Spooks series 8 episode 1 review

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Review Robert Mclaughlin 5 Nov 2009 - 10:19

BBC’s hit spy drama returns — but is it worth the wait? Rob meets up with the Spooks...

Spooks, to me, is the BBC's equivalent to 24 - a fast paced drama filled with compelling characters and some pretty gritty stories. Only really picking the show up from last season, I got hooked and borrowed all of the previous series from a friend (thanks, Steve). The dark underworld of Ros, Lucas and Harry for me now is as compelling as any hard hitting American-made show and, let's be honest, far more engaging than the last James Bond movie.

After the explosive beginning of last season and the demise of Adam, the introduction of Lucas, the stand-off with the Russians and the reveal of what ‘sugar horse' was (not to mention one of the most surprising plot twists and the death of Ben in one of the most bloody and grisly methods in recent years thanks to Connie and a rather sharp piece of wire) the members of the grid went through some pretty big changes.

As we kick off season 8, some of these huge ramifications from last year are still being felt, most notably the fact that Harry is now in custody of the Russians and his plans both for the initial release of Lucas and the information garnered about the Grid mole and sugar horse are now coming to bear, with poor Harry being on the receiving end of his deals with the devil.

The team, still reeling from Harry's disappearance and the death of Ben, are provided with an online video clip supposedly showing Harry being killed. While it's a shocker to see the stalwart and only consistent member of the team done away with, both Ros and Lucas are unconvinced and, as is usual for Spooks, things maybe are not what they seem. The dynamic duo set off to try and prove he is alive and, if possible, rescue Harry from the Russians.

As just mentioned, things are not always what they seem and, surprisingly, we are given a double cross within a double cross as it seems that the Russians, the main antagonists from last season, have very little interest in Harry and the Grid. And that his contact, Victor, whom he literally sold his soul to was not a member of the Russian spy service at all, but instead in the employ of a Middle Eastern terrorist, played convincingly by the same actor who plays Rani's dad in The Sarah Jane Adventures, whose main intent, it seems, is to try and get his hands on some Uranium with the intent of making a dirty bomb.

As he seems to be the main antagonist, the series looks to be panning out, with the team dealing with current affairs threats (such as the problems in the Middle East and such). After last season's dwelling on the past and the re-hash of sleepers from the ‘cold war', this new plot will be bringing the scripts right up to date using real events and the news for inspiration.

Victor is discovered dead and the Grid team have to turn (through gritted teeth) to the Americans for help as we are introduced to the new CIA liaison officer who looks to be a semi regular for the series. As we saw last season, the Grid team do not hold their American counterparts in particularly high regard, as they are not the most subtle of teams and have nowhere near the finesse or cunning of ‘our side', preferring to use brute force rather than cunning plans to get results.

Fearful of what might happen if the CIA get too involved, Ros and Lucas also call upon an old friend for a bit of help as we are re-introduced to Ruth, a former Grid member who hasn't been seen for at least a couple of series. Re-activated to the team, it appears Ruth will once again be a full active member of the crew, assisting the depleted team with her prior knowledge, and while she is reluctant to come out of hiding, it's good to see the character again and how the re-introduction of an old character will work with the new additions.

With the status quo for the series established and the characters all in place, it seems that, once again, we will be treated to a cracking cutting edge show. Both Richard Armitage (whom my wife thinks is fantastic) and Hermione Norris are on top form as the main operatives.

With Ros being told she has a promotion there should be some interesting new plot elements to deal with over the next few weeks as the team try not only to get their boss back, but also to try and stop a dirty bomb from being built.

Top notch cracking stuff and one of the best shows the BBC is producing at the moment.

Spooks airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One and Thursdays at 12:15am on BBC Three.

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