The Old Man (Season 1 Finale) Episode 7 Review, Recap & Ending Explained: If you look at Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine’s The Old Man through this entire season from a structural standpoint, Episode 7 feels like the end of a pivotal arc, and the overall plot races towards the climax. Except, in a typical fashion befitting The Old Man, the road towards the climax would be more measured. However, as it is the end of the “second act”, revelations occur back to back, answers are supplied, the endgame is finally clear, and the silent war of the past gets an added personal dimension.


After the sparse title card, showing a fox staring at a window opening into the night sky, it fades into the next scene, the window mutating into an open door where we see a young girl sitting at a table writing, and as she writes, the voice of the older Angela/Emily narrates the letter (it seems) where she wonders what she imagined her father as-a remote, tough, inaccessible puzzle whose distance is so great that he might just be a fantasy.

The rumination ends, as the camera, which was now showing young Emily’s face as she struggles to fill out a “getting to know you” questionnaire, be interrupted by Abbey’s heavyset voice, asking if her work is finished. We see her out of focus, shrouded in the dark, standing behind her and Angela mutters that she is unable to understand. She is trying, but she is afraid. As Abbey wonders in a note of derision, what could Angela possibly have to be afraid of? Angela answers that she is afraid that Daddy will die, that “both of them will,” and that maybe she is asking too many questions.

Abbey, rather unusually, tells her to “get her head out of her ass, Adams,” and attempts to wake her up. Fascinating use of dream sequences and moments of mental conversation both members of the Chase family have with Abbey, either in her younger or older version. For Dan, it had been with both of those versions, sometimes during incongruities in earlier episodes where the older, more experienced, and possibly more revealed version of Abbey conversed with a younger version of Dan. We see Angela too, experiencing that same sense of mental dissociation here.

The scene then cuts to the basement of the house in Morocco, where an unconscious Angela is held with Waters, Carson, and Carson’s friend, whose name is finally revealed to be Mike. Carson, to engage in conversation, asks about Waters’ military career before Langley. The ensuing conversation reveals their small connection in the military and Carson’s JSOC backdrop. Mike then calls Carson, and as he reminisces about an older patient they were attending, he finishes that reminiscing by stating that something isn’t right about the plan. Everything is too quiet.

Their conversation is interrupted by Waters’ phone ringing. As Waters picks up, we transition to the next scene where we see Harper on the phone with Waters, Dan, and Zoe looking on. Zoe explains to Dan how Harold is talking to the men holding Emily. To understand the current situation, Zoe reminds Dan of her conversation with Hamzad’s lawyer, where she discerned a feeling of disloyalty from Hamzad’s lawyer, and maybe they could use that to their advantage. But Chase is convinced she is wrong this time, because Faraz Hamzad doesn’t suffer fools, and won’t tolerate a shred of disloyalty, even a hint of it. His voice crackled with experience, but Zoe’s determined face shows that she isn’t ready to give this thread up.

Dan gets up to converse with Harold, where Harold reveals that Bote had planned to clean this whole mess up ever since it had started, and now he plans to use Emily to clean it up for him. He had instructed Hamzad to have a plane ready at an airfield, where either Emily or Dan would be delivered to Hamzad’s hands. As Rahmani, the Moroccan Secret Police agent enters their circle and remarks that Faraz has allies among his superiors and that he has orders to see these instructions executed, but he can delay that. However, once Dan confirms from Harper that Bote’s man would let Emily go if Dan gives himself up, they confirm the plan, much to Harold and especially Zoe’s surprise, who Dan instructs to go home now as “everyone gets what they want”. When asked by Zoe whether there is another way, Dan replies in the negative, as he is unwilling to call any bluff with Hamzad with Emily’s life hanging in the balance, and is more than happy to give himself up, with no rescue plan as a backup. Zoe emphatically stated that what happens to him matters to her, but isn’t enough to budge his decision.

In the past, we see Hamzad confronting both young Dan and Balour about their hands in freeing Suleiman Pavlovich. Balour warns him about asking for too much information, reminding him of her commitment to him and asking him to trust her that there are things better left unknown. Hamzad angrily retorts that he wants the whole truth, and Balour, after a moment’s hesitation, reveals her allegiance to the Soviets and how she had been feeding them information about their enemies, indirectly strengthening her husband’s base.

