In 1917, Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan Mata Hari was executed in France for allegedly passing on the secrets of her romantic acquaintances, many of them high-ranking French military officers and politicians, to the Germans.
In 1963, Christine Keeler was infamously involved in romantic affairs with both Soviet attaché Yevgeny Ivanov and with British Member of Parliament John Profumo. Once the affairs were exposed, Keeler was accused of seducing Profumo in order to obtain information about Britain’s cruise missiles to pass to Ivanov, Although this was never substantiated, the accusation led to Ivanov being recalled to Moscow and Profumo’s forced resignation.
And in 1986, Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu went to the British press with controversial claims that Israel had developed atomic bombs. Vanunu was kept in safe hiding in Britain while journalists vetted his claims, but was lured out by a romance with a young woman he met in London. Once he arrived in Rome to meet the woman for a romantic vacation, he was seized by Mossad officers and smuggled back to Israel, where he was sentenced to 18 years in jail. The woman he met was in fact a Mossad officer herself who was in on the whole thing.
What do these three events have in common? All three are famous examples of the use of a honey trap, in which an appealing person is sent in to use romance and seduction to obtain information, lure someone to a specific location, or in some cases, kill an enemy. The honey trap has reportedly been used as a spycraft technique in the past or present by the KGB, Chinese intelligence, the Germans (as in East Germany with their “Romeo spies”), and potentially even by the CIA.
The writers looked at all three of these events when crafting this week’s honey trap storyline. Unlike the above examples, our honey trap isn’t about one country working against another, but instead, about one husband working against another (certainly, in some ways, every marriage is like its own nation!).
After last week’s episode, in which Mellie and Cyrus witnessed Sally’s husband Daniel Douglas taking a liking to James, Cyrus sets the honey trap in motion by offering James the opportunity to write a profile on Daniel. Cyrus is hoping that Daniel Douglas will make a pass at James and that James will reject him, but will write about the whole thing, which will prevent Sally from running against Fitz in the upcoming election.
James has recently been fired from his TV hosting gig, so he jumps at the opportunity, not realizing that Cyrus has ulterior motives. Mellie privately warns Cyrus that this is not a simple plan, and that introducing this element into their marriage could open a very dangerous door. But Cyrus presses forward, and asks Mellie to slip to Daniel Douglas that James and Cyrus are in an open relationship (which we know to not be true).
The plan works, but not quite in the way Mellie and Cyrus had hoped. James, realizing in the moment that Cyrus has made him the honey in this trap, acquiesces to Daniel Douglas’s advance, and Cyrus receives pictures from his surveillance guy that speak more than a thousand words. Mellie’s warning about the proverbial door of danger has certainly been opened.
Will James and Cyrus be able to shut this door? And what exactly has this betrayal (on both sides) introduced? Stay tuned!