2/3 Season Four:Episode Twenty–Suitable for Framing –Scarecrow and Mrs King

Let’s keep going!
In Billy’s office, Lee and Billy discuss the case..
Lee: Why’d those guys in the station wagon chase us the first time, then not even go after us at the University? There’s something … very weird going on here.
[Agreed! Is ‘chase us the first time’ referring to how they chased Francine out of L’etoile? because they didn’t chase her once she handed over the papers to ‘Brian’! So while it’s great Lee is asking questions.. none of it makes sense.]

Billy: What about Benedict? [What a name. SMK does love to give clues with names.. Benedict the famous traitor.]
Lee: Francine convinced him to let her take him to a safe house…
(Billy is cranky this valuable information is floating around out there.. and Lee agrees it stinks.) 
Billy: From what Francine told me, it looks like those papers are somehow connected to Chernev’s “Trojan Horse.” It would be safe to assume, then, that the Russians want them back!
Lee: Any luck with Andropolous?
Billy: Yes. All bad. He crossed the border from Greece into Bulgaria four weeks ago and no one’s seen or heard of him since.
Lee: Well, where was he calling from, some small village in the Balkans?
Billy: Hardly. According to the computer log, the call was placed … here.
[lol I think the dialogue in this scene is full of hints of what’s really happening here.. Remember, it’s operation ‘Trojan Horse’! why would the Russians want Trojan horse back? putting it out there was key to the deception.
Then, they throw in a couple of Greek references. aie. Just when I think SMK is phoning it in, they go and deliver dialogue like this. very clever IMHO!!!]

Francine turns up… with a new theory from Brian for them to follow up…
Francine:  Benedict thinks his girlfriend may have the papers. They were in a drawer with some dissertation notes that she was typing for him.
Great. Great! Let’s send a team to pick ‘em up.
Francine: We’re it. He wants you to meet him at his girlfriend’s rooming house. Here.
(She hands Lee the message.)
[Ohhhh Brian gets to dictate where they go next yet again. Now he gets to dictate who also?]
Lee (to Billy, skeptically): We are letting him walk away from the safe house?

Billy: We have no authority to limit his movement. He’s not under arrest. However, there’s no reason we couldn’t send someone … with him, to keep an eye on him?
(He looks at Francine pointedly.)
Francine (smiling): Already taken care of.

[She looks way too happy given the situation lol. I figure this is  Francine on the verge of panic!]
Billy: Good.

Lee and Francine head over to Brian’s girlfriend’s place.. like good obedient little spies. There is this little gem of an exchange as Francine and Lee arrive there.. Francine: Lee, listen.
Lee: Hmm?
Francine: I’ve thought this over … and over in my mind, and I really don’t know what I could have done differently.
Lee: Probably nothing! Don’t worry about it …

…relax, huh? You probably got as lucky with this guy as I did with Amanda.

[Love how he tugs up his pants as he says this like: yaaaassss I am the man!]
Francine (glancing at him skeptically): Oh, no way, he’s not my type.
[lol. he’s kinda young for Francine.. and way too poor.
BTW it’s a little ironic because way back, both Francine and Lee would have sworn Amanda was not at all Lee’s type! 😉 ]

Lee (exhaling): Oh, come on. (He gestures toward the building they are headed for.) Let’s close this case, huh?

[It’s lovely to see Lee be so supportive of Francine, when he could have turned on her. At the same time, I’m not as forgiving as Lee haaaaa.
Share your thoughts – what could Francine have done differently?
I’ll play armchair spy here and suggest.. the dumb drop at L’etoile was flawed from the start. Francine had zero back up [edited to add: Or did she?? If that one guy was back up he was lousy back up!]
Francine should have had a team supporting her, especially as the information was potentially priority 1. This would have prevented the need to hide the papers in the first place.

Of course, this would mean we have no episode.. so come on Iwsod play along here… I do love that it is highlighting how Lee and Amanda started being Lee and Amanda/ Scarecrow and Mrs King!]

It’s time for the Trojan Horse to be revealed for what it is!! I’ll rely on peacockdancer’s description here..
McCaslin: Hold it folks. (He reaches into his lapel and pulls out an ID). Dan McCaslin, CIA.
(Lee pulls out his Agency badge and shows it to McCaslin. Francine does the same.)
Francine (confused, shaking her head): CIA? We didn’t request inter-agency backup.
The door to the house opens again. Two men in suits are forcefully escorting the guy we know as “Brian Benedict” out of the house against his will.

Francine (flabbergasted): Why are you arresting Brian?

NotBrian (now speaking with a heavy Russian accent, pointing furiously at Francine): She’s the one! She has tricked me! You have tried to implicate me in illegal activities!

