Season 2 of the Australian drama Secret City reached Netflix in the US recently. It was just as good as the first season, possibly even better because of the addition of a young, independent politician who stirred things up among the political old guard in Canberra. This review is fairly spoiler free.
Anna Torv once again leads an excellent cast. She plays Harriet Dunkley. Harriet has been in jail for two years following her illegal antics in season 1 to expose a government coverup.
Newly paroled but unable to work as a journalist, Harriet finds a job with Karen Koutoufides (Danielle Cormack), an Independent MP. She’s hired as a media consultant. It was a treat seeing these two favorites acting opposite each other.
Because the storyline of Secret City is about government secrets and coverups, Harriet is soon on the trail of another interconnected coverup that gets her and her boss Karen in a heap of trouble.
A Few Plot Basics
Three incidents start us off. There’s a military raid in Afghanistan. An Australian army officer is captured. The Aussies want him back. The generals talk willingness for war to get him back.
In Australia, a house blows up in the middle of a residential area. Initial blame goes to a teenage member of the household, or a gas leak, or an attack by the Afghans. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Finally, we see a very resourceful woman running for her life. We don’t know why for a long time. We don’t know who she is for a long time. Eventually we learn her name is Cal (Laura Gordon). She goes for help to the home of General Lockwood (Andrew McFarlane). He turns her in. She’s a military drone pilot.
As Harriet works to find the truth about these interrelated incidents, she finds a web of traitors, greedy businessmen, and power grabbing politicians from several countries. Is the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned about running Australia, or are the people?
Who is Who?
Catriona Bailey (Jacki Weaver), Minister for Home Affairs, returns for part of the season. Also back in season two are William Vaughn (Justin Smith) and Thomas (Aleks Mikic) who worked in national security with Harriet’s ex, Kim. William’s wife Helen Wu (Renee Lim) is also important in the new season.
Ewan Garrity (Don Hany) is the new Prime Minister. He has a lot to puzzle through. Should he trust his advisors who want a war in Afghanistan, listen to the young MP Karen Koutoufides, or does Harriet Dunkley have the information he needs? Is the military doing things even he knows nothing about?
Mina Almasi (Louisa Mignone) was Harriet’s cellmate for the last two years. She’s out now. Is she somehow connected to the incidents that started off the season? Is her husband Sami Almasi (Robert Rabiah)? Harriet trusts her, but others don’t.
Harriet gets involved with a military officer named Sullivan (Rob Collins). She likes him, but he’s connected in several ways to suspects and leads she’s following.
Karen gets involved with an energy lobbyist named Alex Berlin (Tom Wren). Karen has a still-nursing baby with her in Canberra and an older son at home with her mother. There’s no mention of a man, which leaves her open to Alex’s charms. Or dangers.
In season two, the US Ambassador is now Buchanan (Christopher Kirby). He’s involved in the operations in Afghanistan. US/Australian agreements regarding the Pacific region are at stake.
Season 2 Overall
There were no women directors in season 2, but several women were on the writing team. The way the storylines intertwine and the careful way each part of the story is connected to the whole is masterful writing. It keeps pulling you along from episode to episode in anticipation.
There’s the added excitement of never knowing who to suspect or who will be threatened or in danger. Threats and blackmail are a frequent tool to use against people, but my favorite characters were often in physical danger, too.
A couple of quotes summed up the season for me: “An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.” and, “We learn nothing from history.”
Secret City is one of the best political suspense thrillers you’ll find anywhere. Start with season 1 if you haven’t seen it yet.