The Sympathizer – S01E03 – Love It or Leave It | Transcript

The Captain and Bon craft a plan to quell the General's anxieties. Later, the Captain meets the Auteur, who wants to make a film about war.
The Sympathizer - S01E03 - Love It or Leave It

The Sympathizer
Season 1 – Episode 3
Episode title:
Love It or Leave It
Original air date :
April 28, 2024

Plot: The Captain and Bon craft a plan to quell the General’s anxieties. Later, the Captain meets the Auteur, who wants to make a film about war.

* * *

(film projector rolling)

(“I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” by Leon Haywood playing)

(music softens)

(engine stops)

(music stops)

(doorbell buzzes)

(dog barking)

(footsteps approaching)

What is it?

I just wanted to make sure.

‘Bout what?

About Dumpling.

(door opens)

(Madame speaking Vietnamese)

Why would you bother coming all the way here just for this?

Do as you see fit.

You know… what is to be done.

(“I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” continues)

♪ Oh, baby ♪

♪ I want’a do something… ♪

(General speaking Vietnamese)

♪ Right now ♪



(deep sigh)

(outside chatter)


(speaking Vietnamese)

(car honking)


(mysterious, tense music playing)

Captain: The F-6, the grim reaper.

It was horrifying to learn that my friend was a trained assassin who had killed dozens of our comrades.

But honestly, it was also a relief.

I wasn’t the only one who’d been lying all these years.

And I could use his expertise.

(engine stops)

(siren wailing)

Passerby: Wait, I can help with that.

(Bon speaking Vietnamese)

(ambient street noise, chatter)



(Captain sighs)

(birds chirping)


(“Mua Rung” by Huynh Anh playing in apartment)


(Crapulent Major’s mother)

Black pudding. Uh…

Black pudding?

(Captain chuckles)

(ambient street noise)

And what brings you here out of the blue?

I just thought I’d drop by.

‘Kay. We might, uh, need to add another ground rule.

No surprise visits.

You look nice.

(“Still a Part of Me” by The Minits playing in car)

You’re not too shabby yourself for someone just “dropping by.”

Have you ever been to a longevity celebration?


But did I maybe see one on an episode of “Star Trek”?

You want me to go with you?

If I do say yes… how will you introduce me to other guests?


Why do I feel that, however I answer, I’m doomed?

(chuckles) This isn’t a trap.

Come on, baby, relax. You’re far too tense sometimes.

True, I agree, but (chuckles)

Does that mean you’re coming with me?

Call you tonight.

(sighs) Heartbreaking.

(dog barking)

Are you…

(suspicious music playing)

are you following me?

No, no. This is pure coincidence.

Hence my astonished expression.


I didn’t know you had a dog.

Claude: Oh, this thing. Yeah, it’s a good prop.

Nobody pays much mind to a homosexual walking his foofoo dog.

Are you a homosexual?

(dog barking)

I’m whoever I need to be.

Just like you.

Is he CIA-issued?


Oh, let’s just say he’s susceptible to suspicion.

Speaking of which, uh, any leads on the General’s suspicions?

Uh, did your man in Saigon turn up anything worth looking into?

Quell the General’s anxieties, stat.

Tell you why. Because we need him.

But now he’s just an impotent clown, isn’t he?

Yeah, but he’s still the king.

A clown with a crown.

So, stop your waffling, get out there, and get me some goddamn proof.

It would also serve you well.

Remember, you’re the one who brought up this candy business in the first place.

Unwrap a few treats for the General to suck on.

(dog barking)


We could just call the Major into the “Yellow Flag,” rough him up a little.

But what are we gonna do if he flat-out denies it?

Keep in mind, this is America.

If only we were still in Vietnam where you could torture civilians with impunity, right?

(music stops)

(birds chirping)

Am I really supposed to pick that up now?

Well, a civic-minded homosexual would.

Christ. You’re right.

Oh, no, no, no, no, no, don’t eat it now. Christ.

(dog barking)

Look, what if I can’t turn up any proof?

Claude: Well, then you move on to the next guy… and the next guy, and the next guy, and the next after that until you figure somethin’ out.

And one more thing.

Can you do somethin’ with this?

(dog barking)

Let’s go.

(tense music playing)

Captain: Ignoring the fact that patience is the spy’s number one virtue,

I decided to ask Man one last time.

The Major was an innocent man, or as innocent as anyone in that army.

