In Netflix’s Treason, a major death occurs that nods to a key murder in The Departed’s elevator scene, but this one comes off too tame and illogical.
The following contains spoilers for Treason Season 1, now streaming on Netflix.
In Netflix’s Treason, there are many twists and turns involving Charlie Cox’s Adam as an MI6 agent trying to solve a political conspiracy. He works with ex-Russian spy, Kara, as well as his wife, Maddy, to uncover a plot that has moles in MI6. The CIA even comes in to help destabilize things in what’s essentially a battle between two world powers. To make matters worse, Adam is framed as the main perpetrator.
With the stakes so high and Adam short of people to trust outside his inner-circle, it’s no surprise many characters end up dying. It once more speaks to how desperate people are to achieve their ambitions. Unfortunately, the biggest murder ends up being Adam himself. While the show tries to blow people’s minds (no pun intended), this homage to The Departed is irrevocably botched.
The Departed Mastered the Art of Surprise Deaths
Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning The Departed mastered the art of shocking deaths in 2006, where many lead characters went out in the blink of an eye. Atop the list was Leonardo DiCaprio’s Billy — the film’s star — who was trying to expose a mole in the Boston police department, while being part of Frank’s gang. He was shot in the head inside the elevator in an iconic scene that had Matt Damon’s Colin (Frank’s inside man) killing two other agents to cover it up.
Colin later paid the price for being Frank’s rat, as Mark Wahlberg’s Dignam found him in the closing sequence and also shot him in the head. Between the two deaths, Billy’s is the one that really resonated because no one expected him to die like that after carrying so much of the film. In fact, for all he went through, viewers wanted justice and rooted for him to expose Frank’s group for all their sins and how they kept perverting the law.
Treason Fails to Mimic the Impactful Kill
Adam finds himself in a similar spot in Treason when Dede holds him at gunpoint at a port. She wants him arrested, but Adam is insistent that she look at MI6 for the real villain, Angelis (his boss), only for Maddy to run out to try to save him. Adam reacts and gets shot, but Maddy is grabbed and taken away by Kara. Adam’s surprise death may have been a solid idea on paper, but it’s terribly executed. The Departed always set the stage and mood for its kills with haunting lighting, angles and cinematography to add suspense and tension.
Treason doesn’t do that, with the scene coming off cheesy as Adam jumps up in a manner befitting of a soap opera. The editing, framing, slow-motion sprawl and music don’t fit the scene at all, which should be the most dramatic one in the show. Even with Adam out cold, it doesn’t resonate as much as it could since he wore a bulletproof vest to remain alive. Had the show depicted Dede shooting him in the head, it would have been more shocking and terrifying, reinforcing how much these political pawns had to lose. It would’ve added to Maddy’s vengeance in the end, where she vows to hunt Dede, who ironically is her former colleague in the army.
The trauma isn’t handled well by Maddy and Kara in the aftermath, as they gloss over the kill to finish exposing MI6 for framing Adam. Fans don’t even get to see Maddy and the kids mourning, which The Departed did well once Billy’s inner-circle realized he paid the ultimate price. Stylistically and narrative-wise, Adam’s death just doesn’t work because Dede could have brought him in, knowing he has secrets the CIA needs. Thus, Treason tries to be brave and bold, but isn’t adept at nailing logic or the shock factor. Ultimately, this ends up being a fleeting moment. Barring a news announcement or politicians chatting, Adam’s death fails to reinforce the truth about the spy game leading to sheer horror in a move meant to show this James Bond-like hero is indeed, fallible.
Treason is now streaming on Netflix.