Ok, so Amazon Prime’s new show, Citadel, has just dropped its first two episodes, and throughout this video, we’re going to be breaking down the brand new show. Backed by the Russo Brothers The studio has put a lot into it, with the series apparently costing roughly $42 million per episode. This is going to be a groundbreaking global event, and though this is the main series, we know that it’s also going to get several local language spin-offs. These will take place in the Citadel universe, with each series taking famous actors from the country it’s set in and giving them their own spy story that ties into the main plot.
It sounds like a really interesting premise, and Amazon must be really confident to be launching such a massive global series like this.
WHAT ARE CITADEL EPISODES 1 AND 2 ABOUT?
Well, in it, we follow Citadel agents Mason Kane and Nadia Sinh as they’re pulled back into life due to a mission going awry that caused their memories to be erased and Citadel to be put on the backfoot. I think that the series definitely wears its influences on its sleeve, and there’s lots of nods to James Bond, Mission Impossible, The Bourne Movies, and well, every spy film out there.
Luckily, I just so happen to be an expert on them, and though not all of these might be intentional, I will be talking about where they potentially pull from and the original work that inspired them.
Now we start off with an upside-down shot on a train in the Italian Alps. This then rotates around and introduces us to Nadia. Symbolically, an upside-down shot like this is supposed to represent the underworld, which is very much the case with this spy agency operating under the surface of society.
Cold opens are, of course, a staple of spy movies as well, with this very much following that format before we cut to titles and then the rest of the story.
If you recognise the font of the locations used throughout the series, then that might be because it’s also the exact same one that we use in our thumbnails. A little bit of trivia for you, but this font is actually called Agency, which again adds to the idea that we’re following secret agents working for an agency.
I actually chuckled a bit when I noticed this, and it shows how much thought they put into every aspect of the show. Had I not used the font myself, I might not have noticed it, but it’s a great little detail that really adds to the series.
Anyway, this train is where we meet both Mason and Nadia.
Nadia is introduced wearing a bright red dress, which just so happens to be the same colour as what she was introduced to wearing in episode 2. She’s very much meant to embody the classic Femme Fatale, which, in case you don’t know, is basically French for lethal or deadly woman. The dictionary definition of it is a woman who tries to outwit others by using her beauty, charm, and sexual allure.
That’s very much the case with Nadia, and to me, she’s echoing several bonding girls that we’ve had throughout the years. Though Ursella Andres is credited as being the first one, it was actually Eunice Gayson who played Sylvia Trench in Doctor No. She showed up wearing a red dress, and this was later riffed on by Solange in Casino Royale. Vespa Lynd, too, wore a red dress, as did Lupe Lamora in Licence to Kill.
There might be a reach on that, but what I think isn’t a reach is the classic spy set piece that is a speeding train. This has become a staple of the genre, with us getting them in From Russia With Love, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, Golden Eye, Skyfall, Spectre, and many more. The first Mission Impossible movie ended with one as well, and it’s often a quintessential location to have an action scene due to the speed and small corridors that the characters are confined to.
Nadia shoulder bumps her target in this opening, and it lets us know the two people that we need to be paying attention to.
It turns out that her guy in the chair is Bernard Orlick, played by Stanley Tucci. A man starts talking about his bloody ex-wife, and we get to meet her later on and find out why they’re exes.
We also hear about her gadgets, including an explosive perfume and some red lipstick, which no man can resist. Now at this bit, we’re introduced to Mason Kane flicking a lighter and speaking Italian like the suave spy he is. Sean Connery’s first scene as James Bond started off with him sparking up a lighter, which I think this moment might be a nod to. However, it’s revealed that Mason doesn’t actually smoke, and he’s just carrying this because he doesn’t like being told he can’t. Both are multilingual and would need this to, of course, blend into any environment. Though there’s a bit of sexual tension, we see that Mason has a wedding ring and later learn that he has a wife in his new life. Something suspicious is going on as he doesn’t meet her until after he loses his memory, and we’ll be talking theories later on about what might be happening.
