Netflix’s espionage thriller series, In From the Cold, follows an ex-Russian spy, Anya Petrova, living in America under a new identity, Jenny Franklin, since 1994. At the beginning of the series, it is suggested that Anya didn’t want to be a part of the intelligence services (KGB) and thus escaped to America, where she married Lee Franklin and gave birth to a girl, Rebecca “Becca.” Anya has been living in hiding for more than 25 years and thus accepts her fake identity as her only reality. She faces the struggles of her new role as a mother and a wife, and as the series begins, she has already divorced Lee without revealing the reason for it to Becca. The conflict serves as a sub-conflict to the tale, while the central conflict arises when a disowned CIA agent, Chauncey Lew, compels Jenny to become Anya again to hunt a international terrorist named Gideon operating in Madrid, Spain.
Created by Adam Glass, “In From the Cold” focuses on two concurrent timelines that depict the events of 2022 and 1994 in order to shed light on Anya’s past life, whose cause-and-effect is witnessed in the present. Anya is not just a regular Russian spy, but also a part of a biological experiment that has given her meta-human abilities. She employs these powers to finish her mission with grace and without leaving a trail, which makes her a valuable asset for two rival countries, the USA and Russia. Season 1 consists of eight episodes of approximately 50 minutes each that capture Anya’s confusion about choosing sides amid international conflict while trying to protect her daughter from the chaos. Will she succeed? Let’s find out.
‘In From the Cold’ Plot Summary
A prologue montage sequence introduces the tension as three people at three different locations in Madrid, feel an electric impulse and suddenly turn violent, thereby attacking and killing people around them. The first attack occurs on the terrace of Hotel Centro Colon, where a businessman, Mario Santa-Cruz, CEO of a successful trading company, pushes his employee off the terrace. In the second attack, a student, Kristian Arija Ax, becomes racially intolerant and attacks a man of color on the bus. In the third attack, a lady, Barbara Perez Soler, completely loses her senses and stabs the mother of a newborn baby in the central district.
Soon, the story brings its protagonist, Jenny Franklin (Margarita Levieva), a single mother who arrives in Madrid from New Jersey with her teenage daughter, Becca. Becca has qualified for a US figure ice-skating tournament happening in Madrid, and Jenny comes with her as her legal guardian. As Becca gets settled in the hotel room, Jenny moves out of the hotel and is kidnapped by a disowned CIA agent, Chauncey Lew.
Chauncey confronts Jenny and compels her to reveal the real identity of an ex-Russian spy, Anya Petrova, AKA “The Whisper.” He accuses Jenny of killing various targets in America in the 90s and disappearing without a trace. The Russian economy hit rock bottom after the end of the Cold War, and with that, its intelligence agency collapsed too, making it impossible for the Americans to find out about The Whisper. However, through a black market operative, Chauncey gets intel about Whisper’s new life in Cherry Hills, through which he has finally found her.
Chauncey wants Jenny to carry out an espionage mission for the CIA to find out about the terrorist attacks depicted in the prologue sequence. He lies to Jenny about his job in the CIA and threatens her with the Espionage Act, under which she will get arrested and her daughter will have to suffer the consequences. Jenny falls prey to Chauncey’s lies, and to protect her daughter and her future, she agrees to follow Chauncey’s chain of commands.
“In From the Cold” further follows Jenny’s covert operations to investigate the links to the series of terrorist attacks and the motive behind them. A concurrent timeline happening in Anya’s past follows her romance with Faina, the daughter of ex-Russian agent Artur Orlov, who has betrayed his own country and has been living under the protection of the Chinese Embassy. Anya’s handler, Svetlana Markov, working for the KGB, wants Anya to steal a confidential Yaroslav program created by Artur.
What Was The Yaroslav Program? How It Made Anya Invincible?
During the cold war, the KGB conducted a number of bio-weapons programs to create super soldiers to make Russia a superpower. One such program was the “Yaroslav Program,” headed by a Russian scientist, Artur Orlov. It was a super serum that led to cell mutation and gave the receiver special abilities like body morph and camouflage.
A few flashbacks that followed Anya’s covert mission to steal the “Yaroslav Program” from Artur suggested that he lost his wife during the formulation of the program. He didn’t want his invention to be used to fight wars or get into the wrong hands and thus betrayed his country, and was living under the protection of the Chinese embassy.
Artur planned to move out of Russia with his daughter, Faina Orlov, and therefore, the KGB hired Svetlana Markov and her daughter, Anya Petrova, an ace assassin, to lure Faina and steal “The Yaroslav Program” before it slipped out of the country.
Svetlana was a heartless assassin who had been training and preparing her daughter, Anya, to inject the super serum into her body so that she could turn into a salient spy for the KGB. At the end of “In From the Cold,” Anya infiltrated the Chinese Embassy and stole “The Yaroslav Program,” which Artur hid in a music box. After Anya stole the serum, she requested an evacuation from Svetlana, but her mother compelled her to initiate the Omega protocol, which was an order to inject Yaroslav Serum.
