15/19 Season Four Episode Two: Stemwinder Part Two

Moving on, Alexi is looking at his watch..
Alexi: He is not coming here.
Sonja: It isn’t even time.Stem-II.avi_002021254_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
Alexi: He is not coming here at all.
Sonja: How can there be a mistake? This is what I copied from Rostov’s letter dropped to Stetson. “Monox Reclamation, 8:30.”Stem-II.avi_002031264_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
(Alexi slaps the note away from his face)
Alexi: Enough!
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(We cut to a wide shot, and find – ta da! Alexi and Sonja are not at a stadium. They are in a warehouse district.)
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[So Sonja and Rostov are double crossing Alexi huh.]
Alexi: Stetson would never select such a place… To an old spy, it just doesn’t smell right. [rofl maybe it’s a rubbish dump]
Sonja: Maybe Rostov picked it.
Alexi: Oh, undoubtedly. A bureaucrat with a thin imagination would think this delightful place for intrigue.
Sonja: That’s the answer then. He’ll be here.
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[Sonja is a rotten actress, way too casual with her grandfather, he’d be hard for her to fool I think because he knows her. She too easily agreed with him – IMHO of course]
(Alexi coughs.. and Sonja reaches to support him, with his right hand, he pulls out his gun unnoticed by her)
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Sonja: Grandfather?Stem-II.avi_002059325_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
(he turns around.. and Sonja sees his gun is in his hand.. uh oh..
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Alexi pushes her away from him, and aims the gun at her)
[this is a very different ‘spy family’ to Lee and Amanda!]
Alexi: Stetson would never agree. But you know that, huh, Sonja? [Ahhh so he was testing her!] Stem-II.avi_002069135_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
Sonja: You don’t trust me?
Alexi: Hah. You’re my granddaughter.
[Oh dear. You know what this means? Sonja can’t trust him either. i.e. he may actually shoot her!]
(Sonja walks away from him.)
[What is all that behind them? clothes? Scraps? lol. they decided to film this in the Warner Bros wardrobe department?! haaaaa]
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Sonja: I want you out of this. I did it for you.
(Alexi joins her, the gun still looming..)
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Alexi: At least don’t try to deceive an old deceiver, Sonjitchka. Rostov must have pointed out that you look good in Moscow.Stem-II.avi_002093460_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
[Ouchie.. there’s a cruel mix of affection and danger here in how Alexi treats Sonja – she really is just a pawn he uses I think. I suspect he has no idea how to be in a loving family relationship!]
Alex: You got them, ah, the Stemwinder frequencies… Stem-II.avi_002096463_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
…But if my plan had worked, the Agency would have eliminated Stetson and you would look even better.
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[Ohhh you did it for Sonja did you Alexi?!!!! Not!! Both of them are playing games within games – even between each other – Freud would have a field day with this family!]
Sonja: Well, it’s true…
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…With Stetson, Rostov can ignore your threats. But this blood thirst of yours—it can get us both killed, even by our own people.Stem-II.avi_002112379_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
[yeah!!! but then, Alexi cares less about Sonja getting killed and more about getting Lee killed!! The writing is on the wall- Sonja should move on! fly to Montevideo and start a new life without men using her all the time!]
(Alexi starts another coughing fit, and leans down with his gun. Sonja moves to take the gun but Alexi stops her… and.. stops his coughing suddenly)
Alexi: Don’t do it. Don’t even try.Stem-II.avi_002120387_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
Alexi: That American cough syrup—a wonderful medicine… Stem-II.avi_002125692_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
[she bought it for you! lol.. she should have drugged him with it!]
…A little test. We survivors never completely trust anyone. It’s how we survive…Stem-II.avi_002134501_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
[And a terrible way to live Sad smile ]
… You are helping Rostov take Stetson.
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Sonja nods: Rostov left me no choice.
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Alexi growls
: Neither do I. Stem-II.avi_002145412_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
[Her grandfather treats her no better than Rostov!]
(Alexi roughly grabs Sonja and pulls her into some kind of a sick embrace here.)
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Take me to Stetson or you will be running from my wrath all your life,…
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…even if you are flesh of my flesh…
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[Alexi looks positively possessed here! This actor is awesome!! like he could kill her now with his bare hands!!]
I have enough friends left in the KGB to make your life a living hell.Stem-II.avi_002160493_thumb_thumb_th_thumb_thumb
[Yet again, Sonja is being pushed around and used by a man.
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I’d say she’s thinking here that her life is already a living hell!!]
The scene ends here.

I think comparing the lives of Alexi and Lee are fascinating.. I think Alexi is a cautionary tale for all spies – and how the spy life can consume you and turn you into a monster – who would threaten his own granddaughter like this. Alexi is truly a monster.
He says he has no one he can trust, and that he can’t trust basically. His life has been a hard one.. betrayed by his country – because they believed Lee’s set up.. and I can totally see how he got to this point.. but he crosses a line here in my eyes – when he treats his granddaughter this way. His life may have helped him become a monster, but his own choices have also led to him becoming this monster. I’m really curious to hear what you all make of this!

