Review: Spooks (Episode 3 – Series 7 – BBC)

For some reason I enjoyed this more than last week’s episode. It still had lots of twists and turns – but it was somehow more satisfying. I did find the inner-city accent of the Jihadi to be quite fake, but I can live with that.

The main plot line is the discovery of British based Al-Qaeda bomb plots, the aim of which is to maximise civilian casualties. Ben is working undercover in the cell that is tasked with detonating the bomb. Initially the expectation is that it’s a dummy run but it soon transpires this is the real thing.

The plot is complicated because Marlin, a Pakistani intelligence agent, is giving the tip-off. Past series dictate that those who give tip-offs can’t usually be trusted.

The even more complex plot line occurs when Lucas has flashbacks to his torture at the hands of Russian FSB captors. He was subjected to water boarding (note that he endured this in real life too) and one of his torturers had asked him about ‘Surgarhorse’, a keyword he isn’t familiar with. After having a flashback he confronts Harry and asks him if he knows what it is. Harry denies any knowledge.

Next thing we know, Harry is in the suburbs in an old book store where his old mentor Bernard Qualtrough works. He tells Bernard he needs him to work on a covert operation because, we infer, ‘Sugarhorse’ has some connection with an Mi5 top secret operation and potentially a mole at the highest echelons of the service – probably in connection with one of Harry’s superiors, called Dalby.

Back on the central plot line, the dummy run turns into the real thing and there are four bombs to be neutralised. Ros does a sterling job as Head of Section D, especially in Harry’s absence as they can’t get hold of him. Connie urges the shut-down of the mobile network but Ros resists. To cut a long story short, they manage to neutralise three of the bombs. The other (real) terrorist who Ben was a faux-accomplice to ended up getting shot.

Unfortunately, the fourth bomb does detonate and Jo (pictured – already traumatised from her ordeal with Adam Carter (RIP) at the hands of torturers) – is at the centre of this one. Two CO19 officers are killed in the explosion but Jo had managed to clear the area of civilians. She herself is again, deeply traumatised, as she is caught in the blast itself – though survives.

By the end they realise that Marlin had set them up and that the handler they’d been chasing had not been the Mr Big. Marlin phones through to Lucas and asks to meet. They do. Marlin acknowledges to Lucas that he is probably a dead man in Mi5’s eyes now. However, he also tells Lucas that he himself is NOT the Mr Big, but yet another ‘Russian doll’. He says he had to organise to oversee the bombing as his superiors had got to his family and this was the only way to protect them. He draws a gun… and shoots himself through the neck.

Ben is deep undercover and discovers the terrorists are planning a bombing campaign in London. He accompanies them on a dry run but soon discovers that this is no practice and that he is minutes away from innocent members of the public getting killed. Ros and the team face a desperate race against time to prevent the terrorists’ bombs going off but, with four bombs set to detonate, it’s an almost impossible task. Jo will stop at nothing to save London from devastation, landing herself at the centre of a catastrophic situation.

This was episode 3/7 and the series is continuing to deliver. Highly recommended.

Watch again on BBC iPlayer (UK residents only) by clicking here.

Reviews of Spooks Series 7

Review: Spooks (Episode 2 – Series 7 – BBC)

R.I.P. Adam Carter

Episode 2 begins ‘8 hours’ after episode 1, in the wake of Adam’s death.

Ros wastes no time asking Harry to give her ‘section D’; she wants to assume Adam’s role as head of the division. She goes back to her flat and tears it up, throwing the flat screen television across the room in a fit of rage. She’s in mourning.

Harry is adamant that they will avenge Adam’s death through Arkaday Kachimov, the FSB (formerly known as KGB) bureau chief in London, who was responsible for Adam’s death.

The main plot line involves a Russian submarine that is in British waters. It transpires the sub is on a mission to launch a ‘cyber attack’ by intercepting the cable linking Europe with North America and launching a denial of service attack which would bring down every computer in the United Kingdom.

JIC (the Joint Intelligence Council) refuse to allow Harry to target Kachimov. They also refuse to ‘turn off the internet’ which Harry asks them to do, as a safety measure.

Lucas North (the Mi5 agent not long out of 8 years in a Russian jail) appears to be a double agent as he’s liaising with Kachimov. It also turns out that his ex-wife (who is Russian) is now his handler.

There is a Russian oil tycoon who Ros intercepts in the changing room of a City gym. Grabbing him by the *cough* testicles, she encourages him to spill the beans which is to confirm that there is a submarine in British waters.

A somewhat confusing episode. Lucas shows his true loyalty to Five having been tasered by Ros when she suspects him of actually working for the Russians. He’s interrogated by Harry and the rest of the team and says he’s playing Kachimov at his own game.

The Russian sub is now poised to launch its attack. Lucas intercepts Kachimov and tells him that they can set him up to look like a double-agent meaning his handlers in Russia would want him dead. The only way he can extricate himself from the situation is if he gives Mi5 the codes for the submarine. Kachimov takes him into the Russian embassy and they get the codes off the computers. Ben dials in a bomb alert and the embassy is evacuated. Lucas and Kachimov leave during the evacuation with the computer disk.

They get in a car driven by Ros and the team and the disk is handed over and put into a laptop. The data is sent directly to Malcolm back at Thames House who has just seconds left to prevent the cyber attack mounted by the submarine. He breaches all 3 firewalls of the sub’s defences and the sub loses all control.

The end result is that the attack is foiled. You then see a BBC report on the tv with a story about a Russian ‘oceanographic vessel’ that ran into difficulty, that was saved by the British Navy. This is the cover-up.

