Knowing that a secret deep state group is planning a domestic terror attack is one thing, but, as Team Swagger finds out, proving it and stopping Atlas is another matter entirely. With each member of the team pursuing Atlas for different reasons, they struggle for a clear way forward in an episode that shows the personal toll of vengeance.
On the trail of (stale) bread crumbs
Back in Texas, Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe) beats the tar out of Red Bama Jr.’s associates looking for leads while ignoring calls from the rest of the group in Washington, D.C. A group of Bama Jr.’s loser pals direct Swagger to a white pride march in D.C. Swagger goes home to pack up, but Julie (Shantel VanSanten) is so angry at him bailing on Sam’s funeral that she demands he explain himself in front of their daughter. Swagger doesn’t and leaves, prompting Julie to later do some serious soul-searching about her marriage. Meanwhile, Andrew Gold meets with Red Bama Sr. (Gerald McRaney) to thank him for sacrificing his son for the cause -- and deliver the news that August Russo (Raymond J. Barry) has tapped Bama to take over the operation. They want to take Swagger out. Bama reveals he has people in Texas feeding Swagger just enough information to draw Swagger to him, without Swagger knowing he’s being led.
Team Swagger struggles to get on the same page
When Swagger arrives in D.C., he won’t listen to cautions that walking into the Gold-funded white power Alpha Boys might not be a good plan. Nadine Memphis (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) is most concerned with stopping the attack and confirmation of Ray Brooks, and they think that while Earl’s tape would be unfairly discredited if they went public, it might work against Brooks in private. Isaac Johnson (Omar Epps), wants to take a second run at Gold, who he believes is responsible for his wife’s death. Carlita Cruise (Felisha Terrell), who is plotting to steal the decryption card and betray them, tries to warn Memphis off the Gold meet seemingly out of concern, with no luck.
Swagger gets closer to the Atlas attack plan, but not Bama Jr.
Swagger goes to the troll headquarters and gets and earful of racist garbage but no Junior (because he’s dead). They tell him it’s fight night and whoever wins gets to fight Junior. Swagger sneaks into a storage closet and finds dozens of tiki torches rigged with explosives. He stays to no-rules fight a guy who isn’t the Navy SEAL he claims to be but still packs a punch. Swagger comes out on top, but is battered in the process. It makes him easier for the Aryans to grab and hold for Bama Sr.
Cruise is working her own impossible mission
Jack Long sneaks into Cruise’s hotel room to relay news that Russo says she can come off the kill list and back to work in exchange for the decryption card. It seems they have a familiar history, but Long says that won’t stop him if she doesn’t bring the card next time. At the office space they’re using as headquarters, Cruise brings Harris Downey (Jesse Bradford) a shot and gets him chatting. Whatever she laced it with works quickly and he takes a nap, giving her the opening to steal the decryption card. When Long comes back to her hotel, she hands it over and goes with him to see Russo.
Gold again proves unshakeable, but not untouchable
Memphis and Johnson meet Gold on a Metro platform and play him the Earl video, threatening to go public. He’s not intimidated and gives the signal to take them out, but they evade the fire of the operative nearby. Johnson gets a head start chasing after Gold and Memphis follows, worried that Johnson might kill him as payback for his wife’s murder. Her fears prove well-founded when Johnson slits Gold’s throat just as Memphis reaches them. Memphis thinks the city will go on lockdown but Johnson is confident Atlas will clean it up. Sure enough, Jack Long takes care of it, staging Gold’s body in his car and setting it on fire.
Margo comes through to try to stop Atlas and save Swagger
Back at their new office building headquarters, Memphis gets Swagger’s text photo of the tiki torches full of explosives. She worries because she can’t find Cruise or Downey and can’t reach Swagger. She calls Margo at the DOJ and asks for a tactical team at the Alpha Society to follow up on the explosives. Margo knows about Gold’s death, which is being spun as a suicide. Meanwhile, Red Bama Sr. shows up at the Alpha Society and relishes being able to beat on a bound Swagger. He relays the news that his son is dead, a “casualty of war.” “When my own flesh and blood put my country at risk, I didn’t hesitate,” he says. Swagger is stunned. Bama continues working Swagger over, yanking his shoulder out of its socket as he’s tied to a chair. Swagger asks if Bama killed his father, but Bama denies it. Downstairs, Isaac Johnson draws a crowd when he walks in and asks to join the Aryan group. He’s quickly followed by Memphis and a tactical team. They head upstairs and find Swagger alive and Bama Sr. gone.
Julie Swagger lays down the law
Later, with Swagger at the hospital, Margo reports that they didn’t find the explosives so she can’t get anywhere with an investigation. Memphis and Johnson decide to go after Brooks directly. Swagger calls Julie to say he probably won’t make it home in time for Sam’s funeral. She’s not surprised. But she is done. She tells him not to bother coming home until he’s ready to stay, leaving him bruised, reeling, and alone in D.C.