Spooks series 8 episode 7 review

With the revelations of the Basel meeting and Nightingale so tantalisingly close, the team are diverted once again by a potential race war...

Dark orange hued colours, a heat haze covering everything, crowed busy streets, languages from all over the globe on the air, nope it’s not Delhi but rather London, where the handiwork and influence of Nightingale has filtered through to street level and in the organisation’s attempt to instil a ‘new world order’, it’s innocent people that are to suffer.

With a superb (and finely played out) introduction and set-up for this week’s show. that initial ‘play’ takes a nod or two from a selection of steamy spy novels mixed with Bourne and Bond (and dare I say, it Dan Brown) as a Pakistani intelligence officer is brutally murdered by an assassin using an ancient Indian melee weapon (which looks like Wolverine’s claws).

With the officer bleeding to death, he, in turn, manages to shoot his own assassin and the two men slowly die, one falling into the traffic in central London while the assassin crawls to a cellar half alive, but with only half his objective done.

It seems that both the assassin and intelligence officer were after the same thing – a disillusioned teenager who has been working as a mole to gain information about a potential terrorist plot. With the meeting aborted, and seeing his intelligence handler murdered, the mole runs.

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Hearing that the mole has escaped and that his handler has been shot, the team at the Grid have to investigate, finding that there is a lot more going on than just a potential bomb plot and that, once again, Nightingale is involved.

We saw last week that a large sum of money from the Nightingale account had been moved to Pakistan and while Harry and the rest of the team have no clue what this street level episode reveals, there is, once again, a lot more going on.

Twisting the notion of terrorism on its head, the episode leads the viewer that the usual suspects are involved and that it’s a Taliban-style cell that are threatening the security of London once again. However, showing a more ‘human’ side (if that’s possible), the motivation for a terrorist attack is a lot more personal, with the leader of the cell motivated into the attack by the brutal attack of his sister who now lies comatose in a hospital. 

Again, we the viewers assume the protagonist for the attack is Muslim, however, surprisingly, the religion of the cell and the young guys planning the attack are actually football loving Hindus, making for an intriguing spin on our assumptions and allowing the writers to explore the notion of terrorism, Indian and Pakistani history and a troubled area of the world that to us here in the UK is not really known about.

However, this plot is only scratching the surface of a conflict that has been orchestrated by a much higher authority. While the young Hindu footballers are planning their attack, the assassin with the Wolverine claws has been playing both sides, escalating issues and assuming once the Hindus have attacked the Muslims, the Muslims will retaliate and escalate the violence, which is something that Harry is very aware of.

It was the assassin that at first provoked the beating of the comatose girl in hospital and, while bleeding to death, is slowly putting the pieces together for the violence to break out. He is being manipulated by the Nightingale cartel with the actual escalation of religious violence in the UK a distraction for a much bigger issues, namely the plan to have Pakistan and India go to war. 

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From top to bottom, through the layers of conspiracy, double crossing and dealings this episode was pretty nail biting stuff and was quite thought provoking.

The Grid team really took a back seat for most of the episode with the focus being on the mole, which  was played from all sides with Lucas cajoling, threatening and helping all at the same time. Ros also takes a little break, only being bought in when the assassin is found and once again the ice-maiden does more in the five or ten minutes on screen to get a confession out of target that Jack Bauer could do in the 24 hours he gets. Threats of Indian jails and slow deaths and, even more scary, the threat that the assassin would be looked after and his injuries healed before the ‘questioning’ would begin, gets Ros what she wants – the targets and cells the two opposing sides he is playing would be involved with – and in a highly emotive showdown, heroes are made, loyalties are tested and the right and wrong of the convictions on even the strongest and most determined person are put the test, all with gripping, nail biting tension.

Even through the action scenes, ever escalating plots and threats, there are still a few little personal quirks that are superbly handled. The new cocky home secretary, for one, is introduced and made that just little bit too Blair-like, with a swagger and arrogance to him. Whether his promotion was on his own merit or, as Harry believes, he has been put there and could be working for Nightingale, we are yet to see, but the stoic foundation of MI5 is far from convinced, even if he himself is distracted with a little bit of office flirtation with Ruth, whose subtle touch of his hand in one scene is worth so much.

Basel is yet to be answered, Nightingale is yet to be revealed and pieces are in place and I cannot wait for the series conclusion that, from all the promotion and teaser, is to be one of the most explosive finales the show has seen. Gripping stuff

Read our review of episode 6 here.