Allegiance is off the starting block and is wasting no time in delving deep into a Jack Ryan style spy game. Last week left us with Alex O’Connor (Gavin Stenhouse) confronting his parents about their possible participation in a Russian sleeper cell. This week opened with the continuation of the conflict. Little slips past Alex, but we wonder how much will his parents tell him to keep him safe?
Ep. 2 of Allegiance “Teamwork” shows the conniving abilities of Alex’s mother Katya (Hope Davis). But her lies to protect her secret and her son lead to a rift between Katya and her husband, Mark (Scott Cohen). For a man who appears to have missed nothing, storing away memories from childhood with unrivaled clarity, he is easily fooled by the tumultuous story told by his mother. This is a beautiful character set-up for Alex, showing us a certain innocence to him that is in stark contrast to the cynicism normally portrayed by government agents. There is a clear line between right and wrong for Alex, and this trait will hopefully be explored further as shades of gray will certainly play a part in Alex’s life in the future as the plot develops. This particular plot line also served to further illustrate the abilities of the lead protagonist. We see a perpetual, but nearly constant manipulation of a black squishy ball, perhaps designed to keep in check some compulsion or drive. We also see the mental abilities of our character slowly revealed, in this case through some kind of eidetic memory.
The second episode of Allegiance moves the plot further along as Alex O’Connor is tasked to a CIA-FBI joint task team set to hunt down MIkhail’s “easter egg.” This is a digital drive containing files from the SVR, the Russian terrorist group out to bring America down. Meanwhile, there is strife within the SVR itself as some individuals fail to follow the orders of their superiors. Failure to follow some orders can lead to the ultimate demise – death. Alex may have suffered the same fate, had his mother not stepped in. once again protecting her family as any good mama bear would. Again, we see the powerful family bond that has been formed and looks to be a central factor within Allegiance and a driving force for all characters and their subsequent actions. Rather than a story driven by revenge or justice, it seems that family love may be the ultimate motivator here.
Once again, as a viewer, I was drawn to Gavin Stenhouse as Alex O’Connor. His portrayal of the character as a modest genius is sweet and fun. While the story is one of Russian agents out to bring down the U.S., we also see a sort of figurative juxtaposition of good and evil, with the light being represented by Alex. A serious story is subtly lightened by tiny moments of humor, especially during interactions between Alex and his CIA supervisor, Sam Luttrell (Kenneth Choi).
Although not necessarily a huge fan of the spy thriller genre (unless it’s a novel by Tom Clancy), I have been extremely impressed with Allegiance thus far. I never feel like I am too much “in the know” while waiting for the characters to catch up. There is enough mystery to draw me back the next week. And there is something surprisingly fun about a thrilling series that will likely keep me coming back for weeks to come.
The next episode of Allegiance appears to be an exciting one, pitting Alex unknowingly against his family. While he is out to solve the mystery of the SVR’s plot against America by finding Mikhail’s “easter egg,” his family is out to stop him. In a twist of family vs. country, where will we find the O’Connor family next?
Keep watching Allegiance on NBC on Thursday nights at 10/9c.