Review: Secret City, season 2

Danielle Cormack and Anna Torv in Secret City

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 in Secret City
Anna Torv as Harriet still has an instinct for uncovering hidden information

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.

Danielle Cormack in Secret City
Casting Danielle Cormack in season 2 of Secret City was a brilliant move

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.

Laura Gordon in Secret City
Why is she running?

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?

Jacki Weaver in Secret City
Is the Minister for Home Affairs speaking the truth?

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.

Don Hany and Anna Torv in Secret City
Harriet with the new PM. Is he trustworthy?

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?

Louisa Mignone in Secret City
Harriet’s cellmate for the last two years was an Afghan woman.

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.”

poster for Secret City

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.

5 thoughts on “Review: Secret City, season 2”

  1. Pingback: So Many Great Foreign Films and TV in English - Old Ain't Dead

  2. Whatever happened to Karen’s baby? In the first episode, she’s extracting breast milk and baby is with her at night. In the later episodes there is no mention of baby, breastfeeding, weaning. Total plot gap.

    1. Omg I have been scouring the net looking for an answer to this. Where did the baby go? I feel like I’m going mad.

      1. Babies have a way of vanishing when they aren’t important to the plot and no one ever seems to take the time to explain who is caring for them. That always bothers me, too.

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