(tires screech)

(street chatter)

And still no directive from Man on whether or not I should kill the Major.

I started to wonder if it was a silent “no”… or a silent “yes.”

(siren wailing)

(ambient street noise)

(suspicious music playing)

Captain: Ah, fuck it.

Hey, hey.



It’s a new world here.

You can go anywhere, climb to any heights, as long as you make money first.

And in America, we don’t have to stay just a chink and a bastard.

(pensive music playing)

And if you fully commit to this land… you become fully American.

But if you don’t… you’re just a wandering ghost living between two worlds, forever.

(siren wailing)

Sound wisdom.

“Embraced in the arms of the man I was meant to kill, I suddenly thought about his mother.”

(Commandant speaking Vietnamese)

(Commandant clicks tongue)


(Vietnamese music playing)

(guests chattering)

Are you sure you guys are refugees?

You know Asian families.

(vocalist singing)

I wonder how he scraped up enough for all this.

Ms. Mori?

Thank you.

One moment, I’ll be right back.

(vocalist singing)

(guests chattering)


By whom?

Isn’t it obvious?

The Major?

(vocalist singing)

General: How dare she humiliate her father

in front of all our people?

And how dare the Major permit her to whore herself out on stage?

I wouldn’t be suffering this humiliation if you had just done your fucking job already.

I thought I should be generous and let him celebrate his mother’s 80th.


You think you’re in a position to grant such generosity?

Crapulent Major: Wow. Thank you. Thank you. Wow.

Okay, um, could everyone please, uh, find their assigned seats?

Oh, um…


Not the schoolgirl you once knew, hm?

Well, uh, congrats.

Looks like today’s also your graduation from living as, uh, “someone’s daughter.”

And you?

You graduated from “someone’s aide-de-camp”?


I hope so.

Sofia Mori: You have a wonderful voice.

Thank you.

Uh, this is the General’s daughter.

I mean, Lana, and, uh, this is my boss.

I mean, my girlfriend, Ms. Mori.


Come on, let’s have a drink.

It’s a party, isn’t it?

I’ll come with you. What are you having?


Uh, sure, if you can find one.

(guests chattering)



(indistinct chatter)


(Crapulent Major speaking)

A Green Beret who served alongside us for four years and who still fights for our people today in the halls of the U.S. Congress.

Please welcome our friend, Congressman Ned Godwin!

(guests cheering)

Holy shit. Napalm Ned himself.

(guests chattering)


Thank you. Thank you, Major.

(softly) Did I interrupt your introduction?

I apologize.

Just take a look at the card there.

Oh. Uh, welcome, Congressman.

Your commitment to our people

is as clear as the scars on your hand.

Whoa. This old thing?

These wounds are nothing compared to the scars

inflicted on your homeland.

It is a true honor to be here with you today to celebrate

the longevity of this wonderful Vietnamese lady.

And please accept this gift as a symbol of the fellowship

between our two countries.

(guests murmuring)

You know, when I was fighting the Viet Cong,

this handcrafted American blade

was the best ally I had.

It saved my lily-white ass more than once.

It’s bad luck to gift a Vietnamese person a knife.

They sever relationships.

What a dickwad.

(camera clicks)

Congressman Ned Godwin: This is a, this is a gift. Hold this right here.

You know, looking out at your proud faces today,

it reminds me of something dear to my heart.

The great promise of America.

The promise of the American Dream.

The promise that America is the land of freedom and independence,

land of heroes who will not relent

in the cause of helping our friends and smiting our foes.

One day, America will stand tall again,

and it will do so because of courageous immigrants like you.

And on that day, in gratitude, America will hear your plea.

America will offer its assistance.

And on that day, General Trong,

who fought bravely at my side in the Northern Highlands.

Listen well, the land you have lost will once again be yours.

(baby crying)

(speaking Vietnamese)

(all chanting “Long Live Vietnam!”)

Communism never wins.

Capitalism will triumph.


(camera clicking)

(band playing South Vietnamese Anthem)



Ned: America! Vietnam! America! Vietnam!

(vocalist singing)

(song stops)

Machine gunnist, hey. Cheers.

Inspiring words, Ned.

Well, they have the added benefit of being true.

And the generous gift of your personal knife.

Oh, no, no, no, that’s just a, a… It’s a good replica.

(General, Ned chuckle)


this is the young man I was telling you about.