[NotBrian? haaaaa good one peacockdancer!]
(Francine’s jaw drops in astonishment. Lee looks grim.)
Francine: Me! You’re crazy!

(Lee and Francine watch as the CIA agents force NotBrian into a car.)
[I don’t think I’ve ever seen Francine more shocked and confused as this!!)
NotBrian (protesting angrily): This is ridiculous, I know nothing, I…
Lee: What the hell is going on here, McCaslin?
McCaslin: Well, your “Brian” is really Mischa Dubinski. A Soviet student from Kiev…
[Which btw is no longer Russia! Go Ukraine!]
We caught him with highly sensitive documents detailing our agency operations in Eastern Europe…

…Which he claims you (points at Francine) planted on him.
(Francine gives Lee a “can you believe this?” look. McCaslin and the other CIA agent walk away. Lee realizes that this is some kind of setup.)
Lee (aggrieved, shaking his head): Oh, no.

[Yeahhhhhh Uh Oh-ski!!! They are in big trouble-ski!!!
Yeah Lee’s been in this position before: set up by the Russians. Ugghhhh]

Next, we see the IFF coffee room. Guarded by errrr a guard with a machine gun?! oh rofl. Oh I see Dr Smyth is in there, maybe the guard follows him around from room to room.
Seems it’s time for the bad news..
Lee, Billy and Dr Smyth discuss recent events… why Francine is not there I have nooooo idea. She’s at the heart of everything that has happened, she should be there for this conversation. Hmmm.
Lee: They planted the kid, they gave him a cover, then they tricked Francine into recruiting him. It’s all supposed to look like they’re the victims.
(Dr. Smyth is playing idly with a chess set, cigarette holder in hand.)

Smyth (coolly): Certainly! And young Dubinski – née Benedict – is our “Trojan Horse.” Delivered by your source, Andropolous. It’s a classic. “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”
So it’s now the time in the episode where Dr Smyth plays chess, while delivering brutal pragmatics and throwing his agents under the bus. I find this scene really heavy handed. The dialogue is just dumb. Mr Smyth is tedious here to me.

My take away? Lee and Francine make the agency look bad, so let’s cut our loses. Lee and Francine have to tender their resignations in 36 hours, and no Lee you don’t get a chance to fight for your job (yet again).

The scene ends with a clunky reference to losing some pawns.
When Dr Smyth threw the pawn to Lee as he made his dramatic exit?? My eyes were rolling so hard, I’m afraid they won’t roll back into place again.

So, another one of those.. you are discredited and the agency is letting you go because it’s the easy thing to do for them even if it is unjust and not true. The agency chews up it’s agents and spits them out. They are disposable… This time – Dr Smyth literally refers to them as pawns. So now, it’s time to fight for your job with everything against you and the clock ticking.
You can only play this chess move so many times before the audience starts to think: Hmmm you know Lee, maybe you are better off not being with the agency??
You start to question- is it all worth it??
Especially when there are lots of sacrifices that mean missing out on weekends and hot Beef Wellington…. with his wife! you know?
I think the writers at this point in the show have overplayed this one.
My dream end to the show is Lee and Amanda saying so long to the agency. Seriously.
Anyway sorry getting sidetracked here..
Oh noooo will Francine and Lee be able to redeem themselves? Get their super fantastic jobs back and win back the trust of the wonderful agency?

The next scene is at the state department, where there’s a hearing with crowds watching on (including McCaskin, Billy and Dr Smyth).

Sergei outlines how poor Mischa was approached by the US government to entice him to spy on his own government and have documents planted on him.

It’s a secret ‘protest’ and not public knowledge, but it’s being threatened that they might release the knowledge to the public.
Sergei has visual aids!!

How convenient to have captured all this!!!

What luck! They managed to capture when Francine framed him!

And… with close ups!

It’s weird how Sergei says Mischa was approached ‘several weeks ago’, and then ‘a week ago’ they approached him again – the time she met him with Lee.
Not sure why they changed the time frames, maybe because they portrayed the first meeting as the second meeting. Not sure, but this way, the story they are putting forward for why Mischa was being filmed sort of makes sense to me. lol. But even then, this is so convoluted I’m not confident I’ve understood it, or that it can be understood! haaaaa.

Sergei says Mischa reported to the Russian embassy he had been approached.. sooo this was the Russians entrapping the Americans lol. oh sorry no it’s ‘an opportunity to document the US policy of harassment and entrapment of Soviet citizens’’. Riiiight. 

Aie anyone want to walk us through this logic? Please. go right ahead. 

Hearing all this, Dr Smyth tells Billy he wants their resignations immediately.

