“The Berlin Proposal” (Episode 103)
October 29, 2019
Welcome to Operation Treadstone. We are playing catch upon Treadstone episode recaps because, originally, we weren’t going to do weekly recaps. So, we’re starting here with Episode 3 and then we’ll back-fill the first two episodes as we move forward with the rest of the season.
To catch you up really quickly and without enough detail, back in 1973, the Russians created a program whereby human minds were manipulated to become deadly killing machines. But, until activated, these humans were unaware of their programming or their deadly skills. This was the Cicada Protocol. Now, in the present, a new generation of these sleeping Cicadas are being activated around the world to kill … and no one seems sure why.
Now, on to tonight’s all new episode of Treadstone … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
KGB Facility, East Berlin. Bentley, newly escaped from the CIA’s Berlin station, returns to the building where he was held and programmed. He’s looking for evidence to clear his name that he turned coat. He has some flashes of the dead bodies in the make shift morgue/lab as well as his fight with Petra but, in the present, the place has been cleaned out of all evidence. A cleaning lady tells him that they moved out yesterday.
Among the rubble, he finds Petra’s watch (he remembers it from the interrogation scene that opened the series). It must have fallen off in their fight. He pockets it and leaves.
West Berlin. Bentley calls in to his buddy, Frank Ferguson. He explains about the KGB facility being cleared out and asks Frank for his help. Ferguson admits that Kohler has been raking him over the coals, trying to get info on Bentley’s whereabouts. He tells Bentley that he hasn’t said anything.
The two friends meet at a hotel. Ferguson says Kohler has issued a shoot on sight directive for Bentley. He adds that 3 undercover assets disappeared in Budapest 5 months ago. Bentley denies having anything to do with that but Kohler disagrees. The bodies of the three dead undercover officers washed up in the street the day that Bentley walked back in to the CIA’s station. Ferguson presses his friend on the dead men.
“You recognize them, don’t you John?”
Bentley finally breaks down that he does know who they are but not from Budapest. These are the three men we saw John kill in the first episode. Petra’s final test. Bentley tells Ferguson that he thought it was a dream. He reiterates that he’s not a traitor and breaks down crying. Ferguson apologies and opens the door. Kohler comes rushing in, gun raised.
Ferguson ratted out his friend! Motherfucker!
“You should have kept running.”
There are the last words that Ferguson says because Kohler turns and shoots him dead. He wipes the gun clean and tosses it down next to the body. Kohler chastises the dead man for turning in his own friend, his own partner. By the by, Kohler is fully on board with Bentley’s story (Kohler also confirms that they did find drugs in John’s system, as he claimed).
Kohler seems excited at the prospect of this new mental warfare that the Communists have introduced. He’s almost giddy at the audacity of turning operative against their own men.
“If we’re going to win, we can’t be afraid to match our enemies level of brutality.”
Dr. Meisner is dead but Petra is still out there. Kohler gives Bentley his new orders. Find Petra and bring her in so Kohler can grill her on how they created this program (and presumably duplicate it for the USA). For his part, John nods at this but is still trying to process how this has all played out. He’s a bit in shock. Kohler proposes that, as a starting point to finding Petra, John head back to Budapest.
Paris, France. Tonight’s episode opens right where we left off last week, Tara and General Kwon’s daughter, Jang-Mi Kwon, having just been in a devastating car crash with some North Korean assassins. Don’t worry about Jang-Mi’s boyfriend who was also in the car, he was shot in the head last week and won’t be joining us tonight on the account of being dead.
Tara collects a dazed Jang-Mi and they begin a mad dash through Paris to get to the Ecuadorian Embassy before the North Korean assassins can finish the job. Over the streets, on the train, past the Eiffel Tower they go. They safely make it into the embassy’s gates.
Moscow. Old Petra returns to her flat in Moscow. She moves through the house and examines a watch she hid in a nesting doll. The watch appears to be the same one that Bentley found in the rubble in 1973 but it’s too dark to be 100% certain. I like the symmetry of that and the promise it holds for a future encounter so lets go with that thought for now. This place looks like it hasn’t been used in a while. The lights aren’t working and a helpful neighbor explains a fuse must have blown.
