Spooks: Code 9 episode 5 review

It's the penultimate episode of Spooks spin-off Code 9. And at last, it's showing signs of life...

It’s taken five episodes, but Code 9 finally came to life at last, with just one week of the show to go. While the proto-spooks have mucked about for the previous four shows, demonstrating how little they know about being spies, here they make things happen for once. It was a belated relief that they’ve all remembered what the job title ‘spy’ is actually about, and thus subverted a surveillance operation to overcome an unexpected hostage scenario.

This episode had a distinctly different feel, so different that it made me wonder if I’d been tuning into the right channel for the last four weeks. People reacted like you’d reasonably expect them to, most of what went on made some sense, and despite submitting to those urges for Bourne-esque incidental music it all played reasonably well.

But, and this is a sideways compliment, it was all a little original Spooks for my liking. This script could have so easily been a Spooks one, purely by transplanting the characters It’s as if they thought they had an unused script and thought they’d use it here.

Curiously the script is credited to Cameron McAllister, executive producer of ITV’s Primeval, LWT’s Daylight Robbery and a director/writer of Sky One’s Mile High. And given this is his only Code 9 outing, he made a half decent stab at it.

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Plenty happens in this story, which I’m not going to entirely spoil here, but what was noticeable was that they’ve given up with character development. With only one show to go it looks unlikely now that we’ll ever understand who Vik is, and frankly many of the others haven’t been fleshed out in any meaningful way from the pilot. My biggest disappointment in this respect is for Georgia Moffett, whose Kylie character looked great initially but overall she’s failed to make the half the impact she did in one episode of Doctor Who. In this one she gets some spy things to do, but she’s never one exhibited the firebrand personality she had in episode one, much to my personal disappointment.

What’s best about this episode is the weaving of the main story arc around the hostage proceedings, although the excuses presented when the inevitable ‘Where’s Charlie’ comes are thin at best. The revelation that the original nuclear bomb that devastated London had a twin is an effective set-up for the season finale. Although, that said, the teaser for what could be the last Code 9 did leave me somewhat cold, it just didn’t look remotely exciting or interesting.

The worst bits this week were the annoying interactions with their supposed boss, who seems to turn up each week just to wear petulance like a Chanel fragrance. They also injected a stupidly sentimental rich mother/misunderstood daughter relationship, where you hoped both wouldn’t survive, but they unfortunately did. I know that within the 50 minutes running time they’re forced to use cinematic shorthand to tell a story, but nothing those characters said or did convinced me of their emotion for one nanosecond. In a word, sloppy.

Even with those impediments this was probably the best episode so far, but that’s a little like saying a horse won a race because amongst the field it was the only one with a symmetrical layout of legs. Most have been weak and at least one has been abysmal, so the standards haven’t presented much of a challenge to better.Next week we get the final outing, which unless it moves dramatically up a notch I’d predict is the last we’ll be seeing of Code 9.