David Duchovny holding an M-16 in the jungles of Vietnam for The Sympathizer | Agents of Fandom

HBO’s ‘The Sympathizer’ Episode 4 Recap & Review: An Ode to Vietnam Films

Lights, camera, action!

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Sympathizer Episode 4: “Give Us Some Good Lines.”

The Captain (Hoa Xuande) accepts Niko Damianos’ (Robert Downey Jr.) offer to be the Vietnamese consultant on his new movie, and The Sympathizer Episode 4 transitions from the battleground to a film set. Robert Downey Jr. plays his fifth character of the series with arguably his strongest performance yet.

Now more than halfway through the series, The Sympathizer continues to be worthy of the coveted Sunday night slot on Crave and Max. While the latest episode appears as somewhat of a side quest, it actively pushes forward the plot as well. Make sure to check out all the new details from the series in our The Sympathizer Episode 4 recap.

The Captain Transitions From Spy To Film Consultant in ‘The Sympathizer’ Episode 4

The Captain and Niko Damianos argue about their upcoming film The Sympathizer Episode 4 | Agents of Fandom
The Captain visits Niko Damianos’ house to give notes on his upcoming film. Image Credit: Bell Media.

Although RDJ’s newest character Niko Damianos is his most eccentric yet, they all have one thing in common: Each of them is interested in manipulating the Captain and view him more as a tool for their agenda as opposed to a human being. However, the Captain is consistently able to see them for what they are, which is symbolized by RDJ playing each of their roles.

Despite warnings from both General Trong (Toan Le) and his now-girlfriend Sophia (Sandra Oh), the Captain decides to travel for four months and help create the film. Unfortunately for him, the General’s daughter Lana (Vy Le) sneaks into his trunk to come along for the ride.

The two arrive on set, where they’re introduced to the cast and crew of Damianos’ new film The Hamlet. The story depicts six green beret’s from the American army, stranded in a Vietnamese village. Viewers are also introduced to three new characters for the first time, all cast members of the film. James Yoon (John Cho), method actor Brad Webb (David Duchovny), and pop star turned actor Jamie Johnson (Max Whittington-Cooper) all appear in the series for the first time, drastically enhancing The Sympathizer Episode 4.

While he’s skeptical of the film and its creator Niko, the Captain is mesmerized by the sets and how they remind him of home. He is given a tour by the film’s production designer (Marine Delterme) and is taken to a makeshift graveyard. He asks for his mother’s name to be placed on a gravestone, as he reveals that she died during his time abroad in the United States and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Niko Damianos’ ‘The Hamlet’”’ Begins Filming in ‘The Sympathizer’ Episode 4

John Yoon is greeted by The Captain while strapped to a torture device in The Sympathizer Episode 4 | Agents of Fandom
James Yoon preps to be tortured on film for Niko Damianos’ new movie. Image Credit: Bell Media.

As the film begins production, The Sympathizer Episode 4 features incredibly beautiful shots bouncing back and forth between camera lenses. However, The Captain is forced to intervene in a scene where it’s revealed none of the actors playing Vietnamese characters, actually speak Vietnamese.

The Captain takes on the task of bringing in new “actors” who speak Vietnamese, as the General sends various refugees that came with them to America, including the Captain’s blood-brother Bon (Fred Nguyen Khan). Although the majority of Bon’s time on the film is spent dying in different costumes, he’s a natural on-camera and is happy for the first time since his family was killed.

Unfortunately, as things progress smoothly for Bon in his new role, chaos ensues elsewhere on the set. Pop sensation Jamie Johnson has to fend off drunken method actor Brad Webb and his racism-fueled criticisms, and also begins an on-set relationship with Lana, the General’s daughter. Lana has also begun acting in various scenes, with her talent catching the eye of director Niko Damianos in The Sympathizer Episode 4.

While the Captain tries to navigate all the issues popping up in the film’s production, his past decisions begin to haunt him. As he tries to insert lines into scenes giving a voice to his people back in Vietnam, the soldiers-turned-actors refuse to say lines they believe to be “Communist Propaganda.” Additionally, he continues to see the appearance of Major Oanh (Phanxinê) in his mind, after having taken his life in the previous episode.

The Captain’s Past Begins To Catch Up With Him

The Captain is haunted by the death of Major Oanh while speaking to John Yoon in The Sympathizer Episode 4 | Agents of Fandom
The Captain continues to see the ghost of the man he killed, Major Oanh, in his everyday life. Image Credit: Bell Media.

To make matters worse, Niko Damianos writes a sexual assault scene into the script involving Brad Webb and Lana, with Lana’s character named after the Captain’s mother. While he doesn’t know for sure, he assumes this was to get back at him for attempting to make so many changes to Damianos’ script. With Brad and Jamie at each other’s necks throughout production, Damianos believes this will also give their characters a chance to hash out their issues on-screen.

The Captain confronts Damianos and demands he removes the scene, or at least takes his mother’s name out of the script. However, as the director refuses his demands, the two have a physical altercation and The Captain is fired from his role as Vietnamese consultant in The Sympathizer Episode 4.

Things are beginning to spiral out of control for the Captain, who has removed his mother’s photo and name from the gravestone and begun to pack up his things. However, before he leaves, he realizes the scene he tried to get cut was being filmed at that moment. He intervenes right before the scene gets too graphic, signaling for Jamie to enter the scene and begin his fight against Brad’s character. Despite his heroic intentions, the Captain finds himself being verbally attacked by everyone around him, including Lana.

‘The Sympathizer’ Episode 4 “Give Me Some Good Lines” Finishes With a Bang

The Captain is caught in an explosion in The Sympathizer Episode 4 | Agents of Fandom
The Captain accidentally gets caught up in a real explosion for the movie’s final scene. Image Credit: Bell Media.

Once he is finally ready to depart the film set, The Captain is caught in an explosion meant to be within the film. While he narrowly escapes with his life, a shot of him jumping to avoid the blast is included in the movie.

The Sympathizer Episode 4 then transitions back to the present day. The Captain is finishing his questioning at the re-education camp and it seems he has finally convinced his interrogator he is not a traitor. With what appears to be a blank slate, the road ahead should be exciting for the Captain.

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'The Sympathizer' Episode 4 "Give Them Some Good Lines" Review

'The Sympathizer' Episode 4 "Give Them Some Good Lines" Review
5 5 0 1
5.0 rating
Total Score

The Good

  • Hoa Xuande continues to prove he's leading man material.
  • Robert Downey Jr. plays his most interesting character yet.
  • Bon is great, and it makes me happy to see him smile.
  • The Captain's personality is shining through as he battles with his life as a double spy.
  • Unpredictable and wild ride from start to finish.
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