Follow TV Tropes


Series / Patriot

Go To
Who is John Lakeman?
Patriot is an Amazon Studios original comedy-drama series that ran for two seasons on Prime Video. It was called "American Patriot" for German release.

When a helicopter crash suddenly changes the course of the upcoming Iranian election, giving a religious hardliner a chance to actually become the new President, intelligence officer John Tavner is sent undercover as an employee at a piping firm as part of a plot to funnel money to a less volatile candidate. There's just one problem — John is still recovering from a string of missions that ended badly, and has taken to smoking pot and writing overly-confessional folk songs in order to cope, which makes it hard for him to pose as a straight-laced mid-level employee. Luckily, his dad, who also happens to be his boss, has sent his older brother Edward to watch over him. Edward is well-meaning, but a little too excited to be doing something cool and important. Hilarity Ensues. Or rather a Tragedy with funny Plot Armor.

Nothing to do with other works called "Patriot", such as The Patriot (1998) and The Patriot (2000).

This series includes examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Played with. Thomas tries to be a loving father, but he's also John's boss. The lines between his emotional support of his son's health and his strict demands as a federal agent get increasingly blurred, to the point its often easy to assume his kindness is a ploy to get John back under control. Additionally, he doesn't seem to regard Edward very highly and doesn't keep him fully informed on the various dangers they're all in.
  • The Alcoholic: Leslie is a recovering alcoholic who destroyed his life and his professional reputation. After his recovery, he's forced to get a job he's vastly overqualified for.
  • American Title: In Germany, presumably to deflect from what a Patriot may mean to people of other countries, though Eagleland Osmosis has prevented the necessary distinction elsewhere.
  • Anti-Hero: John Tavner. He's on a morally dubious mission for the good of America, doing very immoral things that obviously weigh heavily on his conscience. He exercises very little free will of his own, being effectively a puppet of his father, and his anti-hero status is weighted heavily on the fact that he clearly doesn't want to be involved in anything he's doing.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Agathe is a cross between this and a Hero Antagonist. She's a homicide detective trying to catch John, but in the process she's jeopardizing what might be a very important espionage mission aiming to prevent a possible nuclear war with Iran.
    • Thomas Tavner uses his sons as field agents in highly dangerous missions that are outside US law, placing national security over his own family. The show examines the moral ambivalence of this.
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • The entire show is based on John's bag getting searched in the Luxembourg airport. However, it is very rare that checked luggage gets opened anywhere but America, especially in small European nations. John does say beforehand that it's extremely unlikely to happen.
    • There's a little person employed by a Milwaukee police department, mostly as a Rule of Funny. While height requirements for police officers have largely gone by the wayside, police officers have to be able to pass some basic physical aptitude tests to get on the force, which the small police officer demonstrates that he'd be unable to do.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Luxembourg is portrayed as a uniformly French-speaking nation. Every Luxembourger speaks French to each other and French-accented English when necessary. In reality, Luxembourg is a very linguistically diverse nation. While French is the default language of government and law enforcement, most residents speak Luxembourgish in private conversation, and there are a significant number of German-speaking Luxembourgers as well. In the show, no one speaks Luxembourgish, and the only German is a sign reading "Polizei" above a police department.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: John claims special spy knowledge that is pure artistic license. He says that falling on your shoulder and head "at some distances" is the safest way to fall. He also knows that, after falling 40 feet, he'll go unconscious for 17 minutes and then wake up OK.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • John is himself a very nice guy, but is capable of doing just about anything to fulfill his mission, including pushing innocent people in front of trucks in the very first episode. He doesn't like it, however.
    • The HR manager at McMillan is a very nice, supportive man, but the moment he settles down to have a drink with John and his friends, he urges the group to get into a fight. He's later easily convinced to pick a fight with someone.
  • Black Comedy: The humor is usually very dark, focusing on injuries, calamities, and cringe.
