Doesn’t the much-lauded “second most expensive show” ever made deserve a better plot twist than the actions of an obsessed lover? That is the impression that Mason Kane has left in our minds. This was Citadel? This was Mason Kane, the best spy the organization had to offer and its last hope. The problem with the series has been that it has spent all of its money on the visual department and none on the writing team, which is why we have such insufferable, poorly written characters. Nadia Sinh tops the list, and Mason Kane comes in a close second.
Let us go through his story as presented in Citadel. When Mason was five years old, he lost his father, and his mother left him. He grew up with his grandmother and a bad haircut, and when he was old enough or maybe even before, Citadel absorbed him into their organization. Now, looking at the nature of Citadel itself, it did not have any loyalties to anyone except to what they believed was right in individual situations. This means that whoever joins them has to let go of their identity, and this just doesn’t mean the name and address they were born with. It also means letting go of patriotism, biases, and all parts of their emotional makeup that might cause them to favor someone for anything other than cold, hard facts. We believe that Mason Kane incorporated them well into his life, and that helped him become one of the best at Citadel. But then, very sadly, he met Nadia Sinh, and his judgment went for a toss. He finally had a person to love, but maybe it was the years he had spent chasing away attachments that did not let him know how to love. If that sounds cheesy, it is not our fault but that of the writers at Citadel.
We are presuming for a second that Mason may have “mommy issues” (excuse the phrasing). His mother left him and then went on to make a career for herself as a diplomat. We are not considering the horrors she had to face since, according to the perspective of Mason Kane as a child, his mother must have chosen someone else over him. Maybe he rationalized it better as he grew up, but we don’t think he ever truly got over it. In his interaction with his mother in Episode 6, we saw how on edge he was as if he couldn’t wait for the conversation to get over with. This just means that Mason continued to believe that Dahlia was the culprit in his childhood.
When Mason met Nadia, he fell in love almost immediately. It would have been nice if the writers had sketched out their love story better rather than fitting Nadia and Mason into the cliched templates of the mysterious woman and the goofy man. Their relationship or affair (whatever you choose to call it) defined the story of Citadel, so we don’t think it is too much of an ask if we want more of an emotional connection with them. But coming back to the point, we think this was the first time Mason had felt some strong emotions, and he did not know how to handle them. He felt that Nadia was so mysterious and guarded that she did not allow him to get to know her. Obviously, the spy in Mason couldn’t resist the challenge. In fact, it was so enthralling that he wanted to marry it, even though it was something he admitted he did not understand. What is wrong with people?
In a way, we suppose that Citadel taught him well. Just like the organization, Mason’s loyalties were with no one but what he believed to be right. When he suspected that Nadia might have been the one to steal the Oz key, he did everything in his power to take the suspicion away from her. He made Celeste the scapegoat and pinned the whole fiasco on her, going so far as to say that it was she who must be the mole. Mason was aggressive and unethical as he tried to coerce Celeste into saying anything that might help him prove that she was the traitor. In fact, even when the suspicion was safely off of Nadia, he wanted to tie up all the loose ends, and he had Celeste backstopped so that she would never have a reason or a chance to change her mind.
It is important to note that Mason proposed to Nadia after this whole fiasco. He had previously told Celeste that the key to making an identity believable is to live it. He wanted her to actually fall in love with Anders by ignoring the parts of him that she did not love. We are not talking about a spy tactic here, but the ability to compartmentalize that Mason was implementing even with Nadia. Once he fell in love with her, he was ready to ignore everything he could not love because he did not care about the entire person as much as he cared about an edited version of her that he could have. Mason even says that he simply did not want to know why Nadia had stolen the Oz key because that would force him to act against her. Mason just wanted to hang onto Nadia in any way that he could, and it did not matter to him whether he was crossing a boundary or being delusional. When Nadia leaves him, Mason doesn’t stop looking for her, even though she makes her intentions clear. When he finally turns to Dahlia for the information, he comes to know another shocking truth: that Citadel was the one that killed his father—maybe not intentionally, but it happened nonetheless.
When Mason betrayed Citadel, we don’t think it was just for revenge. If Citadel did not exist anymore, Nadia might not be so motivated by the wrong that Mason had done. It would all be a closed chapter of the past, and Mason would be able to have a family with her like he had always wanted. He was literally following the idea that if you can’t change the past, then you must erase it. We are not sure whether Dahlia was telling the truth, and even if she was, Mason was a spy, and he must be aware of the collateral damages of the job and the ethics of its justification. We find it hard to believe that a man trained in objectivity lost it a second time within the span of just six episodes because he put himself in different shoes. We honestly believe that Mason’s betrayal of Citadel had a lot to do with his desire to get back to Nadia and his daughter, but he ended up paying an unexpected price for it.