Treason Season 1 Review – Spy drama lacks believability and is riddled with plotholes

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 2/5

 

Netflix’s new spy drama Treason raised hopes pre-release with its high calibre creative personnel. Charlie Cox, Ciaran Hinds, and Olga Kurylenko in front of the camera, and Matt Charman (“Bridge of Spies”) behind it seemed an enticing combination. A couple of episodes into the five-part series and all that optimism is blown out the water.

If you were looking forward to a taut, intelligent, clever spy caper, there’s none of that here. Instead, you get ‘Treason’ which is what this series should be charged with. A fan’s words but more or less accurate in their depiction.

The series is set entirely in London and happens over the course of five days. Cox plays Adam Lawrence, who is thrust into becoming the head of MI6 when the erstwhile head, Martin Angelis (Hinds), is poisoned. Adam renews old acquaintances with a former SVR spy Kara (Kurylenko), who has come to “collect” her dues.

Adam is caught in the crosshairs of an even bigger political conspiracy unfolding to destabilize the country’s political landscape and must protect his family against all odds. With not one but three intelligence agencies involved, the storytelling does not end up reflecting their explosive convergence.

A faulty base will shake even the strongest of buildings, howsoever stylish and well-made. That is what happens here. Charman, who also writes the series, gets the most fundamental aspect of the show wrong: plotting. Everything that happens after the script is written cannot take causal blame. The weak writing exposes the lack of emotional gravitas and depth in what Charman wants to explore through the story. Not just that but the lack of believability is even more egregious. Treason makes it too unrealistic for even the average viewer when it moves from point A to point B and so on.

That basic requirement is the very least you expect from such shows. Why else would you watch them? Even the recently released Jack Ryan, which is a troller favourite on the internet, boasts of an impressive spy story with a few WTF moments. With Treason, the number of those moments increases drastically.

This lack of quality writing comes completely unexpectedly and leaves you frustrated with the end result. Parallel to the whole plot, Charman goes for carving out a compelling family drama in espionage style, i.e., betrayals, confessions, and secrets.

The dynamic that the family shares largely dictates the emotional quotient in the story. There should be clear tension in the household and yet, for some reason, it does not properly manifest until episode 4. Even when it happens, Treason makes the effort very lightweight. As a viewer, you only feel for Adam, who gets zero emotional support from his wife or children; not even Callum, who was shown initially as a smart bloke with interest in this spy business.

It is really annoying to see some of the decisions the creative team make. Like fraternizing with the CIA to rat out your husband, or running away from school when you know the enemy’s eyes are on you. Is emotional duress enough reason for them to make silly mistakes like these? The only explanation that works is by debunking the mythical air of genius and superiority generally created around characters like Adam. For those decisions to make sense, Adam must be a cowardly, soft, incapable man unfit for his job and to protect his family.

The fact that he was able to make it all the way to the top only because of Kara gives credence to that notion. But Treason does not represent him in that light. It is nice to think of the show and the characters in that differentiated way. This choice might even qualify as a subversion of the genre in some ways. But the mismatch between the reality and what should have been derails any momentum from the show.

In the end Treason leaves you with an empty story full of plot-holes that give you an unenjoyable ride. Treason had all the makings of a supreme spy series on paper. But none of that promise is replicated in the lacklustre execution and shoddy storytelling, giving it a strictly ‘avoid’ rating from our side!


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  • Verdict - 5/10
    5/10
5/10

9 thoughts on “Treason Season 1 Review – Spy drama lacks believability and is riddled with plotholes”

  1. What kind of stupid wife compromises her husband who is the head of MI6 to an American CIA agent . Totally absurd and unbelievable

  2. [spoilers in these comments] Yeah, mostly a waste of time and a good cast. I had two big problems with it (and a bunch of little ones not worth mentioning.) The first is that, essentially, every British drama I’ve seen for the past few years begins with exactly the same premise: “there’s a conspiracy at the highest level of government (or the agency or this company.)” It’s just so tiresome now. There’s no suspense when we can anticipate this “twist” from the start. And second, whose story was this? We’re led to believe it was Adam’s. That’s not true. Kara was the true protagonist, who only used Adam to get her revenge. And by the end, we’re left feeling that her obsession actually got a number of innocent people killed including a major character we sympathized with. So I feel no sympathy for Kara and, frankly, neither should anyone else. The finale should have ended with Maddie slapping Kara and shouting, “Are you happy now? Was it worth it??” and walking away from her in disgust. Then there were all the missteps in characterizations and convoluted plotting. Very frustrating. So unless you’re some sort of Charlie Cox super-fan, I’d skip it.

  3. Poorly written and holds no credibility whatsoever. Little research has gone into just how the secret service agencies work More holes in than a string vest and I only watched the first episode which is enough No more. Absolute rubbish!

  4. 40 min into first episode and I’m screaming at the TV.
    Let’s summarize:
    Adam gets promoted to the head of MI6.
    Day after his promotion:
    1. His wife (ex soldier mind you) gets a device from CIA to listen to her husbands MI6 conversations because…he is acting strange (keep in mind, head of MI6 was poisoned and he was promoted day ago to cover for incapacitated MI6 director)
    2. His daughter slips away from security detail to walk home alone…because she is a teenager.

    WTF!!!!!!
    This is such lazy writing …it is offensive

  5. I found this series hard to understand. Fifty things were going on at the same time, and few were explained to the viewer. Is the viewer supposed to know the relationship between Adam and Kara. etc etc. I completed the series and wanted to read a review which would explain what I had just watched. Give it a minus 5 with 1 as poor and 10 is very good. Linda

  6. I found Adams second wife particularly annoying. So stupid. And going on & on about “her” children. So nosy. So suspicious.

  7. Ha I nearly finished ep 1 and came to find this comment! I agree 100% what a silly program.

  8. The 1st 40 minutes are stupid. Everyone’s a moron and the ex military wife suddenly doesn’t trust her husband even tho she knows his job is all about secrets. So she shares with her friend the vacationing” CIA??? Truly stupid writing

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