The end of the 1994 timeline showed that Anya carried out her mother’s order and, with the help of Yaroslav Serum, she attained meta-human abilities.
Who Was Gideon? What Did She Want?
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Anya erased her existence and scrubbed off all the evidence that led to her. She started a new life in New Jersey as Jenny Franklin, while Svetlana was arrested and prosecuted for criminal disloyalty and exiled to Siberia. At the end of “In From the Cold,” Svetlana revealed that she escaped from a cold prison and returned under a new name, Gideon, to prove her loyalty to Russia and exact revenge on her own daughter.
Svetlana was the owner of the Madrid Ice-Skating Arena, and to bring Anya (or Jenny) to Madrid, she sponsored an ice-skating tournament and rigged a position for Jenny’s daughter, Becca, in the competition. She even invited US Senator and Presidential Nominee, Warren Richardson, to the tournament with the intention of hypnotizing him so that she could nuke Russia after Warren became president.
Svetlana had a mind-hijacking or hypnotizing device through which she controlled the minds of people and used them as puppets to fulfill her ulterior motives. It was Svetlana who hijacked the minds of innocent Spanish citizens at the beginning of the series to incite a conflict between the nationalists and the immigrants staying in Spain.
However, the entire plot, including Felipe Calero, the leader of the right-wing terrorist group Los Jinetes, to assassinate the Prime Minister, was a ruse. Svetlana’s sole motive was to start World War 3 and make Russia look like a victim in the war so that other countries would join in its plight to terminate the USA. She believed that the whole ordeal would probably prove her loyalty to the state.
‘In From the Cold’ Ending Explained – Was Jenny A Double Agent?
Anya Petrova is a soldier of the war and a biological weapon whose entire existence revolves around taking revenge on her country’s nemesis, the USA. At the end of “In From the Cold” Season 1, Jenny or Anya sneaks into the outdoor shed of her house in New Jersey and digs out a transmitter through which she contacts the Russians.
Moments before this scene, Jenny, who is now romantically involved with reinstated CIA agent Chauncey Lew, thanks him for reminding her who she really is, i.e., a spy. She hints to Chauncey subtly that Becca will be leaving for college soon and she will have nothing to do at home. Jenny tried to be a wife, a mother, and a regular person, but she found her real adrenaline in being a spy. However, instead of being a CIA asset, she prefers being a spy for the Russians, which suggests a theory that the whole conflict that took place in Madrid was a plot to infiltrate the CIA.
Chauncey Lew was a disowned CIA agent whose ignorance led to the deaths of his companions. He told Jenny that he was engaged to an agent named Rose, who was embedded inside a terrorist group, like Los Jinetes, that was planning an attack in Marseille. They, too, had a silent investor named Gideon, and Rose had been collecting evidence against her. During the mission, Rose told Chauncey that she had locked down Gideon. However, when the CIA agents arrived at the location, Rose triggered a bomb and killed them. When Chauncey confronted Rose, she was acting outrageously, like someone had hijacked her mind, and thus he was compelled to shoot Rose to stop her.
The mission cost Chauncey his job. However, this mission was meant to fail. It was a trap set by the KGB through Gideon and Anya. Gideon orchestrated a series of attacks in Madrid to capture Chauncey’s attention and later handed him intel about The Whisper’s identity, i.e., Jenny, through a black market operative so that Chauncey would approach her in Madrid and use her to take revenge on Gideon and clear Rose’s name. Through the entire plot, Jenny or Anya earned Chauncey’s trust and then helped him get back his job at the CIA, while the entire act of Gideon or Svetlana was just a diversion. Svetlana was a ruthless assassin and a true patriot. Hence, she was ready to sacrifice her own life (let Jenny shoot her) for the success of the mission that would give an advantage to Russia in the grand scheme of things.
Anya had meta-human abilities, yet her powers were really unreliable, and thus she needed a more concrete gateway to infiltrate the American intelligence services and steal information for her country. Fortunately, Chauncey took the bait and not only fell in love with Jenny, but also made her a CIA asset, allowing her to walk freely in a foreign country and carry out her espionage mission.
‘In From the Cold Season 2 Expectations
Season 2 of “In From the Cold” will follow the espionage mission of Anya Petrova in the United States. However, if somehow she gets captured while stealing intel, then her daughter Becca will have to face the consequences.
Throughout Season 1, Becca shows subtle signs of psychopathic behavior, which suggests that she can turn into a ruthless assassin like her mother. The next season will probably explore the dark side of her personality and establish its role in the story.
On the other hand, Chauncey was fired from the CIA for the treason committed by his fiancé, Rose, who was suspected to be a double agent. At the end of season 1, it seems like Chauncey will face a similar struggle in season 2 if the agency finds out the truth about Jenny. It’s like some characters design their own doom. Or maybe he was so blindly in love with a spy that he forgot to notice the subtle details that any sane CIA agent would have quickly pointed out.
Whatever the case, maybe, the next season will probably try to rectify the errors and give closure to the characters, instead of stretching the dull narrative further.
“In From the Cold” is a 2022 espionage thriller television series created by Adam Glass. Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.