13/21 Season Four, Episode One: Stemwinder I

Back to the agency..
Quidd: She’s struggling with a post-perceptive avoidance reaction.
[Ugh. Yep. We have another kooky psych moment in smk world!]
Billy: Spare me the psychobabble.
Quidd: That’s not babble; I could give you babble.
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Billy: Don’t.  I need something solid now; this is Amanda King in here. I know her. I can get through to her.Stem I.avi_001617450
Quidd: Just my point. You have a bias…
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…You side with her and Scarecrow.  You owe it to her, Billy, to let us be as rigorous as possible. I don’t like it, but… there could be questions later on.Stem I.avi_001629863
(Billy considers this.)
[Billy owes it to Amanda? Oh purlease!
I’m going to call Quidd half-Quid. This probably doesn’t translate for Americans.. but in Australia when someone is half quid they are stupid! ‘Quid’ being another name for a pound (money not weight). Or, some say someone is ‘not the full quid’- get it?
So… Quidd is half-Quid! I usually avoid aussie slang – but it’s so appropriate for half-Quid I have to use it!]Stem I.avi_001630764
Quidd: Murder and treason do raise them.Stem I.avi_001633667
(Billy doesn’t answer.
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Instead he turns and switches the speaker on so he can hear Amanda’s errr ‘interview’)
Operator: Now, Mrs. King, concentrate, please.Stem I.avi_001635669
Amanda: I’m concentrating, but I should be out looking for Lee.
Operator: Mrs. King, please, just answer the questions.
Amanda: All right.
Stem I.avi_001643276
Operator: Now, Scarecrow found himself in a dynamic situation… yet you say he set a time limit, correct?Stem I.avi_001645378
: He felt he could attain his objective by then.Stem I.avi_001651685
(We see a close up of what I guess is a lie detector.) [eek!]Stem I.avi_001655088
[There’s a few lines there off the page! lol that doesn’t look good! Must have been an earthquake 😉 oh wait.. no something is not right here! 😉 ]
Operator: Mrs. King, I know what his objective was.
I’m looking for a yes or no answer here. Did you believe him?

Amanda answers firmly: Yes!  He promised.
Stem I.avi_001661094
Quidd: ‘Promised.’ That’s a noodle we can work on…
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…Field agents trust facts, not promises. Stem I.avi_001669502
[What the heck is this half Quid going on about?! Field agents are human beings. Not robots. And, why is Amanda being interrogated about whether she ‘believed’ him? I thought only facts were important.. Seems bias is present in these questions!]
Billy: Noodle? [lol!]Stem I.avi_001670103
Billy turns the speaker off.
Quidd: Put the pressure on her. Come on, Billy—you know how it goes… [No! that would be bias! Winking smile ] …Better we succeed now; compared to what comes later, this is a pat on the back… [Why is the assumption that she is lying? and that Lee is dirty? They haven’t even done a proper investigation yet! It’s early days!! Plenty of bias here – close minded half quid!]
…First, the debilitary drug series, then… sensory deprivation… and, finally, induced psychotic phobia.
[What the heck is this agency Amanda has gotten involved with??!!!!!]Stem I.avi_001686519
(Well. Half-Quid’s threats jolt Billy into action! He storms into the interview room.)

Amanda: Sir! Any word on Lee?
(Billy sets to work unplugging Amanda)
[Phew. Billy puts a stop to this, to avoid what Half-Quid described is ahead for Amanda… unless she gives the responses they are after because….. they have no bias! Winking smile ]
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Operator: Uh, just a minute—we’re not quite finished.Stem I.avi_001695528
[Billy doesn’t respond to her. He just continues to unhook Amanda]
Quidd: Maria…Stem I.avi_001696529
(Half-Quid motions to Maria to stop..)Stem I.avi_001696629
Billy: Nothing, yet.Stem I.avi_001698231
Amanda: Thank you, Sir.
Billy: Come on.
(With Amanda unhooked, Billy rushes her out of that room and out of the clutches of… Maria and half-Quid!)
Who doesn’t love papa Billy in this moment?!!!

Phew! this episode is really starting to get intense.. We’re off to see the wizard intense! Everything is on a knife’s edge intense! I don’t remember there being this ominous tone in this ep.. but then, earlier viewings all I probably cared about was Lee and Amanda lol.