Petra invites the friendly neighbor for some tea. The friendly neighbor examines the photos on the wall and asks some really pointed, nosy questions about Petra’s martial status and work history. Smelling a rat, Petra smashes the not so friendly neighbor upside the head and the fight is on! Seems Petra’s instincts are right because girlfriend knows how to dance. These two ladies go at it hard, smashing and bashing each other and whipping kitchen knives, towels and plastic bags around with deadly precision.
Petra wins the battle, stabbing the not so friendly neighbor several times while they’re on the floor while locked in a great struggle. On the mostly dead body, Petra pulls a gun from a thigh holster and pulls the slide.
“Max should have warned you to shoot me on sight.”
She puts a bullet into the not so friendly neighbor just to ensure she’s fully dead. Bad.Ass!
Washington, D.C. Ellen is late to meet her husband, Tom Becker (David Michaels), for lunch. He’s jubilant about a big case he’s won but the mood is crushed pretty fast when Ellen tells him that she can’t leave her job just yet. Tom starts to remind her about their plans they made which involve leaving DC but she’s distracted by an incoming call. This marriage is not in a great place, you guys.
It’s Matt on the other end of the phone. He explains that he and Dr. Wells are in Salisbury, Maryland at the home of Stephen Haynes, the deli shooter from last week. Ellen asks if its Treadstone related but he won’t know until they break in and have a look around. Ellen warns him that she can’t have any blowback from this but Matt doesn’t have any other ideas seeing as Haynes is in police custody and therefore, inaccessible for a convo. Ellen runs down the shooting victims and Matt zooms in on a stay at home mom, he wants Ellen to track down more info on her. Also, it seems Haynes’ landlord was found dead in Haynes’ apartment, a bullet to the head.
Salisbury, Maryland. Matt and Dr. Wells have their looksie inside Hayne’s place. There is a world map hanging with lots of red markings all over it. There is also a room, covered in padlocks. The walls are scratched to hell, like as if some wild animal was caged inside. Dr. Wells surmises that Haynes kept himself in here. He explains to Matt that the Cicada Protocol wasn’t a perfect science, humans are not machines and they change and grow and sometimes, go insane.
Excellent, this will surely end well for everyone. *eye roll*
Police Station. Ellen pulled her magical strings and Matt and Dr. Wells are getting their sit down interrogation with Stephen Haynes (Patrick Fugit). He asks Dr. Wells for help, he gets terrible headaches, but Matt isn’t feeling very sympathetic. He pushes Haynes hard on why he killed the people in the store. Haynes claims to not know why he did it, complete with shoulder shrugs.
Dr. Wells gets the ball rolling by asking if Stephen felt compelled to kill those people. A slight head nod. Matt asks about Treadstone and Haynes explains that they installed his mind. They gave him the target package, “address, time, photograph.” Haynes says Control sent him the target package but he doesn’t know who that is or why they sent it. Matt pushes him hard as Haynes’ anger is ramping up. He explodes.
“WE DON’T ASK WHY!”
Dr. Wells is able to get through to a heavy breathing Haynes. He asks for Stephen to trust him, to let him in. Haynes says he doesn’t want to go back … I imagine he means to his memories but I don’t think he really has a lot of options here.
Hypnosis Session. Dr. Wells puts Stephen under the power of suggestion and Haynes immediately starts to remember his agreement to be part of “the Program.” He’s acting out two sides of the conversation in his head. He was trained to be Stephen Lee Haynes. He says a woman gave him his orders. He can’t remember who it was or who woke him up. Matt is screaming for answers as Haynes begins to have a seizure. He’s hauled away by the police officers as we hear him screaming.
Interesting that his programming seems to include a specific block on revealing his handler’s identity.
Ashland, Kentucky. Mike calls Doug with a (possibly illegal) job offer but Doug isn’t interested. As he’s talking, we see he’s on a job search website. Samantha comes home from the hospital after a long shift and they talk about the right calling turning down Mike’s job offer. Samantha offers that Doug shouldn’t put too much pressure on himself right after being laid off. They agree to go dancing and drinking. I like these two, they’re cute together.
