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Series / The Assets

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The Assets is a 2014 eight-episode miniseries which aired on ABC. It is based on the true story of Aldrich Ames, the CIA operative who spent years selling secrets to the Russians before he was finally caught by his own co-workers. Paul Rhys stars as Ames, with Jodie Whittaker as Sandy Grimes, the agent who eventually smoked Ames out.

Debuted to record-setting bad ratings. Filled with British actors for some reason. Cancelled after only two episodes aired, with the remaining episodes burned off during the summer repeat season.


  • Armor-Piercing Question: Ames, who has beaten two polygraph tests, is reduced to a stammering wreck when an interviewer asks "How would you spy?". This helps Sandy convince her coworkers that Ames is the mole.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Ames has one under his bed ("Jewel in the Crown"). A flashback in "What's Done Is Done" shows how he got it.
  • Call-Forward: In "A Small Useless Truth", Polyakov confidently predicts the fall of communism to his KGB interrogator.
  • Calling the Cops on the FBI: Edward Lee Howard sics shopping mall security on the CIA agent following him as part of an exercise. ("Trip to Vienna")
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Done to Dmitri Polyakov by the KGB after more sophisticated interrogation techniques fail.
  • Fake Defector: In "Check Mate" a KGB agent offers himself to the CIA and then asks to defect. It's a ruse, meant to find out the CIA's exfiltration techniques. He never shows at the rendezvous.
  • Fatal Family Photo: In "What's Done Is Done", Valery Martynov's little girl gives him a crayon drawing of the family before Martynov leaves on what he thinks is a routine trip to Moscow. Upon arrival Martynov is arrested, and executed shortly thereafter, due to Ames exposing him as a mole.
  • The Handler: Sandy Grimes is this for "GT Weigh", one of the CIA's Russian moles. She is emotionally upset when he is caught and executed.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: In "Jewel in the Crown", Ames is tasked with debriefing KGB defector Vitaly Yurchenko, and finding out from Yurchenko who the mole is. Ames is terrified that Yurchenko will expose him during their interview, but Yurchenko instead exposes another mole, former CIA agent Edward Lee Howard.
  • Honey Pot: Clayton Lonetree is ensnared by a sexy KGB honey pot in "A Small Useless Truth".
  • Incredibly Obvious Tail: Done by the KGB in the first episode, as they follow a CIA agent leaving the American embassy. Turns out to be deliberate, as the KGB is trying to trick the CIA into thinking that they followed the CIA guy to the drop, thus catching the mole. They really knew about the mole and the drop all along, thanks to Ames.
  • Inspired by…: The opening chyron states that the show is "inspired by true events".
  • The Mole: Hello there, Mr. Ames. Ames also exposes Russians acting as moles for the CIA, including "GT Weigh", the CIA asset caught and executed by the Soviets in the first episode.
  • Overt Operative / Overt Rendezvous: Ames plays this to the hilt in the first episode, when he walks into the Soviet embassy, announces himself as a CIA agent who wants a meeting, and hands a parcel to the astonished young Russian staffer standing duty at the door.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Discussed Trope when Edward Lee Howard asks why Russians who give secrets to the USA are regarded as heroes, while he is called a traitor when the CIA suspects him of giving secrets to the Russians.
  • Smart People Play Chess:
    • In "Trip to Vienna" Yurchenko is introduced puzzling out a chess problem.
    • This trope gives its title to "Check Mate". The KGB boss in Moscow likes to puzzle over a chessboard. And the Fake Defector is revealed to be a great chess player.
  • Spy Fiction: Yep. "Stale beer" variety, as it is more or less the true story of Aldrich Ames and the mole hunt that caught him.