The Old Man Season 1 Finale Episode 7 Review Recap Ending Explained (2)

She didn’t want that information to be revealed by the Russians. However, Hamzad surprises them both by revealing that he knew this and then fires back at her, asking her to reveal what he doesn’t know. Balour tries to help Dan by shifting the focus on him, about him trying to repair his relationship with the CIA and thus letting the Russian go, but Balour nips that in the bud. She reveals to her husband the ore and its “untold strategic advantage”. Hamzad is confused and queries why he wasn’t told and what “untold strategic value” entails. Would it be enough to change the course of the war currently being fought? As Balour tries to explain her justification for not telling him because of her fear of him getting corrupted by greed, Hamzad angrily retorts that “you will not be the final arbiter of what I know and don’t know”.

A fantastic line that also foreshadows the narrative’s descent into darkness. It’s also fascinating how she sees Hamzad as a man of all qualities, at least from a public standpoint, and how she reminds him of how inextricably linked she is with his current fortunes, the yin to yang (Hamzad’s emotional oscillations). But Hamzad’s reaction to Balour’s emotional manipulation scares Johnny/Dan, forcing him to call up Harper and ask for help in the extraction of Balour and himself from Afghanistan. Angry at Dan for forcing him to give resources to a man who has now been revealed to be unhinged, Harper agrees to help on the condition that they shouldn’t hear from Hamzad ever again, basically offering Dan an out to kill Hamzad.

In the present, we see Waters and Carson conversing about Harper and whether he would be making a move to double-cross them. Waters assures Carson that he wouldn’t, not with her in the middle, pointing at the unconscious Emily. Waters realizes that Carson belonged to the private covert ops team of Morgan Bote, to which Carson wryly reminds him that the whole CIA was once part of Bote’s covert ops. As Waters tries to explain, unsuccessfully, Emily’s importance in this rigmarole, Mike interrupts them, informing them that there are at least two dozen men surrounding them as they speak, and they would need to get out and wake Emily up, in case they had to move on foot.

We cut to Harper driving Chase to the airfield, surrounded by Rahmani’s armed escorts. The events of the previous episodes finally catch up to them, as they discuss Zoe’s involvement in the proceedings, and whether she would be a monkey wrench in any future proceedings of Harold, to which Dan reassures him that neither does she know that Harold had hired an assassin to murder him, nor does he hold a grudge against Harold for that action. Harper then finally reveals the events of episode 6, where Hamzad tried to test Harper by challenging him to recount all the details of the flight that Dan and Balour had taken to escape.

While Harold had managed to extract the information, he had been unable to answer Hamzad’s questions, which puzzled Harper, because he was unable to figure out what Hamzad truly wanted. Harold then asks Dan what had happened on that flight, or better yet, what had happened on the way to the flight that prevented Dan from taking care of Hamzad. Dan retorts back, stating that he is unwilling to reveal any such questions Harold might have and spend hours arguing with him when it could be his last few hours before “the curtain comes down”. Undeterred, Harold tries a different tack, reminiscing of the first time he saw Angela at training and how impressed he was, bringing her into the fold and caring for her as much as he cared for his son. And now, after the recent events, the memory haunts him, and it feels like Harold feels betrayed, as he asks Dan whether they found it funny about this fictitious character they created and how much of a hold it had on him. Dan admits to her sharing her journey with him, but she never delved deeply into this part of her life and neither did he ask.

Harold scoffs and derides Dan, telling him that his vested interest in this sordid history has nothing to do with his curiosity, but rather so that he can have answers to supply to this young woman. Harold argues that this woman had no compunctions in concealing her true identity for over a decade, but as soon as her mother’s history becomes a source of possible revelation, she reveals her identity at the drop of a hat. Harold argues that Dan’s choosing to selectively produce information so that Angela’s image of her mother remains untarnished is a lost cause, as the people who want to remember or want to know are the only ones who have the agency to decide whether they are satisfied with the information. On the off chance that answers to her questions start turning up and Dan is not around to defend against said answers, Harold argues that he needs to know the information so that he can do the needful. As Dan mockingly congratulates Harold on his circuitous scheme, Harold succinctly states, “I am not fucking around, Johnny.”