  • Blackmail: Several people who learn John's secret attempt to blackmail him, but all for things unrelated to greed:
    • Birdbath demands that John murder him so that a family he wronged can get his life insurance.
    • Ichabod demands that he and John share a long, therapeutic hug.
    • Agathe offers to let John off the hook if he lets her leave with the money. It is later revealed that she took the money not out of greed, but to use it to bait Tom.
    • Not blackmail, but Dennis begs John to include him in spy stuff, because he's so bored and capable.
  • Blatant Lies: John will claim to be "pretty good" when suffering from obvious injuries and exhibiting a thousand-yard stare due to accumulated mental trauma.
  • Bittersweet Ending: John fails to deliver the money to Iran to fix the election and fails to assassinate the radical candidate, but he does survive and escape to Britain with the money. He's an absolute physical and mental wreck, and lots of people have been hurt along the way, which was all for nothing. The operation apparently gets exposed, judging by the filmed confessionals, but at least that means that John will probably not be roped into any more missions.
  • Breather Episode: The second season includes an episode where John gets a very much-needed "day off" and is able to drink and smoke pot with his friends for most of the episode. It doesn't turn out well. Overall, it is kind of a Vacation Episode: while also other episodes are set in Paris, this is the only episode where they get to do touristy stuff (like freeing a slave) instead of going on missions.
  • Call-Back: Edward says that he's going to quit being a congressman and instead look for buried treasure. This calls back to a flashback in which, while trying to buy beer as a child, he claimed to be an adult who finds buried treasure as a career. Also, when interrogated about what attaché stuff Edward supposedly lost, he claims that he had a map to El Dorado, implying that he considers treasure affairs an important part of being an attaché.
  • Catchphrase: Overlapping with Verbal Tic, John tends to react to statements sent his way with only a noncommittal "OK" or "Cool." When asked how he's doing, he usually replies, "Pretty good," which he admits in the second season is his default answer no matter how he's doing. The catchphrase "Cool." gets the reply "Yeah, it is cool." from many of the characters.
  • Car Fu: In the opening of the first episode, John pushes Stephen into the path of an oncoming car so that he won't make it to his follow-up interview, enabling John to get the job.
  • Central Theme: Flow. John must pretend to be an industrial piping specialist, which deals with "the structural dynamics of flow" in transporting something (oil) "from A to B." John is also a secret agent who is tasked with transporting something (money) from Milwaukee to a drop in Luxembourg. In his professional life, he is also "flowing," being pushed by his father into a variety of espionage missions where he encounters various twists and turns and must keep going to achieve his objectives.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: "Spike," the British agent who shared John's torture cell and spends his days on the beach "counting jellyfish" becomes vital to the show's climax.
  • The Chew Toy:
    • John accumulates a laundry list of injuries over two seasons, including a concussion that blurs his vision, several long falls, a gunshot to the foot, losing two fingers and an unknown number of jellyfish stings.
    • Dennis gets stabbed in the thigh, acquires herpes and loses two fingers. These are played more for comedy.
  • Comically Small Demand: Ichabod threatens John for several episodes that he's thinking about what he'll demand to keep silent with his knowledge. Eventually he decides that he wants some non-sexual cuddling, which amounts to a long, quiet hug.
  • Determinator: John's defining characteristic. He just keeps going, heedless of the pain, difficulty and danger. In one of the final episodes, he reveals that his secret is that he steels his nerves by planning to go "half way, and then a little bit," because at that point, you have to see it through.
  • Dressing to Die: Birdbath in episode 8.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: The male Luxembourgian detectives are pretty buffoonish, but they're still good enough detectives to identify and pursue John Lakeman as the suspect. They even manage to figure out what street John will flee down after he's already evaded Agathe.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: People keep assuming that "Ichabod" is a mocking nickname for the long-nosed and thin-faced executive. It's actually his real name. Ichabod either doesn't understand the reference or refuses to.