There is a nice bit of symbolism here in that Nadia has earrings with two chain links locked together, whereas when we meet with her in the present, she just has singular ones. Might be symbolising the pair working together as a team, or it might be a reach.
Now, while Nadia goes off to get the target, Mason goes after his bodyguard, leading to a bathroom fight that echoes the black-and-white opening of Casino Royale.
We also get another nod to bond in Nadia’s pistol that she holds up to the target. This is a silver Baretta, and though Bond eventually ended up using the Walther PPK, the first gun he ever had in the books was a Beretta 418.
Author Ian Fleming actually got a letter from a fan known as Geoffrey Boothroyd who said that he thought the Baretta was actually more of a ladies weapon, and Fleming wrote back to him asking if he had any other recommendations. Boothroyd suggested the Walther PPk, and as a thank you, Fleming included a character called Major Boothroyd in the next book, who would later go on to become Q.
Now the target is revealed.
And that false information was fed to lure Citadel out so he could deliver a message.
This comes directly from Manticore, which is a beast from Greek mythology that has the body of a lion, the tail of a scorpion, and the face of a man. Before you start going, oh, those last ones are not so bad, shut the f**k up for a second. The man’s mouth is filled with shark-like teeth, and yeah, just an all-round baddie.
On the opposite side of this, a citadel is a fortified location where people tend to take shelter during war. The group has shaped historical events that have averted them very much, tying in with this name.
Now, due to the comments at the end of the episode, we know that an agent has been turned, so their springing this trap is all because of a betrayal.
The bodyguard goes out the window, which is how Tee Hee was killed in Live and Let Die, with Jaws also going out the window in Spy Who Loved Me.
It turns out that Manticore knows the locations of several citadel locations where they have executed The man also reveals a ten-ring-esque tattoo and reveals that they have people everywhere. Luckily, Mason arrives to save the day, leading to a fight on the train before it all goes to hell.
The target sets off an explosive, which derails the train, and both are left at the bottom of a river. Now from here, we cut to the title sequence, which shows several of their deeds, such as a CIA plot to kill Castro, which we also see failed. There’s the idea that very little is known about them, with us also seeing a passport for Pryiyanka’s character, which says Charlotte. This is another name that she used alongside Nadia in the opening, and it’s one that she adopts in episode 2. There’s a flash of Heidi too, and it’s clear that they had several identities, like Bourne.
We also see the logo and get a quick pop-in of what I believe is a manticore for a split second.
Anyway, after this, we cut to Mason floating in the water, evoking images of the opening of Skyfall. Cut to him in a hospital bed in Bellagio, where we learn Mason now has amnesia. Similar to Jason Bourne, the series centres around him discovering himself, but unlike Bourne, Mason actually makes a life for himself. We join him eight years later, going by the name Kyle, in Oregon with his wife Abby and daughter Hendrix. Manticore is making waves with a terrorist attack in LA, and Mason gets flashbacks of his past life when viewing them. Come roughly the 17-minute mark of the episode too, we see as more attacks continue to happen rocking the world.
Cut to Mason in a therapy session, and we see that he has a wedding ring; however, we later learn that it is not the one from the start. Obviously, Abby didn’t want to hand me down, and this shows that the pair met after the train mission. Still, something causes him to hold onto it because, along with the lighter and passport, it’s all he has from before his amnesia.
Mason feels like he must have been bad because no one comes looking for him, and the therapist then suggests finding his family by submitting a DNA sample to a database.
This eventually flags up Bernard, who has to pull him out of hiding because of the X case being located. This contains the memories of all the agents along with the intelligence they possessed, such as nuke codes, black site locations, and who let the dogs out.
The other person after this X case is a character called Dahlia Archer. We join her in the next scene meeting with the Secretary of State, and ironically, we can catch her trimming her roses. Dahlias are, of course, flowers, and they’re known for their ability to bloom when so many others have died.
