Category Archives: Spooks

Spooks: They’re going to kill the President!

(Series 9, Ep.5) Dastardly plot of the week was a plan to kill the “leader of the free world” (that would be the President of the USA) by blowing him up with a person bomb (that would be an Israeli delegate to a top secret Middle East peace conference who’d been injected full of explosives). Even more cunningly, there was a decoy sniper shooting people at the front of the hotel where the talks were taking place (he was top quality, as well – he could shoot right through buildings), in order to get the Prez re-routed round the back to meet up with bomb woman.

It was a nicely convoluted plot, although first glance at the female Israeli delegate who wasn’t speaking to the other Israeli delegate, her father (because he’d once let her languish as a prisoner of the Palestinians for 14 months because he wouldn’t give in to their ransom demands), should have been enough to alert everyone involved that she needed Watching Very Closely.

This was all foiled in the nick of time (phew) by Dmitri and Beth, who were on the spot as undercover Home Office staff, by Lucas who was running about in full action man mode, doing bits of breaking and entering, almost getting strangled and being generally being pretty heroic, and by Harry, Tariq and Ruth doing all the mental agility stuff.

The episode benefited hugely from not having too much of the Lucas/John stuff in it – this was saved for the very end, when Lucas popped over to visit Maya, and found her apparently living with the sinister Vaughn (who was supposed to be off Lucas’s case last week when he delivered the Albany file to him). What’s going on? Whatever it is, the preview of next week’s episode looked like Lucas wouldn’t be handling it too well.

Lucas continues to be front and centre as star action hero, but Beth and Dmitri are starting to shape up nicely. Beth isn’t and never will be as majestic as the wonderful Ros, but I’m definitely warming to her. And Dmitri in a suit is quite a lovely thing – should anything (heaven forfend) happen to Lucas, Dmitri  could fill his shoes quite well.

And just a pedantic footnote to whoever did the captions. It’s Stansted Airport, not Stanstead. Unless Airforce One arrived at some airport so top secret (yet still in Essex) that we haven’t heard of it yet.

Posted by PLA                    (more Spooks here)

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Spooks: How to turn an asset

(Series 9, Ep.4) This was just the kind of Spooks episode I like. Lots of split-screen, edge-of-the-seat type stuff. Lucas and Dmitri abseiling down the side of the Chinese Embassy; Lucas’s tattoos (I know, I’m shallow, I admit it); clandestine meetings on park benches; Dmitri defusing a very big bomb in the back of a truck. “It’s my first time,” he admitted cheerfully to Tariq, but luckily he’d brought his lighter with him because it was just what he needed to melt an essential component.

The plot turned on Beth’s attempts to turn an asset from the Chinese Embassy, which happily coincided with a plan to do away with a Chinese scientist who’d invented an end to water shortages worldwide. Honestly, it puts you off trying to invent globally important stuff when, no sooner have you cracked it, someone somewhere will want to kill you. That’s why I’ve made no recent progress with my musical wardrobe for the blind (shhhh!).

Like Dmitri and his bomb defusing, Beth was a virgin at asset turning. Her colleagues advised her to go with her instincts, which looked to be fairly dodgy as it seemed her asset was working for the other side. He turned out to be a triple agent, who was working for the Chinese unwittingly by being bugged, so that’s a big hurrah for Beth’s instincts. And Tariq’s lie detector.

Ruth got to leave the office for a while, as her linguistic skills (Mandarin is fine, but her Cantonese is just cringeworthy, apparently) made her ideal to go undercover in the Chinese Embassy. She was still there when news of a bomb threat came through. Harry told her to leave the Embassy immediately – he looked all worried and upset, bless him. Ruth, as well as being fluent in just about every language and being like human Google (you’d want her on your pub quiz team) also has balls of steel and wasn’t about to leave till she’d found her scientist.

Meanwhile, Lucas was attempting to sort out his messy former life (which has something to do with China) by supplying Vaughn with a very top secret file from MI5’s computer. To get this he had to steal the identity of a junior (disposable) colleague. To cover his tracks he also transferred a lot of money, so it looked like the colleague was only trying to commit fraud. The fact that Lucas was able to shrug off destroying this person’s life should tell us that the stakes are very high. Is Lucas this season’s Connie?

Posted by PLA                (more Spooks reviews here)

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Spooks: Sometimes you have to do what’s necessary, Harry

(Series 9, Ep.3) Did Harry cock up by allowing rogue terrorist Aibek to escape from a scene where the FSB were dealing somewhat harshly (ie spot executions) with his colleagues? Or was he simply being decent and British?

