We first reviewed Asset when it premiered, and after only having two episodes to watch. Now with a full season, we re-visit a fantastic suspense show.
Eric Blair (Matthew Carvery) is a fairly ordinary Canadian guy. For some reason, though, he’s been lured to Prague by winning a contest he didn’t enter. Okay, now most people would be skeptical, right? But, Eric’s unemployed and very curious so, what the hell, why not?
Once in Prague, Eric learns that the contest was a ruse by the CIA to use him in an operation to bring down Valentin Lazarev (Michael Chwastiak), a Russian arms dealer. Now, first, Eric is Canadian. They make that very clear, even to the point of sewing a Maple Leaf onto his backpack. So, why is the CIA trying to use a Canadian? Maybe it’s not THE CIA. It must be Canadian Intelligence, the CIEh. Yeah, that’s it. Not really. It’s the CIA.
So, what’s the CIA doing? Eric turns out to be an important asset. His ex-girlfriend Nadja (Alysa King) is married to the bad guy. Real spies have failed against Lazarev. They’re always discovered. CIA agent Julia Carlysle (Victoria Sullivan) convinces her boss, Paulson, (Jeff Sinasac) to recruit Eric because he’s not a real spy so he should be impossible to detect. The situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part. With no training and no experience and no cool weapons or gadgets, Eric goes in.
Eric is clearly in over his head. He’s manipulated by everyone around him, particularly his CIA handlers, Julia and her partner Tom Arbor (Chris Whitby). Things happen so that Eric doesn’t know whom to trust, but he has to trust someone. Julia is inept and Arbor, who just wants to kill everyone and be done with it, constantly clashes with Eric. Along the way Eric encounters Katyenka (Hannah Spear), an FSB agent also on Valentin’s trail, and has to deal with the distrustful Dmitri (Yury Ruzhyev), Valentin’s operative who seeks to depose him as the head of the cartel. All the while, Eric is the recipient of Valentin’s menacing glares. As the deaths pile up, Eric stays in to protect Nadja, and the only thing keeping him alive is that he’s so not a spy that he can’t be sniffed out as a spy by Anya (Tonya Dodds), Valentin’s loyal operative. Eric can be a loose canon trying to exert some control over situations in which the other participants are far more experienced and adept. He finds out that being a spy isn’t as easy as it looks on television and it’s this fish out of water aspect that makes Asset different from most other spy shows.
Asset was written and produced by what’s come to be an A-List of Canadian web series talent; Jonathan Robbins, Mike Donis, Vanessa Chiara, Carrie Cutforth-Young, Rodney V. Smith, Danielle Thorne, and Matthew Carvery and Charles Barangan the show’s creators and lead writers. It was beautifully shot on location in Prague. The Asset team has created a visually stunning treat. I loved the use of the show’s cold opening that paid homage to the Bond movies. Asset also has amazing theme written by Adrian Ellis that completely matches the look, feel and style of the cinematography and story.
So, what does this all lead to? A terrific, action-suspense show. Sure, there’s some suspension of belief (or is that disbelief, we’ll have that conversation another time) required, but, so what? That’s usually the case with suspense shows. Asset is a fun story that’s well written with twist and turns and just enough surprises to keep things interesting as well as entertaining. Plus, it has several Pete Winning references. Asset is an intriguing, well-acted and well-paced show that may be best enjoyed in a binge. So, go get the popcorn and grab a seat on the sofa and spend a couple of hours with Asset. You don’t have anything better to do.
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By Jeff Siniawsky