This review contains spoilers.
That’s it. After ten years, perilous missions, near global catastrophe and of course many, many deaths, Spooks really is over. While I will mourn the passing of one of BBC’s best dramas, I have to admit, this was one of the most gripping and compelling finales to a series since Ashes To Ashes. Throughout this series, we have seen that Harry and the MI5 team have been played against a background of a mutually beneficial deal between Russia and Britain.
The team have been one step behind a covert group working in the shadows, hoping to derail the talks and to stop the new agreements taking place. At first, we thought it was the Americans, closing in on its former ally and trying to destabilise the diplomatic relationship. It was also hinted that the architect of the entire affair, Ilya Gavrik, may be behind it all; even his son Sasha was at certain points a prime suspect, but the threat is revealed to be a lot closer to home.
Finally, it’s revealed that the entire team has been chasing its tail thanks to the manipulative ways of Ms Elena Gavrik, and while it has seemed she has been in mortal danger for most of the series, she’s been playing Harry and the team all along, getting rid of unwanted elements while also getting the odd vendetta or so out of the way at the same time. Now as you would expect with a last episode, things are supposed to all end in a massive climax, for all the pieces to fall into place and the final showdown to happen in the last few minutes, for the hero to save the day and for everyone to walk off into the sunset.
But the writers of Spooks turned this on its head, making the bad guy (or in this case, girl) reveal she’s the mastermind within the first few minutes. Elena confesses that she’s the main instigator, and that she needs to speak to Harry about a potentially catastrophic terrorist attack. The thing is, Harry is in the process of being transported to America in a lovely case of special rendition.
Of course, the team have a cunning plan to rescue him, and would in all likelihood have sprung their intrepid leader even if the country was not at risk. So within the first ten minutes of the show, the bad guy is revealed, our hero has escaped the inescapable, and the team are back together to save the world – all done before I had finished by cuppa. With nearly 50 minutes to go, how were things going to pan out if all the bases had been covered?
Well, with the threat of a potential terrorist attack on a passenger plane, there was still a lot to do in the wider picture, but really, this episode was designed to perfectly wrap up the micro-environment, the personal and really, the small betrayals. This is where the episode shone. While the threat of war and reprisals loomed outside, within an abandoned communications outpost, a complex game of human chess played out, with the entire balance of the western world relying on the outcome.
The main players in this personal drama were all superb, and with five of the main cast really entwined, the slow reveals, betrayals and double crosses that made up the bulk of the show were perfectly handled, slowly teased, and with an outcome that really was unexpected. Unwelcome, but as this was Spooks, inevitable.
As I said before, not everyone makes it out alive, and to tell you who dies, who survives and who betrays who would be a disservice to the people who wrote the episode, as the build up to the finale was superb. The layers upon layers of deception are fantastic; Harry, for all his time as a spy, still isn’t the best in the game, and his praise for Elena for her commitment to the cause was splendid – a pithy comment that shows the lengths that she would go to gain ground for her cause.
While the battle of wits between the Gavrik family, Ruth and Harry rage away, the continued cuts to COBRA and the plight of the plane continually raises the tension. If the wrong decision is made, it’s not only the plane full of people who would be in trouble, but also the whole of London.
Again, it would be terrible to explain the ending, to ruin one of the best bits of character-driven drama since Ashes To Ashes’ finale, but the fallout of the events are as striking as the actual climax, as we see Elena’s handlers and the shadowy cabal of Russian nationalists finally get their punishment from a familiar face. And for those who’ve been watching Spooks from the beginning, this marks a welcome return from an old friend.
While it’s great to see some of the characters who have survived the past decade of carnage alive, well and happy in their retirement, that’s not always the case, and in the closing minutes of the episode, we finally get to see the fitting tribute to all those characters who have sacrificed themselves in the line of duty. It’s sad to see another name added to the honour roll in a beautiful garden of remembrance, but the world of Spooks wouldn’t be the same if everyone lived happily ever after. A fitting tribute to the show, and really one of the best endings to a long running series in recent memory, this finale brimmed with character moments, some superb action, and a conclusion that really was both shocking and heart breaking.
I will miss Spooks, a show that delivered week after week, and was as action packed and as well written as any Hollywood blockbuster. And finally, after the fallout, there are still bad guys out there to get, and what’s left of the team is there to protect us from them, no matter what.
You can read our review of Spooks series 10 episode 5 here.