Either way, Aibek ended up running around London looking for a secret cache of paroxocybin, a substance that could be used for great good but would probably be used for great evil if anyone with pernicious intent got hold of it.

For a while it looked like he already had it (he was carrying a cool-bag – you have to keep paroxocybin frozen, otherwise, like a carton of Ben and Jerry’s, it will go off quite spectacularly).  Cue one of those tense chases through the London underground that I enjoy watching so much, with Lucas, Beth and Dmitri and a FSB agent who’d been attached to MI5 all hurtling around muttering tensely at Tariq through tiny microphones.

Aibek evaded Britain’s (and Russia’s) finest, and pitched up in the office of a scientist who’d been hanging on to a little supply of the coveted chemical because of it’s potential for positive use. A bit of a beating later he still refused to ‘fess up where it was being kept. Aibek turned his attention to the scientist’s daughter, also a scientist, almost drowning her until Lucas etc turned up in the nick of time. Aibek was apprehended, but the nasty FSB officer killed the scientist’s daughter – because the Russians wanted the nasty stuff.

It all got complicated after that, with Aibek being used as a decoy to sort the nasty Russian out. All was well that ended well, and the deadly substance was taken away to live in a big fridge at Porton Down.

As a little postscript, the mysterious Vaughn pitched up to mutter mysterious things at Lucas. It’s time Lucas changed his route home, as Vaughn seems to be able to pop up with alarming regularity. Maya came to see Lucas at his home. He told her that the reason he hadn’t been in touch for eight years was that he’d been in prison. When we left them, he looked about to reveal his prison tattoos to her – lucky, lucky Maya.

Posted by PLA       (who loves Spooks but is frequently confused by it)

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Spooks: Confused? You will be

Just a reminder of those prison tattoos

(Series 9, Ep.2) I have to confess I got totally lost watching last night’s Spooks. Who was meant to be assassinating who in that elevator? Were the gunmen Columbians or Nigerians? Were they after the man who was after the oil tycoon, or were they after Beth? And how could Beth get a job working for MI5 without them delving into her background enough to know she got up to some dodgy stuff in South America in her gap year?

All this bamboozlement was quite aside from the central question that we’re supposed to be worrying about – why do people keep calling Lucas “John”? And who is Maya? Didn’t he have a Russian wife previously?

There is such a thing as a plot that’s too convoluted, and this was it. The best thing about it was the sexual tension between Ruth and Harry.  She rings him. “I don’t think we should be sharing late night tete-a-tetes. Let’s just stick to work,” he tells her. “This is work,” she replies. Harry pauses for a nanosecond before replying, “Good.”

Posted by a confused PLA who should maybe stick to In the Night Garden from now on.

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Spooks: Being Lucas North

(Series 9, Ep.1) Just in case we were holding out a slim hope that Ros Myers might not be dead after all, the  series opened at her funeral. Even so, I half expected Ros to pop up from behind a pew, brush a stray hair off her black leather jacket and tell everyone that rumours of her death had been greatly exaggerated.

Sadly, it didn’t happen, and the small congregation of Harry, Ruth, Lucas, Tariq and a couple of non-speaking extras were left to shuffle outside gloomily.  Life goes on, though, and there’s no time to wallow in grief when there are baddies to fight. This week’s baddies were Al Qaeda, or, as we must now call them, “AQ.” I think this abbreviation should be adopted right across the media because it would stop that problem about whether reporters should pronounce it “Al Kyder” or “Al Ky-eeder.”

Anyway, AQ had a nasty man on board a ship containing a lot of explosives heading for Britain (as in heading for blowing up the part of Britain known as Portsmouth). But never fear, on board the ship was also Lucas North (my lord, that man moves quickly), an agent called Dmitri who sounds Russian but is in fact “one of ours,” and a maverick private security expert called Beth Bailey. Lucas isn’t terribly fond of maverick private security types on his patch, but it was lucky that Beth was around because it was she who sorted out the fact that the nasty AQ man was only pretending to be driving  a ship full of explosives towards Portsmouth at high speed. What he was actually doing was setting off a couple of radar-proof mini-submarines which could sneak past the Thames Barrier (huh – calls itself a barrier) and detonate in the murky waters beneath the Houses of Parliament.

Luckily there’s apparently a room in the basement of the aforementioned seat of government which contains an electro-magnetic pulse bomb for just such an eventuality. It’s a weapon of last resort, though, as it plays havoc with mobile phones, pacemakers, iPods and just about anything else electrical. Still, Harry is employed to take these tough decisions, and take it he did.  Luckily the back-up generators at St Thomas’s Hospital (which is directly opposite the H of P) kicked in just in time and only nine people died.

