Directed by Christopher Smith, Spy/Master tells a tale about that time in history when there were a lot of rapid changes happening in Europe in every sphere of life, and they were still recovering from the energy crisis after the 1973 Arab Israeli War. All countries had ramped up their intelligence services, and it felt like every other person was a spy. There was distrust among the nations, and the superpowers like the Soviet Union and the United States of America were trying to take full advantage of it and create their stronghold in Eastern Europe.
The tension builds up as, in the very first episode of Spy/Master, we see Victor Godeanu, the personal security advisor of Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu, enter the building of the U.S. embassy in Bonn, West Germany. At that point in time, we didn’t know his purpose of visit, but it seemed like he had something on his mind that he couldn’t let anyone know about. Victor was playing this one close to his chest, as he knew that the odds of him getting exposed were quite high. Victor told the receptionist that he was from a Romanian intelligence agency, and he wanted to meet Frank Jackson. Before the receptionist told Frank Jackson about him, something happened, and Victor changed his mind and left from there. Frank Jackson couldn’t believe that the closest aid of the Romanian President had come to see him in person, and what made him even more inquisitive was the fact that he had left without meeting him. Frank speculated that he might have seen someone he couldn’t trust. Frank had an intuition that there was a chance he might be attempting defection and would want to make a deal with the United States of America. Frank asked his men to find out where Victor was staying so that he could have a conversation with him and get to know about his intentions.
Why Did The President Want Victor To Kill Dan?
President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena had just come back from the United States of America after negotiating a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. According to Elena, it was Nicolae who played a crucial role in the negotiations, and if he hadn’t been there, the Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the Prime Minister of Egypt, Muhammad Anwar Sadat, wouldn’t have come to an agreement. Nicolae had started feeling that he was surrounded by spies and traitors who were leaking all the secret intel about the country. He was very unhappy with the way Dan Banea handled the negotiations with West Germany in a deal where a few Swabians were going to be deported. Nicolae asked Victor to take matters into his own hands and also find out who was the mole among them.
The President had blind faith in his deputy, and he didn’t even have the slightest clue what he was up to. Victor was the mole that the President was searching for, and there were a lot of people in the Romanian intelligence who knew about it but were just waiting for the day when they had enough evidence to corroborate their claims. Victor had confronted Dan Banea and told him that he could not be so lousy that the people started having doubts about his credibility and loyalty. He warned Dan to buckle up if he didn’t want to come under the radar and become a scapegoat. It seemed like Victor and Dan shared a rather good relationship, and though Victor seemed like a ruthless and impassive man, he wanted Dan to be safe and not unnecessarily call for trouble. Ioan Albescu was made the deputy of the party security committee, and he was told to keep an eye on the activities of the intelligence services. It felt like Ioan Albescu was acting under the orders of the counterintelligence team, and Victor knew that they were strategizing something behind his back.
In Spy/Master Episode 1, Victor was given the responsibility to carry out a task that he never wanted to take on. The President told Victor that he wanted him to execute Dan because he was a traitor. Victor tried to make the President understand that Dan was a loyal comrade, but the President had already made up his mind. Victor knew that it was the doing of counterintelligence, but for now, he didn’t have any option but to follow the orders of the President. Victor killed Dan and, with a heavy heart, left for Bonn. Victor had a pragmatic approach to life, and he knew that though he might have lost his friend, he didn’t have the time to mourn him as time was of the essence, and he needed to play his cards real quick.
What Do Carmen And Mircea Know About Victor?
Victor was working for the Soviet Union, and he was told that a French agent had a photograph of him meeting General Shakarov. Victor was shocked to hear that, as he had taken the negative and destroyed it, but he was told by his contact that a copy still existed and even the Romanian counterintelligence knew about it. Victor had been betraying the trust of his nation for 15 years and been providing information to the Soviet Union. Victor had bugged each and every corner of the administrative building, and he intercepted a conversation between Mircea and Carmen where they were talking about collecting evidence against him and informing the President what he was up to.
Carmen’s informant told her about the photograph that the French agent had of Victor meeting the Soviet official, and she immediately made arrangements to leave for Vienna. Carmen took the photograph from the French agent, and when she saw it, she realized that she had hit the jackpot. The Soviet agents were following her, and Carmen knew about it, which is why she already had a decoy to confuse them. The agents went after Carmen’s decoy thinking it was her, and after a long chase, they killed her in the middle of the road. The real Carmen reached Romania, and she safely delivered the photograph to Mircea.
After we saw Victor leaving the U.S. embassy building in Spy/Master Episode 1, Frank followed his trail and found out where he was staying. Frank sent a message to his hotel, asking him to meet him at a stipulated place and time. Victor met Frank and told him upfront that he was willing to be a defector, provided the United States of America didn’t have any unreasonable terms and conditions. Frank got excited, knowing how big a deal it was. The most important man in Romania, after the President, wanted to change sides, and Frank knew that it could give them an upper hand and strengthen their hold over the eastern part of Europe. Victor probably wanted to leave his country because he knew that he and his family were not safe there. People were already suspicious of his involvement with the Soviet Union, and it was just a matter of time before his peers got some incriminating evidence to prove his guilt. Frank told his superiors about it, but they refused to accept Victor as President Carter was in a very delicate situation, and he didn’t want to spoil his relationship with Romania. Frank was frustrated, and he couldn’t imagine why they were letting go of such a lucrative opportunity.
Spy/Master portrayed Victor as an extremely intuitive and smart man who was always a step ahead of others. Before he met Ingrid von Witzendorff in the Ministry of the Interior, he had seen her in the U.S. Embassy building, and he realized that there was something very suspicious about her. Victor was right in thinking so, as Ingrid was working for the Stasi, the state security service of East Germany, and at the end of Spy/Master Episode 1, she managed to enter Victor’s hotel room, and as soon as he entered, she pointed a gun at him. As of yet, we don’t know what she was doing there or if she also knew about his relations with the Soviet Union.
Victor was stuck in a mess, and there was no doubt about the fact that once his secret was out in the open, the President wouldn’t leave him alive. The U.S. had rejected his defection plea, and even agents from the Stasi and his own counterintelligence were after him. It is going to be an uphill battle from hereon, and Victor will need a miracle if he wants his real identity to remain hidden. In the upcoming episodes, we will get to know how long Victor can hide and if he is able to stop Carmen and Mircea from showing that photograph to President Nicolae Ceausescu.