  • Episode Title Card: Every episode has a distinct title card. That's apparently something Steven Conrad really likes since his following show Perpetual Grace LTD also has them
  • Everything is Big in Texas: Where John's from, and where his brother is still a Congressman. Works in his favor as he enters European bullriding competitions where he easily wins — though he does comment that the electronic bulls in Amsterdam are weirdly big.
  • Fair Cop: Attractive, blonde Detective Agathe Albans is determined to figure out who killed two people in her city. She leads a squad of female homicide detectives, who have been Kicked Upstairs by their male colleagues because so few murders ever happen in Luxembourg.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Edward had a son out of wedlock, Efram, but since he's a Congressman (in Texas), he can't openly admit to the affair, and thus has convinced everyone else that he's hanging out with Efram as part of some mentorship program.
  • Flash Back:
    • A flashback recalls when John and Edward got arrested trying to buy beer at 14, which is how John's fingerprints are in the system.
    • A flashback reveals that Agathe attended a school for child delinquents and befriended Sophie, who attended the same school because she's mute.
  • For Want Of A Nail: If John's bag doesn't get randomly searched at the airport, something that the show even explicitly admits is incredibly unlikely to happen, none of the rest of the show happens.
  • Hero Antagonist: Agathe and the Homicide Department of Luxembourg's relentless hunt of John is repeatedly shown to be much more noble and competent than John's own
  • Hollywood Board Games: In "C-19", Canter Walley is as eager to nuke Iran as he was, as a child, to sink other people's ships in Battleship. Curiously enough, whenever his younger self hits the C-19 square, he misses. This, among other instances during the episode, is a Played for Drama Title Drop.
  • Hollywood Provincialism: A womanizing Luxembourgian detective tells a little girl that he has nothing to say to her until she turns 18. He's obviously intending to say that she has no value until he can have sex with her, but the age of consent in Luxembourg is 16, not 18, as it is in California.
  • It's a Small World, After All: While some sudden encounters might have been planned off-screen, there are also coincidences:
    • Alice and Agathe book plane seats next to each other. Their flight gets delayed, but they also sit across each other on the shuttle bus and then decide to share a ride.
    • A double conincidence is where Rob Saperstein gives Agathe, who is looking for John, a rare CD with John's photo, and also John sees that happening.
    • John finds the red bag he's looking for on the street, and finds out that it is being taken to the police station.
    • John encounters his mother and Icabod on the subway.
    • Myna and John encounter Poullian on the subway. As an additional coincidence, Poullian is about to receive John's photo on his phone: early enough to recognize him, but not early enough to get ready to flash his badge and say "freeze!"
    • Wallace's car collides with John's bike.
  • Kicked Upstairs: The sexist Luxembourg police department dumps all of its female detectives in Homicide because there are almost no murders in Luxembourg. The real action is in financial crimes.
  • Kick the Dog: Heavily subverted as John manages to have a large number of Kick The Dog Moments (including literally punching a dog unconscious, not to mention gaslighting Stephen, stealing a service dog, kidnapping a little girl after beating her aunt unconscious and blinding a police detective) while somehow still remaining an overwhelmingly sympathetic character.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the first episode, John, desperate to get a job as part of his cover, pushes another, better-qualified applicant into the path of an oncoming car. While he himself gets bumped up into the job, the other applicant, Stephen, survives his injuries, albeit with considerable brain damage, and the company decides to hire him and John is compelled to assist him with the tasks that he can no longer do himself.
  • "London, England" Syndrome: "Milwaukee, America"
  • Major Injury Underreaction: John reacts to all of his grievous injuries with the same stoicism. This is most noticeable when he and his friends ambush a shop clerk, who shoots at them. After taking down and disarming the clerk, they all casually exit and walk down the street as if nothing happened. In the folk song narration, however, John reveals that he's pretty sure he's missing a few fingers and that several of his friends were also shot.
  • Market-Based Title: Though it remained simply "Patriot" in many countries, it had to get the American Title treatment for German release. Most countries now associate the idea of 'Patriot' with Eagleland, but Germany still has their own brand of sensibilities (so does the UK, but they'd use their own slang to refer to a British Patriot).
