The Rhythm Section
Mark Burnell
Contributed by Elene Blackwelder
Chapter 20

The toll — of being blamed for the deaths of Giler’s children — drives Petra into a spiral of depression. She goes to Boyd’s house in the middle of the night because she feels safe while she is with him. Boyd allows her to stay until her condition improves, at which time she promptly returns to London. After arriving, she goes to Frank’s house and apologizes to him with a bouquet of flowers, but refuses to go into his house when he invites her inside. The following day, she goes to Alexander’s office where he briefs her on her upcoming mission in Canada, where she is expected to meet with Serra and possibly Khalil. Alexander warns her about having a romantic fling with Frank just before he leaves. However, in an act of rebellion against Alexander, Petra goes to his house and asks him to kiss her.


The fact that Petra seeks out Boyd after Alexander threatens to kill her brother portrays the close relationship that has formed since her training. She says Boyd “never pushed her with questions or instructions”, to shows how he was understanding and accommodating towards her. This bond is amplified by the fact that he does not inform Alexander of her presence at his farm. Furthermore, this chapter depicts the close emotional bond that Marina (Petra’s pseudonym) has formed with Frank, and emphasized by her recurring visits to his house — where they have dinner and drink as they get to know one another better. Her relationship with him is, however, a rebellious act that contradicts Alexander’s warning: “Steer clear of him. I don’t want you forming relationships” (Burnell, 182). This implies that Frank could present a form of danger — or that these relationships would only serve to make Petra more vulnerable to threats.

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