She’s masquerading as the UK ambassador, but really she’s part of the manticore organisation. Working alongside the Prime Minister, she doesn’t mind accusing the press on camera of being foreign assets, even if that reporter’s accent is the worst British accent Ive ever heard. Mate, get the spy; shes a spy.
Now Dhalia has learned the CIA knows where the X case is, and this sets her off on trying to track it down.
Now, normally, when it comes to villains like this, you have the brains behind everything and a henchman who handles the dirty work. In this case, it’s henchmen, and we next meet the Silje. Loo, there’s no way I’m pronouncing this right, so we’ll just call them either Anders or Davik. Played by Roland Miller, they track down the case while Citadel, on the other side of this, does what they need to to get their hands on it too.
We see Bernard, who’s learned of Dhalia’s meeting, and he realises that time is short.
Abducting Mason and his family in the night, he fills in what Citadel actually are while we watch Manticore get their hands on the X case from a CIA blacksite. Alongside his ex-wife, her wife, and their daughter, they’re hidden out at a secret location to bring Mason back up to speed.
We discover that they are a super spy organisation created in the 30s that went over the heads of each nation’s security network in order to do things that are best for the world instead of a specific country. Just like how men have their symbol on their wrists, we also see that tattoos have been placed on theirs too. They brought down the Berlin Wall, stopped Y2K, and also hacked the PSN store, so everyone got a free game when it went back online.
However, someone stole the list of all their agents, which is similar to the NOC list from the first mission. This gave them the names and locations of all their agents, which set off the attack on the train. Founded by eight of the world’s wealthiest families, Manticore launched a global attack to kill all the Citadel agents they could. With it being a world-wide thing, the spin-off series could very much use this as an event to push their own shows, but we’ll see when we learn more about them.
Bernard says they have to go to New York to get the case, but on the way, they have to recruit Nadia, which takes us into episode 2.
Here we see things from Nadia’s perspective and watch as she climbs out of the river, only to be basically put in a miserable situation.
Abducted and tied to a bed, she ends up killing her captor, but her memory is erased. Obviously, this is a protocol put in place in case agents get caught or compromised, as there is the potential that torture could make them divulge their secrets. It leaves her up s**ts creek though; however, she does leave a note on her arm saying, Go to Valencia, Asha.
This is where she later ends up with the character working in Spain.
Back with Mason, we see Bernard and his wife saying, I think we should tell them; she should know.
It has been said by Ashleigh Cummings that her character Abby has more to her than meets the eye, and it is possible that there might be something going on with her that we aren’t privy to either. Though Bernard tracked Mason through the DNA donation, he may have been keeping an eye on him through Abby. Abby could be a Citadel agent as well, or she may have had something done to her memory so she could lie as a sleeper cell.
When dealing with memory, there are lots of things that you can do with it to manipulate characters, so I do think that we might get some twists and turns involving some of the characters that we think we know.
Look, I dunno, mate, throwing theories out here based off a conversation that’s written to be ambiguous and things I’ve pieced together from s**t said in interviews.
Anyway, we get the classic heist scene with Mason having to go through body scanners in a building while he’s followed by security. Busting them up, we get some classic jazz as he makes his way out, but in doing this, it alerts Manticore that he’s still alive.
Opening the case sends out a worldwide scanner that shows all of the agents on the planet, and it gives Mason a way to get back his memories. However, there’s just one little roadblock.
The twins end up shooting Bernard through the back of his vehicle, echoing the opening of the second Bourne movie, in a scene that still f**ks me up to this day.
There’s a shootout outside, and we can see the van has the website neocomm.com on it.
As of making this video, it’s not registered, but I was hoping we’d get a cool Citadel Easter egg. The phrase neocomm is actually a term used to insult the far left, and it means neocommunists, which could be the creative team making fun of the Citadel organisation. I dunno, mate, probably grasping at straws because I dont think its this big orarching thing political commentary thing here, mate, just a fun spy show, yeah.
No politics, nee..what do you mean the Ambassador of the UK is the bad guy f**?
