"Traitors” is exactly what’d you expect, in the best possible way. Angsty mustachioed men, seductresses with dreams of adventure and a starry-eyed young guy who just wants to change the world, this show delivers it all.
“Traitors” revolves around a young woman, Feef (Emma Appleton) who is recruited to spy on her government for Americans in the aftermath of WWII, egged on by a fanatical secret agent, Rowe (Michael Stuhlbarg). It follows her progression in espionage and eventual doubts.
While Appleton, was of course, amazing as Feef, I cannot stress enough how amazing Stuhlbarg was in this. Even his mustache seemed to bristle with fervor for The Cause. You could tell no Russians were gonna get past this guy. He also murders two people in two episodes, which didn’t hurt the drama at all, let me tell you.
All of the characters are well-written, and the dialogue, while not incredibly snappy, was moving and draws you into the plot. The show does a great job of fully showing post-war tensions and troubles, especially the upper class divide and the demand for change amid an already fragmented and torn society.
Feef, as a privileged upper class bureaucratic worker, begins to see this political strife up close, challenging her worldview in interesting ways. The show also shows sexism and homophobia, exploring a lot of social issues in ways that other period pieces don’t usually cover.
The character of Jackson Cole (Brandon Bell) is a great example of this. He is disillusioned and rightfully cynical, he shows how undervalued and ignored African-American soldiers were and how even war wasn’t enough to change anything. I fully supported his decision to work for Rowe. It was kind of admirable how he looked out for himself in a hostile world.
Jackson also contrasts with Feef in their ways of espionage. Jackson is successful because nobody notices him, while Feef is successful because she’s upper class and beautiful. He’s invincible and she’s highly visible. They make great spies like that. Rowe’s really good at forming his spy team. He’s pretty cool, though morally dubious.
Unfortunately, Rowe’s little spy empire begins to fall apart as Jackson and Feef start questioning things more and more. It doesn’t help that Feef is entangled with an idealistic young politician, Hugh Fenton (Luke Treadaway) who's trying his best to rebuild the government she’s spying on. Romance! Drama! More intrigue! Everything about this show is great.
Another great thing about the show is the outfits, shallow though it may be. Anyone who says they don’t love 1950’s fashion is a dirty liar. If you don’t want to watch the show for the drama, murder, and political intrigue, do it for the clothes. "Traitors" has something for everyone.