Doug suggests they go to “Cloonie’s in Huntington.” Samantha leaves the room to get dressed for a night out and Doug looks at his target photograph.
Cloonie’s Bar. Huntington, West Virginia. In case you’re wondering, Google Maps says it’s only a 24 minute drive from Ashland, Kentucky to Huntington, West Virginia if you take the Ohio River Scenic Byway.
The McKennas are shooting some pool and having drinks and just enjoying each other. A mysterious man, we’ll learn his name is Lowell (Dylan Smith), sits down at the bar and is eyeing Doug. When Samantha heads to the ladies room, Doug takes out his target photo and is eyeing all the women in the room, trying to make out a face. He heads to the bar for a refill on drinks and quarters for the jukebox. The bartender doesn’t recognize the face on the photo. Doug’s heart really isn’t into this at all.
He heads back and Lowell gets off his stool as if he’s going to make contact with Doug. But, Samantha comes back and Lowell leaves the bar instead.
Pyongyang, North Korea. SoYun Pak is awakened by a cell phone ringing. Out in the kitchen, Dae is finishing a call. He turns to his wife and says they’re headed to a VIP-filled party that night, she has to wear her best dress. SoYun notes a leather found case file on the table, it has “Stiletto Six” written on it. The rest of the cover is in Russian but is dated 1966. Dae explains that the paperwork is related to his new secret project, secret even from his wife.
New Delhi, India. Meet Nira Patel. She’s a waitress and also a newly activated Cicada. She gets text sending her to Ghyuto Monastery, Dharamsala at 11:00 (AM presumably). Google tells me this is a real place but does not seem to have the “h” in Gyuto while Dharamsala is sometimes spelled with an extra “h.” Nira is also sent a photo of her target, the same headshot with a red circle around it that we’ve seen a couple of times now.
Gyuto Tantric Monastery Temple. Dharamsala, India. Cut to Buddhist monks doing their Buddhist monk thing. We see the target from the photo and Nira sitting one row behind him.
Following the services, Buddhist monks, the Target, and Nira all wandering through Dharamsala. Little shanty stores selling souvenirs and fruits and vegetables line the row. The Target and Nira trade looks and she smiles. She’s very unconcerned about him though he’s definitely taken notice of her. (Nira is very pretty and one of the only women in this whole area). After pulling ahead of him, she casually drops her scarf and turns into a darkened alley. The Target finds the scarf and chases after her to return it.
Nira repays this kindness by spraying him twice in the eyes with some fine mist (making sure to cover her face with her scarf). She walks away, rejoining the sea of shoppers. The Target wipes at his eyes and sits down. Something tells me, he won’t be getting back up.
Langley, Virginia. We come back from break and see that the Target’s death is being reported on the news. He was Johan Lang, an heir to a pharmaceutical fortune and the death happened under “mysterious circumstances.”
Ellen asks what happened and Dan Levine fills in some backstory. Last week, Johan Lang, age 25, inherited the second largest pharmaceutical company in Germany. After being sprayed with the mist in the Himalayas, he was dead 15 minutes later.
Ellen moves on to Treadstone business. She explains the stay at home mom from the Haynes shooting was formerly an employee of Expo Oil in their Arctic operations (where Doug worked). Last week, she reached out to major newspapers promising information of major violations at the company but Haynes killed her before she could reveal anything.
What’s the connection to Treadstone?
Expo Oil has a Senator Wray on the take, the same Senator as sat on the Intelligence Committee for the Blackbriar hearings. Dan summarizes that Wray may know about Treadstone and may have an agenda. Ellen shrugs noncommittally saying that it warrants a closer look.
Moscow. Max the Russian is in his opulent bathroom when Old Petra pops in to hold a razor to his throat and ask him some questions. She wants to know why Yuri (who we’ve only seen in the past so far) wants her dead? She guarded that missile for 24 years and this is how she’s repaid. Max explains that the old Russia Petra knew is dead and Petra no longer served a purpose.
Max claims to not know what Yuri plans are for Stiletto Six missile. Last, he tells Petra that at the time of year, Yuri is most likely working on his tan. She slices open Max’s wrist and leaves him bleeding in his very fancy bathroom. Again, Bad.Ass!
