Ben’s Breakdown | “Citadel” Two Episode Thoughts
Agent Nadia Sinh is working a spy case on a train in Europe. She is, to her surprise, backed by Agent Mason Kane. Just as she is about to achieve the mission’s goal, she learns that the mission was a setup by an enemy agency. There is a bomb on the trail, and Agents Sinh and Kane barely escape with their lives. Their memories are erased, and they each start living much simpler lives in separate parts of the world. Kane, now living with a new name and identity, has a wife and daughter in the U.S., while Sinh manages a high-end restaurant in Spain. It all starts to change when their mission supervisor, Bernard Orlick, discovers Kane is still alive. These are all that is left of the spy agency known as Citadel.
I love a good spy thriller, and Prime Video’s Citadel seemed like a sure bet with its plot and main cast. Starting with Mason Kane, we have veteran genre actor Richard Madden as the suave agent turned disturbed and haunted family man. He’s haunted by visions of an explosion and a face that does not belong to his wife. Madden handles both aspects of his character rather skillfully, first as the highly trained spy (which not only includes excellent sharpshooting skills but also more than competent hand-to-hand fighting ability), then later as the husband and father who loves his family more than his own life but is forever haunted by the gaps in his memory.
Nadia Sinh is played by the always amazing Priyanka Chopra Jonas. She does a fantastic job presenting a somewhat exotic image while on a spy mission but is more than capable of getting down and dirty when fighting for survival. The first two episodes don’t dwell on her trying to recover her identity (as with Kane), but instead, we see how the agency can cover its tracks if something goes wrong and the agents have to go dark. With Kane, we only see the result and how it constantly nags at him. With Sinh, we see the process, which also shines more light on Citadel itself.
Lastly, there is the always enjoyable Stanley Tucci as their supervisor Orlick. He still has his memories (someone has to deal with what is left of the agency) and handles his missions and targets with icy-cold efficiency. Along the way, we get to hear the type of snarky attitude that only Tucci can deliver. I won’t say that Orlick is a likable character, but I could not help but enjoy Tucci’s performance.
The first two episodes are filled with “plotonium.” It’s understood in the movies that spy agencies provide their agents with the necessary means to fulfill their missions, including providing them with whatever money they may require to achieve their goals. However, Citadel presented us with an outlandish scenario that threw me out of my show-watching experience. The agency has fallen, and now Kane is on his own mission (he still doesn’t have his memory back) and makes a trip to Spain after learning that another agent is still alive. The financial assets that Citadel may have had are gone, and Kane isn’t swimming in money. And yet, he has no trouble making a quick flight from the U.S. to Europe. This may sound trivial, but how this was presented in the second episode became glaringly inconsistent with other spy shows and movies. Then, there is the nature of Citadel itself. We are told that there are other agencies that are into some pretty bad stuff, including destabilizing other governments for what they believe is the greater good.
When Orlick finds Kane, he tells him that Citadel’s purpose has been to primarily stop what those other spy agencies are doing. In Orlick’s words, “We are the good guys.” However, a scene earlier in the first episode shows Orlick behaving in a rather cold-blooded manner. While it wasn’t disturbing graphically, it was dramatically. It was a story point that stayed with me up to when Orlick explained Citadel’s role. He doesn’t even try to qualify it by saying something like, “We try to be the good guys.” He basically says that they ARE, yet they have no problem whatsoever doing some pretty dark stuff, all in the name of their goodness. Apparently, the ends justify the means, which made me wonder if there is a story twist later on explaining that Citadel might not be the agency that Orlick presents it to be. But on the other hand, we also get a glimpse of some other agencies at work, and the first two episodes clearly illustrate how bad they are. The result is that we get poorly mixed messages, which left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth until the end of the second episode.
So, did I like it? Normally, we here at TG2 Studios want to give a series three episodes before deciding if it is worth pursuing. However, Prime Video only made the first two episodes available for a theater screening, leaving us in a somewhat difficult position. These two episodes are insufficient to determine if we want to continue following it. Because of that, we will have to watch the third episode when it becomes available on Prime Video before we can say “yay or nay.” I can say that these first two episodes were a mixed bag of good and bad. The cast is outstanding, including Lesley Manville as Dahlia Archer, who appears to be all upper-crust and cultured but is anything of the sort. Our three leads are exceptional and enjoyable to watch, but the plot and story suffer from poor development and bad follow-through. Only time will tell if the third episode is strong enough to redeem what we’ve seen and encourage us to watch the remainder of Citadel.
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