Ned Goodwin and The General as bait. But the way he keeps glancing at Sofia proves that he is driven by jealousy. 

He goes to meet The General and overhears an angry conversation between him and Claude, which indicates that The General isn’t in control of everything; he is still dependent on the CIA. The Captain goes to Bon to see if he has changed his stance regarding going to Vietnam. When he learns that Bon is still hellbent on waging war against the Communists, The Captain yells at his old friend. The argument is interrupted by The General, who takes The Captain to the boot camp for a weirdly intimate conversation. The three major takeaways from this discussion are: The General wants The Captain to kill Sonny because he’s making the investors (which is the CIA and Ned) nervous; The General won’t stop until he reclaims Vietnam, and he won’t stop Bon from going on the mission; and The General lost some of his toes in a Communist prison.

The Captain Gets His Hands On Ned’s Documents

The Captain writes to Man about saving Bon. He uses his servitude as a dedicated Communist spy as leverage to put a stop to The General’s mission, thereby preventing Bon from going on this stupid adventure. He also asks Man to put an end to his job as a spy and let him return home because he feels that his mind is being polluted by the capitalist atmosphere of the United States of America. Man tells The Captain that since he has been in America for such a long period of time, he is unfit to stay in Vietnam. This whole conversation is shot in a weird way as The Captain sees himself in Man’s place, literally, and he hears Man speaking in his voice. It’s normal for The Captain to visualize his written conversations with Man as face-to-face conversations, but seeing himself in Man’s place probably indicates that he is at the end of his rope. He desperately wants to be where Man is, and that’s why his imaginations are becoming a little unstable. 

Anyway, the scene shifts to a party at Ned’s house. He comes across Professor Hammer, who reveals that he is actually Richard Hedd, the author of the fictional book, Asian Communism and the Oriental Mode of Deconstruction. This proves that Hedd’s love for the Asian aesthetic is merely a facade and he is actually racist. The revelation disturbs The Captain and he reprimands Hammer for being so bigoted. Hammer tries to agitate The Captain, to prove his theory that Asians are violent, but the latter doesn’t take the bait. Instead, The Captain walks away to look for the paper trail between The General and Ned, while Hammer stays back to witness the fruits of his propaganda. 

Ned gives an incendiary speech against Asians and Communists, which is either taken word-for-word from Hammer’s book or Hammer has written the script for Ned; and I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the leader of a certain electoral autocracy (which masquerades as a democracy) and a propaganda filmmaker who coined a term to target anyone for critiquing the government. We’ve been talking about the harmful effects of literature and films being used for propaganda, but it’s satisfying and scary to see it being discussed in The Sympathizer in such a vivid fashion. Coming back to the plot, The Captain finds the documents that he needs. He is nearly discovered by Ned’s wife, who is attracted to him. But The Captain manages to get the pictures of the documents without being caught red handed.

Did The Captain Kill Sonny?

The Captain calls Sonny to give him the documents that he needs to frame Ned for helping The General’s terrorist activities. But as soon as he sees Sonny with Sofia, something shifts inside him, and he makes preparations to kill Sonny. The Captain does give Sonny all the documents. But then he starts talking about the fact that he is actually a Communist spy and that he has killed The Major. Sonny thinks The Captain is saying all this to force him to confess that he is a Communist spy too. However, I don’t think that that’s the case. You don’t have to be a genius to notice that the weight of The Captain’s double life is taking a toll on his soul. The Captain knows that he has to kill Sonny, but he also needs to say his truth out loud to someone. That’s why he lets out all his bottled-up feelings and then kills Sonny. In doing so, The Captain continues to stay in The General’s good books, and he feels a little lighter. Unfortunately, that sensation doesn’t last very long as the spirits of The Major and Sonny begin to haunt him. 

The Captain lies to the jailer that he sent the incriminating documents to the LA Times, but for some unknown reason, they were never published. The truth is that The Captain burned those documents to protect The General and Ned because they were his ticket out of America. By the way, this moment is treated as the first time The Captain has lied to the jailer, but is that really the truth? He is a spy, and he has acted erratically now and then. So, there’s a good chance that he has lied many more times throughout the show and none of us were able to catch it. 

The Captain starts narrating his story again, and he says that, after burning the documents, he sent another message to Man, asking him for permission to stop the “Reclaim Vietnam” mission. Man denies his request, and that infuriates The Captain. He goes to Sofia to seek some solace, but she apparently knows that he is the one who has killed Sonny. The Captain then goes to Lana with the intention of getting intimate with her, but the only thing he is able to muster up is a peck on her cheek. At the end of The Sympathizer episode 6, The Captain decides to join The General and the rest of his army on their trip to Vietnam. Bon is surprised, but given how they’ve been together through some tough times, he welcomes The Captain’s decision to fight for his motherland. I have a feeling that The General, Bon, and the rest of the South Vietnamese people are going to be wiped out during their weak attempt at taking control of Vietnam. That’s when The Captain is going to be captured by the North Vietnamese army. And the past will catch up with The Captain’s present.

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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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