Half-Quid’s reasoning that Billy is unsuitable to talk to Amanda is some strange logic. Half-Quid seems to regard ‘relationship’ as all liability and no asset… It’s automatically assumed that if you know someone you will be biased [which in itself is biased] and okay maybe you could be… But that doesn’t mean the relationship would be of no assistance when seeking the truth! This is rather black and white thinking for a trained psych, who is supposed to be a character who understands the nuances of the human psyche [even the Lisbon variation Winking smile whooo]. I’m thinking this is likely the agency’s view of relationships – they are a liability/complication /weakness. Unless they are being used to pull off some kind of operation. Maybe this is how Francine views relationships too? It fits IMHO.

The pseudo relationships and genuine relationships on display in this episode so far are interesting to me. I wonder if that whole idea that one must be careful because one doesn’t know what is real and what isn’t is a big part of this story being told.. There seems to be a contrast developing – between real relationships and fake.. at an interpersonal level, and an organisational level! This is fascinating to me! I’m looking forward to exploring this!

Billy seems to be banking on his relationship with Lee and Amanda.. Francine seems to be open to anything.. maybe they are dirty. IFF? Seems to automatically assume someone is dirty – there seems to be zero concern for Lee and his well-being so far. Cold!! I remember this came up in the Pharaoh’s Engineer.. I was not comfortable with the concept of the agency being ‘family’ –this is a pretty ruthless ‘family’ – okay maybe it’s like being in the mafia! lol.

One last thought, interesting that in reach for the sky, Amanda and Lee work outside the agency to rescue Billy from his own interrogation by Cyclops..

I wonder if Amanda has a mantra!
Was Billy at the psychotic phobia stage when he was rescued?!

Okay now I’m just rambling! I better pause here.. Can’t wait to hear from you!!

25 responses to “13/21 Season Four, Episode One: Stemwinder I

  1. Please use Aussie slang! I love learning new slang…especially things that are appropriate for me to say in front of my kids. I love it when that get that look on their faces when I’ve used slang that they don’t know. Lets them know I’m not the half-quid…and that maybe they are 😀

    I feel bad for Amanda here; she’s got to be wondering what the heck is going on. She is clearly out of depth without Scarecrow. Plus she has to walk the tightrope of not revealing why Lee promised to be out of there yet getting her interrogator to believe her. I get where Half-Quid is coming from, but Billy is the only one other than Lee who really does know Amanda. And if Amanda were to say anything to anyone at the Agency, it would be Billy.

    Yay, Billy! Go get her out of there! He’s playing Lee’s role in this scene – the hero role anyway. Billy’s just plain awesome.

    What you say about how the Agency views relationships makes a lot of sense, and it really could explain Francine and her lack of relationships. So if there is a contrast developing between real and fake relationships, I’m guessing that also must apply to Lee and Amanda’s.

    I think everyone at the Agency, including Amanda, is very puzzled at what is going on with the disappearance of Lee. Because they chose to use the Lisbon variation of the peacock dance, I’m guessing they’re concerned that the initial fakeness of it turned real to Lee and he succumbed to temptation. Only Amanda knows he didn’t, and I strongly suspect Billy doesn’t believe it either. I think he’s watched Lee and Amanda and suspects they are in a relationship, but because he doesn’t know for sure (and this is Lee we’re talking about who is only a short time away from his old ways) perhaps there is a small sliver of doubt in his mind that Lee fell for Sonya? Just rambling here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rofl. happy to help you keep your children humble BJo haaaaa..

      Billy is indeed simply wonderful here!!

      perhaps there is a small sliver of doubt in his mind that Lee fell for Sonya? Just rambling here.

      Interesting! I think you’ve responded to Learjet here about this – I’ll respond to that comment of yours..


  2. While I do like the protective mode that Billy is in here regarding Amanda, I wonder about his statement that he can get through to her. I’m stuck on one of the words that Quidd uses. It’s avoidance. Just what is it that they think Amanda is trying to avoid or hide? Why does Billy need to get through to her? Is it because they think she’s not telling them all she knows? And maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill of a word. But Amanda has never shown that she is not one to trust, even in Spiderweb. Although, Billy did order Lee to search Amanda’s house.

    There is one other set of words that I like and that is how Quidd refers to Amanda as a field agent. She has come a long way.

