In 1973, John Randolph Bentley is introduced as a CIA agent held prisoner by KGB agent Petra, who used behavior-modification protocol to torture Bentley into an obedient super spy. The french nursery rhyme Frère Jacques would "activate" him. After Petra sung the rhyme, Bentley was made to kill three people at her command, and due to his conditioning he thought he was killing enemy combatants in a war zone. Petra, triumphant, proclaimed him ready.
Petra's elation was short-lived however, because when Dr. Meisner was ministering to Bentley afterward, Bentley snapped and killed Meisner; doing so was originally his mission as a CIA agent in any case. After doing so, he fled through the facility, fighting guards as he went, until he arrived at a morgue. There, he dropped one of the bodies out of a window and disguised himself as a corpse, heading off the majority of his pursuers who went to inspect the body.
Sensing something wrong, Petra stopped and returned to the morgue, only to find Bentley there on his feet. Disappointed that her conditioning failed, Petra attacked Bentley and eventually had him defeated at gunpoint, although she lost her pinky finger during the struggle. Not to be outdone however, Bentley flashed a camera at her, blinding her and enabling him to escape to the roof. He dodged and otherwise defeated the agents pursuing him across the buildings, and eventually escaped down a side alley.
In Langley, Virginia, at the George Bush Center for Intelligence, CIA chief of operations Ellen Becker became aware of General Chin-Hwa Kwon requesting an audience with disgraced journalist Tara Coleman. Because Coleman's career had been terminated under suspicious circumstances following her investigation into Stiletto Six, a decommissioned Russian nuclear missile on the black market, Ellen dispatched London-based Matt Edwards to intercept her in order to listen in on a potentially vital conversation.
Edwards entered Coleman's vehicle, as she had become a cab driver in her infamy, and propositioned her to take a recording device to the meeting in exchange for restoring her reputation as a journalist. Coleman agreed, and during the meeting Kwon mentioned that someone was awakening the cicadas, that it, Treadstone, was starting again. Kwon then destroyed Coleman's recording device, and although Edwards wanted to make entry, Becker had him stand down. At the mention of Treadstone, Becker's superior Dan Levine ordered the situation room cleared of personnel. Becker demanded to know if the Treadstone program had truly been shut down, but Levine only said that it was bigger than they realized, and that Kwon was a part of it, but refused to say definitively if the program was over.
Meanwhile, Kwon revealed that he mentioned Treadstone to mislead the CIA, and gave the full story to Coleman. He implored Coleman to stop a rogue group in North Korea from buying the launch codes to Stiletto Six from Yuri Leniov by getting them herself first. Although she had no idea how, Kwon gave her instructions to retrieve his daughter Jang-Mi in France and to go to the Ecuadorian embassy in Paris, where the ambassador would help her. When she seemed reluctant, he begged her to help him save his family, and asked her to tell Jang-Mi he loved her, before departing. Afterward, Coleman did not reveal to Edwards what had happened during their conversation.
The other cicadas
In Pyongyang, North Korea, a Korean piano tutor Soyun Pak went about her daily life until her son Jin Woo Pak revealed that a GameBoy had mysteriously appeared in his locker at school. As it was illegal in North Korea, Soyun took the GameBoy, but when she turned it on it played Frère Jacques, which activated her. She quickly smashed the GameBoy, only to see a needle and a piece of paper with the address "3200 Pongwha Street" written on it. Thusly instructed, Pak went to work the next day but quickly made a bathroom excuse when her boss was gone, going to the top of the building and shimmying across a wire to the building across the street. There, she confronted Kwon, and was shocked to realize she understood English when he addressed her in that language. Kwon then attacked her and managed to knock the needle aside into the shower drain, but Pak succeeded in garroting him. Although distraught that she couldn't recover the needle, she returned to her job without her pupil noticing.
In the Beaufort Sea, Alaska, Doug McKenna was fired as an oil derrickman in favor of a Russian crew. Returning to Prudhoe Bay to drink his sorrows away, he came into conflict with the very Russians who took his job. McKenna urged civility, but they assaulted him instead, and to his surprise he found that he could defeat them all handily using skills he never knew he had. He then left in confusion, but was convinced by a woman he met in the bar to let her tend to his wounds. McKenna expressed his confusion over his identity, so the woman brought out some french wine to ease the conversation, but she hummed Frère Jacques when she did so. McKenna became increasingly interested in the song, so she sung it aloud, which fully activated him. The next McKenna knew, he found himself lying in the Alaskan tundra with a strange bag next to him.
The Popov couple
An old farming couple reside Kursk, Russia. The husband, Oleg Popov, had just received a package with a brand new hearing aid in it. His wife angrily demanded to know where he got the money for it, and he admitted he sold their best bull for it, souring her mood further. She called him an idiot, but when he found that he could hear perfectly for the first time in years, Popov was far too jubilant to care.
Calling himself a "happy man", Popov listened to music and danced with his reluctant wife until he heard a strange, electronic buzzing noise coming from their barn. His wife took his hearing aid away, claiming it to be at fault, but Popov stole it back as she slept. Following the sound, he discovered a hidden entrance in his barn leading to a shaft into the earth.
After descending and traversing a short tunnel, he passed through a metal door into a large, dark room filled with alarm ululations. Popov took his hearing aid off, and was surprised to notice his wife right behind him. He gleefully said that he knew he heard a sound, but became unnerved when his wife did not respond. When he noticed the sickle in her hand, she stabbed him with it, saying "I tried to warn you". Popov dropped to the floor and bled to death, even as his wife's lack of a pinky finger became apparent; she is Petra, guarding Stiletto Six years after the USSR collapsed, which was housed in that very chamber.
Return to 1973
Back in 1973, a much younger Petra went with a strike team to apprehend Bentley, knowing he would head to the American safe house in East Berlin. Bentley beat them there, sending out a distress signal to his fellow Americans, before hiding under a staircase. The strike team rushed into the safe house and completely missed Bentley, who emerged from beneath the staircase to steal one of their cars. Petra returned from the safe house empty handed, only to find one of their cars gone even as Bentley joyfully made good his escape.
- Jeremy Irvine as J. Randolph Bentley
- Brian J. Smith as Doug McKenna
- Omar Metwally as Mr. Edwards
- Tracy Ifeachor as Tara Coleman
- Han Hyo-joo as Soyun Pak
- Gabrielle Scharnitzky as Petra
- Emilia Schüle as Young Petra
- Michelle Forbes as Ellen Becker
- Michael Gaston as Dan Levine