What is Treadstone?
This is the million-dollar question of the series, of course. This will continue to be pieced together throughout the course of the first season, but we at least get a little more clarity in the first episode.
Treadstone was a covert unit buried deep within the CIA that was shuttered after the infamous events of a certain former asset going rogue. That was supposed to be the full story, but, as CIA brass Ellen Becker is starting to find out in this episode, the program went much deeper than that.
Not only was the Treadstone program hidden within the CIA, but -- as we are seeing through Bentley’s story that is unfolding in 1973 -- the mind-control, super-spy techniques that the Treadstone Program perfected had either inspiration or a more direct connection (we’ll see which…) with similar programs overseas that were happening at the same time. Most notably, that of the Soviet Union…
What happened to Doug and Soyun when activated?
What we see happening in all of Doug, Soyun, and even Bentley’s stories is the trigger that sets in motion the asset activation. As we learn from the pilot, Soyun and Doug have super-spy capabilities entrenched deep within them -- so much so that even they are unaware as they go about their seemingly civilian lives. When they hear the trigger (in this case, the nursery song “Frere Jacques”), a part of the mind control and combat training that was instilled in them reactivates, and they find themselves losing their grip on their self control, as we witness Bentley going through in the first scene.
It’s important to remember that, while something is different in the minds of the asset, it can be a subtle change, depending on the level of the mind control and activation. So these “awakened” Cicadas like Soyun and Doug still go about their lives as though everything is normal, but can’t help but notice a haunting and growing shift that is taking place in their minds…
What’s the deal with Petra?
What we learn about Petra by the end of the episode is that she was the primary KGB agent responsible for Bentley’s mind control in 1973. We catch a glimpse of her complicated relationship with Bentley during his escape, but we do not know how that -- or anything that followed -- it is going to lead to where she is today… living on a farm in the Russian countryside with her affable (and now dead) partner Oleg, guarding a nuclear missile that is one of the final surviving weapons from the Cold War.
Tara’s White Whale
We’re just starting to piece together the enormity with which the rogue Stiletto Six missile consumed Tara Coleman back when she was an investigative journalist. We do know, however, that it ruined her career and forced her into her current status of London’s most overqualified taxi driver. We also know that her obsession with the missile that nobody else believed existed is still so great that she is willing to stop on a dime and have a covert meeting with a high-ranking North Korean official when the missile is mentioned. It’s anyone’s guess where this will take her…