Except … it kinda didn't. For all the fanfare, the released documents shed as much light as a snuffed-out candle. Nobody knows what happened. The Americans aren't in a hurry to find out. The Cubans, mightily pissed, are confident the whole thing's nonsense from beginning to end. There's some madcap Canadians who think the diplomats might have been unintentionally poisoned by insect spray.
The big, and probably unintentional, result is that diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US broke down, and frankly, given that the Jackass is currently disgracing the Presidency with his presence, those diplomatic relations were dead in the water. If it wasn't this, some other crisis would have come along and the GOP would have found an excuse to pull the plug. After all, the diplomatic rapprochement was an Obama administration policy, and the GOP's done its damndest to kill off every other Obama policy.
However the sonic superweapon got me thinking: what exactly do you need to design a spy thriller? High stakes? International locales? Femme fatales, or high-speed action sequences? Sinister superweapons? Diplomatic intrigue?
The answer to this question comes from Hitchcock, as you might expect.
Hitchcock made spy thrillers where ladies vanish on trains. Saboteurs send young children across London, with bombs hidden in film cans. Secrets that could change the course of world politics are whispered by dying men to total strangers. An ad executive meeting his mother for lunch is mistaken for a superspy. An American physicist defects to Moscow to steal rocketry secrets. Hitchcock knew the spy genre inside and out - and his spy thrillers were the simplest possible.
You need a McGuffin, one important enough to get people worked up. You need an interesting situation. You need tension. That's it.
Consider The Lady Vanishes (1938).
In that film, as is so often the case with Hitchcock, the McGuffin is never revealed, or even described. We know it's important, because everyone treats it as if it is important. Miss Froy, the elderly Englishwoman who has the McGuffin, vanishes - and it's as if she was never there. Miss Froy's chance companion, Iris Henderson, at first is puzzled, then horrified, as person after person says there is not, and never was, a Miss Froy - and it's her horror that propels her over the threshold and into the spy thriller. Who can she trust? Who's in the enemy camp? What happened to that dear old lady?
Hitchcock was a past master at building tension with very little, cinematic bricks without straw. A modern director uses flashy car chases and impossible parkour sequences; Hitchcock got the same result with two buses, one after the other, slowly traversing the countryside (Torn Curtain). This is where the interesting situation comes in, and Hitchcock was smart enough to realize that any situation can be interesting, under the right conditions.
With The Lady Vanishes, the interesting situation is the train journey. A few score strangers jammed together for hours, days at a time. A definite time limit - that train will eventually arrive at its destination, and once that happens, all chance of saving Miss Froy is gone. Mile after mile of unforgiving countryside, with nowhere to go, nowhere to turn for help.
Imagine for a moment a Night's Black Agents sequence where the agents are on the London Underground. They know there's an enemy agent on the train who wants to kill them, but they don't know who that agent is. It could be any one of the twenty-odd people in the carriage. So they wait. At Westbourne Park three people get off, two get on. The agents wait. Several more leave at Latimer Road. They wait. More get off at Shepherd's Bush, and now there are only half a dozen suspects left from the twenty-odd who were on board at Paddington. Of course, the agents could provoke a confrontation, but if they get it wrong then their cover's blown to no purpose. In the worst case, they might get a civilian killed. Hammersmith's coming up, the end of the line. If they wait till then, they may have a much better chance of telling the assassin from the commuters - but Hammersmith could be what the assassin's waiting for. They could get off the train before Hammersmith - but what if the assassin follows, mingling with the other passengers?
All this aboard an ordinary Hammersmith underground train. The Hammersmith and City runs hundreds of times a day, pretty much every day God sends. It takes about an hour. Imagine running a full hour of a game session where the agents have nothing to do but wonder - is it that kid? The old man? The woman with the baby carriage? Or, since it's vampires we're talking about, is the bastard hanging onto the roof waiting for me to get off?
A McGuffin. A situation. All that's wanted is tension, and we're off to the races. That tension, those thrills, don't have to come from gunfights or explosions. They can come from something as simple as a boy walking across London with a film cannister under his arm. What matters is, there are stakes - the explosion - and a definite timetable. If X doesn't happen by Y, then ...