Spooks series 9 episode 3 review

It’s From Russia With Love (or should that be ‘Sex Lies and Russian Video Tape’) as we find out a little bit more about ‘John’ in this week’s episode of Spooks…

It’s amazing what technology the guys and girls at the Grid have, as we kick things off this week with the team spying on a the AFF (Russian ‘baddies’) via a satellite. A satellite which gives near perfect video of the team breaking and entering a secret facility to steal a nerve toxin.

The team, as well as being spied on from the skies, also have another problem on their hands as, on the ground, a team of FSB (Russian ‘goodies’) agents, along with Lucas, intercept and  apprehend the AFF, taking the team down with precision and deadly force.

Having such good surveillance, however, is not always a good thing as the FSB executes the prisoners captured, causing a potential international incident. This is something that the Home Secretary (who seems, at best, inept) is quick to pin on Harry, once again due to bettering relations with Russia, who holds all the cards as far as energy and business and money are concerned. All things the Home Secretary is looking to push in furthering his own agenda, as it happens.

Leaving one of the AFF agents to go free, Harry is in a position to try and find out who the nerve toxin was for and how it will be used. The AFF member, Azis Aibek, escapes, meeting with his bosses to await further instructions.

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Next? The Russian ambassador’s tries to bribe Harry to get him to do his dirty work, but when the ‘play nice’ treatment  doesn’t work, the ambassador goes above his head to the Home Secretary, forcing the naïve and petty career-driven politician to tell Harry who is the boss, in turn forcing him to put a Russian agent onto the Grid.

The deadly toxin, called Paroxocybin,  is intended to be eventually placed in the hands of the Azakstan militia, a small warring fraction wanting independence from Russia. The toxin is also going to be used as a way to get the Russian government back, by way of revenge. Which, as it now seems that Russia and the UK are allies, means punishment for the people of London, with a deadly attack using the stolen toxin.

In London, the team’s nail biting job is to track down Aibek and to stop him releasing the toxin on the underground, potentially killing thousands. Enacting level 8 protocol, it is up to Beth to retrieve and examine the toxin package, which is found to be empty. It seems the team were, for a change, too early and Aibek had not got the package, which is actually waiting for him at a university. Or is it?

For there’s still story to tell. With the Russians on his tail, Aibek’s trail seems to go cold, literally, as the assassin tortures a Professor Kirby who worked on the Paroxocybin project. With his daughter at stake, the professor makes plans to stop Aibek and helps the Grid team retrieve his daughter (who is a molecular physicist. Handy) and to stop Aibek, by literally ‘keeping the faith’, which it seems is all that is needed, as ‘belief and faith’ seem to be much stronger than the actual weapons themselves.

The sample is in a really cunning place (I won’t spoil where it’s hidden and, no, its not with Walt Disney’s head under the Magic Kingdom), but the race to retrieve it is the driving force of the episode. But there is a lot more going on than meets the eye, with both the Russians and the Grid team not telling the whole truth.

As well as the usual run of the mill bad guy of the week and some very naughty Russian agents, Harry is having doubts about his actions. With the Russian Ambassador breathing down his neck and the Home Secretary not trusting Harry’s methods, has Harry become a dinosaur or has the cunning head of the Grid been playing the long con? Again, not to spoil things, but Harry hasn’t been around for nine seasons to suddenly lose the plot and cave in to a bit of pressure.

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With the plot resolved and the double crosses all criss-crossed (it seems everyone is lying to everyone else), the sting of resolving who the real baddie is, once again, gripping stuff. (What else would you expect from Harry?)

But, it’s the aftermath of the whole venture that leads to even more questions, especially when Lucas/John talks to his former partner about the ‘whole story’ and that plot’s thickening a little more, as Vaughn is ready to tell Harry what he and ‘John’ did. Threads to be resolved in the future, perhaps?

Read our review of episode 2 here.