Review: The Code, season 2

Dan Spielman, Ashley Zukerman, and Anthony LaPaglia in The Code

Australian thriller The Code, season 2, takes us on another ride with brothers Ned Banks (Dan Spielman), a Canberra journalist, and Jesse Banks (Ashley Zukerman), a computer hacker.

Also coming along in season 2 is Jesse’s girlfriend Hani (Adele Perovic) and her parents. Michael Denkha and Victoria Haralabidou play Hani’s parents.

The tangled plot in season 2 revolves around the character Jan Roth (Anthony LaPaglia). Roth lives in West Papua. The Canberra authorities approach the Banks brothers because Roth runs a dark web site called UndaCounta. A young Canberra boy was kidnapped and is being sold as a sex toy on the site.

The Banks brothers are under threat of deportation because of stolen code from season 1. The authorities promise them that if they help find Roth’s servers and save the young boy, they won’t be deported.

Nothing is simple or straightforward in The Code. Jesse is soon snatched up by Roth, who takes him to West Papua. He wants a stolen American file decrypted and actually knows nothing about the sex trade his servers are used for. Roth is involved in the struggle for freedom that the natives in West Papua, including his wife and child, are engaged in. He wants the kidnapped child set free as much as Jesse does.

The final chip on the table is a mining operation in West Papua run by the Australians. They extract great wealth and the locals get nothing out of it.

Once again, the authorities – be they police, National Assembly legislators and Ministers, or crypto security organizations – all use the tactics of coercion, threats, and broken promises to get the cooperation of Jesse and his hacking skills. Everyone has an agenda of their own and Jesse is caught in their schemes and can’t get free.

Robyn Malcolm in The Code

New characters in season 2 include Robyn Malcolm as Minister for Foreign Affairs Marina Baxter. She’s in charge of the mining leases and under pressure to close the deal in Australia’s favor. She’s one of the few characters in authority with the moral instincts to do the right thing. Ultimately, she helps expose the whole corrupt mess when Ned uses his newspaper to take it all public.

Federal Police Detective Nolan Daniels (Ben Oxenbould) is another force for good, in an environment where everyone seems corrupt and morally bankrupt.

Ella Scott Lynch in The Code

Meg Lynch (Ella Scott Lynch) is a photographer. Ned knows her and seeks her help. She’s working in West Papua photographing the mine. She quickly begins helping Ned. She takes him there in search of Jesse.

Meg and Ned find Jesse and meet Roth. They get caught up in protests and demonstrations for independence in West Papua. They collect photographs and evidence regarding murders in West Papua that lead directly back to the Australian authorities.

Sigrid Thornton in The Code

Lara Dixon (Sigrid Thornton) joins the story as the head of the government’s cyber ops unit. She wants the same files Roth is trying to decrypt, and she’s ruthless in that pursuit.

The action jumps back and forth between the jungles of West Papua and Australia, especially the Australian Parliament House.

Ashley Zukerman and Dan Spielman in The Code

I found the constant threats to deport the Banks brothers, or deport Hani’s parents, or put people in prison, or kill innocent people, used to control Ned and Jesse really tiresome after a while. Not a single person made good on a promise to them. Ned and Jesse grew as tired of it as I did, and at the end of season 2 they finally did something about it. Hurray for them!

Quite a lot happens for the Banks brothers in personal terms. Their mother dies and they have a tentative reconciliation with their father (Geoff Morrell). Jesse forms a deeper relationship with Hani. He steps into his own power as an adult and independent actor who isn’t so tied to his brother for everything.

The stakes for the hacker moved international and finally global in season 2, but I didn’t find the story as interesting as season 1. Even so, it was still an action-packed thriller I wasn’t about to stop watching until the final resolution.

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. This trailer seems to have been created for the show’s airing in the UK.

This video includes comments on season 2 and its themes from creator Shelley Birse and director Shawn Seet, as well as some of the actors.

Have you seen season 2 yet? How do you think things are going to work out for Jesse and Hani in their new life?

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