Secret City Season 1 Review



Season 1

Season 2

Episode Guide

A Donation to the Struggle
The Watchers
Beware the Jabberwock
Falling Hard
Ghosts in the Machine
The Light on the Hill



Political thriller Secret City is a methodically paced, Australian drama that paints an interesting picture of corporate espionage, betrayal, vengeance and bloodshed hidden beneath the surface of the city of Canberra. With political journalist Harriet Dunkley at the heart of a global conspiracy involving the Chinese, Americans and Australians, Anna Torv does a great job bringing some empathy to her ambitious character, driven by an inert desire to better her career over the well-being of those closest to her. As the episodes tick by, the characters grow into their roles with various casualties along the way as the stakes increase before the climactic ending to finish this first season.

The politically charged story begins when a dead body washes up on the coast of Australia with numerous stab wounds. Determined to let this be her big break story and refusing to relinquish her interest in the murder, Harriet stumbles upon a conspiracy built on a web of lies spanning from China across to the US with the Australians  caught firmly in the middle. As the shadowy figures in power begin to make their move, someone close to Harriet pays the price for her involvement, setting her on a path of justice.

What’s particularly endearing here is the way the characters all feel realistically depicted. Secret City walks a fine line between being over-dramatised and perfectly capturing the political web of lies and deceit and for the most part the series does well in this department. There’s a heightened tension accompanying much of the action, most of which driven around the politically charged drama that occurs within the various fiery exchanges between the different governments. Harriet is the focal protagonist for mot of the 6 episodes though and given the relatively short run time, the show does a good job building her up as a character determined to seek justice despite being in over her head. Her character arc is generally well written too with a satisfying conclusion arising toward the end of the show.

Secret City is a perfectly enjoyable political thriller and one of those shows that ticks all the boxes but never quite innovates enough to make it a show you’re likely to remember for years to come. Anna Torv does a great job as the lead protagonist here and her performance alone makes this worth investing the time to watch. If you haven’t enjoyed this genre in the past, Secret City is unlikely to sway your opinion and while there are certainly better options out there, Secret City is a perfectly serviceable drama and an interesting look at just how far governments will go to keep secrets under wraps.


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  • Verdict - 7/10