He’s my Chief of Communications.

As you can see, he is of mixed race.

Oh, yeah.

(indistinct chatter)


Crapulent Major: Let me introduce my twins.

Spinach, because of that American “Popeye” cartoon.

Popeye eats spinach and become all-powerful.


And then, Broccoli just come naturally.

Strength and health!

(babies fussing)

This country isn’t for the weak.

(guests laughing, chattering)

Your business, let me in.

Crapulent Major’s Wife: They are cute, right?

(indistinct chatter)



You know what was funny about the speech back there?

I have a feeling you’re about to tell me.

Mm. Freedom and independence, democracy.

That’s similar to the slogan the Communist Party uses.

A slogan is an empty suit.

Anyone can wear it.

Hey, I like that. Mind if I use it?

(indistinct chatter)

Your friend, he’s interesting.

He seems proud to flirt with the graffiti underground.

He’s not my friend.

Photographer: Okay, everybody here?

(chatter, laughter)

(light piano music playing)

Can someone turn that mirror ball off?

(Crapulent Major speaking)


Spinach, Broccoli. Cheese!

Photographer: Smile.

Guests: Cheese!

(camera clicks)

Crapulent Major: The Americans showered our people

with the American candy.

They got us hooked on the stuff.

Captain: So, you box up the expired candy,

and then that guy ships them to…?

Hong Kong. And our guy in Kowloon

disguises the packages

as the North Korean-donated school supplies.


Then, he ships them on to Saigon.

No one is going to touch the donated school supplies

from a fellow socialist ally.

Oh, you should put one of these on your bumper, too.



Look at us! A pair of real Americans!


And next weekend, we are gonna celebrate

our first Independence Day in America.

I heard it’s a real party.

And this year, even bigger because

it’s one year before the Bicentennial.

There will be no sky, just fireworks!

(suspicious music playing)


A Chinese invention, of course.

(fireworks booming)

(light, tense music plays)

(Bon speaking Vietnamese)


(fireworks booming)


(fireworks booming)

(vehicle approaches)

(tense music playing)



Ahh, that funky smell.

(sniffs) Thank you.

Is it Halloween or something,

like, wearing costume and handing out treats?

You look like you’re full white now!

That way.

Crapulent Major: Has my business made the General angry?

Tell him I’ll cut him in. 50/50.

I told you not to turn around.


40/60. Okay, like, 20/70.

The remaining 10 goes to you.

Turn around.

You said don’t turn around.

Just do what I say, for fuck’s sake!

(fireworks booming)

(fireworks stop)

(music stops)

(dog barking)

(siren wailing)

Fireworks are over.



(suspenseful music playing)



(ambient street noise)




(vehicle passes)

(grunting, groaning)


(firecracker sizzling)



(engine starts)

(tires screech)

(music fades out)

(ringback tone)

(TV playing)

General (over phone): Hello?

It’s done.

General: Good.

Can you write a eulogy for me?

Uh, sir?

General: They’ll be holding a funeral soon,

and I have a feeling

that they’ll ask me to give a eulogy.

I mean, who else?

Try it.


Just like the good old days.

Good night.

(hangs up)

(dial tone)

(classical music playing on TV)

(fireworks booming on TV)

(“The Star-Spangled Banner” playing on TV)

(indistinct chatter)

Commandant: Ah!

(country music plays, pauses, rewinds)

Allow me to introduce our wiliest adversary.

You heard about the dual-bomb attacks in Bình Duong? Yeah?

They used a modified wristwatch as the triggering device?

You’re talkin’ about a double detonation kill

and then a second kill on the rescuers?

You mean “The Watchman”?

Well, that was his country nickname when he was a solo act.

But now he’s the leader of a band,

churning out hits with such perfect timing,

we know he has an inside ear.

Certainly not how I imagined him.

Yep, we played over 100 different songs

to see which spiked his adrenaline.

As a consequence, we’ve been blaring this particular ditty

for the past five days nonstop.

Now, funny thing, these Commies,

they’d rather listen to a wet fart than country music.

(turns up volume)

But he hasn’t said a word.

We made affairs mighty miserable for him,

but he won’t budge.

That’s why you’re here. Get in there, do somethin’.

(door opens)

You’ll need to be creative to crack him.

(door closes)

Watchman: Ha! Come dance with me… huh?

