As published in CLAUDIA.
Analysis with SPOILERS about the Treason series.
Actor Charlie Cox plays a very different spy in Treason. Adam Lawrence is the MI6 agent who is happily married, a devoted family man, and has none of the lonely anguish so frequent of heroes who sacrifice their lives for the country. In the inevitable comparison with the greatest icon of the genre, James Bond, even though Daniel Craig‘s farewell to the role in No Time to Die, we see 007 making breakfast for his daughter and putting her to bed, were furtive moments in the hero’s trajectory. After all, the spies we know are most often absentee fathers with a traumatic past who make them “be good at what they do”. Of course, it’s a simplistic summary, but you get what I mean. One of the surprises that the Treason series brings is this small detail, where Adam has a life as if the MI6 job were something trivial, a job from 10 am to 7 pm, without great personal risks. Obviously, that’s not true.
To differentiate him even more, right away we see that Adam’s rapid rise in the professional hierarchy is not well accepted by the team – who thinks he is weak – and we cannot disagree at first. The domesticity of his life and his empathetic relationship with everyone he works with is something out of place for anyone following ex-KGB agents or other international terrorist shenanigans. But everything changes when Kara Yersov (Olga Kurylenko) appears and confirms Adam’s apparent ineptitude for the role, throwing it in his face that the time has come to pay for having gone up in MI6 at her expense.
If it hadn’t been obvious, we soon understood that Adam Lawrence is not James Bond, who was never charged for any of the “Bond Girls” he used and discarded throughout his career. The fact of having exactly the actress Olga Kurylenko in this role is hilarious because she was one of those “Bond Girls”. For 007 aficionados it’s easy to remember that Olga was the female star of Quantum of Solace, the most torturous period film of Daniel Craig as James Bond. Her Camille Montes wanted revenge and was as obsessed with answers as Kara Yersov is in Treason.
Kara’s return to Adam’s life is more complex than debt collection. As his former lover, she also complicates the dynamic of the British agent’s seemingly happy new marriage to chiropractor Maddy de Costa (Oona Chaplin). To make matters worse, the unexpected kidnapping of his daughter raises more questions than answers. After all, as always in spy stories, the plot revolves around the old drama of undercover double agents and everything makes us understand that Adam is the traitor. Of course, he claims innocence, and to resolve that issue, he has to stop political blackmail, save his family and still get rid of Kara, not necessarily in that order. In James Bond’s own words in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, “this never happened to the other fellow”.
We soon discover that Maddy is not who she appears to be because she has nothing passive about her. She served in the military and knows a lot about how international affairs work and how to survive them. This makes the traditional love triangle something more original in Treason. And people, the betrayal of the title is really dubious. Adam would be a “traitor” to his country and a traitor in his marriage, but the “betrayed” in the relationship is not Maddy, but his first wife, who died before the start of the series, so we don’t know if he knew or how he dealt with the question. What we see is that Maddy reacts like many of us: she doesn’t like it at all. After all, he tells state secrets and shares “everything”, but he had never mentioned this jump around. One of the reasons for the secrecy, he admits, is that Adam used the Russian spy’s successes as if they were his own, abandoning his ex in ostracism. If everyone learns the truth, his career is over. Returning to the inevitable James Bond comparisons, when could we have 007 admitting to something similar?
From that revelation, the interesting thing is the dynamic between Kara and Maddy because who hasn’t had the ghost of an ex bringing insecurity to their relationship? Who wasn’t or is a ghost for their ex’s current one? What would it be like if life forced you to join precisely this challenge that brings you insecurity?
In Treason, the way in which Maddy and Kara overcome the trap of jealousy and envy is one of the highlights of the narrative. They distrust each other until there is no longer any reason for them to part, united by pain and love. When they understand that they are not enemies but allies, the weight of the drama gains another perspective. And here is a last parenthesis to point out that it is equally curious that the actress Oona Chaplin (Charles Chaplin‘s granddaughter and who we know better as Talysa from Game of Thrones) had a cameo in Quantum of Solace. In the film, she played an abused young woman saved precisely by Camille (Olga Kurylenko). You can’t miss the irony of uniting them once again with this dynamic.
Of course, there are certain skills or “coincidences” that simplify some incongruous points in the intricate plot of Treason, but the perspective of the relationship between the female characters is very interesting. Their union turns the tables and is an original alternative, especially since it comes from a male author. With Treason, Matt Charman, who was nominated for an Oscar for the excellent thriller Bridge of Spies, created a story where the man works as the “dame in distress” and where the united women become the hero who saves the day. Without losing empathy or living in anguish, like many action movie heroines. It’s not at all that many still roots for a spin-off or a sequel. It stays open. I would see it in a heartbeat!
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If you liked Bill Fairclough’s epic spy thriller Beyond Enkription in The Burlington Files series you may on a bleak Winter evening just conceivably like Treason (starring Charlie Cox) created by Bridge of Spies writer Matt Charman. The plots are quite complicated in both productions but unlike Treason, The Burlington Files plots and characters are real, credible and much more intriguing. However, do remember Beyond Enkription is a fact based novel about a real spy called Bill Fairclough (MI6 codename JJ) aka Edward Burlington who was one of Pemberton’s People in MI6. He worked with real SAS Rogue Heroes and other ungentlemanly officers as explained in a news article dated 31 October 2022 available from TheBurlingtonFiles website.
See https://theburlingtonfiles.org for a synopsis of Beyond Enkription and https://theburlingtonfiles.org/news_2022.10.31.php for more on Pemberton’s People.
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Love it!!!! THanks!!!!!