SPOOKS Series 9 Episode 8 Review

Spooks 9.08

SPOOKS Series 9 Episode 8 – The Spooks and Lucas North play a game of cat and mouse that ends series 9 on a whimper instead of a bang.

The series 9 finale kept me engrossed, barely wanting to blink in case I missed something important. This was the episode where we got answers – why was Lucas doing all of this? What was Albany? How would it all end? The problem is that those answers weren’t very satisfying.

After Vaughn’s death, Lucas had no real reason to get Albany, except to buy himself and Maya a new life elsewhere. With that goal in mind, he set up an elaborate scheme to track Harry Pearce, manipulate him into handing over Albany, and get away scot-free, while the rest of the team chased their tails.

It was a fairly good plan. The addition of Alec White, a mostly unlikeable former agent who Beth takes an instant dislike to, was a good one. The problem is that we don’t see him actually do anything. He brings results, formulates theories, has Tariq carry out one of his plans, but we only see the results when he has little left to do, making everything feel very anticlimactic. I can only assume that he was brought in now to be carried over to the confirmed series 10.

But this didn’t affect my enthusiasm whilst watching. I was gripped. The Lucas/Ruth interaction was fascinating to watch, especially when intercut with those unstable flashbacks that made Lucas look even more unhinged. When he told Ruth that he was only worried about her finding out his secrets, I was waiting for him to spin her a line, tell her he loved her, work Stockholm Syndrome into his plan and get her on-side. When he instead drugged her and left her to her possible death, I honestly feared for her life. Lucas was really looking like a cold-hearted bastard. But not cold enough to actually let her die, thanks to Maya.

It made Maya’s death vaguely interesting. My biggest problem with Maya is that she was brought in to act specifically as a catalyst for Lucas’ actions. We were told that he loves her, he told her that he loves her, Vaughn knew that he loved her – but we never really got to care about them as a couple. So Lucas’ grief at Maya’s death, right after she convinced him to do the ‘right thing’ and giving Harry Ruth’s location, made him seem more human and made us give a damn about Maya. And it was a nice little death scene too, reminiscent of the death of James Bond’s wife. I was half-expecting ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ to start playing.

And it was this human side that made us understand why he would threaten to blow up a tube station. (A ballsy move from the writers since the 2005 tube attacks are currently back in the news.) It also gave him a reason, albeit not a great one, to kill Harry. He supposedly blamed Harry for Maya’s death, and while this would have been out of character for the old Lucas, it was plausible for the unstable Lucas/John.

Lucas’ bomb being a fake made complete sense. He had the team away chasing their tails – still – and had Harry right where he wanted him. It was looking like Harry would die. The twist of Harry hearing a scream instead of a gunshot and realising that Lucas had jumped to his death was brilliantly done.

But this is where the episode unravelled for me.

We leave the Spooks of Section D in limbo. I’m not entirely sure whether they’re upset because they think Harry is dead or whether they know Lucas jumped. Either way, instead of some resolution like Harry going to see them all or us seeing the team picking up the pieces a few days later, we’re instead given a scene between Harry and the Home Secretary.

Albany was a fake. Harry telling Lucas that earlier could have stopped all of this. Harry telling the team that at the start of this episode could have stopped all of this. There was no reason for any of this to happen. It could be argued that Harry wanted to know who exactly Albany was going to or that he wanted to see what Lucas would do, if there was any hope of him being the ‘good guy’ again, but Harry has been at his job long enough to know better.

With Albany being a fake, the series just faded out: Lucas is dead and clearly not returning as an antagonist in series 10. The Albany weapon is a fake, so it wasn’t set up to be retrieved next series. Harry’s job is in jeopardy, but even if he loses it the events of the episode make it seem more likely that he and Ruth may get married, or if not, have an even tighter relationship. There was no goodbye to the team, no hint of their thoughts about the events of the episode or what they plan to do next. It just ended.

As I mentioned when I first started reviewing Spooks this series, I hadn’t watched many episodes in the past. I certainly haven’t watched entire series and have never see a series finale for this show before. This type of ending may just be the shows style, but as someone who had grown to love the series over the course of a mere 7 episodes, it was a disappointment for episode 8 to end on such a flat note.

But I’ll be watching the next series. The tone, style and casting of this show has me hooked. I’m willing to overlook the flaws of this episode and accept series 9 for what it was: a twisting, turning thriller that made the hero of the piece into the villain, something that very few television series on either side of the pond ever have the courage to do.

What did you think of the series 9 finale of Spooks? Let us know in the comments below!

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