TV Review: Citadel, Episode 1

Cast Lesley Manville and you guarantee that I’ll watch it. Amazon Prime’s new tentpole TV show Citadel knows what it is doing but is taking its time to warm up

“We will strike back with force against any entity that threatens our democracy”
“You can’t even remember to put the toilet seat down and now you’re Jason Bourne?”

Between having Richard Madden whip his shirt off early on and casting Lesley Manville as a fruity villain, new Amazon Prime show Citadel knows how to draw me in. For the majority of viewers though, I imagine that the Russo Brothers acting executive producers is the biggest draw and heaven knows the studio has put considerable backing behind with huge budgets and plans for sequel and spinoff series already in the works.

On the evidence of these first two episodes, creators Josh Appelbaum, Bryan Oh and David Weil give us cause to be cautiously optimistic. It is a six-part spy thriller and in some ways isn’t really treading too much new ground. Mason Kane and Nadia Sinh are top agents at the secretive global network Citadel but when someone betrays them, their minds are wiped to protect them and what is left of the organisation.

After this explosive prologue, we meet them eight years later where Mason, now living as Kyle Conroy and Nadia, known as Charlotte Vernon, are drawn back into their previous lives due to the secrets of the past not being able to lie. Chief in this respect is Lesley Manville’s Dahlia Archer, the UK ambassador to the US and chief broker for the dastardly Manticore network, who will apparently stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Naturally there’s a lot of world-building going on in these first two episodes, but with a third of the series already gone, you feel we should be a bit further on in actual storytelling. Action set pieces seem intent in taking us all over the world (justifying the budget, if not the dramatic imperative) and Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas are game enough as the starring couple, dealing with present challenges whilst their shared past wakes up slowly.

I’ll certainly carry on watching, not least since Nikki Amuka-Bird popped up in the coming next teaser, as I’m a fan of most of the spy thrillers that this currently reminds me of. For it to achieve its ambitious plans though, you hope it is going to be able to establish its own identity pretty soon.

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