First things first. Do not read this if you haven’t already watched every second of the final (sobs) episode of Spooks. Despite my best efforts I had a thing near the end spoilered in the week and the emotional punch was weakened as a result. (It still made me cry even harder than I already was though.)
Alright then. Into the valley of death and the vale of tears we go…
In as much as one 60-minute episode can encapsulate ten years of genre-defining, distinctive, shocking (and sometimes very silly) television, this swansong was absolutely classic Spooks.
We had bluffs, double-bluffs, twists, sacrifices, fighter jets, loyalty, death, and those special Section D wormholes that allow travel over large distances in conveniently short periods of time. And, right at the heart of it all Harry and Ruth. More of them later though.
The Russian plot was neatly wrapped up. It wasn’t straightforward but it made sense (more sense than the Lucas North thing last year certainly). No prizes for guessing that Elena was the Big Bad. You can take the Borg Queen out of the collective… (as the saying doesn’t quite go).
Actually, I think perhaps Elena is colder and more calculating than the Borg Queen, but I haven’t seen First Contact in a while, and the fury I feel at her for causing Harry such pain may be impairing my judgement.
The writers get full marks for the misdirection with the suitcase on the plane, btw. After ten years, I really should know better, but I was completely suckered (even as I was wondering why the pilots were still speaking to air control when we’d been told they were out of contact) and I think there may have been about ten minutes when I forgot to breathe while the fate of the plane and Central London hung in the balance.
There wasn’t quite so much of the Spooks trademark delicious dialogue as usual, but we can’t let Ruth’s line about the Women’s Institute wanting to interview Elena, Harry’s “This is likely to come up in your pay review” to Dimitri when the latter rescues him from the boot of a CIA SUV, or Calum’s brilliant synopsis of both the Rawalpindi briefing (and Spooks in general) “Bad people want to kill us” go past without honourable mentions.
Despite the bluffs and double-bluffs, the revelations about what really happened in the past and the drama in the skies, this was all about people. (I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see Ruth prove Elena totally wrong. She may be a brilliant analyst, but she does know people too, and she can see right through Mrs Gavrik.) So we deal with Harry and Elena, Elena and Ilya, Harry and Sasha, Elena and Sasha, and finally, Ruth and Harry.
For all I desperately wanted a happy ending for ‘Momma and Poppa Bear’, and think that the writers are bastarding bastards for killing Ruth, I also know in my heart it was the right ending for Spooks. To have them pootle off to a cottage by the sea would have been to betray a legacy that started with a deep-fat fryer and has never looked back. The only way to end was with business as usual – the bad people are never going to stop wanting to kill us, afterall.
It’s fair to say I started crying the moment Ruth’s breathing became laboured and didn’t stop as Harry visited the cottage in Suffolk, as Towers offered his unconditional support to Harry, or Tom Quinn appeared to sort out the ultra-nationalist (despite the spoilering, the appearance of Tom just made me cry even harder).
By the time we visited the Wall of Tears in the MI5 basement, I was basically a heaving puddle. It was the nicest memorial I’ve ever seen (if a little reminiscent of the secret wall at ER’s Cook County) and a lovely way to say farewell to all our favourite spooks.
I love that Spooks can still give me goosebumps, make me forget to breath and leave me snuffling into tissues. But, better to burn brightly and briefly, than fade away until nobody cares anymore.
For the final time then: “I’m going dark Control. Alpha one out.”
Posted (between sobs) by Jo the Hat