(“I’ve Got a Happy Heart” by Susan Raye playing in cell)

♪ I’ve got a happy heart ♪

♪ And feel like I could almost fly ♪

♪ I think if someone shot me ♪

♪ That I wouldn’t even die ♪

♪ Just find someone to live for and to love… ♪

(Claude turns off song)

You know, that song is too cruel

for someone innocent until proven guilty?

Hey, you Yankees in there!

You hear that bullshit?


We yellow-faces are guilty until proven innocent.

Otherwise, why would your people shoot us first and ask questions later?

You Americans believe that we yellow-faces are evil

from the time we are formed in our mothers’ wombs.

We spring out as fully formed VC.

Obviously, I can’t authorize your release,

but I can certainly make your stay here more hospitable.

Play you a communist revolutionary song.

Get you a parrot to talk to.

Some bougainvillea, maybe.





Fuck off.

Those CIA butchers out there?

They have a torture manual.

Do we?

Captain: It’s as intricate and precise as one of those

fine Swiss watches ya like so much.

Everyone talks eventually.


we know you’ve placed moles…

within our ranks.


(tense music playing)

And you’re going to give them up.

Why put it off?

Why wait until the Americans have electrocuted

your balls with a thousand volts?

You know the CIA’s nickname

for a prisoner’s penis

that’s been through that process?

“The electric eel.”


You’re going to pray for death

while it’s happening.

And you’ll have betrayed every comrade

and everything you once believed in,

and you’ll still be alive.

You’ll feel so guilty…

that you’ll pray for death all over again.

(music fades out)

(footsteps approach)

(Captain sighs)

I know what I want.

If you grant me this request…

I’ll tell you what you want to hear.


The food here…



it’s fucking terrible. (chuckles)


So, I just want some boiled eggs for breakfast tomorrow.

Hard-boiled eggs.

(footsteps approach)


three be enough?

(eggshell crackling)

(Watchman choking)

(tense, panicky music playing)

Isn’t this the part where you get a medic?

Oh, yeah.

Don’t just do somethin’, stand there!

Come on!



Captain: I think it’s too late.


Claude: Let’s go.

Let’s go! Let’s go!

(music stops)

(Captain breathing heavily)

Captain: We lost him.

Ugh, crafty bugger.

He knew if he peeled it,

it’d be too smooth to stick in his throat.



Oh, it’s not dirty. Oh, no, the, the shell

provides a perfectly hygienic seal.

(Commandant speaking)

(outside chatter)

(light, tense music playing)

(can rattles)

(wind blowing)

(music intensifies)

Captain: Can a question also double as an order?

Even if it can,

it holds no power after the deed is done.

I laughed a long time when I read the message from Man

because that’s the exact question

I’d asked myself a thousand times.

Only difference was that mine was now in the past tense.

Was it necessary?

(baby crying)

(ice cream truck music playing)

(indistinct chatter)

(birds cawing)

Should I drive you home, sir?

You see that hump in the tree over there?

That bird’s nest-looking thing?

Did you know that that hump is chock-full of rats?

It’s a rat’s nest.


I fuckin’ hate rats!

It pretends to be clean, but this city is filthy.

Claude: “Love it or leave it!”

It’s clever.

Racially motivated crime

on the Fourth of July, very clever.

But you know what, my friend?

You are a bit twisted.

Well, everything twisted about me, I learned from you.

(bell tolling)

(ambient nature sounds)

You got the right guy.

We found a letter

in one of his candy boxes.

The cipher was so rudimentary,

our boys at Langley cracked it in about 20 minutes.

And what’d the message say?

He was on to you.

Here ya go.

How do you know “him” means me?

Well, remember at the liquor store

we told you how someone pegged you for a spy?

Guess who?

(both laughing)

What a fool. He pegged the guy we trust most.

Welcome to the world of spycraft!

(suspicious music playing)

One more round, then we’re good.

(both laughing)

Claude: Ridiculous, right?

(music stops)

(engine starts)

(“Doing It To Death” by Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s plays in car)

Who is this? I like it.

Give it a shot.

♪ We’re gonna have a funky good time ♪

That’s the J.B.’s.

My protégé, you’re coming along

very nicely, very nicely.

Thanks, Claude.


So where are we going?

On to the next harbor on your voyage.

(engine roars)

It’s just begun.

(siren wailing)

Uh, you can’t just work for the General forever.

It’s time for a bigger assignment.

Marco, table one. Yeah?