    Iwsod, I like what you say about the pseudo vs.genuine relationship dynamics here. I think this has been a bit of a thread throughout this series. What has sometimes been referred to as real, has not been. And sometimes what has been faked has become real.

    I really don’t like what Quidd suggests is next for Amanda. Is this really how they would treat their agents. Not a lot of support or consideration here. Some pretty intense stuff.


  3. Quid/half-quid annoys me. All those words that he tosses around: ” rigorous”, “bias” etc. Please SMK don’t use those kind of terms if you don’t know what they mean. This is one of those moments when my RL knowledge makes me want to hit the screen. * Post-perceptive avoidance reaction*? 😡

    Love how Billy behaves here – but then Lee and Amanda were there for him at his worst moment too. Frightening how everyone else at the Agency seems to have turned on Lee so quickly. Surely it’s quite common for “the enemy” (ie Russia and allies back in the day) to try to twist a situation to implicate an American spy? Shouldn’t the Agency take this into account??


    • I’m wondering if the whole Lisbon variation of the Peacock Dance coupled with the fact that no one knows Lee has pretty much parted with his old Scarecrow ways is what is allowing everyone at the Agency except Amanda to think Lee could have given in to the temptation presented in the form of gorgeous Sonya. I’m thinking that because has such a stellar track record (that we know of anyway) of not being implicated by the enemy, that this may look rather suspicious?


      • Yeah I think Lee’s history is a factor in this and how others may be viewing him… it’s possible..

        But then, I don’t know.. Lee played the game a lot of years with the ladies – but he didn’t throw it all away over one. He kept things very noncomittal.. soooo in that sense even Francine should be surprised if he ran off with a woman. Full stop!! 😉

        Also, while Lee had a playboy history – he also had a history as a staunch patriot. So if you can accept he gave it all up for a woman (and her gourmet cooking), you would be IMHO less likely to accept that he betrayed his country – for any reason..

        I think Francine bought the idea.. and many others did, and they of course were wrong to do so – overall it tells me that these people don’t really know Lee at all. Which is IMHO part of the overall theme of this two parter- real relationships vs fake relationships.. and genuine relationships vs superficial relationships (i.e. ones where people really know you vs those where they don’t!)


        • I think that’s my point, iwsod. I think Lee’s co-workers are realizing they don’t really know Lee at all, which is why they could contemplate Lee being a traitor. Even if there is a sliver of doubt, in this business I would think they’d need to assume the worst until they had an explanation or proof otherwise. Lee’s attachment and professional commitment to a housewife from Arlington had to take the Agency personnel by surprise. Even if they don’t know all the details, surely everyone knows that Amanda is his “partner” even if she is not an official agent. That’s unexpected behavior right there – I think Francine still doesn’t get that, and therefore with the current circumstances, she has to think it could be possible Lee is up to no good no matter how much she wants to believe that he is a patriot. Lee’s work situation has changed too. He’s now in charge of the Q. His office is not in the bullpen anymore, so he’s out of everyone’s eye even when he’s in the office.


          • “… I think Francine still doesn’t get that, and therefore with the current circumstances, she has to think it could be possible Lee is up to no good no matter how much she wants to believe that he is a patriot. …”

            My thoughts about Francine’s reaction here is that she would rather see Lee commit treason cozying up with a pretty, young KGB agent-wannabe than see Lee fall for the housewife from Arlington. After all, Francine did gain Lee’s romantic attention for a short time and she does have her own precious romantic reputation to protect!


          • ohhh sorry BJo! Then- I agree! 🙂

            Even if they don’t know all the details, surely everyone knows that Amanda is his “partner” even if she is not an official agent. That’s unexpected behavior right there – I think Francine still doesn’t get that, and therefore with the current circumstances, she has to think it could be possible Lee is up to no good no matter how much she wants to believe that he is a patriot.

            I think at this stage they’ve been partners in the eyes of fellow workers for a few years now. Yes I agree. I remember at the start of OOADP another agent commented to who he thought was Amanda – that he thought she and Lee were together together because they were so tight..
            Sounds like, if I’ve understood you correctly, Francine can better understand someone being a traitor and seduced by the enemy, than someone being a patriot and genuinely falling in love with a housewife/ probationary agent – this works for me 🙂


  4. I’m working myself up to comment properly but first I have to get over the nausea that hits me every time I watch this scene. Not sure if TPTB decided to emphasize the nitty-gritty of spy work this season but they are really heaping on the skin-crawling stuff in this episode.


