Condor S01E01 Review: What Loneliness – It’s well turned out

Audience Network’s Condor is a remake of a work of art I love (Three Days of the Condor) starring a remake of a work of art I love (Jeremy Irons). Updated for these modern times, this Condor features Max Irons as Joe Hunter, a CIA employee who works in a clandestine Company facility doing analysis and writing algorithms.

It’s one of those algorithms that inadvertently starts all the trouble. (Pity it couldn’t have predicted that.) Written to identify analyze possible terror targets abroad and ID which of their employees might be up to somethin’, the algorithm Joe has all but forgotten has been put into play. And it’s come back with a hit.

A Saudi immigrant who works at an NFL stadium has been IDed by the program as a possible terrorist. Under surveillance, he visits a post office box and picks up a package. It all seems a little thin, to say the least–Hello, 911? A man picked up his mail and went to work!–but then the tactical team sent after him finds that the package is full of germ warfare soup. Had he let it loose in the stadium, all those people could have carried those infectious agents into the greater world. I mean, that’s what is assumed he was going to do. He’s not answering a lot of questions, because he was killed in the parking lot.

Back at work, Joe gets a wild hair when he learns that the potential pandemic can be treated by one prescription drug. Specifically, he decides to look for people who have recently made large investments in the company that manufactures the drug. After all, there were those rumors that airline stocks were shorted shortly before September 11th. It’s a smart idea, but unfortunately, it puts a target on Joe’s back.

It seems the whole operation was a false flag, a phrase I groan to use because of its contemporary associations with conspiracy theorists. But before they seized control of it, it did refer to a real thing. Governments and organizations have used covert deceptions to get things done. If you want examples off the top of my head, there’s the Reichstag Fire. Or the Gleiwitz radio station. (As I’ve mentioned before, my degree concentration is in German WWII history. So all my mental roads lead back to that, sorry.)

Anyway, it’s happened in real life and it’s happened on the show. At present time, the immediate goal seems to be money, although there’s surely some power-seizing in there as well. It’s not clear who all will turn out to be involved, but we do know that it’s probably no one in Joe’s office save this one guy and I didn’t catch his name, because as soon as he let the baddies in, they kill him along with everyone else.

Joe and another coworker are having a smoke on the fire escape when the shooting starts. Smoking kills, kids, but not this time, because Joe manages to get away. (Unfortunately, his coworker runs in the opposite direction, right in the line of fire.) He doesn’t stop running until he’s on a Metro train going who-knows-where. Where are you going, Joe? And who can you trust? Fewer people than you think.

7.5/10 – While not a spectacular debut–it hews pretty closely to its genre beats–it’s well turned out. Joe seems a little naive and idealistic to have been working for the CIA this long, so it’ll be fun to see how all that changes once he gets a better idea of what he’s up against. And I’m interested to see what exactly he’s up against. Joe has an uncle slash mentor in the form of Bob (William Hurt), who may or may not be involved and there’s also Mr. Abbot (Bob Balaban), a CIA boss who’s probably involved, and Nathan Fowler (Brendan Fowler), a mercenary who’s definitely involved. The original is a classic of paranoid cinema and these days, when we have a way better idea of how much we’re tracked, paranoia almost seems quaint. After all, isn’t that what say? It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you? Well, they’re really out to get Joe. But who’s they?

Tell me about the “fun” times technology has come for you! I’ll give an example: This week, while I watching Dietland, my Google Home suddenly piped up and asked, “What do you mean?” I know it’s not as terrifying as Alexa just randomly laughing or sending recordings of your conversations to people, but it also once shouted, “No promises!”

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