The seemingly endless factory mill of Netflix dramas continues with Charlie Cox-led espionage thriller Treason
“Are we the good guys?”
Matt Charman’s Treason is one of those spy thrillers that has flashes of proper narrative daring and also, some moments of ridonkulousness where dramatic license is thrown to the wind. It makes for a rather watchable series, now available on Netflix, perhaps closer to ITV level than BBC, if it were on a terrestrial channel.
Charlie Cox plays Adam Lawrence, the youngest ever deputy head of MI6 who is thrust in charge when his boss (Ciarán Hinds’ gruff Sir Martin Angelis) is poisoned. With the weight of the secret service now on his shoulders, solving the crime is more important than ever but when it turns out the poisoner is a Russian spy who used to work with Adam when he was a field agent and he’s desperate to keep the closeness of their relationship a secret even now.
Over just five episodes, Treason absolutely rockets through its plot points as it sets up a multi-layered conspiracy involving a Tory leadership election, Russian interference, the CIA being shadowy and moles within MI6 who may or may not be Adam. Plus he is a widowed dad of two with a new wife and so there’s personal shenanigans to fit in as well which means that there’s never a dull moment but there’s also little lingering around any plot development to let it breathe.
Played at such breakneck speed, the show ends up being entertaining rather than involving. Cox is adorable as Adam but never quite convinces as someone so high up the MI6 career ladder (Adam James and Sargon Yelda as his colleagues fare better). And there’s a necessary suspension of disbelief in pretty much everything he gets up to once he’s been installed as the new C (not M!), the laxness of the security is hilarious.
Throw in CIA meetings in the open air of the South Bank, reckless suspicious wives who care little for the Official Secrets Act, protection agents who regularly lose their clients etc etc and it’s all a bit silly. But you don’t notice it so much in the watching, which is mostly fun and games (and a little bit of shock). Alex Kingston stands out as an ambitious Foreign Secretary and Olga Kurylenko’s Kara is a powerful lead against Cox – a fun distraction in this post-prandial time.