Ecuadorian Embassy. Paris, France. Ambassador Hector is speaking with Tara while Jang-Mi is being patched up. A nurse says that Jang-Mi wants to speak with Tara. In the living room, Jang-Mi admits to having some trouble processing the days events. When she woke up, there were two people that loved her in the world and now, they’re both dead. Tara commiserates having lost her parents and her sister in a car crash on a simple trip home from the supermarket. She was ten years old.
Jang-Mi asks how Tara got to be so strong? For real, girlfriend should have a TedTalk on this topic because she’s seen some shit.
“Strength is just the ability to care more deeply than anyone else around.”
Outside, in the Embassy gardens, Ambassador Hector fills Tara in on the missing info regarding Stiletto Six. A group of North Koreans, acting without government sanction, have been raising money to purchase the launch codes to Stiletto Six. General Kwon, after finding out about this, hacked their crypto-currency account (which has over 500 million crypto currency units in it) and killed the sale. And that’s what got him killed.
Ambassador Hector hands over to Tara a flash drive with the encryption key to access the bitcoin account. He tells her to purchase the launch codes herself so that the missile is neutralized.
Salisbury, Maryland. Matt gets a call from Tara. She thanks him for the heads up that a kill team was coming after her. She tells Edwards that Kwon’s daughter is safe. She also spills the beans that Kwon told her Stiletto Six is real. Tara tells Matt that she’s made contact with a journalist friend in Ghana and that’s where she’s headed next. Tara says she needs to “set the story straight about Stiletto Six.” While looking at the encryption key, she finishes her thought that she thinks she has a way to do that now.
Matt says he can’t sanction this move but Tara makes it clear that she’s not asking his permission. So, why even call?
“Because, people have to know.”
Tara hangs up and Matt has no fucking idea what to do with that information. Exasperated is the word that comes to mind.
Sagi-Ri, North Korea. SoYun is bringing her son to Grandma for babysitting duties since she and Dae have the fancy party tonight. While Grandma and Grandson have a nice reunion, a North Korean soldier approaches SoYun and tells her that he knows she killed General Kwon (he’s got the syringe she dropped in the drain, the one with her fingerprints on it) and as such, she’s going to do what he says.
The soldier says that he wants Colonel Shin (Dae’s boss) exposed as a traitor. At the party tonight, SoYun is to swap the SIM card in Shin’s phone with one that the solider hands her. She’s to return Shin’s SIM card to the solider by Midnight. The penalty for failure (or for even being late) is that her son and grandma will be taken away to a labor camp, never to be seen again.
New Delhi, India. Nira is walking through the crowded streets of New Delhi. She notices some military types wandering towards her vaguely and so she ducks into a restaurant. The military guys also come in but they don’t seem to be actively looking for her, but rather, just looking. Out of precaution, she puts her purse, containing a handgun, in her lap. She takes a call from a man’s voice asking if her comms are secured. “Negative,” Nira replies and the man says she’ll get a text.
The Text: China Southern Airlines, Flight 220, Delhi to Beijing, 18:05.
Pyongyang, North Korea. SoYun and Dae arrive at the fancy party. SoYun makes a point to tell him that she told Grandma she’d pick up Jin Woo by Midnight. Plant those seeds.
Dae, who is a Captain as it turns out and is dressed in a military uniform, is stopped by Major Gyun. Dae introduces SoYun and says that the Major is his new boss. SoYun turns to the Major’s wife and reminds her that she taught their daughter’s piano lesson this past week. The wife is all whatevs about it; clearly SoYun is not someone worth remembering if you’re a Major’s wife.
Next, the couple runs into Colonel Shin (who we’ve met before) and his wife. SoYun’s eyes go wide when she spots him place his phone on a table. A toast is made in the room to a successful missile test and the moment is gone.
Fast forward and it’s now 11:40pm. SoYun seizes her moment and is in the middle of swapping the SIM cards when she drops Shin’s on the floor just as Gyun comes over to command her to play Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique. She tries to beg off, citing her few drinks consumed but these guys don’t really take no for an answer.
