Hello Treadstone lovers!
“The Bentley Lament” was written by Tim Kring and Patrick Aison, and directed by Brad Anderson, questions the ‘True Purpose’ of the Cicada in USA Network‘s fabulous new science fiction thriller action series Treadstone.
In this episode of the Jason Bourne saga/black ops thriller Treadstone, we follow Doug McKenna (played by Brian J Smith) through his first successful mission as a Cicada assassin, and we experience with him his reactions in the aftermath.
We also follow Soyun of North Korea (played by Hyo-Joo Han), who takes a perilous path across the Yalu River into China with a packet of top secret information in her hand, all without knowing precisely where she is going or who she is meeting.
Journalist Tara Coleman (played by Tracy Ifeachor) visits a friend in Ghana who she thinks can help her find and acquire the ICBM missile Stiletto Six.
Finally, John Randolph Bentley (played by Jeremy Irvine) is told that he at one time declared, apparently with gusto, that he found his life as a violent operative of the KGB to be his true purpose.
Bentley receives this revelation in disbelief, with horror, and with no memory of having said it.
Which makes one wonder, what’s the point of having a “true purpose” if you don’t like it?
The Bentley Lament:
Am I OK? Are You OK? Are We OK?
The episode begins with us returning to where we left off with Doug as he prepares to fulfill his obligation of the Kentucky Contract. He takes out his target, a woman running an illegal prescription drug operation out of a Kentucky warehouse, with deft precision.
Later in the episode, the job completed and Doug back home, he sits on the porch of his house and recounts the experience to his wife.
Doug laments that felt like he was someone else. “You people turned me into a monster,” he says. His self-loathing is laid bare. Samantha (play by Tess Haubrich) attempts to console him, and in the process we receive another snippet of information about Doug and who he really is: he is from Boston. Does this tidbit of information become important for future episodes? We wait to find out. Meanwhile, we are clear that Doug despises his “true purpose” as a Cicada.
Now we know the job Mike had landed for himself, the job Mike had offered Doug to get in on the action two episodes ago. In this mission, Doug decides to leave Mike alive. Leaving Mike alive suggests that Doug might be more in control of his choices while he is in Cicada mode than we yet recognize. We will wait to see. Regardless, I am sure we will be hearing more from Mike soon.
When True Purposes Conflict with Each Other
SoYun has a perilous trip across a swift-moving river, then in the back of a smuggler’s truck, and then on foot, wandering alone in the hilly wilds somewhere in Eastern China.
SoYun, after an arduous journey, finally happens upon the contact that she was sent to meet.
The contact, however, is the Treadstone assassin Nira Patel (played by Shruti Haasan), who is there to take the Stiletto Six ICBM information packet. Unfortunately, Nira Patel has also been sent to kill SoYun.
In the same manner as we have witnessed with Doug, SoYun, and the other sleeper Cicadas, Patel receives her kill order in the form of a black and white picture of her target inside the Stiletto Six information packet.
Soyun is seen with a bold red circle around her face, a bold red triangle underneath the circle, and the GPS coordinates of her location at the bottom of the picture.
Another thing that is interesting about Patel: We first met her in Episode three: The Berlin Proposal. There we meet her as she works waiting tables at a restaurant somewhere in Northern India, biding her time until orders come through via her mobile phone to take out a target.
The target that time happened to be a young man living off of his trust fund, blithely traveling exotic places on a quest to find himself, suddenly finding himself dead once Patel and her purse-sized poison spray caught up with him. One squirt and he was gone.
Is Patel a Cicada? It seems obvious she is a product of Treadstone, yet she is not presented to us as a sleeper. Like Petra in Russia, Patel has all the Treadstone programming that makes her an effective human weapon of destruction, but she seems to lack the programming that would put her mind under the sleeper Cicada spell. She is conscious of what she is doing, and moreover, she has no remorse about it.
Patel Seems to Embrace Her “True Purpose”
The same cannot be said for the sleeper Cicadas. They all seem to be entirely confused about who they are and regret what they are doing.
When it comes to combat, Patel also proves to be more than a match for SoYun. They duke it out in mixed martial arts style, but when the two wrestle over the gun, it is SoYun that gets shot. Patel walks away with the packet of information SoYun delivered.
We are left watching a wounded SoYun collapsing to the ground, despairing that the information she delivered turned out to be the top secret Stiletto Six data that her husband had in his possession. We wonder when her husband will perceive these papers were purloined? It certainly appears that SoYun was set up to be framed for it.