It’s interesting because it proves that Johnny is the name Dan Chase went by, the identity Harold knew him as, and the identity audiences used to identify the younger version of Chase as. But what hits home is Harold, with his voice breaking, stating that he doesn’t want Angela to get hurt, so he requests Chase to help him so that she can be spared a lifetime of despair and confusion. In response, Dan, in one of these rare moments of vulnerability, expresses how Pavlovich’s confession of having been recruited by Balour had planted a seed of doubt in Dan’s brain. Maybe Balour had been manipulating him all along, recruiting him to carve out an exit strategy for herself. And to that end, Dan firmly states that if the question ever arises, Harold is to tell Emily that her mother loved her, and whatever steps and actions had been taken had all been to protect her.

This much Dan knew with absolute certainty if nothing else. Their conversation gets interrupted by a phone call from Waters, who inquires whether they are making any moves against them because some faction is. Before Harper can successfully understand, Waters disconnects the call. Dan then inquires whether Hamzad knew of Emily’s involvement in all of this. When Harold replies that it might be possible, Dan successfully deduces that Hamzad is moving for the grab himself. He realizes that he is right. Harold checks the location that Waters sent him to and takes a U-turn, instructing the convoy to follow him.

We’re back in the dream sequence from the beginning of the episode, but this time an adult Angela is sitting in the chair instead of the child. As she tries to fill out that questionnaire, she hears a child laugh. Looking around, she sees a child rush past and follows her down the staircase to a dank basement. She sees the silhouette of her mother in a wedding dress. After chastising her for following her and trying to save her, as her father had, the ghost of Abbey remarks that she didn’t belong here, before disappearing, leaving behind a doll and a trapdoor.

As Emily reaches the trapdoor, she hears something knocking against the trapdoor trying to break out, before her dream is broken and she wakes up to Water’s voice. Waters promises to take care of her, giving her a water bottle to sip on before deciding on their game plan. Julian readies his machine gun, ready to take out the sniper across the street so that the coast is clear for Mike and Waters to drive out of the neighborhood.

What follows is a mix of one take and a superb Steadicam edit as Julian calmly walks across, shooting down men with ease until he reaches the top floor and takes out the sniper through the closed door of the room he had been hiding in. As he watches through the window, the van driven by Waters and Mike drives away through the neighborhood. Inside the van, Angela asks Waters what he has done. As Waters begins to explain how Hamzad wants her, an old woman stops in front of their van, and without any warning, shoots Mike and Waters.

Back in the car, the discussion between Harold and Dan is becoming heated as Dan questions the intelligence of the government giving Hamzad whatever he wanted, and thus that brazen confidence had allowed him to kidnap his kid. Harold retorts back, stating that he is not just Dan’s kid, but an FBI agent, and that gives this case an added dimension, which again brings them back to the question of why Dan didn’t kill Hamzad that night when they had left. As Harold systematically tries to disseminate the reason, Dan angrily warns Harold to stop profiling him, to which Harold fires back, to stop being so easy to profile.

Finally, exploding with anger, Dan proclaims that Angela is not Harold’s kid, and as her father, Dan would decide the way to handle things. Harold reminds him that for so many years, the lack of a physical father figure in Angela’s life had been filled by Harold’s presence. He had been the ear to their uncomfortable conversations, her opponent and her friend, during times of need. Harold’s tirade is interrupted by Rahmani contacting him and stating that he had been ordered to escort them back as per the orders of their superior. As Harold throws caution to the wind and prepares to give Dan his gun back, Dan asks Harold how far he is willing to go. Harold replies that after having hired an assassin to kill Dan, consented to be kidnapped by an Afghan warlord, and planning to steal a vehicle from the Moroccan secret police, there shouldn’t be any doubt about the lengths Harold is ready to go to, because he is scared to death for her.

Angela is his daughter too, whether Dan likes it or not. Seemingly satisfied, Harold takes the gun and clambers to the back seat. Quipping that anybody other than Harold should be driving, Dan leans out of the window and manages to shoot the convoy down by crashing the three cars, shooting at their tyres or the drivers with razor-sharp precision and training. As the two old men drive away from the wreckage, Harold remarks that they are together now, wherever this path leads.

