Spooks series 8 episode 2 review

After Ruth’s abrupt return to the Grid last week season 8 of Spooks continues in explosive fashion…

It seems the notion that ‘you can never leave the company’ applies both to the British intelligence service as much as it does to our friends in the US, as Ruth, cover blown, returns to the fold of the Grid after her tenure hiding in Cyprus. However, this return has come at a cost to be herself and to Harry who, through last week’s dramatic turn of events, shows just how much of a callous and unbreakable tough bastard he really is, costing Ruth her partner and very nearly her own son Nico.

Not crumbling to even the greatest of pressure, both Harry and Ruth return to the Grid, really establishing the status quo for the season. It shows that the team have to be even more resolute and tough in their outlook as it seems that the uranium plot and proposed dirty bomb are just one of the many testing trials ahead, as no sooner are the team re-united when an ‘accident’  at Western Sands power plant have them once more springing into action.

With the country very near collapse energy-wise the Home Secretary once again requires Harry’s help as the government have to deal with Tazbeckistan, a rogue (and I think made up, but please tell me if I am wrong) Russian splinter state whose energy pipelines are necessary for the UK to keep on moving. With the potential for blackouts and an economic crash, the team are introduced to the Tazbeck foreign liaison whom the team nickname ‘Thumper’.

Already known for his dealings, underworld connections and former life as a Tazbeck ‘enforcer’ Thumper, to put it lightly, is not the most squeaky clean of statesmen. And with the added mix of a political activist and reporter who are out to expose Thumper as the torturer and murderer he is, the team has double the amount of trouble as they aim to protect both Thumper’s potential victims while also keeping the negotiations open to lock-in the energy deal between the UK government and the Tazbecks. 

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While initially a plot that borrows heavily from Tomorrow Never Dies, this could quite easily have been a re-hash of that particular mediocre Bond movie. But the writers make sure that the guys and girls of the Grid put Bond to shame with their sheer cunning, spying techniques and action scenes all wrapped up nicely in an hour’s worth of non-stop excitement.

With the scene set, Ros, Lucas and even newbie Tariq, who joins the team this week as Malcolm’s replacement (who handed in his resignation last week), are assigned to watch over the negotiations between the government and the dodgy Tazbecks. They, while in the UK, seem to think that diplomatic immunity and the desperate need by the UK government for their energy supplies will allow them free reign to do whatever business dealings they want to, legal or not.

Having to turn a blind eye to certain aspects and liberties being taken by the Tazbeck delegation, the Oligarch mentality of having the money, power and influence to do what they like on foreign soil may well be a little writing dig at the money men from the former Soviet Union who reside here in the UK and buy the odd football team or two. But the Tazbecks are made out to be a lot more slippery and dangerous customers for the UK government as both the Americans and Russians are waiting in the wings to see what the outcome of the negotiations are.

With the editing of the show even more like 24 with the split screen and visual wipes, the episode’s multiple plots, set-ups and objectives are handled really well. From a panicking Home Secretary who is relying more and more on Harry to the juggled plotlines of keeping tabs on the Tazbeck hit squad, protecting Bebe, the political activist who is on Thumper’s hit list and also unsuccessfully trying to stop the journalist ruining the energy deal, all the plots are handled perfectly here, with things all eventually slotting into place. And while the outcomes of all the different objectives are not a complete success, the ‘greater good’ is eventually realised even if, once again, Harry is put into a situation of having to make deals that most sane people would walk away from.

With the country rescued from the edge of an energy blackout, all would seem right in the world. However, within the microcosm of the Grid things are not running as smoothly, with Ros happy to use Jo as bait in a honey trap with the Tazeks, Harry in denial about his actions last week and being unwilling to talk to Ruth, and Lucas getting a little closer in his ‘diplomatic relations’ with the team’s CIA agent Sarah. Tthe team’s relationship looks like its splintering even more.

With the final few minutes, however, all the relations and personal agendas seem to be insignificant as one final meeting between Harry and the Home Secretary reveals that the explosion and the power plant and the terrorist cell wanting the uranium last week may just be smaller pieces to a much bigger puzzle. There is, according to the Home Secretary, somebody out there looking to disrupt the world order and the person who gave him this information is for the first time, very, very scared.

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With that portent of doom and the groundwork laid out for the rest of the season, season 8 looks to be a real cracker as next week Ros is taken hostage and the plot of the new world order gets even deeper.  

Read our review of the season opener here.

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