From showrunner Matt Charman comes Treason, a high-stakes spy thriller series about MI6 and the lengths people go to protect the country. Read our review of the Netflix limited series.
Britain seems to have a really special relationship with the spy genre. We are, after all, the home of James Bond and I have particularly fond memories of watching Spooks back in the day. Many of us regularly walk past the massive MI6 building on Southbank, making it a strangely casual inclusion to our lives.
Treason, created by Bridge of Spies writer Matt Charman, focuses on Adam Lawrence (Charlie Cox), who is your ordinary family man who just happens to be the deputy head of MI6. He’s visiting his son’s class when he gets the call that he is now the head of MI6 after Martin Angelis (Ciarán Hinds) is in critical condition after being poisoned.
Adam goes after whoever poisoned Angelis but an old flame (Olga Kurylenko) shows up, asking for awkward favourites. Turns out, Adam isn’t quite as squeaky clean and patriotic as we might have thought.
The first episode is almost an endless thrill ride. Because the spy genre has been done to death in books, TV and cinema, it’s hard to find a form that would revitalise it, but that’s exactly what Charman has managed to do.
Treason focuses just as much on Adam’s home life as it does on his job, because they’re linked. None of us exist just as staff writers, CEOs or head chefs; our professional lives will always have an effect on our private lives and seeing that unfold through the eyes of a spy is very entertaining.
Part of what makes Treason such a hit is the casting. Charlie Cox, perhaps best known as Marvel’s Daredevil, is pitch perfect as Adam. He has an inherent goodness and likability to him, you automatically want to root for him and feel almost hurt when his past comes knocking.
Similarly, Olga Kurylenko has played both the femme fatale and the badass assassin before, but Treason offers her a lot more to work with. Kara is a multifaceted character with a hefty sense of morality and pride and diving into her motives is compelling. Ciarán Hinds and Oona Chaplin, who plays Adam’s wife Maddy, provide excellent support on the sidelines. Chaplin especially has a juicy character to delve into.
At just five episodes, Treason makes for a short but sweet watch. It never outstays its welcome; if anything, it’s a little on the short side and some elements of the plot could have been expanded and given some room to breathe. While this is a limited series and the ending doesn’t specifically leave it open for more, there’s a sense that there are a lot more stories to tell here.
Treason is one of the best shows of 2022, even if it arrives very late into the game. It makes the spy genre exciting again by finding a refreshing angle into the action. This very much feels like an audition to be James Bond from Cox’s part and you know what, we’re not annoyed about that one bit.
Treason streams on Netflix from Boxing Day.