A Spy Among Friends – Season 1 Episode 2 “The Admiral’s Glass” Recap & Review

The Admiral’s Glass

Lily listens to the recordings from the room in Beirut at her house. Kim is becoming paranoid with every passing minute. His trust and confidence in his best friend of 20-odd years are dwindling.

An arriving parade of sirens of police cars and ambulances catches his attention. He rushes out to check if they’re coming for him but that’s not the case. Nick is calm and reiterates that Kim’s problems are an SIS matter still. But the charges against him are that of treason; the highest crime he could commit.

Nick asks Kim to help him with information about the Americans or “any others that might be out there” so that he could help Kim. Lily frets over the lack of audio recordings and information she has about Nick’s remaining time in Beirut. She doesn’t believe that Nick came back empty-handed from Beirut; he simply couldn’t afford to. Lily’s assessment of Nick is that he is a scared man fighting for his career. She asks her bosses to allow someone to tail Nick and see what they can get. Her implication is she does the tailing as SIS will least expect it from her.

Lily questions Nick about the particular piece of recording she was listening to at home. She presses on the issue of The Admiral’s Glass, the pub that Nick mentions on the recording. He concedes it is a personally significant place for them. He then narrates an incident from the spring of 1941 when Aileen Philby, Kim’s wife, called Nick out of the blue asking him to visit her. Flora Solomon is there as well. Aileen feels Kim is cheating on her. They ask her to find out who she is. Nick is reluctant but the women push on. He eventually has to give in to “spy on his best friend.”

Nick confesses to Lily that he felt Nick knew what he was doing. Tradecraft was second nature to those in intelligence during the war. But why did he decide to spy on Kim? Lily feels it is because Nick’s instincts told him that Kim was betraying his country, while Nick maintains he did it for Kim’s marriage and Aileen’s.

A flashback showed Kim meeting with a woman at The Admiral’s Glass. He didn’t say anything to Nick about it until a couple of weeks later, he confesses his affair to Nick. Her name is Alice Litzi, an Austrian-Jewish woman, part of the Resistance, which was communist. To bail her out of her predicament with Hitler’s “ethnic cleansing”, Kim agreed to marry her. It was just on paper but now she has surfaced in London all of a sudden.

Lily alleges that Nick purposely overlooked all these cues to protect Kim. But Nick says he couldn’t connect the dots because of the nature of the war they were in. He explains the same to Flora and Aileen, both of whom aren’t convinced of Nick’s lie. Lily plays a strand of the recording that reveals Aileen died when the two men met in Beirut. Did Kim kill her? He says she was an alcoholic and couldn’t be salvaged. Kim is still not ready to accept he is a traitor. Flora believed that Kim was a communist, not a spy, and protected him for 30 years for Aileen’s sake. Lily plants doubt in Nick’s head about Flora. Can she too be connected to this scheme?

Right after this indication, Lily goes straight to a pay phone and asks Ian to be present at Flora’s house. Kim deboards the ship with Sergei and boards a train. Sergei asks about Kim’s interest in communism and Kim replies it developed while he was at Cambridge University, although that wasn’t the only factor. He gets a little uncomfortable when talking about Vienna and Litzi. We see in 1934 how Litzi and her family escaped the clutches of the police and Kim helped them. That is how the romance started. Litzi was able to make it out of the explosion she triggered to kill the police guards. That night, she and Kim had sex out in the open, marking their bond forever.

In the present, Kim spots a man wearing handmade shoes from England and suspects someone is after him. Sergei calms him down. Kim retaliates Sergei’s condescending remarks and mentions how he betrayed Nick back in 1944 when he killed Konstantin Dmitrievich, a Soviet intelligence officer wanting to defect to the UK in exchange for a list of active Soviet spies in the UK.

The problem was that the list had Kim’s name as well and to preserve himself, we killed Konstantin. We see Lily not returning for the day and Ian planting a bug at Flora’s house. Nick calls her house and Ian almost picks it up.

He goes to her house and Lily and Ian listen in. Nick mentions Konstantin and it is highly possible that he knew about him and purposely concocted with Kim to eliminate him. He asks flora about her suspicions of Kim’s betrayal when she asked him to spy on Kim. Flora knew Kim from Cambridge and knew that he was a communist. But she didn’t know about his KGB connections. Did Nick intentionally miss “the connection” flora was trying to establish?

Flora says she was trying to steer Kim in the right direction since the Soviets and Brits were working together during WWII. It is then Nick realizes Litzi was Kim’s KGB cutout. Flora believes Nick got something in return from Kim.

There is no way he could be this dumb, something that Kim once told Flora. Kim is placed in a safe house and given the tank of Comrade Colonel. There’s a woman in the house as well but she doesn’t speak English. Robert confides in Lily that he doesn’t think they’re alike. And at times, he feels he does not belong in her world.

He feels that he might lose Lily someday. She gets up and says it will never happen because of the love they share. It turns out that a couple of American agents are indeed tailing Kim: a man and a woman. She relays Kim’s location to the operators sitting near Nick’s house.

The Episode Review

Episode 2 confirms that A Spy Among Friends will not unravel hastily or even accurately. It will keep you guessing and keep you in the dark. The more distanced you are from the truth, the more it relishes.

Perhaps the makers have transcribed the aloofness and stillness of real-world espionage into their narrative. Watching the show is like peeling back layers of an onion but never quite knowing where it ends.

The central theme for this episode was the strength of love and trust that can make you care for someone, even if you don’t really know who they are. Lily had an upper hand over Nick in their dynamic. But Flora’s remarkable statement about Nick at her house changes things.

He might as well be ahead of all of us in this dangerous game. If that’s the case, we won’t even know when the tide has changed or if it was ever in another direction.

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