This review contains spoilers.
So this is it: the last season of Spooks. Has as it really been nearly a decade since Harry and company first appeared on our screens? And now, as they say, the end is near – but not just yet, since there are still a few old Cold War skeletons in the cupboard to cause the team members of the Grid a few headaches.
But first things first. After last season’s literal character assassination of Lucas (in what can only be described as very quick rewrite to accommodate Richard Armitage’s departure), it all got rather silly and melodramatic towards the end. There were some important repercussions, though, as Harry was found guilty of prioritising Ruth’s life rather than the protection of state secrets, and has spent the past few months on garden leave.
During his tribunal, we see that, even though that simmering passion for Ruth is there, Harry is still the professional, and the best bad-ass on television, sparring with the committee and fully justifying his actions during last season and the whole Albany affair.
With a reprieve granted by the committee, Harry is reinstated back in the team (which has some terms, which we will come to later), but it seems it’s all change back at HQ, as Section D now has a new leader – an intelligent, secretive new agent by the name of Erin Watts who, it seems, holds Harry in very high esteem.
Erin’s not the only new face. We also get a new tech agent called Callum, who quite frankly, seems a bit of an arse. A cocky, brash new player who, within minutes, rubs the entire team (and the audience) up the wrong way, and hopefully will be cannon fodder in the next few weeks. It’s been a long time since there’s been an unlikeable character working in Section D. But what of last season’s other recruit, Beth?Well, it seems Ms Miles has been given the sack, with her departure summed up with an off-hand, “Oh, we had to fire her because of her past”. What a send off.
While Jo, Ros or numerous other members at least got a bit of a memorial, it seems Beth was simply handed her P45 and told “We wish you luck in any future endeavours”. Never mind, at least we still have Dimitri (who my wife told me look very hot in a tuxedo), who really is filling the action hero shoes that Ros and Lucas took over the past few years.
With the status quo established, we find that even though the team are back together, there are things stirring in the upper echelons of power, and that Harry’s reinstatement has come at a cost, as the Home Secretary was the one that played out the stay of execution for Harry’s trial. But he had his reasons – namely, that the government is changing tack, and are, it seems, happy to become best friends with their former Soviet arch-enemies.
This causes a lot of trouble, as Harry, who was one of the main British agents during the Cold War, has he spent the past 30 years making friends in the CIA. He’s become a sworn enemy of the KGB in the process, and the feeling of having to put on the charm offensive for his former opposite number is hard for him to swallow, especially when it seems Harry has a rather personal history with some of his supposed enemies.
With the Russians in the UK on a diplomatic or ambassadorial role, the team finds that somebody is out to try and take them out permanently. From the death of an old school spy colleague of Harry’s, to somebody using his old drop points, pass codes and security to contact his former liaison on the Russian side, the shady world of counter-espionage and double agents comes back to haunt the current powers that be, and it seems that, as well as hiding state secret,s Harry has a few other secrets that land a lot more closer to home.
The new power-players, Ilya Gavrick (played with fantastic aloofness by Jonathan Hyde), Harry’s former opposite, ex-KGB officer and current oligarch, his wife (played by former Borg queen Alice Krige) and their son Sasha, seem to be the focus of this season.
This seems an apt way of finishing off a decade of Spooks stories that, from what we have seen already, will play out on both a global and very personal scale. Will Harry save the day? Of course. But the big question is, will he get the girl, and will he finally put his feet up, sit back happily with some single malt or even play a round or two of golf?
Well, we’ll have to wait and see. But if this establishing episode is anything to go by, it seems the show is once again back on form, and those worried about the scheduling against Downton Abbey needn’t worry.
On the strength of this opening episode, this looks as though it’ll be a fantastic final season.