Yes, right this way.

This is the natural habitat

of the most dangerous creature on Earth,

a white man in a suit and tie.

Welcome to the steakhouse,

the quintessential American institution.

But your job today is to be quintessentially Vietnamese.

(light piano music playing in steakhouse)


Waiter: Here you go, sir.

Uh, it turns out the professor inspired our friend’s next project.

Actually, he read an article of mine in “The New Republic.”

It was about the first forays of the Green Berets into the Highlands and he’s latched onto it…


Professor Hammer: They say imitation is the highest form of flattery.

I wouldn’t mind a bit of compensation…

But then he comes on strong, makin’ all kinds of demands about hardware that I can provide, you know, ’cause of my relationship with the National Guard.

Trucks, tanks…

Who does he mean by “he”?

Speaker: Thank God I’m here.

How’s everyone doin’?

Marco: Right this way.

Fashionably late, huh?

Thanks. All is good, I trust?

Our sacred Allied Force.

So, you’re my Vietnamese guy?

Uhh, excuse me, who are you?

Speaker: Really?

First words out of his mouth?

Ned: You don’t know who he is?

(softly) It’s Nicos Damianos.

You never heard of the, “The Combination”?

And “The Combination 2.”

Oh, uh, sure.

You don’t know… He-he knows the movies, just-just not your face, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Okay, but, for starters, have you seen the movies?

The first? About, uh, a quarter?


So, you got bored, you walked out, what, you thought it was garbage?

What are ya, a critic?

Air raid warning.

Evacuated the cinema. I liked what I saw, though, so don’t tell me the ending.

(patrons chattering)

Look at him guzzlin’. Hammer’s gettin’ hammered over here.

Take it easy, buddy.

Nicos Damianos: Despite my best judgment,

I like this kid.

He’s plucky. Are you plucky, kid?

Oh, he is wildly plucky.

How deep does it go?

The pluckiness?

No, your blood. How deep?

‘Cause what I’m lookin’ for is 100% “gook.”

You know, and you look, pardon my French, a tad diluted.




(tense jazzy music playing)


Oh, wow. Dinner and a show. Well, uh…



Captain, we were hopin’ you’d help us.

By helping his new movie.

Claude: To ensure its cultural integrity.

Yeah, yeah. What he said.

To act as an interpreter of sorts.

A mediator between the two worlds, Oriental and Occidental.

The General speaks so highly of you, Captain, you know, a half-and-half who will give 100% to do whatever is necessary.

Right now, what seems necessary is to demand an apology for the insult I just received.

Cool your jets, kid. There’s no apology comin’, but I am gonna give you the opportunity of your fuckin’ life.

(stammers) I’ll take an opportunity over an apology eight days a week.

Doesn’t sound like such a bad deal.

Looks like we just sealed the deal there.

(Captain sighs)

Come on. Calm down.


Start with a test drive.

Is there at least a script I could read first?

Nico: But don’t start readin’ it now.

You won’t be able to put it down.

I’m tellin’ you, it’s genius.

Hey, gents, who feels like somethin’ sweet?

Club Room?

Oh, right.

Yeah, yeah. Okay.

Never a bad idea.

(playing light piano melody)

(sings) ♪ You and me against the world ♪

♪ Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world ♪

♪ When all the others turn their backs and walk away ♪

♪ You can count on me to stay ♪

(indistinct chatter)

♪ Remember when the circus came to town ♪

Nicos: Oh, dude.

That’s no way to treat a lady.

Come here, sweetheart, we got you.

Didn’t you learn any finesse from your French father?

He was French wasn’t, he?

Welcome aboard.

(Claude singing)

Claude: ♪ …you and me against the world ♪

♪ Sometimes it feels like you and me… ♪

Captain: Three lines into “The Hamlet” and I was back in my hamlet as a boy.

I could hear the bamboo rustling in the wind.

And I was home.

(children chattering)

Claude (singing): ♪ And when one of us is gone ♪

(fireworks booming)


♪ One of us is left to carry on ♪

♪ Then remembering will have to do ♪

♪ Our memories alone will get us through ♪

And cut, print, perfect.

Reset, rolling… action.


♪ …the days of me and you ♪

Crapulent Major: Love it or leave it.

♪ You and me against ♪

♪ The world ♪

♪ Doo-doo, doo, doo-doo, yeah, yeah ♪

(ominous music playing)

(music fades out)


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