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Battleground, Episode 6 recap: Polls Close at 6
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Chris "Tak" Davis (Jay Hayden)
Chris "Tak" Davis (Jay Hayden)

Synopsis: The campaign must come up with a plan to fight misinformation being circulated by their opponents. Cole confronts KJ about their relationship.

Local references: Gullible University of Wisconsin students, derisive WKOW 27 anchors, the Madison West basketball team trouncing Memorial "in a buzzer beater you have to see to believe," the Wisconsin State Journal.

Local landmarks: Monroe Street, Lake Monona, the Capitol, Mickies Dairy Bar, the mural on the wall of the old Mifflin Street Co-op.

Locals seen on screen: Patrick Sims, a associate professor of acting/multicultural theater and playwright at UW-Madison; Anne Donnellan, a professor at the University of San Diego and emeritus professor of Education at UW-Madison; UW student and short film actor Nick Van Brunt; groups of extras at Mickies, outside a church polling place, on Mifflin Street, and in the campaign war room; playwright and actor Sam White; and, WKOW anchors Greg Jeschke and Sabrina Hall.

Local laugh: Sen. Deirdre Samuels encounters a tea party type at Mickies Dairy Bar who harasses her about lazy welfare bums. Are tea party types allowed to dine on Madison's liberal near west side?

Memorable character: Episode 6 belongs to campaign manager Tak, who puts out fires on primary election day. If Hayden can't parlay his sexy-cool work in Battleground into a network sitcom gig, he needs a new agent.

Review: The big day has arrived in Wisconsin's race for U.S. Senate: the primary election between state Sen. Samuels (Meighan Gerachis) and state Rep. Rudy. Our heroes at the Samuels campaign have pulled even with Rudy after starting with a 20-point deficit a mere two months ago. Led by campaign manager extraordinaire Tak (Jay Hayden), they've crunched the numbers, worked the media and motivated the base. On election day, they've got the momentum. Everything should go their way, right?


Tak and nerdy underling Ben (Ben Samuel) arrive at Samuels HQ at sunrise, with Tak in a confident mood. "It's all about who wants it more," he says. "You think Rudy's campaign is up this early?"

Even earlier, it turns out. Rudy campaign workers have gummed up the lock of the Samuels' office so staffers can't get in the door. Tak is forced to smash a rock through the window. Let the day begin.

A reverend (Patrick Sims) from north Milwaukee -- a Rudy supporter -- pays Tak a visit. In so many words, the rev signals that he's willing to keep his Rudy-loving voters away from the polls in exchange for a $10,000 contribution to the church's new youth center. It's a tempting offer, given that Milwaukee is the make-or-break district for Samuels, but Tak won't play along.

"The press would kill us if we suppressed the vote," he tells fellow staffer KJ (Teri Reeves).

"And it's wrong," she adds sternly.

"Oh, yeah, yeah, right," Tak says. "That too."

After this courageous display of near-integrity, the disasters start to pile up. White Samuels supporters get into a racially charged screaming match black Rudy supporters, and the video makes the rounds online. Rudy staffers continue their dirty tricks by distributing flyers on the UW-Madison campus that claim voting has been extended an extra day. Speechwriter Cole (Jack De Sena) quits the Samuels campaign when he learns that his beloved KJ swapped spit with Tak. Worst of all, Sen. Samuels can't remember QB Aaron Rodgers' name while making a Packers analogy to a group of reporters.

"Do the Packers give up?" she thunders. "When we're down in the fourth quarter, Brett Favre finds a way to win!"

Statewide, jaws drop. WKOW 27 anchors chortle over Samuels' potentially election-losing faux pas during their newscast:

"Apparently she's counting on votes from Minnesota!"

Just when all seems lost, the numbers start coming in. Samuels has pulled ahead, thanks to strangely low turnout among Rudy supporters in north Milwaukee. Hmmm.

Samuels' husband (Sam White), it turns out, has paid the corrupt reverend his $10,000 without letting Tak know about it. In return, the rev kept his Rudy voters home, allowing Samuels to claim her primary victory.

This voter suppression is unlikely to haunt the campaign in future episodes, right?


Watch Episode 6 online.

Battleground, the first original scripted series from Hulu, was shot in Madison by Hollywood filmmaker and former Madisonian JD Walsh. New episodes premiere on Tuesdays through May 8. The dramedy follows young staffers running a Wisconsin politician's underdog campaign for U.S. Senate.

Did you watch the episode? Spot more Madison references or people? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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