In the year where Andor just took the world by storm with its reinvention of the spy-thriller genre, showing how to do it properly on television, it almost seems like Netflix shot themselves in the foot by releasing Treason. And yet, the series will not even manage to be in the same conversation as Tony Gilroy’s Star Wars series, unless it’s about how radically different the two are.
Charlie Cox plays Adam Lawrence, MI6’s new boss after Ciarán Hinds’ character, who was running the ship, is poisoned. This sets in motion an entire chain of events that will unearth some deep secrets inside Lawrence’s past and the way he works. Husband to Oona Chaplin’s Maddy and father of two, he shares a complicated history with a former Russian agent that has been feeding him useful information for decades. She is Kara, played by Olga Kurylenko, and is about to flip Lawrence’s life upside down.
Treason was created by Bridge of Spies co-writer Matt Charman and is currently available to watch on Netflix. It features a rather complicated plot despite its limited number of main characters, something that confuses the audience more than it serves the purpose of the story. It’s a five-episode miniseries that was too long for a feature film but lacked enough meat to deliver a satisfying experience — the episode lengths, around the 40-minute mark, are both one of its best qualities and also a testament to how lacking the story is in the first place.
Treason Is Unfocused, But Olga Kurylenko Makes It Semi-Entertaining
The word here is probably unbalanced, though. On the one hand, the overall series feels oversaturated and unfocused — it deals with a change in MI6’s leadership, an upcoming British election, the U.K.-Russia international relationship, the MI6-CIA relationship, corruption, tries to explain a mission from 15 years earlier where Kara and Lawrence first met, a triangular relationship between Lawrence, his wife, and his former lover (Kara), and also Lawrence being a father to his two kids, who have major roles in the story. And there are even more relationships and subplots that weren’t even included in there.
On the other hand, the series is split into 5 digestible episodes, and had it been any minute longer, it would have overstayed its welcome. This would probably not change if the scripts were tighter and in better shape, though.
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Perhaps one of Treason‘s biggest flaws is that there are few characters to root for. Cox plays the series lead, but his character is too flawed and unrelatable to pull in the audience. Cox’s performance is rather dull and never really stands out — he is constantly outshined by his two female co-stars, especially Olga Kurylenko, who in the end is the heart of the series and who takes it upon herself to carry its entire weight. Oona Chaplin is also excellent in the show, but she is relegated to third place and doesn’t have a lot of moments to stand out. She gets a larger role as the series progresses, which feels very appropriate.
Treason is, in the end, quite forgettable. It’s as close as Charlie Cox will ever get to playing Bond, and perhaps we are all the better for it. The political subplots feel completely unnecessary and come across as a British trope, but it’s really the CIA’s involvement that feels out of place in the series. They play a rather unnecessary role in the overall story that complicates the entire thing and, after finishing the series, doesn’t make a ton of sense other than to add more suspense for the sake of it, rather than because it contributes to the story.
Our connection to them is through Lawrence’s wife, Maddy, who knows one of the agents in charge of the American operation, Dede (Tracy Ifeachor). They are concerned about Lawrence being a double-agent for the Russians, and the situation only gets worse once he’s named chief. This also brings us to one of the show’s weakest points, as Lawrence is way too reckless to be in the position he is in. The narrative tries to give some explanation for it, but it doesn’t feel very satisfying.
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Overall, Treason is a miniseries that had plenty of potential due to the underlying story and two fierce performances, especially Olga Kurylenko’s, but that suffered from weak scripts, an oversaturated narrative, and a dull performance by Charlie Cox. The finale could act as a set up for a second season that could look even less appealing than the first (or, if done right, correct the first season’s mistakes).
Treason is available to watch on Netflix now. Have you seen Treason? Was it on your radar? Are you still interested in watching it? Drop us a comment on social media and let us know your thoughts!
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