Even so, death hangs heavy in Harry’s heart, what with it being so soon after losing Ros and whatnot. He’d also had to kill the former Home Secretary (the Robert Glenister one) early in the episode when it turned out that he’d been One Of Theirs all along. All this death was getting to him. He was even planning to retire, and asked Ruth to marry him so they could live in a rose-covered cottage in the country. Sensibly, Ruth turned him down. Retirement couldn’t compare to the thrills they get in their current job, and besides, Britain needs him. Britain also needs Beth Bailey, and Harry offered her a job.

Right at the end of the episode, Lucas was on his way out for a kebab or something, and met a Sinister Figure who seemed to know about Lucas’s secret past (the past that’s so secret even we don’t know about it yet). “What’s it been like, being Lucas North?” he said. Well, I imagine for one thing it’s utter joy every time you look in the mirror, but that’s just me.

Posted by PLA                     (more Spooks here)

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Spooks: Not afraid to die

The series finale to Spooks, and we knew it was going to be Ros’s last episode. How would she go out? With a ticking bomb and a helluva bang, that’s how. To the very last her core of iced iciness remained intact. In a hotel room, practically sitting on the counting-down bomb with a baddie, she told him they’d stay there till he told her which room he’d stashed the Home Secretary and the Pakistan Prime Minister. “I’m not afraid to die,” she told him, and he believed her. We believed her. She left him tied up, with the plastic ties she keeps in the pockets of her leather jacket for such a purpose.

Sadly she doesn’t keep a set of trolley wheels in her jacket pocket (this is where big coats really do come in handy), because when she and Lucas found the Home Secretary and the Pakistan PM, they’d been paralysed with a nasty drug. It was imperative to get the Pakistan PM outside and in front of TV cameras, otherwise his supposed demise would be used as an excuse to start a nuclear war. Ros commanded Lucas to lug him out (help couldn’t be summoned as outside communications had been cut off). This left her to try to drag the Home Secretary out with only seconds remaining as the bomb counted down. This was the new, younger and lighter Home Secretary – I don’t think even Ros would have attempted to drag Robert Glenister very far.

Lucas got out, the Pakistan PM was dusted down and unparalysed and delivered into the safe care of BBC News 24, and Lucas started back to the hotel to get Ros – and the bomb went off. End of episode. And, presumably, end of Ros. We will never see her like again.

Luckily we won’t be seeing Sarah Caulfield either, as she and her rubbish American accent (which veers from Brooklyn to Baton Rouge and back in the same sentence) got shot in the head. And not before time.

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Spooks: Shoot, Lucas!

How’s this for a dastardly plot? Wind up two volatile factions, get them to carry out terrorist attacks on each other, and pretty soon their home countries will be involved – and they have nukes.

In an episode that looked like it started out in a street market in Mumbai but was actually Sarf London, Section D had to deal with the evil plotting of the shadowy Nightingale sect (or is it a project? Exactly what – and who – is Nightingale?). Hindu boys were being primed to carry out terrorist attacks on Muslim targets, while the Muslims were being similarly wound up. The Pakistanis had an asset who had infiltrated one of the Hindu gangs, and he was fairly quickly acquired by Lucas, who sent him in with an earpiece and wired up to get information about the target of the planned attack.

Poor Ruth, who serves as the Jiminy Cricket of Section D though no-one is much interested in a conscience when there’s work to be done, was very uneasy about putting this boy, Ashok, in harm’s way. Ros, as we know, has had her conscience replaced by a core of liquid nitrogen. When the leader of the gang had Ashok in a head-lock at the other end of Lucas’s gun, Ros had no qualms: “Shoot him!” she barked down his earpiece.  You’ve got to love Ros.

Anyway, this was all a tad immaterial, as they foiled that particular plot only to discover via the medium of Sky News that similar plots were going off all over the world. It was all a whole lot bigger than anyone had thought. And where is it leading? To India and Pakistan facing off with their nuclear weapons primed and ready. But why? And who? And what’s going to happen? Next week’s series finale is going to be tense, to say the least.

Meanwhile, the episode benefited greatly from the lack of Sarah Caulfield, who is still apparently at large (she did run away from Lucas’s flat, as I thought last week), and will presumably pop up next week. And we met the new Home Secretary, who is not a patch on Robert Glenister, and seems very young for the job – like the lost Miliband brother.

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