Spooks Series 9: Episode 04 Review

 

Spooks Season 09

Spooks Season 09

 

What’s It About?

Three Chinese agents arrive in London on a three day visa and it’s up to Section D to find out why they are in the country and, if necessary, stop them. The investigation takes a number of tracks – will they pay off or backfire on the team? …

Review It

Considering the size, power and influence of the far east, it’s surprising how little their agents appear in films and TV shows like Spooks. As such, the inclusion of Chinese State Security agents in this week’s episode feels quite refreshing. Watching the separate branches of investigation proceeding in parallel as the members of MI-5’s Section D as they attempt to determine the reason for the CSS’s insertion of a team onto UK soil offers a (perhaps glamorised) insight into covert operations and asset handling. Of course, this is Series 9 and anything less would be dissapointing in the extreme.

Lucas’ calm professionalism and willingness to sacrifice himself for his colleagues and even for a developing asset is perhaps at odds with his slowly-revealing past. Then again, it is natural that he may be over-compensating for that very past.

Ruth also gets the chance to stretch her legs this week, and it seems the years of desk-work and overseeing of operations have rubbed off on her. Despite the apparent incongruousness of this change in role, it doesn”t seem forced to me, nor does it take me out of the story at all.

The cast are as consistent as always and Colin Salmon makes a welcome appearance as the CIA’s liaison to MI-5. Any US readers can correct me here, but I definitely think his accent’s convincing enough. With the longer-running characters (Harry and Ruth) it’s often difficult to remember that they are characters in an action-drama series rather than actual operatives who’ve been brought in to supervise the authenticity of the show and who’ve been offered the chance to be on screen.

A slight criticism I have this week is the over-use of the “split-screen” effect that is a staple of Spooks’ direction. In an early scene, the screen splits into two views and one of the views slides from side to side as other scenes are shown in the opposing frame. For me, this was slightly over the top use of a trademarked and perfectly servicable effect. A later scene even includes a shwishing sound effect as it transitions in… hmm.

And here is something that was beyond my suspension of disbelief threshold…. An MI-5 employee, presumably an analyst logs into his PDA to check something out for Lucas. He enters his username. And then his password. Which is clearly visible on screen. No password obscuring for MI-5, clearly. I know phones and PDAs allow you to enter passwords in clear text, but we’re expected to believe the security services allow this?

Overall though, this was a highly enjoyable story with some twists and turns along the way to keep the viewer interested, if not guessing at the truth behind the plot. A nicely tense climax rounds out the episode.

Rate It: 4 / 5.

Dry Slaps: 1.5 – over elaboration of frame splitting and frame transitions. Also the password faux-pas.

Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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