With Netflix’ The Spy now making its way worldwide across the platform I thought I’d examine the secret service series to uncover everything that you need to know about the events portrayed in it and it’s ending.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you haven’t had a chance to watch the show yet then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
With that out the way I just wanna give a huge thank you for clicking this video, I hope you enjoy it, now let’s get into my breakdown of The Spy.
The Spy Plot Recap
The Spy centers around Israel’s top Mossad spy Eli Cohen ironically played by Sasha Baron Cohen. Eli is an Egyptian Jew was a key player in smuggling Jewish people out of Egypt but since then, life has become slightly mundane for him. Eli starts the show as a lowly typist in an office, often looked down upon by those in upper society but after being recruited by the Israeli government he slowly finds himself on a downward spiral that sees the man losing his family, life and even identity.
Eli is a natural when it comes to espionage and the character is played expertly by Cohen who perfectly portrays all of the subtle nuances that lace the performance with a subtly that makes Eli engaging, methodical but also dangerous. Even with a mustache that should scream Borat to people, Cohen still completely avoids this stereotyping and makes the role his own. You can tell that Cohen put a lot of work into this and it’s an authentic and believable performance that beautifully showcases the conflict of a man leading a double life that is based on lies and mistrust.
There’s an air of Schindler’s List about the piece with a man using his charms to integrate with society and it’s clear that Eli is very skilled at befriending and manipulating people.
The Life Of A Spy
Initially, the life of a spy seems exciting and it’s easy to relate to Eli and see how such a service would seem attractive to a man who up until this point has lead a rather mundane life. He’s fighting for the country that he loves and the sense of danger that this provides is thrilling and exciting, especially with the number of close calls that there is.
But it puts a huge strain on the relationship with his wife and ultimately he loses more than he gains. Eli even starts dating someone to keep up the facade of his double life and it’s easy to see how he loses himself in the role.
Throughout the season we watch as Cohen builds relationships with high-ranking Syrian officials under the identity of Kamel, an importer, and exporter of textiles. He builds a large circle around him made up of politicians, military officers, and local authority figures and as things go on the situations get more and more extreme.
Juxtaposing this his relationship with his wife completely disintegrates to the point that he’s not even allowed to acknowledge that he has a wife for fear of discovery. After they have a child together Eli tries to stay but due to a sense of duty calls him back. He spies on several key members and even a military installation all with the purpose of building intel. It’s a gripping watch and one that often gets your heart pumping as you see Eli slowly inch towards his eventual fate.
The Spy Ending
When a bloody coup against the government is staged, which he is instrumental in it becomes clear that Eli may be in over his head, acting as a double agent that has helped to topple a government in order to complete his mission.
Eli comes face to face with the Bin Ladens and a young Osama as he slowly works his way up the ladder in the penultimate episode but the sharks slowly start to circle him, suspecting that there is a spy in their organisation. Eli is asked to be the new deputy minister of defense.
However, that didn’t mean that he was out of the woods just yet and not long after he was discovered. His family accidentally uncover his identity this sends Eli into a state of paranoia and rage that makes it clear that the pressure is getting to him.
Similar to events in the show, the Syrians used tracking equipment in order to capture any illegal transmissions, they were able to trace the signal to Cohen’s apartment where they pretty much caught him red-handed sending messages.
The Real-Life Story Of Eli Cohen
In real life, Cohen asked to leave the operation to witness the birth of his third child just before his eventual capture but Israeli intelligence ask him to return to Syria one more time which ended up being his last visit for all the wrong reasons. It’s a heartbreaking element to the story that really shows just how tragic the entire ordeal was.
Eli is tortured and interrogated and after being found guilty of espionage at a military tribunal and he sentenced to death. Israel did try to get the spy freed through a campaign of clemency but this fell on deaf ears even with the intervention of Prime ministers and the pope. Syria went ahead with the execution and in his final letter, Cohen wrote:
…I am begging you, my dear Nadia, not to spend your time in weeping about something already passed. Concentrate on yourself, looking forward for a better future!
The Spy Ending Explained
Eli was executed on the 18th of May 1965 in Damascus but his legacy lives on. In the finale we see a moth fly into a lightbulb and die and this works as a metaphor for the entire show. Like a moth to the flame, Cohen knew he was in danger but he couldn’t resist the allure of power. His ambition drove him and allowed the man to work his way up from a lowly desk clerk to someone that was considered for a huge position of power.
He flew too close to the Sun however and had he flat out refused to return to the country he would likely still be alive today. The government too do not come off scott free in the show either and it highlights just how expendable they view those as that they rely on the most. We watch in the finale that the government is still trying to recruit spies and Eli remains merely a statistic even though he helped to establish the intelligence agency more than they ever would have been without him.
It’s a really tragic story and one that will stick with you long after you finish watching it.
Cohen has since become a national hero in Israel with a large number of streets carrying his name. His family has been visited by many Prime Ministers over the year and there currently exists a memorial stone for him in the Garden Of Missing Soldiers, showcasing that though he may be gone, he is not forgotten.
Nadia still tries to get his body returned to Israel for a proper burial but as of this video Syria has refused.
I was really spellbound throughout The Spy and it’s grounded, tragic tale is really heartbreaking to watch play out, especially with just how likable Cohen is as an actor. It really shows what people lose when they sacrifice the things they love for their career and Eli’s story and legacy will no doubt live on for a long time due to the selfless work that he carried out in his time as a spy.
Netflix completely knocked it out of the park with this one and it stands strong with some of their best real-life adaptations such as Mindhunter and more.
The Spy is definitely the one to watch this weekend and at only six episodes it’s an easy binge that will keep you engaged from the beginning and throughout.
I absolutely loved The Spy and can’t recommend it highly enough.
You need to watch this and that’s why it gets a…
Obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on the spy and if you enjoyed it as much as I did. Comment below and let me know!