It’s Only a Flesh Wound
Sebastian is a gun runner and has knowledge of Stiletto Six and Yuri Leniov (played by Julian Kostov), the guy who is selling the missile on the black market.
Tara is hoping Sebastian can help her find the Stiletto Six ICBM so she can buy it in order to prove she has been correct about it all along.
It is unfortunate that Sebastian is in prison and is not really inclined to help her right away, being a bit offended that she looks him up only whenever he serves some utilitarian purpose for her. Journalism is Tara’s “true purpose,” which foils his romantic notions.
Putting his hurt feelings aside, however, Sebastian is also compromised in his capacity to help in another way since he is in prison.
Tara seems to be the kind of girl willing to do a favor for a favor, so she greases the wheels to have Sebastian shanked. He can be let out of prison for a trip to the hospital, after all.
Once out, Tara is ready to divert his ambulance to a helicopter out of Ghana, and she assures Sebastian on the way that she had ordered the attack on him to be superficial — he will be just fine. He seems happy with the explanation, and off they go to hunt for Stiletto Six, and Yuri.
In case you are wondering, The Stiletto Six ICBM program was a real Russian missile defense program back in the day. There were three variants of this missile, one deployed in 1975, that was designed to “carry up to six MIRVs.” And also in case you are wondering, MIRV stands for Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle . Therefore, Stiletto Six is likely a missile with six payloads capable of hitting six separate targets at one time. That’s my guess, anyway. If you have a different thought about it I would love to know your theory in the comments below.
On a “Trip” of Self-Discovery
No one can know their “true purpose” without taking a trip of self-discovery, and this week John Randolph Bentley (played by Jeremy Irvine) is hard-pressed to find himself. In Episode three we were left with him learning that Budapest was his last known location (although he has complete amnesia of his time there).
If you have been waiting patiently to have a better understanding about who is John Randolph Bentley and what happened to him back in 1973, this episode does not disappoint.
John learns he worked for the KGB. He indeed tortured and killed people while under the KGB’s control. On his self-discovery tour he meets several people who know him only as the terrible, scary, violent person he was during the four months that he was there. He visits the apartment where he lived, and the hidden room where he worked over his victims, some of them Americans. The room is still bloody – there was no cleanup after the last session.
The video cameras and monitors and recording tapes are all still in place, and he is able to witness the recording of the last torture session of an American handcuffed to the chair – the recording equipment has just been left waiting there for him to discover it and review his past bloody handiwork.
Young, red-headed Petra is in the video, too, and John watches himself obeying her counsel and accepting her affection. With amnesia having such a total lock on his brain, what John observes in the video recordings is enough to cause him to have a mental breakdown. He is desperate to remember. This, of course, is The Bentley Lament.
This also brings us to the moment he decides to drop LSD. I am certainly suspicious that John ran into Katya (played by Maja Simonsen) who was so capable and surprisingly ready to offer John an acid trip to “free his mind.” I don’t think serendipity factors into covert ops very much, so I am sure some treachery is afoot with this happenstance encounter.
I suspect that Katya is really an operative sent to get a rogue John back under the control of the KGB, or the CIA, or somebody. At the same time, I find myself incredulous that John, who is trained to see when red flags shoot up at all suspicious activity, would be willing to trust a stranger to provide him with a hallucinogenic drug when his mind has already been bent so badly. At first blush, it does not come across as a credible scenario.
It might be, however, that we impugn John with our 21st Century notions about hallucinogenic substances. It is worthwhile to learn about the history of LSD and attitudes toward acid and its availability in the 60’s and 70’s.
In fact, the KGB and the CIA used LSD in attempts to create what we have come to call Manchurian Candidates. This is, of course, the foundation for the whole Jason Bourne story arc.
But in truth, the late 1960’s and early 1970’s were a time when innocence still governed attitudes about substance abuse, and certainly LSD as a catalyst to open up what was really going on inside one’s head was not only a plausible idea at the time, but an idea that was being championed by many people including Professor Timothy Leary.
But please allow me to posit another explanation: John was already under an influence of some kind before he even met Katya. That’s right: Katya was working John while he was already in a hypnotic state. John’s red flag reflexes never had a chance.
I had to go back and re-watch “The Bentley Lament” to note that John was drinking and had stumbled into Katya when they first met. Is it possible someone slipped him a mickey in that drink?
That’s what I think.
What do you think?
Thank you for visiting WormholeRiders News Agency. And thanks to Kenn for embedding the videos and the additional images for my report. I will be back in the near future for the Treadstone season one and the ongoing adventures of the awakening Cicada sleepers!
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