Spooks series 10 episode 2 review

It’s episode 2 of Spooks, and Rob finds an instalment that works best when characters, rather than action, drive the plot...

I always find it funny when a television show takes a sly poke at real life, especially when it’s those in power that are the butt of the joke. And it seems the writers of Spooks are more than happy to use recent events such as data loss by MPs and civil servants as a starting point for a subdued yet compelling episode.

After my assumption last week that Callum was a bit of an arse, my initial feelings for his character seem to be right. And while it’s not really his fault that the suitcase he was carrying was stolen (to order) during a mugging, his moody response and digs at Tariq later in the episode make me feel that this character should go the way of the majority of Spooks cast members, and be killed off in the most horrible way. While this didn’t happen, the evil vibes I directed towards the television did appear to have some kind of effect – though not the one I was expecting.

With this major security risk blowing open the secret files of intel officers working for Section D, the episode’s main focus was a race against time to track down the moles, spies and covert agents before they were found out. With each agent being released via a website to the general public (again, a nice nod to current affairs and Wikileaks), it’s up to the team to bring in their agents and to prevent as much damage as they can.

With Dimitri missing the first uncovered agent and finding him dead at the hands of the Iranian special services, it’s up to Erin to try and get her pro-active mole out of a large multi-national energy company, a company that is in part owned by Harry’s nemesis, and the UK’s ‘special friend’, Ilya Gavrick. While the retrieval of the operative was the main force behind the action, it was the more subtle moments that really drove the episode. Although Spooks has always been a show about car chases and action sequences, it excels in its smaller, character-driven scenes. Often overlooked, they’re the glue that holds the entire show together.

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After last week’s revelation that Sasha the Russian intelligence agent is Harry’s son, the ever-devoted Ruth tells Harry that she’s besotted with him, and hopes that they can live happily ever after. Harry, of course is unwilling to do this, breaking Ruth’s heart in the process, and turning his energy to Mrs Gavrick (his former lover) and estranged son, Sasha.

It’s not just Harry and Ruth that go through the emotional ringer. It seems that Sasha has also found out that his mother and Harry have a past, and assumes that his mother is still working for the British intelligence service, so when his best friend also finds out, the choice is between country and family.

However, it seems the plot runs even deeper, and that Sasha was wrong – the wider story being that somebody is tapping into and using Harry’s security information, and that through these channels, Mrs Gavrick has told an unknown enemy everything, thinking it was Harry. While this big-bad has yet to be revealed, all fingers point to the Americans, and Harry’s former CIA friend, who all feel a little left out now the UK has a special relationship with Russia.

This leaking of information seems to be the major theme this series, along with the forging of new partnerships with former enemies, no matter what the cost. Personal relations are set aside for the greater good, and as the episode draws to an end, this is really hammered home, as Erin leaves her intel-agent out to dry, cutting all ties with her and walking away, leaving a prone and used operative to fend for herself without a job, house or future. While this was cruel, the show had one other little twist to pull out of the bag, and another death.

While I was wishing Callum ill, about halfway through the episode, I had a feeling that it would be somebody else for the chop, as for the first time, Tariq had a little speech, telling everyone how he had defied expectations and excelled in his career. This is the most that Tariq has ever said in any episode ever, and really, for those who have watched Spooks for a while, know full well that as soon as a character starts talking about themselves in any detail, then it’s time to say bye-bye.

And I am sad to say this is once again this is the case, as no sooner was Tariq given his oh-so-small bit of character development, he shuffled off this mortal coil, stabbed with something nasty by the shadowy team of agents we have occasionally seen since the beginning of the series. Intel in hand, Tariq may well have uncovered who this team is, but as with so many before him, he paid the ultimate price.

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While not as showy, loud or action focused as last week, episode two was once again superb, driving the plot forward, revealing and teasing bigger things to come, and setting up an intricate web of loyalties and betrayals for what looks to be a great finale.

You can read our review of Spooks series 10 episode 1 here.