There have been almost ten years of high-octane, very British, extremely explosive spy drama on our screens, and now Spooks is back for its final, and much-anticipated season. Never one to shy away from controversial plotlines, complex language and a now almost predictable felling of its main characters, episode one started as it meant to go on – with new characters, an attempted assassination and a Pandora’s box of secrets waiting to be revealed.
As the trailers declared for the last few weeks – the end is near – but luckily for us MI5 fans, there are still six episodes of secrets and lies from the Cold War to be revealed, and quite possibly devastate those we have come to know and love on the Grid.
Series nine concluded quite literally with the ending of Lucas North, who had betrayed his MI5 colleagues and stolen another man’s identity, (apparently “real” name John Bateman), and the uncovering of his attempt to get a top-secret computer file for the Chinese – Albany. A showdown between Harry and Lucas on top of a tower block in London ended after Harry revealed that the Albany file never actually worked turning around to find Lucas no longer on the roof. We arrive back at series ten after Harry has been found guilty of prioritising Ruth’s life rather than the protection of state secrets, spending the past few months on garden leave.
It’s clear from the very start that this final series will very much focus on the show’s legend and Section D Chief Sir Harry Pearce – which is fitting because he is the man we know least about, but who it appears has the most explosive secrets to reveal. For example – a Russian spy son from his time running a Russian asset in the eighties? A Russian spy son that wants to kill him? I digress…the show opens with his tribunal, where Harry, on his usual form, wriggles out of immediate punishment for his actions over the Albany affair, and ends up back on the grid.
But it is all change back on the Grid. Whilst Ruth (the simmering love story still afoot), Dmitri and Tariq are still in play, we get a new techie whizz Callum (who is a bit cocksure to be honest, but as Tariq put it “You gotta give it to him, he’s good. I sorta hate him for it”) and Erin Watts, new section leader. Sexy, sassy and not afraid to use a gun, it appears under all that steel there is a single mum storyline bursting to get out. And a really good blow dry. Where do spies get the time for a blow dry like that? Poor Bex Bailey was handed her P45 and sent on her way before we got to the opener – shame, as most other main characters have a least got a secret identity or a bomb related death as their send off.
The plotline for this episode (and for the series it appears) centres around the new direction for government in a post Bin Laden world – getting into bed with the Russians, something which Harry finds hard to swallow. As a former MI6 agent Sharecropper is murdered in his flat after sending Harry a message that “Tourmeline is ind danger”, we are sent on a rollercoaster ride through 30 years of British and KGB secret service past.
Tourmeline, aka Elena Gavrick is a British intelligence asset from the Cold War days, personally recruited by Harry Pearce himself. She has since stayed in Russia, and more importantly is the wife of Ilya Gavrick a former KGB officer. He has since made millions as an oligarch, and is now Russian international development minister. Big cheese. As we know, the British government is trying to create a new special relationship with Russia, and the revelation of Elena Gavrick as a Western spy would be seriously bad for business. The assassination of Gavrick in the UK wouldn’t help either, a plot uncovered by Section D. Both of which are stopped, admirably, including some fantastic running around with a gun in a ball gown shots by Erin Watts.
But it appears there is another pressing problem for Harry. Somebody is running Elena using Harry’s codes – this is top-level stuff, and it isn’t Harry. Harry and Ruth spend the reception trying to get a message to Elena to warn her, which is pretty tough considering the hoards of FSB agents, including Sacha, (Harry’s long-lost super secret son with Elena – are you keeping up?) – realising what is going on.
Throughout we are shown some quite shady looking Russians plotting, particularly around the assassination attempt, but there real purpose I am sure will be revealed in the upcoming episodes.
As usual, sprinkled amongst the high pressure drama are the more comedic moments including Harry’s response to how he coped whilst away “At one particularly dark moment, I almost considered … gardening“, and the hilariously bumbling Home Secretary almost breaking cover when he calls Ruth her real name, instead of her operation name. ‘Oh balls, did I ruin everything?’
This final season is set to be a thriller. It’s sad it is ending, but my word – way to go out with a bang!
Next week’s episode on BBC One Sunday at 9pm.