Lee and Francine resigning only plays into the propaganda and makes the Soviet story more convincing, I’m really not following why that would be a good idea just on a pragmatic basis alone!

The next scene is between Lee and Billy… it’s late, dark and they are alone in Billy’s office. Billy expresses regrets at how it all has to end… they are friends, but he can’t help Lee and Francine. yada yada. Resignations are wanted now, and Lee and Francine have 24 hours to clean out their desks.

Lee gets angry.. tells Billy to straighten his badge, and then leaves.

I see they have thrown in a little ‘The First Time’ reference here.. nice try, but I don’t see the connection. Okay, this might have made more sense if it was Amanda who handed over the papers maybe. I don’t remember Lee being asked for his resignation in TFT? There’s anger here, but not nearly enough for what is actually supposed to be going on here. I think this scene has a bit of a weird vibe.

Next up.. it’s 25 minutes into this episode and we fiiiiiiinally get a scene with Lee and Amanda together!!!!! so of course I’m going to include peacockdancer’s transcription of the whole scene.. I’ll take what I can get!

Lee opens the door to the Q-Bureau and walks in, a piece of paper in his hand. Amanda is seated at her desk. 
Lee: Hi.
Amanda: Hi.
(Lee closes the door. He looks at the paper, then hands it to Amanda wordlessly. He paces back and forth in front of Amanda as she reads it.)

Amanda (reading, while Lee paces): “I, Lee Stetson, am responsible for my actions and absolve the Agency from any blame or wrongdoing resulting—” I can’t believe you’re gonna lie like this!
Lee (fatalistically): At the Battle of Bull Run, the Saratoga Light Cavalry faced five hundred Southern cannon. An order to charge had come… It had been delayed, but foot soldiers didn’t question their orders, they charged. (He glances at Amanda, then continues pacing.) Astonished Southern gunners mowed ‘em down, all three thousand men. That was their war … this is ours. (Peacockdancer Observation: Lee needs to seriously brush up on his Civil War history.)

[Is ‘ours’ referring to him and Francine? My reaction to this little speech was- huh? what is he on about? I think this is supposed to be super dramatic, Lee falling on his sword, but I just find it a lot of words and blah blah blah.. Peacockdancer is this story not even accurate?!]
Amanda (incredulous): I can’t believe you’re gonna equate this to something like that!
Lee: I know, but we can reason why all we want. The point is, when the time runs out, we are gonna both do what’s best for the Agency, right?

[Uh, is he expecting that Amanda is just going to resign too?? Apparently!
Who is ‘we’??? I’m so confused.. 
Edited to add: The impression I got from the previous Lee/Billy scene was late at night and most people had gone home?? now Lee heads straight to the Q bureau and Amanda is still there? and it’s still daylight out?
Ohhhh kaaaaaay…]

Amanda (businesslike, picking up a piece of paper): All right, look. I checked the Eastern European roster they say we planted on Dubinski. (She hands the paper to Lee, who looks at it.) It’s current.

Lee: This thing is updated every two weeks, maybe we’ll be able to find out who leaked it to the Soviets...How many requests were there?
Amanda: Sixty-one, all legitimate. I’m already checking ‘em out.
[edited to add: If you haven’t checked them out yet, how can you say they are all legitimate?]

Lee: Good. Another thing we can try to run down is who tipped McCaslin at CIA … about Dubinski?

Amanda (shaking her head): You know, ah, you can tiptoe around McCaslin forever and you’re never gonna find anything out.

Lee: Well, I wasn’t thinking “tiptoe.” I was thinking “black bag”…

…and don’t get any ideas… You’re not going.
Amanda (indignantly): Why not, I passed my Agency infiltration test!

[Awh!!!! I miss all this Amanda learning to be an agent stuff!!!]
Lee: I know, but Francine is the agent of record, and for once, I just want you out of the line of fire. (He looks truly concerned about her.) Please, Amanda?

(Touched, Amanda gives him a small smile of acquiescence.)

What do you make of Amanda’s outfit? She does look great in the bright colours, however the brightness just makes the shoulders look even bigger! It’s a lovely colour on her… 
Thoughts so far? Anyone else as confused as I am? 
Looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts! 

7 responses to “2/3 Season Four:Episode Twenty–Suitable for Framing –Scarecrow and Mrs King

  1. Agreeing with others about how this went down for Lee and Francine. Yes, I’m glad this wasn’t about Amanda/Lee, but if it was, they may have needed more work on this story to make this plot work. Even a Stemwinder situation, if they wanted to frame two agents. Other than the outfits (love Francine’s dress, but that jacket could be altered, and also in agreement on Amanda looking sharp in that blue jacket), I’m not happy with this set-up.


