26 September 2023

The Enemy Within, The Complete Series

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Directors: Mark Pellington, Charles Beeson, Richard Lewis, David Boyd, Martha Mitchell, Ben Bray, Melanie Mayron, Jono Oliver, Lily Mariye, David Tuttman, Marisol Adler, Andrew McCarthy, Steve Shill, Via Vision Entertainment.

Cast: Jennifer Carpenter, Morris Chestnut, Raza Jaffrey, Cassandra Freeman, Kelli Garner, Noah Mills.

This character-based psychological thriller grabs your interest from the opening frames of action. CIA Deputy Director of Operations Erica Shepherd (Carpenter, Dexter) is a brilliant code-breaker who ends up serving life in a Supermax prison for espionage and treason.

FBI agent Will Keaton (Chestnut, Boyz N The Hood) arrests Shepherd in 2015 following the deaths of four of her agents including Keaton’s fiancée Laine. Shepherd is convicted of aiding terrorist Mikhail Tal (Lev Gorn), a former Russian SVR agent and the elusive mastermind behind a series of terrorist attacks against the US with a network of hidden operatives.

Three years later, Tal orchestrates another attack, and Keaton is ordered to recruit the incarcerated Shepherd onto his team, which includes FBI agents Daniel Zain (Jaffrey, Spooks), Kate Ryan (Garner, The Aviator) and Jason Bragg (Mills, The Brave).

Creator Ken Woodruff (The Mentalist) sets grieving Keaton on the hunt for a shadowy super villain who keeps finding ways to infiltrate the American government and wreak destruction from within.

Shepherd is forceful, with an intensity that’s palpable when it comes to reflecting grief, wit and dedication. Keaton projects confidence and dependability. Both have different motivations for bringing the enemy to justice, and they know that to catch a spy … they must think like one.

In the pilot, Shepherd’s deductive abilities and knowledge of tradecraft lead the team to Victor Nemec, one of Tal’s operatives who has kidnapped CIA analyst Anna Cruz (Coral Peña).

In the third episode titled ‘The Ambassador’s Wife’, a DEA patrol is killed off the coast of Colombia by the Morales drug cartel, who Keaton’s team determine has been sold classified American intel. Shepherd deduces that U.S. Ambassador Dennis Gordon is the cartel’s source and FBI instructor Jaquelyn Pettigrew (Freeman) is recruited to help investigate Gordon.

‘Decoded’ is the title of the seventh episode in which NSA analyst Jane Eaton (Claire Jamison), a spy for Tal, steals a piece of financial cloaking software and is killed in a car crash trying to avoid a deer. Keaton’s team recovers the software and an encrypted message from Tal.

In the last episode named ‘Sierra Maesra’, Shepherd calls Tal, offering herself as an asset, and is told to join him in Cuba. A raid on Tal’s D.C. hideout is a trap, and Shepherd persuades Keaton to send her to Cuba alone.

The Enemy Within is a four-disc set comprising 13 episodes of the first season. Reflecting shades of another television crime thriller The Blacklist, it’s disappointing this series was cancelled after the first season in May 2019.

Can you tell us the position held by Erica Shepherd at the time of her arrest? If your answer is correct, then you could win one of two DVD copies of The Enemy Within. Entries should be sent to [email protected] by Monday, 25 May 2020. Names of the winners will be announced in Frank Cassidy’s PS-sssst…! column on 26 May 2020.

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