Kachimov is now effectively ‘turned’ to the British side. The final scene is him awaiting pick up to be taken to an Mi5 safe house. Ros and Harry are there. In a derelict part of London. Kachmimov shows no remorse for the death of Mi5’s star agent – Adam, calling him a disposable resource.

In the final scene, as he awaits his pick up, Harry calmly turns around and shoots Kachimov through the heart in cold blood.

The sub plot is Lucas and his Russian wife who is now FSB. At the end he has infiltrated her house and tells her that unless he joins him and works for Mi5 – she will lose everything she has.

A good episode, though not quite as dramatic as episode 1.

Re-run on BBC iPlayer.

Reviews of Spooks Series 7

Review: Spooks (Episode 1 – Series 7 – BBC)

An enjoyable seat-of-your-pants first episode as series 7 premiered on BBC1 last night. Look away if you don’t want to see spoilers contained within this entry.

It started with a flashback to series 6, episode 10. You may recall that Adam and Jo had been captured and their death was imminent. Jo had begged Adam to kill her as she knew she would be tortured.

So it started where the last series left off. It turns out Jo feigned her own death and she did not in fact die as they were liberated by Special Forces. So they got out alive. However, Jo was was heavily traumatized afterwards and doesn’t restart work.

The main plot line in episode 1 of series 7 is focused on Russia. Ros is in Moscow (codename: RANGEFINDER). With things hotting up in London, she is recalled but refuses to bail out as she is moments away from picking up something she’s worked 6 months on getting (she’s acquiring Russian secrets of course).

The main plot line is a British army private who had been serving in Afghanistan. His face had been on a BBC news broadcast saying he was looking forward to coming home, etc. Anyway, on leaving the pub with his friends, he was captured by Al-Qaeda operatives. They show a video of him on youtube saying they will behead him if HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) does not cancel the Remembrance Sunday events, at the cenotaph, etc.

So the thrust of this episode was them desperately trying to find this captured squaddie who is somewhere in London. Ros had brought an encrypted piece of data back from Moscow and they finally manage to unencrypt it. It links them to Al-Qaeda operatives in London who will link them to the hostage takers.

Oh, I almost completely forgot. The BIG new plot line is Lucas, an Mi5 agent who has been released by Moscow in a ‘tit for tat’ exchange. He’d been languishing in a Moscow prison for 8 years. He comes back to Thames House and is warmly received by those colleague that remember him – Harry, Malcolm, Connie, etc. He’s looked on warily by Adam who had not worked with him, however.

Anyway, they manage to free the captured squaddie, only to realise that this was a diversion for the main Al-Qaeda atrocity which is a planned bombing of a remembrance Sunday service in a part of East London. Adam, Lucas and Ben race to the scene. Ros (who hasn’t seen Adam since her own ‘death’ (staged by Mi5 to protect her from the Americans)) sees Adam who has intercepted the car bomb. They greet very briefly. That she loved him cannot really be in doubt.

Ben and Lucas are chasing the Russian agent (codename: TRANQUILITY) who had driven the car to the site. They valiantly try to get her to give them the code and Lucas fights her to the ground but she crushes a cyanide tablet in her mouth (starts foaming at the mouth) and dies instantly.

Adam has jumped into the car and is racing out of the area before the bomb goes off. Martin back at HQ has identified a derelict part of London with a large enough exclusion zone for the bomb to go off. They’re out of time, seconds until the bomb is due to go off!

Adam manages to get the car into the exclusion zone and just as he opens the door to leap out… the enormous car bomb detonates and he is killed in a gigantic fireball.

All the agents are in a state of profound shock. Ros will probably never get over it. The only positive is that Jo decides to return to work as a way of honouring his life (they had worked very closely through series 6 and he was her mentor).

Harry and Ros swear on their lives that they will get their revenge on the Russian bureau chief in London (I forget his name) who knew about the imminent attack, who was introduced as a new character earlier in the episode.

All in all – great drama and very much up to the usual quality we would expect from Spooks. Rather shocking to see that Adam has been killed off, but they kill someone off every series so it can’t come as too much of a surprise. Lucas looks to be a very interesting character. Less cocky than Adam. We assume he is partially ‘broken’ after 8 years in a Russian prison and his naked torso revealed some very interesting tattoos he got during this time. The Radio Times attempts to decipher them.

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If you are a UK resident you can see episode 1 / series 7 online using BBC iPlayer.

Episode 2 is on tonight on BBC1 at 9pm (preview on Radio Times).
Reviews of Spooks Series 7

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The one to watch: Spooks (BBC1)

I almost didn’t notice this, what with everything else that’s been going on!

The seventh series of Spooks premiers tonight at 9pm on BBC1. It’s a two-parter with the second part on tomorrow night. Yes, I will definitely be watching it!

Spooks
Highlight

Monday 27 October
9:00pm – 10:00pm
BBC1 London & South East

Believe it or not, we’ve reached the seventh series of Spooks, yet its standards are still toweringly high and, if anything, it gets better with age. The opening two-part story (concluding tomorrow and at 10.30pm tonight on BBC3) is an absolute corker that doesn’t waste a second, piling on action sequences, snappy dialogue and a shock that might just leave you poleaxed at the end of the episode. First, welcome back to the Grid and its personnel, who are still coming to terms with the consequences of the previous series’ stunning cliffhanger, where Adam and Jo were faced with a terrible predicament. But life goes on; the threat from international terrorists is omnipresent when a soldier is kidnapped and threatened with beheading, and the team unearths a plot to wreak havoc on Remembrance Day. Into the mayhem steps a new spook, Lucas North (Richard Armitage) released in a spy-swap after eight years in a Russian prison. Can he be trusted?

Source: Radio Times

More photos and Spooks Guide on Radio Times also.