  2. Okay, well, I guess I might as well offer a few other stray comments…

    “Straighten your badge.” I have watched this series over and over, yet never noticed that call-back to The First Time until you pointed it out here! Love it.

    Amanda in blue: The color is flattering on her. Very similar to the color of the dress she wore to the party in Service Above and Beyond as part of her “Victoria Greenwich” character. Unfortunately, both outfits are ruined by the shoulder pads and overall shapelessness.

    Battle of Bull Run: Iwsod asked if Lee’s soliloquy about the first major battle of the American Civil Was is accurate. Short answer: No. No it is not. I won’t bore people with details, I’ll only point out that it is very … odd for Lee to use this particular battle as an example of noble self-sacrifice on the part of Union soldiers who held their ground. If anything, the battle is remembered for precisely the opposite: when Union troops realized they were being badly beaten, they panicked and fled in disorganized chaos. On the other hand, maybe “disorganized chaos” is a better metaphor for the plot here, so whatever.

    “When the time runs out, we are both gonna do what’s best for the Agency, right?” Lee looked so pointedly at Amanda when he said that, I just assumed he meant that she would resign from the Agency along with him and Francine. Which seems extremely presumptuous of him! But maybe others think that “both” meant Lee and Francine? It certainly makes more sense, but his delivery and expression completely led me to believe otherwise.

    “Francine is the agent of record.” Even in the original (Amanda Redux) script, Francine and not Amanda was going to be the one to accompany Lee on the “black bag” operation to the CIA annex. But in Amanda Redux, Lee’s reasoning was that Francine should do it because Amanda was the agent of record, and Amanda would get in much worse trouble if caught – maybe even charged with treason. So – basically an entirely conflicting rationale. LOL.


  3. Apologies all there were so many typos in post 1 and 2 of this episode I couldn’t not go back and fix them.. aaaaand I kinda added in a few comments…
    I’ll try and pay more attention to proof reading before I publish post 3!


  4. Iwsod, as someone who is prone to nitpicking about poorly constructed Agency plotlines, I am glad to see I am not the only person who finds this one particularly aggravating! I agree with everything you pointed out above. Also, I forgot to comment earlier that you were totally right to point out that the Agency should have just gone in and pulled NotBrian out of his class, if they believed he was carrying classified information. They should have done this the second they ID’ed him.

    But how did they do that, anyway? He gave his fake name, “Brian Benedict,” to Francine the second time they met. Amanda ran a background check and found a record of a Brian Benedict who comes from small-town Ohio and is currently studying at Georgetown. Did she not find a photograph and have Francine check to confirm it was the same person? If not, I think Amanda messed this up. Maybe she’s the one who should be reprimanded! (Not fired, though!).

    If, on the other hand, they did check the photos, and they did match, that means the Agency has proof that the Soviets planted false information in this guy’s student record. But now the Soviets are saying that his name is “Mischa Dubinski” and he is an exchange student…. So that brings me back to thinking that the Agency did mess up the background check. But putting that aside…

    Sergei’s Trojan Horse operation was designed to make the Agency “look bad,” and in particular, to make its top agent (Lee) look bad (I’m assuming Lee was the original target, because Andropoulous reached out to him first; Francine was his second choice). And the U.S. response, when they figure out that they have been played is to…. force two of their best agents to resign? Sergei’s operation has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams!

    There is no way it would have worked out this way. Here is the more likely response: the U.S. has NO COMMENT on the allegation that Lee and Francine are U.S. intelligence agents. Other possibilities: (1) NotBrian is deported immediately, and (2) the U.S. demands that Sergei be recalled to the U.S.S.R. No one is getting dragged into the State Department to play along with what they KNOW is an elaborate Soviet trick. The end!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just a quick edit to the above… I just remembered that it was Francine’s photograph that Sergei was passing around at the KGB. So guess that Francine (not Lee) was the prime target after all. Why did Andropoulous ask to speak to Lee when he called the Q Bureau? So many holes in this plot…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I wanted to add — that scene with Billy is one that makes me cry almost every time I watch it. I love the “Straighten your badge” parallel. But seeing how hard it is on both of them just breaks my heart.


  6. And this is why I am glad they had to change it from being about Lee and Amanda to Lee and Francine. This would have been a horrible taint to Lee and Amanda’s memory of how they first met. I can’t believe the writers were going to go there with something so special.

    I also don’t see why Lee says “We’ll do what’s best for The Agency.” Forget The Agency, Lee. They are screwing you over. If I was being forced out like this there is absolutely no way I’d just “turn in my resignation.” If you want to fire me on the record, then you can darn well fire me and I’m not going to help you in the least.

    I’m too busy vibrating with anger to comment on the rest right now.

    Liked by 1 person

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