Spooks series 9 episode 4 review

With another week comes another threat for the Grid team — this time it’s from China. Rob takes a look at the latest episode of Spooks…

With last week’s review of Spooks, somebody in the comment section mentioned the lack of continued focus on the overall ‘Nightingale’ arc, that was the main driving force for last season show. It seemed the pay-off was the death of the home secretary earlier in the series, but to me that isn’t enough. A ‘new world order’ that was stopped by one event? Nah. That doesn’t add up to me. However, further answers weren’t forthcoming, as the latest Spooks once more reverted to a ‘bad guy of the week’ template. That’s becoming quite common here.

Maybe this will all lead to a big pay-off, but at the moment having bad guys from various hot spots from around the world just isn’t gelling in the way the other series have. Maybe I miss Roz, maybe the writers are going for a more of a Celebrity Juice market of quick punchy disposable episodes rather than a overall arcing story. But some things just don’t seem to be clicking as they should.

That said, this is still a decent episode and, of course, things run through at a breakneck action-packed pace. I do still think the series is very good, too, and one of the best things the BBC is putting out at the moment.

Back to this episode, then, and it’s a good week for Lucas, as not only has he recently got a promotion to section chief after being confronted by Vaughn, he also got back with Maya for some naughty ‘kitchen action’ (something my wife was very happy about).

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After the quick recap, we got some Chinese (Karl Pilkington would be happy. After his recent visit, please watch An Idiot Abroad, if you aren’t already) terrorists (CSS operatives) tracking down Kai, a defector to the west who is still loyal to China but is hanging onto intel and secrets. He’s loyal, but wavering in his ideology to China, and it’s up to Beth to ‘push’ him to defect, and for Dimitri to get some face time.

With the current Home Secretary being ineffectual as usual, Harry has to turn to the CIA for actual, real help. The PM, it seems, is both scared and a bit of a lapdog to China, understandable due to trade and such. But Harry, of course, is looking to dig a little further, risking some very large enemies in the process.

When Beth’s attempt to turn proves unsuccessful, the team go a little Mission Impossible and try and persuade Kai to give them help, with Lucas being the fall guy. It seems that the Chinese aren’t just after the defector, but there is a rather lot more at stake. Thus, the team find about Amphitrite, the codename for a scientist who is working on a desalination plant water filtration system that the CSS team is looking to steal or get rid of from a bio-tech company called QMK. It seems whoever controls the future of the planet’s water will control global economies.

With the CSS staging a bomb threat and assassination on Amphitrite, it’s up to the team to once again try and go in, stage a job from the inside and stop the CSS from taking what they want. Ruth takes the job, getting more than she expects thanks to CIA intervention and a very cunning ploy from the CSS.

Being manipulated by a global superpower on their home soil doesn’t sit well with Harry. And when Harry is mad it looks like somebody is going to get it in the neck. First off, the home secretary, then the Americans, as the water for oil plot unravels. And Kai being a ‘good traitor’ doesn’t stop Harry’s wrath at being stonewalled and not informed.

Vaughn is also having problems, needing a favour from Lucas, and while not everything is resolved, he’s very much turning up the heat to get his favour. And it’s making a potential problem in the future.

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Plus, there’s ‘Albany’, the encoded file that Vaughn is demanding, which is at his fingertips and teased at with a painting of a ship. There are clearly still some interesting elements to come, and it seems Lucas is not averse to using other people on the Grid to get what he wants.

A solid episode in all, but as I said, with regards the overall narrative arc, it does still seem to be a little slow. And I agree with the commenter mentioned at the start. I’d love Spooks to address the Nightingale plot, too…

Read our review of episode 3 here.