She completes the swap of the SIM card but Shin’s is still on the floor. Dae comes to the table and she reminds him that they need to leave to pick up Jin Woo. Dae is all, go play, you’ll look amazing up there. Out of options, SoYun takes a slow walk to the piano.
SoYun begins to play as scenes of her killing General Kwon and the solider approaching her earlier in the day flash before her eyes. She’s watching the clock as time ticks on. She plays about 10 minutes of the piece before getting up and running out of the room. All of the North Koreans, including Dae, look fairly stunned. It’s about 7 minutes to Midnight.
Ashland, Kentucky. Doug and Samantha stumble in their door, all drunk and kissy face. She heads upstairs to take a shower as Doug heads to the kitchen to get them some hydrating water. When he turns back, Lowell is standing in their living room. Doug would kindly like to know who this man is standing in his room, looking menacing. Lowell explains that Doug “botched the job in the Arctic” and see he has to go in for reprogramming right now or maybe, they’ll just head right to “clean up protocol.”
That sounds very … final.
Doug wants to know how this man knows about the Arctic and in response, is reminded to his mistakes such as leaving the heroin in the snow. Lowell tells Doug that he’s broken, but that they can fix him. Doug isn’t so down for that.
“Clean up protocol it is, then.”
Fight! Fight! Fight! The two big men go at it, busting each other up all over Doug’s living room. A very durable chessboard becomes a central weapon in the fight and I absolutely love that. If chess was more like this fight, more people would play.
Lowell eventually subdues Doug on the floor. He was clearly fighting to apprehend Doug (versus kill). Once he’s got him pinned, he says aloud that it seems like Doug really can’t remember anything. Click Click.
The two men look up and Samantha is standing in the doorway, gun raised and cocked. Lowell tells Doug that perhaps he should have just asked his wife … “Right Samanth …” BLAM. Samantha fires a bullet into Lowell.
RIP Lowell, we hardly knew ye.
Doug looks really, REALLY confused as we roll to credits.
What.A.Fucking.Twist! I did not see Samantha being a mole … at all. But clearly, from that last scene, she knows a LOT of what’s going on in Doug’s life. Is she also a Cicada? Is she a level above, like a handler? Is she just a hot babysitter wife? I NEED ANSWERS!!!
Poor SoYun. I find her the most sympathetic of the Cicadas because she really just wants to be a good wife and mother and seems genuinely shocked at this clusterfuck of a life situation she’s now in. Watching her playing that Beethoven piece, she looked so distressed. Considering none of her lines are in English, it’s a real testament to Hyo-Joo Han’s acting skills, how well she portrays the turmoil going on inside SoYun. And, on that topic, big kudos to Treadstone for being committed to using Korean with subtitles. It’s a very authentic aspect of the show that allows the viewers to be pulled deeper inside this world. Any lesser show would have switched to English with only occasional Korean. I really applaud the commitment through three episodes.
Let’s talk about Bentley. I was shocked that Kohler killed Ferguson but not shocked at all that he wants to use John to track down Petra and recreate the Cicada project. I think we are seeing the path to the modern Operation Treadstone; it runs through Young Petra, through John Bentley, through Kohler and into the CIA. Who knows, maybe Kohler is even the modern day Control.
On Petra and John, I am going with the theory that Old Petra pulls out the same watch that we see John pocket in 1973. That means, or rather promises, that we’re going to have another meeting of these two and they will be close enough for her to still have the watch as a keepsake. A nice bit of Easter egg dropping and foreshadowing.
Last, tonight saw the introduction of a new Cicada, Nira Patel. She seems much more resigned to her assassin business than either Doug or SoYun, how long has she been activated – tonight didn’t seem like her first job. Nor her last. I wonder what, or who, is waiting for her in Beijing?
Last, last, what do we think of the glimpse inside the Cicada programming that we saw exhibited in the Haynes interrogation? It’s a clever feature to make your subjects seize rather than give up the name of Control. A natural fail safe to counter the fragility of the human mind when put under stress. I hope we get more dissection of Haynes, as our window into the Cicada Protocol and Operation Treadstone.
Lots to digest in this one as we move the story forward. I look forward to breaking it all down for you every week!
Treadstone airs on Tuesday nights at 10pm (ET/PT) on the USA Network.
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