In the carnage, Mason’s memory implant is cracked, but he gets a link to the past with Nadia’s location in Valencia popping up on the X Case.
Here we see the Fallas Festival, which is held to commemorate St. Joseph.
Now Nadia doesn’t seem interested in those events from 8 years ago, and to her, she woke up in a strange cabin with a murdered man on the floor.
Throwing a knife at her like Bernard did to him, we get a great scene of him trying to reveal the truth to her. I really think the show hits its high points in moments like this, and though it is not deliberately dropping jokes all the time, there is a nice little undercurrent of humour that runs through the scenes. One of the twins arrives, leading to a big standoff, but Nadia regains her memories and figths.
I love watching the before and after of Nadia getting her memories back, and Priyanka does a great job of bringing the two sides out.
CITADEL EPISODES 1 AND 2 ENDINGS EXPLAINED
Now we do get a moment in which she talks about how she remembers everything, and during this we see several scenes that I’m guessing will be expanded on throughout the season.
Guess who went through them in Slow Mo, Spoils, Kevin Spoils, and in them we see the train scene from episode one along with the detonator, Nadia and Mason kissing on the train and then a shot we haven’t seen before. Nadia is in a white bathroom, and then we cut to what seems like the living room of this house with her and Mason dressed up. I guess this is from their time living together, and potentially Mason might get his memories back at some point, which expands upon this.
Though the vial is smashed, there is the potential that the memories uploaded to the Citadel server can be retrieved.
In the next scene, we catch Nadia in white camouflage with other soldiers holding a gun up to Mason. Taking place in the woods, I’m guessing this might be their first meeting. We can catch what looks like off-road jeeps in this scene, and in one of the other shots, we can catch the pair riding together in one, continuing on from this scene.
Trailers for the series have shown several parts of this scene with them clearly working together and against each other, possibly due to Nadia being a double agent.
There’s a moment where the pair get into a heated argument together, a shot of them in bed, and some lighthearted moments before ending on a more cryptic one.
We see Nadia saying, ‘Mason can never find out, and this could be hinting at Nadia potentially getting pregnant and losing the baby or something along those lines.
Now she is getting her memories back while Mason doesn’t allow him to be a fish out of water while she can kind of fill in the blanks. I’m guessing the next thing that they do will reveal that Bernard is actually still alive, and they’ll have to rescue him from Dhalia, who we see in the next scene. I did get these two episodes early, so I’m not sure if this is in the final release, but at the end, there was a trailer showing what was coming up in the season. It had several parts that expanded on Nadia’s memories and also provided clear indication that there was an agent who betrayed Citadel.
Anyway, it’s theory time, theory time, theory time.
I think it would be wild if we discovered that this was actually Mason, though I dunno why they’d put him in harm’s way like they did on the train. They might have wanted to take him off the board, though, due to his being a loose end, which may be why they were so surprised to see him alive.
It’s probably a cliche twist to take it that way, and the trailer does make things look like Nadia is the one doing it due to the shot of her holding a gun to Mason being on screen as this narration takes place. As I said, we see other parts of this scene, including them escaping together, so I don’t think it’s her. She also remembers everything, so she’d know if she worked for the other side and probably instantly killed Mason. His not having his memories is the only thing stopping him from doing it, and I think Nadia would have to wrestle with whether to avenge her fallen comrades or spare the man she loves. Now that Nadia is keeping a secret from Mason, she could also hint at what happened.
Potentially, Mason found this out, and it f**ked him up so badly that he decided to switch sides.
There are lots of things that we could get, and anyway, that ends theory time, theory time, theory time, theory time.
Now that closes out both episodes, and I hope you had fun going through them and seeing some of the references they dropped in.
Hopefully, I will see you back next week. Let me know what you thought of the show in the comments section below.
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If you want something else to watch, then make sure you check out our breakdown of the perfect scene in Spider-Man Homecoming. We break down the entire thing, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you want to know more.
With that out of the way, thank you for sitting through the video. I’ve been Paul, and I’ll see you next time. Take care, Peace