Spy/Master – Season 1 Episode 2 Recap & Review

Episode 2

The Present Day

It turns out that Ingrid and Victor are lovers. She is not out to get him and he is probably trying to protect him, given they have a history of intimacy.

Ingrid puts forth the Stasi’s request of adding another name to the list. Frank has called Victor for a meeting but doesn’t have a plan. He phones Scott to discuss a Plan B. Popescu is now trailing Victor. With solid evidence, she wants to put him away forever. She suggests that the deal from the Germans is fair and they should leave as soon as possible.

Victor tries to slow things down. While going to meet Frank, Victor is watched by Popescu. She goes inside the store as he is gone for a long time. Victor decides to postpone the meeting as he anticipates Popescu breathing down her neck. Frank doesn’t know this and opens the secret door in the trial room, where he just about manages to evade Popescu.

Back in the present, Victor calls Frank from the Ministry of Interior’s office. He indicates that he wants a new date and Frank assures him they will protect Victor. Frank once again tries to alert his station head about giving Victor protection, but he isn’t convinced.

Ingrid has caught wind of the conversation and pursues it further by tracing the call Victor made. She calls the number and Frank answers.

At the meeting, Victor ups his demands unreasonably and Klaus pushes back. Popescu asks him to accept the deal but Victor is happy stalling them. Nicolae sends a message to Victor. He wants them to return the next day to Bucharest.

It turns out the bald man following Victor is a Soviet. He informs General Shakarov that Victor might be defecating to America. Victor calls Frank later that evening but he isn’t around. The Americans know that Victor is leaving at 9 AM the next morning and might not make contact again.

In the present day, Ingrid tries to dissuade Victor from joining the Americans. But he asks her for loyalty. Victor goes to the spa next door. He is given instructions by Frank to meet him at a church.

Back in the present, he prepares for the meeting with Frank, but he is intercepted by Shakarov. He shares his disappointment with Victor’s betrayal. It is unclear as of now how the Soviets will proceed. Victor meets Frank, who asks Victor to accompany him in a car. He thinks about his daughter before making his next move.

Events leading up to Victor’s defection

We begin episode 2 five days before the present day in Spy/Master’s cinematic universe. DIE Agent Lari Bogdan is caught on the Bulgaria-Romania border smuggling illegal goods. He is apprehended and killed in jail.

Nicolae gives a rousing speech about the party’s committed efforts to protect Romania’s interests and keep malicious foreign elements outside their borders. Ioan discusses the matter with Victor. His tone is one of suspicion but Victor plays along.

In the past, we see Ioan and Mircea Voinea discussing the aftermath of Bogdan’s death. The former wants to wait until he holds all the cards in his hands to dispose of Victor. Nicolae is also concerned about Bogdan and wishes to talk to Mircea about it. He tries to fill Elena with dirt about Mircea possibly dating a KGB agent (a redhead).

Victor planted the redhead and tried to convince Mircea’s wife he is having an affair. Victor also slips a bug in a red purse for his wife. Victor has an entire warehouse of illegal contraband that he smuggled in. Mircea and the others know about it.

At a Party function, Mircea and Victor’s paths collide. There is tension between the men as the former insinuates he knows about the photo. He also refers to the warehouse before sitting down in a different place, and discovers the bug that Victor planted in his wife’s purse.

That night, before going home, Victor takes Ileana to his birthplace, a lowly slum. He tells Ileana that she should be more humble with her privilege and not take it for granted. He says that she must never overstep the system and bow her head when she does to survive.

3 days before the present day, we see Mircea’s men breaking into the warehouse. Ioan phones him about his findings. Mircea goes to Nicolae with his findings. He shows the Shakarov photographs and tells them about another warehouse.

Elena isn’t ready to accept it, and she questions Mircea’s vested interest. Nicolae dismisses him and mulls his next move.

Two days before the present day, Felix, Victor’s loyal right-hand man, informs him that Mircea has found the warehouse. He gives Elena the photos that have Mircea and the redhead together. She gives back the set of pearls Victor gifted her. Victor recognizes the urgency for him to defect and makes the necessary preparations.

The Episode Review

Episode 2 confirms that Spy/Master is yet another tactile show breathing life into yet another espionage chapter from the 70s. Through subtle world-building, the creators beautifully craft both the events leading up to the defection and how Victor Godeanu made it happen. With only six episodes in the limited series, such decisions were pressing.

But they are seamlessly portrayed as narrative nuance. The taut storytelling moves at a breathtaking pace in episode 2. Carmen Popescu’s addition to the present-day timeline intensified Victor’s efforts. He is already short of time but his urgency increases manifold with the Romanians and Sovets after him.

Frank Jackson scampers for support from his superiors understanding the gravity of Victor’s defection. Credit must be given to the creators for not abandoning the central characters and making them more than just pawns in the larger story.

Episode 2 had so much plot that it could have easily spread out into two or three episodes. But it checks all the boxes in just one hour of brilliant television.

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