Spy Master – Season 1 Episode 4 “The Truth Test” Recap and Review

The Truth Test

Episode 4 of Spy Master begins with Godeanu being officially taken to an American safe house. His defection is then confirmed in mass media. Frank is certain that President Carter will green light his extraction. But Scott, his friend from Camp David, informs Frank that Carter is livid at having to deal with this “unauthorized defection” when he is fighting a “war for peace” in the Middle East. Interestingly, this “war for peace” is the central point of focus in Ghosts of Beirut, a Showtime offering we are covering. All episodes release simultaneously with Spy/Master on the same day.

Anyway, back to the recap. Popescu breaks into John Miller’s house, Frank’s understudy at the Embassy. She plants bugs but Miller unexpectedly shows up at his house. She holds a gun in his direction as if he were to walk in and spot her. But Miller gets busy playing with his pet cat and Popescu escapes. Mircea, the head of Romanian Counterintelligence, updates Nicolae on updates about Victor. The dictator is livid and instructs Mircea to use all means possible to get him back to Romania. Elena insists they need to hurt anyone associated with Victor, including his family.

Ileana and Adela are shocked when they separately hear the news. The latter is brought in by Elena to the President’s house. Simpson, Frank’s boss at the embassy, is still not taking Victor seriously. Frank records their conversations and Victor, on tape, tells him about how he set up many espionage operations in the West and Middle East to “steal military and technology secrets.” He also ran a secret government department to steal invention patents from the West. And then Victor lays the centrepiece of his revelations for Frank. His country and the KGB used misinformation to influence American minds.

They tricked President Carter and those before him that Nicolae is an ally. In reality, he is a “cruel dictator and murderer.” Adela confesses she knew nothing about Victor’s scheming, even though Elana doesn’t believe her. But she is slightly convinced when Adela pledges her loyalty to the Party and wishes death upon Victor if he did indeed defect. Ileana is still in disbelief. She isn’t ready to accept her father could betray his country.

In the backdrop of the Egyptian-Israeli peace talks at Camp David, Omar, and Jabare are up to something mischievous. Safiya, Ingrid’s house help, is vigilant and suspicious of their movements.

Victor is growing impatient about his extraction and has also demanded Frank that the Americans extract Ileana from Bucharest. Sorin, who was partnered up with Victor in Bonn, is called back to Romania. Mircea informs Popescu that he will be in Bonn the next day. They must “eliminate” Victor at all costs.

Sorin, who feels guilty for not “seeing the signs” and anticipating the worst, kills himself. Safiya grows more suspicious about Jabare when Omar tells her that they will have to move to the Netherlands and she spots a gun in the former’s bag. She is shocked to find guns in the shipment of boxes of orange in the warehouse where Omar and Jabare kept them last night.

While shooting hoops, Victor opens up about his defection. He said that the day Nicolae asked him to kill Banea (in episode 1), Victor was done with communism. Klaus has a meeting with other high-ranking officials at the Ministry of Interior in Bonn. They remain undecided about cooperating with the Romanians. When Ingrid walks in and her request to sit in is rejected, Klaus mentions she should be monitored since he saw her panic when she was interrogated about Victor. One of the men from the meeting is friends with Simpson.

He leverages his position and gets a chance to talk to Victor about Ingrid. Victor dissuades him from the notion that she was involved in Victor’s secret missions. Now, the CIA is also after Ingrid. Popescu stops Frank on the highway and requests to talk about Victor. It seems like a move to plant doubt in their minds to drop Victor from their protection. Mircea is also at the meeting. Frank confesses he sees through their efforts to discredit Victor so that anything he says, is worthless. As he is leaving, Mircea tells Frank about the “candy boy” story.

Victor’s father never worked at a factory; his mother did. It is implied Victor manipulated Frank for his vested interests. Safiya beseeches Jabare to distance Omar from whatever he is up to. They have an argument where she alludes to his expectation for something in return whenever he does something for someone else. He slaps her in spite. She is in distress and goes to Ingrid’s house. When she opens up about Jabare’s plot, Ingrid suspects someone sent her to spy on Ingrid. It turns out that Mircea and Popescu’s plan worked. Frank might just be reconsidering his decisions now.

Frank brings cheap whiskey for Victor, showing his displeasure. Then, he asks him on tape if Victor loves his daughter and why he left her behind. He alludes to what Popescu told him; Victor had the chance in Paris a few months back to defect with Ileana. “Why now,” Frank asks. He shows him the photographs Popescu gave Frank and confronts him for exploiting Frank’s trust. It is hypocritical of the American as he has lied to Victor about his safe haven in America.

But Victor doesn’t know that yet. Frank’s tone and demeanour suggest that he has lost trust in Victor, and if that is the case, the Romanian is left in a hard spot. Ileana is taken in the night by Nicolae’s secret police. Victor slips out from the guards and uses Frank’s phone to call Ingrid. He once again tries to manipulate Ingrid when she tells him about “an impending attack” that Safiya mentioned. But she doesn’t take his bait. She only tells him Omar’s name and Victor tells her that the BND, Bundesnachrichtendienst, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, knows she is a Stasi agent and she must run to protect herself.

The Episode Review

The dizzying narrative of Spy/Master gets even more complex with developments in episode 4. The larger web of lies, deceit, and manipulation now being spun sees participation from all sides. There is literally no moral high ground left for anyone in the show’s cinematic universe. Everyone has their vested interest to protect the other, while at the same time trying to make a compromise to ensure they get what they want.

The steady storytelling has held on to a familiar, likeable serious-minded rhythm until now. We know exactly what to expect in terms of how things will unravel. Episode 4 was more traditionally grounded in the show’s spyverse and has opened to door to many possibilities. It has brought urgency to the fore and elevated Spy/Master to a tipping point. This is another brilliant espionage thriller that you mustn’t miss!

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