‘Citadel’ Season 1, Episodes 1&2 Recap/Review
This is a spoiler review for Citadel episodes “The Human Enigma” and “Spies Appear In Night Time”. For our Citadel related coverage, click here.
Citadel starts out on a train in Italy. Citadel operative Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) is tracking a shipment of radioactive material and working with Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci) over an implant under her ear. Her partner, or former partner, Mason Kane (Richard Madden) joins her, refusing to back down and playing into the mission. What follows is a couple of intense action sequences, one one-on-one between Kane and a Manticore enemy, and the other, Kane and Sinh against a storm of Manticore enemies who have one goal. Take Citadel down.
But wait, what exactly is Citadel? It’s an independent, global spy organization with a goal of protecting the world from global chaos. It owes its allegiance to no country. As such, it has developed enemies, namely, Manticore. An organization that is led by some of the richest families in the world who, want to cause chaos. Manticore has decided Citadel has to go for good, and has implemented attacks against the agents and staff, worldwide. The leader on board the train sets a bomb off, which sends Kane and Sinh into the water. From here, we split off to follow Kane for the rest of the episode.
Kane is found with amnesia. All he has is the wedding ring he was wearing as part of his cover, his passport with the cover name, Kyle Conroy. From there, we jump eight years into the future. Kyle’s having dreams that have Sinh at the forefront on the train. It’s affecting his relationship with his wife Abby (Ashleigh Cummings) and daughter Hendrix (Caoilinn Springall). He works with a therapist, and together they decide to try 23 and me to see if he has any relatives. This causes a chain reaction the flags in Orlick’s system that shows Mason Kane is alive. He arrives at the Conroy’s home and kidnaps them.
At Orlick’s base of operations he verifies Kane’s identity, and shows Kyle who he was. We do find out later the implant in agents’ necks allows for a remote backstop, basically a clearing of memories. This is the root cause of Kane’s amnesia, and why his memories haven’t come back. The backstop happens two hours after the implant is no longer online. It prevents enemy agents from getting Citadel details.
There is a way to recover those memories, in the X-Case, which is what Manticore has found now. They were able to steal it and are trying to unlock it now. Orlick wants Kane’s help to retrieve it, and also prevent the secrets in it from getting taken advantage of. As a result, they end up heading to New York. Kane gets a new suit, and manages, with a little coaching from Orlick, to nab the X-Case.
Driving down the highway, being chased by the Silje brothers (Roland Møller), Orlick proves out Kyle being Kane by a chip in his arm that can open the X-Case. The X-Case holds a memory serum for some of the top agents that can be injected, and the memories recovered. Only Kane doesn’t get the chance. They’re shot at, and his injector was destroyed in the process. He has to leave Bernard behind, and is left on his own because he can’t go back to his family now. However, he manages to find another agent alive in Spain, Sinh!
Sinh is shown crawling out of the lake, and is able to talk to Orlick. He tells her there’s nothing he can do, the backstop will take effect in 2 hours. This does differ from the story that Orlick told Kane, that Sinh had gotten in contact with him afterwards, but disappeared. She deals with a bullet wound, and ends up trapped in a man’s house after asking him to take her to the hospital. Sinh manages to overpower him, killing him in self defense, but not before her timer on the backstop runs out. She manages to write Valencia, and half a word on her arm, before her memories are wiped clean.
Kane flies off to Spain, and heads to the restaurant where Sinh works. At the same time, he’s being tracked by Manticore, who now wants his head even more because he was one of Citadel’s best agents. Kane and Sinh end up in an argument because she doesn’t believe him, until he shoves the X-case at her and it opens. When the Manticore find out Sinh is alive, things just ramp up. Sinh ends up able to use her injector, and is able to take out the Manticore agents.
The basic story for Citadel is something highly intriguing. A concept that made me want to check it out from the start, but it’s also got a great cast involved. Madden steps back into TV, and Chopra Jonas coming in for a show for the first time since Quantico made me wonder what they saw in the show, especially considering how some Russo brothers projects have panned over the past couple of years. And both work really well together in this show. They have great chemistry, and it’s something that helps the show a ton.
However, Madden just should have been able to use his regular accent. He sounds awkward trying to pull off the American accent, and with this show being globally focused, it should not have been a big deal for him to use his Scottish accent. Other than that, Tucci’s used very well, the role plays well to his strengths as an actor. I don’t have a great sense for the other actors and their characters yet, which could be a good, or bad thing.
In terms of production staging, the sound design is absolutely horrendous in “The Human Enigma”, particularly the opening scene. It’s so hard to hear Madden and Chopra Jonas over the environmental noise, and I don’t understand why that wasn’t addressed. Transitioning between times and places, particularly times is a little wonky, but I can appreciate the need to separate the scenes.
Another part of the production is in the utilization of the camera. In some scenes, we start upside down, and then the camera rotates slowly around, sometimes till we’re rightside up, but other times can continue rotating. Way too much time is spent on this. It’s frustrating, and also can cause a lot of vertigo. This rotation can sometimes help showcase the scene artistically, but more than often, because of the rotation, and/or the time spent, it’s just a waste.
With the first season only having six episodes, it is tough to say if the Russos and showrunner David Weil will be able to tell the full story, especially considering a mole in Citadel came up. There are just a lot of questions. Can Kyle fully become Mason Kane again with no injector left with his memories in them? Who betrayed Citadel to Manticore? But I am invested a little more than I typically would be at this point because of Madden and Chopra Jonas.
Nevertheless, story is still intriguing, as well as the spectacle. Other spinoffs across the globe in the Citadel franchise have already been spun up to branch out the world. But for a $300 million production on one season alone, I would hope the rest of the season raises the standard set by the first two episodes. – Katie Rentschler
“The Human Enigma” Rating: 6.5
“Spies Appear In Night Time” Rating: 7.5
Citadel premieres new episodes every Friday on Amazon Prime.