And Sonja? While I hated seeing her Russian flesh eating bacteria act in episode 1, she’s consistently been used by men, pushed into a corner – lacking in power and agency of her own. And, given the context of her upbringing  – being Russian, working for the KGB, having a grandfather like this.. I can see how she at this point is a victim who is pushed and pulled between various forces and really without a will of her own. I think she did actually care about her grandfather- and for this reason, along with many – she really did want him to call off this vendetta and move on. So I find myself feeling Sonja is trapped and trying to find a way out – I don’t hate her.. (not that I like her either lol) but I do wish she’d just tell Alexi where is Rostov and get on a plane to start a new life for herself!

And isn’t it interesting that in this post and the last post – we have two major confrontational moments between two pairs who, on paper, should be on the same team – but are actually playing on different teams. Fascinating!  I think having these two  confrontations next to each other in the episode is really interesting.. Aside from Lee and Amanda, everyone is picking sides, declaring their teams for the final show down! And through it all, Lee and Amanda have each other – and are secure in each other.. their trust IS truly a miracle to have in this business!!!
Okay I’ve jabbered on long enough – I’ll turn the floor over to you guys – do share what you think with us!!! Smile 

10 responses to “15/19 Season Four Episode Two: Stemwinder Part Two

  1. “And isn’t it interesting that in this post and the last post – we have two major confrontational moments between two pairs who, on paper, should be on the same team – but are actually playing on different teams. Fascinating! I think having these two confrontations next to each other in the episode is really interesting..”

    Great point, iwsod! Taking it one step further, Alexi Makarov and Dr. Smyth are “two birds of a feather” in oh so many sinister ways. While Billy Melrose and Rostov may look similar on paper, I doubt Billy is up to this … [frosty exchange that took place in Stemwinder Part 2 blogpost 7/19 in Rostov’s home]:

    Alexi: In Siberia…I met a man named Bachta. He told me a fascinating story about black market ring in Budapest. Run, he insisted, by KGB operative named…Rostov!! Black market offenses are still capital crimes, Rostov.
    Brrrr…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Nancy for the kind words!

      While Billy Melrose and Rostov may look similar on paper, I doubt Billy is up to this …

      Interesting! This ventures into ‘the ends justify the means’ territory. Which is an undercurrent throughout this two parter – that IFF can be just as brutal as their enemies…
      Billy? this is an interesting question.
      I see Billy as having a moral line he will not cross.
      Dr Smyth? I think he has no moral line. He is amoral.

      What does everyone else think?
      While I share my opinion, we can all disagree and hold equal and different views 🙂 or lol you can just not hold a view because it doesn’t interest you haaaaaa.. bye! 🙂

      Like

      • I am enjoying you and Nancy comparing the players. I think we all consider Lee an ethical agent. Taking the comparisons a step further, we should consider that Lee got one over on Alexi when Alexi was well established and Lee was relatively inexperienced (like Sonya is now.) It sounds like Lee was pretty ruthless early on and exceptionally bright; Alexi was likely the same in the beginning. Perhaps but for Amanda being in his life, Lee (with his lone wolf ways) would have become another Alexi.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “… Perhaps but for Amanda being in his life, Lee (with his lone wolf ways) would have become another Alexi.”

          That’s an insightful, step-further assessment, katjielee. Lee, thankfully, wasn’t incarcerated by his own government; however, when Amanda first met him, Lee was already becoming hardened and cynical. We might even say, Lee was imprisoned emotionally by the death of his parents, a not-very-loving upbringing, Dorothy’s violent death, Eva’s rejection and the guilt over his partner’s death. Glad that Amanda, with patience and persistence, helped to free Lee from the cynical, vindictive path Alexi traveled.

          Like

  2. Since Alexi Makarov was imprisoned in Siberia for 9 years, his granddaughter (age 22 in this episode) was age 13 or younger the previous time they met. Siberia is way off the beaten track, which makes it unlikely that she visited him in prison, either. Sonja would have changed dramatically in those 9+ years, which means they don’t really know each other. In the first episode of “Stemwinder Part I” blogpost 1/21:
    Alexi: I will need a contact in Washington… someone to assist me. There is a person there, I have in mind.
    Andreev: You’ll be on your own in Washington, totally out in the cold. You do understand that?
    So Alexi’s mission is clearly not sanctioned by the KGB. I doubt Alexi’s novice KGB granddaughter was the assistant he sought, but with no other options available, he used her.

    Sonja was already in Washington, D.C. assigned to KGB-operative Rostov as her superior. Being a novice, her field operations would be peacock dances and low-level surveillance. So Sonja walked a fine line letting her grandfather into her apartment to abduct Scarecrow AFTER she procured the Stemwinder frequencies for Rostov.

