Spooks series 9 episode 8 review: series finale

As we wrap up this potentially final season of Spooks, does the build-up from last week pay off? Rob investigates…

This review contains major spoilers.

We have, over the many series of Spooks, become familiar and even friends with the team members of the Grid. And even the new members like Dimitri and Beth have become as endearing as long standing members, Ruth and Harry. But this week, as it turned out, one of these team members will die.

Slowly building through this season, we have seen Lucas move across to the dark side. Whether this was intentional, as Richard Armitage is, in case you didn’t know, going on to bigger (or is that smaller) things, being cast as the lead Dwarf in The Hobbit, or whether it was done to make the main villain this season be more human, rather than an entire country or faceless threat, I am not sure. But to make the leading man the main bad guy of a entire show is brave and, in my opinion, pays off. Well, for the most part.

Leading straight on from last week, we see that Lucas (or should we now be calling him John?) still rogue, with Harry’s team on full alert and ready to being him in. Having disposed of Vaughn and taken Maya into hiding with him, Lucas still wants Albany and is willing to do anything to get it into the hands of the Chinese.

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Now, this is where things get a bit odd, as while this all makes for great telly, there are some massive plot holes and character issues. Maya, for example, sits passively along for the ride, not questioning John in any way. External hardware instantly works on old laptops, the Chinese are too trusting of Lucas, who has been the ‘opposition’ for most of this season, and Harry, for the first time, shows some humanity, something that comes back to haunt him.

All of these are pretty big issues and I am sure the debates in the comments below will iron out whether or not these things balance the action/deficiencies. But, for the moment, let’s put aside the fact that these issues exist and focus on the fact that this really is an action TV show that, for all intents and purposes, is Bourne, only with a lot cheaper budget. So, for the first time all season, Lucas puts all his MI5 skills and spy training to good use, being elusive, cunning and trying to repair his increasingly deluded psyche.

Now, as has happened with a lot of seasons of Spooks, we are introduced to a character who has a potential to become a new member of the team. This time the recruit is Alec White, a ‘specialist’ who was decommissioned from the special forces for a serious breach of protocol (which, if Spooks is commissioned next year, could prove interesting) as well as for having a drinking problem. Alec is a thinker, an ex-officer who has been in the game a long time and, as such, is a character Harry can turn to in assisting in bringing down Lucas.

With his state of mind slowly crumbling, Lucas’ use of Harry and the team to bring him Albany is actually highly effective, from using Ruth as a pawn to planting false bombs and even using an innocent life to get his goals. Lucas’ use of all the skills in his repertoire is pretty impressive in his attempt to get his hands on Albany, which we find is a chemical weapon, a piece of technology that can be tweaked to a specific ethnicity, and something that has been used as a deterrent to stop wars and conflicts around the globe.

It is, it would seem, a very bad time for Harry to start to show his feelings. For nearly ten years Harry has been the stoic hard as nails leader of Grid. He’s been the hardened defender of this country, showing little to no emotion as his team have, over the past few years been blown up, shot, dipped in chip fat, had their throat slit and murdered in front of him. Each and every death up until this point has done nothing to deter him from his goal, making him, in my opinion, the ‘hardest’ spy on telly. Jack Bauer, pah! Harry would have taken him out even before the fight had started. So, it’s a real surprise that this week Harry’s love for Ruth nearly causes the entire country to get embroiled in a potential war between China and Britain.

Has Harry finally cracked under the pressure? Well, no, not exactly, as it seems that everything in this episode is once again a ploy, as Albany isn’t really the weapon it is purported to be. It’s a deterrent, nothing more, as, in reality, it doesn’t actually work. Harry has ‘won’ again, even if he had to gas his own team, potentially lose the love of his life, and put his own career on the line to do so.

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It’s also losses all around, as, for all of Lucas’ planning, scheming and spying, he loses the one thing that his fractured mind as John/Lucas has kept as a constant. Through all his torture in Russia, the missions he has been on and the secrets he has kept, Lucas has loved Maya. So, when the quiet and slightly wet doctor gets shot, it pushes Lucas over the edge, leading him to put more innocents at risk and to get one final rooftop showdown with Harry. 

With the team trying to defuse the bomb Lucas has set up and stop panic in the underground, Harry and Lucas confront each other with only one walking away. To not spoil things, the only indication that one of the spies will not be coming back is the cries on the street and the car alarm as the rooftop conclusion ends in tragedy.

With this sombre conclusion it seems that the Grid team are without direction and it’s time to move on. The people in charge and the slightly inept Home Secretary wants change and the old guard and way of working may well be a thing of the past.

And with a shot that makes us think that this may well be the last season of Spooks, we are left with a great, if flawed finale to the series that leaves things open, but brings into question whether the show will be renewed.

If it has gone, then it’s going to leave a gap in the BBC schedules that’s going to take some filling…

Read our review of episode 7 here.

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