Home » Treason Review : A Gripping Thriller Without A Punch

Treason Review : A Gripping Thriller Without A Punch

Treason on Netflix is one such series that may not push the boundaries of storytelling and acting for the streaming platform, but the concise espionage thriller is certainly a worthy addition to your watch list

by Teamexpresspo
Treason Review : A Gripping Thriller Without A Punch

Rating: 3.5/5

By: Sarojini Chatterjee

Cast: Charlie Cox, Olga Kurylenko, Oona Chaplin, Tracy Ifeachor, Ciarán Hinds

Created By: Matt Charman

In an era where streaming platforms are competing for share of voice, it is no surprise that Netflix needs to consistently churn out content, no matter how good or bad. Successful narratives such as Dark, Stranger Things, The Sandman, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, 1899 and now the riveting Wednesday have conquered the original content charts for the platform and helped it maintain its status as it competes with an evolving line-up of streaming services. Many of the shows released do not seem to stand out completely because of generic plot lines. However, they serve as great fodder when one needs to binge on mildly entertaining content.

Treason Review : A Gripping Thriller Without A Punch

Treason on Netflix is one such series that may not push the boundaries of storytelling and acting for the streaming platform, the same way a Money Heist or Ozark did, but the concise espionage thriller is certainly a worthy addition to your watch list for when you need to mindlessly watch something while doing your chores or doom scrolling on social media.

In the world of content that is specifically based on international intelligence, one of the concepts that leads to the failure of thriller series is that they lose focus by getting wrapped up in too many characters, side plots and irrelevant twists and turns. Unfortunately, Treason falls into many of these cliched traps.

The series is set entirely in London and happens over the course of a week. Adam Lawrence played by Charlie Cox is thrust into becoming the head of British Intelligence Agency, MI6 when the former head (internally called C), Martin Angelis (Ciarán Hinds), is poisoned. But all is not quite what it seems. The assassin who incapacitated the previous C turns out to be Kara (Olga Kurylenko), a former SVR spy and Adam’s love interest. She has concocted Adam’s foray into this role at MI6 so he can feed her confidential information for her off-the-record investigations. But this fast-tracked career trajectory has raised suspicions within the CIA, and has brought in Agent Dede (Tracy Ifeachor) to effectively resolve suspicions and bring Adam to justice.

Adding fuel to fire that Adam’s personal and professional life is, there is also a political storm that is brewing to destabilize the country’s political landscape and Adam is caught in the crosshairs. But every possible thrilling overturn— including the kidnapping of Adam’s daughter — is undermined by limp narratives and exchanges which fail to convey the serious consequences involved. With not one but three intelligence agencies tangled, the storytelling does not end up showcasing their volatile conjunction.

Nothing in the entire show can be considered as nuance. There are elements of thrilling contemporary resonance – with Russian intelligence as a wicked foe, the presence of a completely random CIA operative making a mess of everything could count as commentary on the state of American interventionism – but nothing throughout the series spins a tale with enough depth to count as nuance.

Treason depends too frequently on the familiar genre trope of allegedly smart people doing stupid things — a key point of differentiation with Apple TV+’s London-set espionage drama Slow Horses, in which characters do stupid things but those stupid things are grounded in character-driven flaws and balanced nicely by the clever things being done. But instead, this series fails to bring that nuance through and seemingly ends up feeling like the people in power are not worthy of their position, especially in international intelligence.

The characters may be thin, but the cast is good.

Charlie Cox conveys a general sense of Everyman decency — though, even if he isn’t as compromised as his enemies think, he’s more compromised than the show thinks.

Olga Kurylenko is effectively mysterious, though the series doesn’t give us the information necessary to judge her, much less understand her.

Oona Chaplin is giving probably the one of the best performances in the series — with the possible exception of Ciarán Hinds’ effortless chilly arrogance — despite a character defined exclusively by having once been in the military.

Spy dramas fall into two essential categories: the intellectual ones and the fast paced, nail-biting ones. Treason is neither of these things. A show so desperately based on the concept of patriotism and betrayal to the land, it lacks the emotional sustenance to evoke any emotion from characters and viewers alike. For a show about intelligence, Treason unfortunately fails to display any.

Netflix is promoting Treason as a “limited series,” but the finale distinctly sets up another season, one that could be more thought-provoking and distinguishing than the first.

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