The Old Man Season 1 Finale Episode 7 Review Recap Ending Explained (1)


Harold and Dan arrive at the site of the van to find Waters and Mike dead, and Angela missing. As Harold sits at the back of the van, dejected, Harold reveals what happened the night they escaped. Unbeknownst to both Morgan Bote and Faraz Hamzad, Balour and Johnny escape with Hamzad’s daughter. Dan had been unable to kill Hamzad in front of his daughter, even though it could have been very easy to do. They both decided to not reveal this information to Harold at the time because it would be too dangerous for him to know.

Dan reveals that Hamzad was testing Harold to see whether Harold knew that three passengers had departed that night on two tickets. We finally see the present-day version of Hamzad waking up from his bed and getting ready for the day. All the while, the voice of Hamzad recounts the same letter that Emily had been recounting at the beginning of the episode, except this time the perspective has shifted from a father writing that letter to his child. As he reveals his plans to build a kingdom for her, his fear of what was removed from her, and her identity, Hamzad is informed that Parwana has arrived, as we see a car stop in front of Hamzad’s house and Angela stepping out of that car on the way to meet her biological father for the first time.

The last shot is of Harold and Dan arriving at the airfield, dumping the keys in the car, and walking towards the plane that would take them to Hamzad. The stage is set for Emily’s two fathers to attempt to rescue her from her biological father, as the first season comes to a close.


The genre shift that occurred after the first two episodes of the show is fascinating. It started as a gritty rendition of a genre show, giving us the impression of a chase movie for over seven hours, and for the most part, it remained gritty. But what the genre has mutated itself into is the fascinating part. From “John Wick” to “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, The Old Man shifted its genre smoothly enough and it remained that way. And while it was detrimental and a divisive decision, the change in genre allowed us to explore the embers of the dying vestiges of a cold war, and old men in power playing espionage games to one-up each other.

The exploration of the women as formidable figures in their own right was a welcome wrinkle, even as Zoe’s addition to the proceedings didn’t have much of an impact on the grand scheme of things. Both Emily and Abbey’s characters were given interesting wrinkles-Emily, with her identity crisis and her existential crisis failing to compartmentalize the two halves of her life. This is in sharp contrast to her mother, who is shown to be a strong, confident woman, capable of playing for a long time and able to manipulate with ease. However, as hints of her time in the present tell us, she too suffered. Interesting additions to the narrative include Morgan Bote, the ex-retired head of the Secret Service, who shares a strict fatherly bond with both Dan and Harold, and exploration of that family dynamic should be a primary focus in the next season.

But of course, the show would be nowhere without its cast and its direction. Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow are at the top of their game, even though they are sometimes forced to recite dialogues that mostly come off as portentous or mysterious. Bridges is surprisingly believable as a grizzled badass in the action sequences, which were far fewer than expected. Bill Heck as the younger Dan Chase and Leem Lubany as the younger Abby Chase are standouts in the flashback sequences, especially Lubany. Alia Shawkat manages to imbibe Emily’s character with a surprising amount of pathos and heart, while Amy Brenneman is good at exploring the normalcy of a character who is a fish out of water in this world of spycraft but whose own experiences help her navigate through fairly quickly.

The criticism that could be applied to the show is its mutation into a separate genre. The distinction between the directions is especially striking, giving rise to its divisive reaction. There are times too where characters feel like trying circuitous schemes just for the sake of it, though as a commentary on the futility of these espionage games, those moments do work well. The Zoe plot thread at the end never really amounts to much of anything. The last episode especially feels very exposition heavy, as revelations become front-loaded one after the other.

However, considering there was a possibility that the show wouldn’t see the light of day due to Bridges’ health, the decision to break the show from a 10-episode single season to two seasons feels like a good move. The story is finite, and if the creators stick with their plan, the story will end by the second season, as it feels like it is approaching the third act of this narrative. Here’s hoping that Lithgow and Bridges have more scenes together because this episode was the only time they had a full-fledged arc together and they are fantastic. Here’s hoping for more of these moments. I am looking forward to the already renewed Season 2.




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