The Code, a complex thriller from Australia, is about two brothers who get pulled into a dangerous cover up. In season 1, which this review discusses, the Australian government, ordinary folks in an outback community, and a powerful industrial complex all play a part.
Ned Banks (Dan Spielman) is a responsible, steady, newspaperman for an online news outfit. He covers political stories and is often in in the houses of parliament in Canberra, where he’s based.
Jesse Banks (Ashley Zukerman), picture up top, is a high-functioning asberger’s spectrum man. He’s a poet with computer code and always in trouble for hacking. Ned does his best to contain his brother and keep him out of trouble with the police. The problem is, Jesse’s turned into a grown man and Ned can’t always keep him in line the way he used to do.
The relationship between the two brothers is so well done. It’s full of love without being gushy. It’s the foundation that the rest of the many plotlines swirl around. Dan Spielman and Ashley Zukerman are fantastic in their very different parts. Because one is a journalist and one is a computer genius, they find themselves in the middle of a high stakes, big money, conspiracy involving people who will kill to keep their secrets.
In the beginning, we see Ned working at press briefings in the federal building. Sophie Walsh (Chelsie Preston Crayford) is Director of Communications for the Prime Minister. She’s also an old friend of Ned and Jesse’s. One day she leaks some photos of a legislator behaving badly to Ned. Tucked between the photos is a torn off scrap of paper with the name of a small town in the outback on it.
Even though Sophie isn’t the one who put that slip of paper there, she continues to be the connecting point between many of the government powers with a secret agenda and the press. Even when it gets her in hot water with her bosses.
When Ned researches the town on the scrap of paper, he learns two Aboriginal teens in the outback were involved in a crash. The girl died, but the boy survived. The boy, Clarence (Aaron L. McGrath), can’t recall all the details of the crash. As time goes by he remembers more and more details which lead to the answers about what happened.
Alex Wisham (Lucy Lawless) is the teacher in the small community. The local policeman Tim Simons (Aaron Pedersen) is the father of her teenage daughter Missy (Mitzi Ruhlmann).
Alex is involved in the lives of her students and helps Clarence’s mother (Ursula Yovich) look after him in the hospital. She adds her own bit of connection between Ned, who gets to know her, the locals, and the investigation into the accident with the truck.
As the season goes by, we learn more about the contents of the truck and why everyone from local policemen to the highest levels of government are trying to cover up the accident and especially the contents of the truck.
Finally, there’s Hani Parande (Adele Perovic) who befriends Jesse. She is the first woman to show an interest in him and he falls for her immediately. Because of Jesse’s different mental processing, he doesn’t understand a lot of normal body language and verbal cues between people. Hani handles it all beautifully.
Hani is an Iranian whose parents are in jeopardy of deportation. Her relationship with Jesse is clouded by his problems with knowing whether or not to trust her, and our knowledge as viewers that she’s being controlled by the cop Lyndon Joyce (Dan Wyllie).
These, then, are the major interlocking characters and story lines that carry us through season 1. It’s a tightly plotted, quickly moving story. Most decisions made to move the story forward involve one person choosing to do something dangerous or illegal in hopes of protecting someone they care about. It’s the most predominant motivator in this action packed tale of power and corruption.
A feature of the story, which involves a lot of things happening on computer and phone screens, is throwing the graphics up in front of the action. You can see an example of that in the feature photo at the very top. It makes it easier for the audience, and I for one, appreciated it. Text messages flash up in easy-to-read formats. Computer screens are easy to see and follow. Digital worlds underpin the real world events in The Code. The technique made the story, which could be quite complicated, easier to follow.
Shelley Birse created and wrote The Code. She’s a prolific writer in the world of Aussie TV. She served as producer and showrunner for The Code and undoubtedly deserves much of the credit for how engaging and exciting it is.
There have been two seasons of The Code. Netflix has season 1 only as of this writing. Acorn.tv has both season 1 and season 2. Each series has six episodes. Season 1 was released in Australia in 2014. Season 2 aired there in 2016. Here’s the season 1 trailer.