  • Mundane Made Awesome: At an industrial piping conference, a speaker recites a long string of Techno Babble to an awestruck crowd, which hangs on his every word as if he's delivering scripture.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: John is frequently forced to witness the painful ramifications of the horrible things he has to do to complete his mission. It obviously weighs on him.
  • "No" Means "Yes": Thomas notes that his job revolves around doing covert missions off the books. He's told not to do things by his superiors, with the understanding that he is supposed to do them, but if he gets caught, there will be no record of his orders, so he'll be charged with treason.
  • One-Word Title
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: While Leslie is vastly overqualified for his work as divisional manager, he’s hampered by his increasing loathing for John. Comparatively, the executive of the local branch, Laurence, proves to be vastly incompetent, incredibly hedonistic, and easily impressed by any briefly confident displays John offers him.
  • Running Gag:
    • John's overly-specific folk songs about his classified missions.
    • Edward and his home-made attache badge.
    • The utterly incomprehensible technical jargon used in industrial piping.
    • The cartoonishly chauvinistic Luxembourg police department.
    • People assuming that "Ichabod" is a nickname, and Ichabod not understanding why people would think that.
    • John's prolonged attempts to requisition a chair for his safe house. The chair eventually gets delivered when John doesn't need it anymore. And then, the unauthorized acquisition of a chair is among the things Tom gets accused of.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Discussed and exploited. The male Luxembourg police argue about what clothing they can give Dennis that will make him feel vulnerable but won't get them in trouble. They settle on a single, oversized men's shirt, making him feel like a girl the morning after a romantic encounter.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Leslie Claret grows to gradually despise John at McMillan and finds increasing methods to make John's life even more difficult. By the end of the show, he finally finds some respect for him and his struggles.
  • The Speechless: Sophie, a female police officer in Agathe's crew, never speaks. In a second-season flashback, it's revealed that she's actually selectively mute and wouldn't even scream when attacked. Only Edward's hitting her with an entire bicycle (as per the manual) or the discovery of a clue in the hotel garbage are extreme enough to make her scream.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Though not British, John refuses to complain about anything. When asked how he's doing, he simply replies "Pretty good," even if he's complete falling apart. He halfway admits as much in the second season. His only way to vent is to sing folk songs about his issues.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: The Luxembourg Homicide team run by Agatha are competent, efficient, and up against the frequently and repeatedly incompetent or obstructive work of nearly every bureaucracy they encounter.
  • Take That!: The episode "Fuck John Wayne" includes a character noting that John Wayne's real name is Marion Morrison and that he shirked fighting in World War II while later pretending to fight bravely in movies. He goes on to argue that Wayne's phony bravado has convinced lots of men to be ashamed of their own suffering, so he wears a shirt reading "Fuck John Wayne" when exercising to remind himself not to try to hide his pain.
  • Tap on the Head: Birdbath states that he's developed quite the ability to knock people out with a sock filled with dimes, but when faced with European dimes, he's unable to guarantee a knockout without permanent damage.
  • Techno Babble: Played for comedy. Every statement touching on industrial piping is rendered as an impenetrable string of technical terms. "Using a field of half-C sprats and brass-fitted nickel slits, our bracketed caps and splay-flexed brace columns vent dampers to dampening hatch depths of one-half meter from the damper crown to the spurv plinth. How? Well, we bolster twelve husk nuts to each girdle jerry, while flex-tandems press a task apparatus of ten vertically composited patch hamplers, then pin flam-fastened pan traps at both maiden apexes of the jimjoints."
  • Wham Line: While maintaining his job at the McMillan firm has been essential for John’s mission, Lawrence’s interrogation with Agathe in "The Structural Dynamics of Flow" drastically shifts the importance of the firm’s success for the rest of the show.
    Agathe: Do your colleagues know McMillan is bankrupt?