Who Is Russell Wolfe in American Rust?

For the second season of ‘American Rust,’ the narrative follows Del Harris into Pittsburg, where the former Police Chief returns to his old job as the city Detective. Yet, Del maintains his ties with Buell’s small town, commuting between the two places. As such, while the show works toward unraveling Del’s complicated past, it also features a parallel storyline about Buell’s run-in with a string of mysterious murders. Within these storylines, several new faces find their introduction into the crime drama show as season 2 adds new complications to the town’s community.

Russell Wolfe presents one such new face— and narrative complication— within the storyline, with his arrival into Buell bringing new obstacles for the central characters. Consequently, due to his prominent standing this season, viewers must have some questions about the man and his identity. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Russell Wolfe and Isaac English’s Thorny Romance

Russell Wolfe’s introduction arrives as a romantic interest for Isaac English, a well-established protagonistic character. Season 2 finds Isaac comfortably interacting with his sexuality as an out and proud gay man as he dips his toes in the local dating pool. On one such night, when Isaac is out clubbing, he catches Russell’s attention. The two men end up hooking up after their initial interaction. However, the course of their relationship isn’t as easy since Russell seems to be struggling with internalized homophobia.

Nevertheless, after the two men find themselves coincidentally sharing a workplace as Landwill Energy employees, their paths inevitably entangle again. Soon, their one-off hook-up in a club’s bathroom turns into consistent encounters until they’ve all but started dating. Yet, since Russell isn’t entirely out of the closet yet, the two initially share romantic dates away from the public eye.

During the same, both men open up to each other, with Isaac sharing his past trauma regarding his parents and their tragic deaths with Russell. In turn, the other man also divulges the strife of having a strict, straight-laced, homophobic father with high expectations. Gradually, their relationship reaches a point where Russell doesn’t feel the need to hide his relationship with Isaac any longer.

Yet, just as Isaac begins to consider the possibility of a stable romantic relationship, an unpleasant truth about Russell’s life emerges. Despite his homosexuality, Russell is married to a woman in order to keep up appearances as a Landwill representative. Even though Russell’s union is technically a Lavender marriage with his wife aware of his sexuality and understanding of it, the revelation helps Isaac realize that he won’t fall for a closeted man and resign himself to a life in the shadows.

Consequently, as Russell’s work compels him to leave town for a while, Isaac breaks things clean off with him, ending their romantic connection. Nevertheless, even after his relationship with Isaac crashes and burns, Russell continues to hold onto some narrative significance in the show through his professional life as Landwill’s influence over Buell strengthens.

Russell: Landwill’s Employee With a Deceptive Image

While Russell’s place within the narrative as Isaac’s love interest created a comprehensive image of the man, his character ends up throwing the viewers in for a loop once his involvement with Landwill emerges. Whereas Isaac is only a labor worker for Landwill, participating in construction and mining jobs, Russell’s employment under the oil company remains a lot more ambiguous.

As a Landwill representative, Russell scouts Grace Poe as a local unofficial ambassador for Landwill. The company requires Buell landowners to sign a contract that will allow the corporation to mine and frack their land. As such, Grace presents the perfect candidate to push the agenda. In turn, Landwill’s lucrative offer easily compels Grace to strike up a professional relationship with them.

However, once Grace’s choices backfire after landowners begin to notice the steep pitfalls of doing business with Landwill, Grace discovers a different side of the company that patently ignores her attempts to contact them. Likewise, Russell himself remains MIA. Worse yet, when the man returns to Buell on some ambiguous business, Grace overhears someone referring to him as Mr. Cleveland— pitching the possibility that Russell Wolfe has been an alias all along.

Thus, as the storyline nears its climax and Russell’s character sheds more of his love-interest persona in favor of his Landwill-hitman reality, the character establishes himself as a true antagonist. As it would turn out, Russell had been behind the Buell murders all this time, working as a hired assassin for Landwill Energy. Still, even as his storyline takes a sharp turn, Russell remains invested in his relationship with Isaac.

It’s unclear whether or not Russell lied to Isaac about every other detail about himself. Nevertheless, the man seems to want to keep Isaac in his life. For the same reason, he goes after Nate, Isaac’s ex, whom he turned to after Russell’s exit from his life. Unbeknownst to Isaac, Russell kills Nate and goes on to murder his sister, Lee, on Landwill’s payroll. Ultimately, his truth comes out in the open after Steve Park and Del Harris catch him red-handed. Thus, Russell’s story wraps itself up, leaving behind a convoluted string of dead bodies and Isaac’s broken trust.

Read More: American Rust Broken Justice Ending, Explained