This review contains spoilers if you haven’t yet seen the episode.
I have, over the past few weeks, moaned a little that things in this series have not had the impact of previous seasons and that the episodes have not had the consistent feel to them. Instead, there’s been a a splintered and fractured feel to the overall storytelling, and the little hints here and there about Lucas’ past and the enigmatic Vaughn were not enough to sate the episodic nature of the series.
Boy, was I wrong, as this week we get the full disclosure of the Vaughn/Lucas relationship in all its gory details.
However, before we get to the massive series pay-off, there is another plot running through the episode that, at first, seems trivial for the might, minds, and muscle of MI5. We’re tlaking about the a slightly sad figure of Keith, a failed would-be spy who has turned his attention to RIPA duties, essentially (to nick a quote from Dad’s Army) a little Napoleon with a few minor powers who spends his time chasing up people for letting their dogs foul the pavements. It’s a nice little dig at the government’s tendency for using a hammer to crack a nut.
But politics aside, Keith thinks he is doing good, using his terrorist-stopping powers to make good in his community. A sad little man who really should be pitied, his life hasn’t been fun and his continual rebuff from MI5 and the death of his wife has made him lonely and a bit of a irritation. So, when he finds an actual ‘real crime’, things get out of hand as he brings Ruth into his suburban world of council snooping.
While this little story might have been full of cliché with the loner who keeps himself to himself, who is bought into a world that is out of his control, this plot is handled really well. It shows that not everyone is cut out to work in the world of espionage and that those who are, really, at times, should have a reality check of their humanity.
This Ruth-centric plot shows the reliable analyst is so essential to the guys and girls at the Grid that, for the series that she wasn’t there, it’s a wonder the entire operation didn’t collapse. Diligent, caring and fantastic at her, job Ruth really is the consummate agent and shows that, for all the swagger of Dimitri, Beth and Lucas, you need somebody on your team who is not superhuman, and her predicament with the real threat that both she and Keith encounter is done to perfection.
She doesn’t know karate and isn’t a marksman. She is, for all intents and purposes, a woman who has the same ‘skills’ as us, so when the confrontation with the main villain in this plot kicks off (and believe me, it does) it seems so much more real, dangerous and life changing, with the pay-off being that Ruth’s continual grind at the Grid and her personal issues from last series (with the loss of her adopted family) finally come back to haunt her, and not in the way you would expect.
While this suburban spying story is really well done and the writers should be commended on tackling a gruelling, harsh and occasionally violent little plot, the main meat of this week’s fantastic episode is, of course, the final confrontation between Lucas and Vaughn. And the fact that, now that Harry knows, there is going to be trouble.
As it’s been hinted at all season, it seems Lucas isn’t Lucas at all, but somebody called John, and that Vaughn has ties to his past. Vaughn is a nasty piece of work, playing on all of Lucas’ weak spots, namely his love for Maya, going as far as to kidnap her ‘for her own protection’ from his employees (the Chinese) and Lucas himself, with the intention of using the good doctor as bait to get Albany.
However, things don’t go to plan, as Harry takes Ruth’s suspicion of Lucas a little further and has Beth follow the rogue agent into the field in one of the best scenes this season and one that will really make you wince.
Bringing in Lucas, Harry formally confronts him and we find that Lucas confesses all and, not to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, let’s just say that Lucas isn’t the clean-cut, super-spy we all thought he was and his actions in the past have caused a lot of damage, to both the UK intelligence service as well as numerous civilian casualties.
We all knew Lucas had something to hide, but the revelations about the character are shocking and shows that maybe this might well be the last season of Spooks.
With Malcolm back in the fold and Vaughn’s demise all wrapped up nicely, we are left with one of the best cliffhangers all season. It seems the killer in Lucas is once again free and, with Maya in tow, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a nice sit down, a biscuit, and a cup of tea to bring round Lucas, who has tipped over the edge and become (in wrestling terms) a fully fledged ‘heel’.
Full on, the best hour of telly this week and by far the best episode of Spooks all season. Fantastic stuff, all laid out for next week’s blockbuster finale, and I can’t wait.
Read our review of episode 6 here.
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