  5. While I do think the SMK writers are ratcheting up the reactions of Francine, Quidd and the Agency for dramatic effect, I could also see that in the super-spy business an agent under investigation would necessarily be deemed guilty until proven innocent. This is not to say that everything in this scene makes perfect sense to me, but as an overall motivation for what’s happening, I get it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Plus Lee is the top agent at the Agency who knows an awful lot of information that could devastate US intelligence if found out by the Russians. I’m guessing they need to know as fast as possible by whatever means necessary to figure out what is going on with their man. If Lee had truly turned his back on his country, I would think a lot of people could be killed and the Agency made a virtual complete loss. He could tell the Russians it’s secret location! lol


      • “… . He could tell the Russians it’s secret location! lol”

        BJo, your tongue-in-cheek parting quip sure tickled my funny bone!

        For anyone with a faulty memory … in regards to the sanctity of The Agency’s need-to-know “secret location,” the cat’s been out-of-the-bag for some time. KGB agent Yuri Valov, way back in S2’s “Playing Possum,” had no trouble finding it!


        • rofl. Yep BJo has a wicked sense of humour 🙂 Love ya BJo!

          yes the location of IFF is as secret as the location of Lee’s apartment!! 🙂 oh and Amanda’s house too come to think of it..


  6. It doesn’t seem like a family to me. Billy, Amanda and Lee being the exceptions. I wonder if it was more like a family when Harry Thornton established the agency and under Smythe it has gotten colder and colder. Threatening somebody who still has a visitors pass with what half a Quid wants to do seems so over the top. It always struck me how Amanda’s first thoughts are why aren’t we out looking for Lee, why am I in here going through this when I should be out there searching and you should be too. That absolute trust is something that is lacking from all the others but very real to Amanda and Lee now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Half-Quid the psychiatrist, sounds like he gets way too much joy out of making others uncomfortable, it’s almost sinister. He should be curling his long black moustache while glaring thru squinting eyes…. just creepy. I’m thinking he’s the one needing a psychiatrist…. Bravo Billy, for getting in there and coming to Amanda’s rescue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe Half-Quid is the one in charge of the Agency’s interrogation techniques of spies from other countries? Maybe all he knows is how to interrogate and torture to get the information he wants? And since there is a question of Lee/Amanda’s loyalty here coupled with all the information Lee knows that could compromise the US, maybe they brought in the big gun?


  8. Yes, I think Half-Quid sounds accurate. 🙂 🙂 There’s also the old American slang “noodlehead” which also means stupid person. Half-Quid apparently likes ‘noodles.’ 😉

    Wondering how much Amanda’s emotional state (i.e., Where’s Lee?) is contributing to her response on this test. Billy ought to know this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “I’m thinking this is likely the agency’s view of relationships – they are a liability/complication /weakness. Unless they are being used to pull off some kind of operation. Maybe this is how Francine views relationships too?”

    I am in agreement with you on this, iwsod. I think Billy is the only one at the agency (other than Amanda, obviously) that can see relationships as more than a liability/weakness. I was going to include Lee with Billy too, but that remains to be seen in the episode so far. This will be a real test to see how everyone handles relationships when things get really complicated. Lee made huge strides in ‘Unfinished Business’, but it would be very easy for him to go back into lone wolf mode.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Half-Quid, half a quid, indeed. I am in total agreement, I know nothing about espionage and how they think, but other than Billy, at The Agency/IFF, they seem to assume the worst. Even as they did with Billy in Reach For the Sky, Lee in Burnt Out and Amanda in Spiderweb.


  11. “Now, Scarecrow found himself in a dynamic situation…”

    Found himself! Seriously? As I recall, Scarecrow was ordered to PD with the LV by The Agency powers that be. He had to keep at it till they were ready to give him the frequencies to pass to Sonja (the Soviet carrier pigeon).

    “…First, the debilitary drug series, then… sensory deprivation… and, finally, induced psychotic phobia.”

    I feel horrible for Amanda. IMO, Half-Quid is a creepy borderline sadist, who assumes she and Lee are guilty. WAY TO GO BILLY for springing Amanda!! Score one for the presumption of innocence.

    Liked by 1 person

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