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'COBRA' Recap: Season 2 Episode 5

Daniel Hautzinger
Prime Minister Robert Sutherland in COBRA season 2. Photo: New Pictures Ltd.
Robert is becoming increasingly paranoid, leaving his advisers nervous. Photo: New Pictures Ltd.

COBRA airs Sundays at 9:00 pm and is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes. 

The internet is festering with conspiracy theories, but so are corners seemingly less susceptible to paranoia—like the Prime Minister’s mind. An unflattering magazine profile of his wife Rachel has left him distrusting all journalists, and he’s also beginning to doubt his own advisers.

Audrey’s brother Cary is showing more fortitude than the PM in resisting outlandish stories. He lives in Kent, where the water pressure has been low, fueling speculation about poison or “quantum algorithms,” whatever that means, in the water. His wife Tina is starting to believe her right-wing, conspiracy-minded friend. People—including a resurgent Firestorm online—are telling people in Kent not to vote in upcoming elections.

Eleanor suspects a subtle malware attack is behind the water. But she’s still uncertain who’s behind all the cyber attacks. The CIA claims the memo sent to Hari Misra about a “sub-aquatic detonation system” is fake, manufactured by the Chinese—but that could also be because they’re facing a tense situation with China in the South China Sea. Robert wants Eleanor to launch minor reprisals against China and the other suspect, Russia, to let them know that the UK won’t take the attacks lying down.

Rodger Hawkins, Robert’s chosen candidate for an election in Kent, is happy to attack his opponent—in this case, Francine Bridge. Joseph warns him not to bring up race; Anna walks out of the meeting with him.

She commiserates with Rachel, who says Robert is jealous of Anna’s preference for Francine over Rodger. Anna suggests that Rachel get away from scandal and visit Ellie in Chile. (Robert is worried that Firestorm is displaying a symbol associated with a defunct extremist group in Chile, given his daughter’s life there.)

Rodger quickly betrays Joseph after a child in Kent develops a fatal meningitis that is contracted by inhaling contaminated water. This has people in Kent even more fearful of their water—Audrey and Cary argue with Tina about it. Rodger implies at a public event that Francine’s race means she is used to unclean water.

Anna is furious, but Robert and Joseph are less worried. We’ll rein him in, they say. Robert turns on Anna, asking if she’s so upset because Rodger insulted Francine, who’s her friend. Anna is aghast—Robert would never have stood for such racism before.

When the boy in Kent dies, bottled water sells out from all the grocery stores.

Eleanor thinks some rogue nation is behind the weirdness with the water in Kent, and that Russia is behind Firestorm. The CIA thinks China is about to make an aggressive move in the South China Sea. The U.K. is too small to stand up to all this without strong allies—and a strong leader. She, Archie, and Joseph agree that they can’t have a paranoid Prime Minister.

So when Firestorm incites arson in Kent and Robert calls a press conference to respond, Archie nominates Joseph to share the stage. (The conference is also on the anniversary of the death of Archie’s son, as he explains to his aide Peter Mott.)

Francine recognizes Joseph’s ambition, and wants to beat him to becoming the first Black Prime Minister, as she tells Anna when Anna comes to lament her life and Robert’s state of mind. Francine asks Anna to work for her—the Tories don’t have room for someone like Anna anymore, now that they have embraced people like Rodger Hawkins.

Rodger has retweeted a meme from Firestorm, and refuses to take it down in the face of pressure from Joseph and Archie, whom he outright insults and flaunts. Rodger is also now refusing to drink the tap water in Kent, fanning ordinary people’s fears. Archie is beginning to think Anna might have been right about Rodger.

Tina found herself drawn to the crowds of people rioting in Kent during the arson. When Cary found her in the street, a flame ignited on her pants and he put it out with his bare hands. That was enough to get her to go home.

Anna also faces conspiratorial thinking in her home. Her son has put up a sign about “quantum algorithms” in her window, and she angrily rips it down.

She’s also facing revolt at work. When Robert finds out that Rachel is going to Chile on Anna’s suggestion, he’s furious. He thinks Anna is scheming with Francine to handicap him and his party in revenge for appointing Archie to the Cabinet and selecting Rodger as their candidate in Kent.

Don’t ever speak to my wife again, Robert yells at Anna immediately before his press conference. He fires her at the same time that she resigns.

Another crisis is brewing: Eleanor receives some new information about the cyber attacks—something about “Cerberus”—and says that Robert has to cancel his press conference.

But he has already walked out in front of the reporters and started to speak. His mind begins to wander and he grabs his glass of water. The panic attack worsens, and he drops the glass in front of everyone as he stumbles away from the podium.