    Now, however, she must make a choice between helping her grandfather murder Scarecrow OR doing the job she was assigned — to help Rostov lure Lee Stetson (alive) to Moscow. As an accomplice to a murder not sanctioned by the KGB, she will be committing treason against her own government and, because Sonja has no top secrets to disclose, she will be hung out to dry by the USSR. Simultaneously, she will be wanted by the USA and quickly captured to spend the rest of her life in a US Federal prison. She’s finally realized there’s no viable way forward for her own career by continuing to help her grandfather, so she’s actively helping Rostov by sidetracking Alexi. I don’t like Sonja, but think she made the right choice for herself since her own grandfather has not helped her at all.

    The actor playing Alexi Makarov does a great portrayal!

    Liked by 1 person

    • All sounds good to me! 🙂

      I can understand why Sonja made the choice she did (or tried to!)..
      I agree Alexi numerous times chose to put his pursuit of Lee ahead of Sonja..

      Like

  3. Devil’s advocate here. Her grandfather is an obvious influence on Sonya; however, I find myself wondering about her parents. Where is her father or mother? Were they spies too? Are they still living? Because the writers don’t tell us about her upbringing we really don’t know if she had any real choices or if she has any helpful resources available to counter Alexi’s threats. Working for the KGB would have been a good career choice in a country where there were few opportunities for anyone, especially women. The more I consider this lack of information, the less I’m prepared to view her with sympathy. She was esteemed enough within the KGB to get a good assignment to the U.S., and when it gets down to it, she was more interested in her perceived success by the KGB than her grandfather’s approval (until he threatens her blatantly.) I really think she figures Alexi will get killed in the final showdown and he won’t be a problem to her any longer. If that’s true, she is a master at the game, not a tool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whooo I love a bit of devil’s advocate – Go Katjielee! 🙂
      You raise great questions

      I find myself wondering about her parents. Where is her father or mother? Were they spies too? Are they still living? Because the writers don’t tell us about her upbringing we really don’t know if she had any real choices or if she has any helpful resources available to counter Alexi’s threats.

      maybe the absence of a mention of her parents is in itself telling.. I viewed this as information – her parents are not involved, and it seems to be they were not involved with Alexi – his son/daughter (who is Sonja’s parent) isn’t mentioned – so I think they have likely been dead for years, or are not in the spy bizz at all.
      My guess is they died when Sonja was young.. and her grandfather is her only family – whom she knew existed but had hardly a relationship with because he was in the gulag – of course this is all pure guesswork! but, I find her loyalty to her grandfather, her lack of mention of her parents, and her choice to enter the spy biz fits with her wanting connection with her grandfather – knowing he is a famous spy.. she may have chosen the profession partly because of that familial connection..

      Working for the KGB would have been a good career choice in a country where there were few opportunities for anyone, especially women.

      Indeed! Her love of American gourmet supermarkets hints she is enjoying the opportunity to travel and live in the USA- even if she is a loyal Russian.

      The more I consider this lack of information, the less I’m prepared to view her with sympathy. She was esteemed enough within the KGB to get a good assignment to the U.S., and when it gets down to it, she was more interested in her perceived success by the KGB than her grandfather’s approval (until he threatens her blatantly.) I really think she figures Alexi will get killed in the final showdown and he won’t be a problem to her any longer. If that’s true, she is a master at the game, not a tool.

      Interesting thoughts! I agree that it is suggested Alexi views her as a chip off the old block – he is ruthless and does what he has to in order to survive, Sonja takes after him and can be equally ruthless… and it seems Alexi had no expectation of anything different! There is to me almost a hint of admiration there that she gave it a go – but.. he is the master of Ruthless and he anticipated it! 😉 Ahhh what a dysfunctional family dynamic!
      It’s fun to explore with you Katjielee! 🙂

      For me, at some point Sonja had to try and make a choice between all these competing forces – she seems to chose Russia and the KGB. but in the end Alexi hijacks her choice and forces her to do his bidding.
      I do wonder if she will acquesce…
      we shall see!

      So who here is utterly bored by Alexi, Sonja, Rostov, Francine, Billy, and Dr Smyth?
      We’ve had two posts with no Lee and Amanda!!! I am enjoying the side players but it also feels a bit wrong at the same time!! LOL.. Or is it just me?

      I think moving into season 4 I’ll need to keep an eye on the pacing, and see if maybe things need to be adjusted. I want to explore, but I don’t want the walk to become onerous either!
      I’m open to feedback for how the walk can be enjoyable for all.. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loving your reflections on Sonja here. I’m seeing her in a whole new light – I started the episodes by violently disliking but now I’m seeing her as a victim of her upbringing and her circumstances. Without decent role models from her family or an honourable mentor, she’s had a hard time. And the way she behaves men (eg Lee) is probably because this is the only way that she feels she has any power over them.

    Liked by 1 person

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