Giddy up! It’s the last episode in season seven and the last rewatch post in this series (Today is also the 5th month anniversary of the Spooks Fan Blog – hold your applause for the six months celebrations in 30 days time!). I’m super excited about this rewatch post because I freaking LOVE this episode. I’m not normally inclined to rewatch individual episodes on their own, I usually watch them while rewatching a whole season (like now) but on occasion I do pull out 7.8 to watch because its so damn good!
There is a big star in 7.8 that I want to mention from the outset. Who is it? Harry? Connie? Lucas? No! The star of 7.8 is not an individual character, it’s the music. The soundtrack to this episode is incredibly effective at creating the tension and drama that this high stakes story needs. If we’re honest, a portable nuclear suitcase bomb in London sounds kinda silly on paper, but the Spooks team realised this story brilliantly, making it realistic and, amazingly, quite believable (much more so than the plague mimicking virus in season six, I thought). To my mind the music in 7.8 was the most pivotal element to making it work.
There were more moments in this ep than usual where there was no dialogue, just action. Its in these sequences that music is incredibly important to conveying the mood or emotional intent of a scene. This was especially the case for the Russian sleeper, who does not speak at all. The pulsating rhythm that accompanied him when ever he was on screen instilled the gravity of the situation and the dread of what was to come.
Deciding where not to use music is as important as where to use it. Music can be effective at heightening the drama, but in some scenes the tension is sufficiently created without the aid of music or with silence itself. A clear example of that in this episode is the shoot out scene outside the safe house, which has no music.
Rarely does the music in Spooks impose itself in an obvious way, which makes the sequence leading up to when Lucas North takes out ‘the runner’ quite unique in the context of this show. Here, the music is placed at the forefront and is deliberately much louder than it normally is in other action sequences. Because this is rarely done its adds an extra dollop of excitement.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I love how much of Spooks is often filmed on the streets of London. It adds to the realism of the show and assists greatly in making the viewer buy the fantastic story lines. This was particularly the case in this episode.
Anyone notice these two blokes about 39 mins in, as the Russian sleeper emerges from the tube, these two guys are ahead of him, singing! They always make be laugh.
I want to take a moment to mention Lucas in this episode, to provide some background and context to the current speculation that he might be a Russian double agent. Lucas seems more affected by Tiresias and Connie’s betrayal than the others in the team. As he hands out documents pertaining to Tiresias at the beginning of the ep, he raises his arm to his head, implying a sign of (dis)stress. His dialogue in the same scene conveys a contempt for the FSB. His disdain for Connie is also clear, as is his loyalty to his country. Lucas has sacrificed more than most for maintaining that loyalty, so he feels the threat to London’s safety and security more acutely. If Lucas is an FSB agent – this was all an act, and a pretty convincing one at that.
During the exchange between Ros and Connie, Connie claims that she and Ros “think the same” – you need to have seen Ros in seasons five and six to appreciate the relevance of this comment, especially S6. Ros does share Connie’s contempt for American domination, but not her methods… although there are similarities. Ros has been involved in questionable activities in the past but she is consistent in her core values.
Despite her tough and cold exterior she is sensitive and compassionate to others – the scene when she and Lucas emerge from the underground after the bomb detonates highlighted this for me. I’ve been watching the season five repeats on the ABC (Australia) while rewatching S7 over these past two months, and it’s been interesting to notice the differences and similarities between S5 Ros and S7 Ros.
A favourite scene, Harry taking out an FSB agent. You can really do that with a tie? I must keep one handy on my late night walks. Harry is usually bound to the grid or meeting whomever in the vast corridors of power – so it’s always a perverse joy to see in him the field killing the enemy!
Click here for an animated gif of Lucas being cornered by the kill squad (found via Tumblr!) – this is another favourite sequence. The moment we catch a glimpse of Lucas, from the perspective for the kill squad, heading up the escalators the suspense sky rockets. I remember watching this for the first time being on the edge of my seat hoping Lucas/RArmitage would last more than one season!
Well, that’s it from me. Too many favourite scenes and moments to mention. 7.8 is Spooks perfection! Is it possible to choose one favourite moment from this ep? What’s yours?
ps. Apologies for the typos and poor grammar… it’s 2am and I’m too tired to tidy this up!
It’s high stakes time! Harry is arrested, Lucas returns to Moscow, Connie is revealed as the mole and Ben meets a grizzly end. This episode is totally riveting in that lots of significant things happen, we’re kept on edge as to how it will all unfold, and the tension starts to build to the climax of the series – but on the other hand my nit picky radar got a bit too much of a work out over plausibility issues and the shear number of neat conveniences. For this reason I’m not sure that 7.7 is one of those episodes that benefits from a rewatch. This is one of the downfalls of watching some episodes multiple times, you start to notice stuff.
All of the scenes off grid were great, much of the stuff on grid wasn’t as great. I’m curious to hear what you think. I’m really in two minds about this episode… and how to write it up. I’ll keep it relatively brief. We can flesh this all out in the comments.
Some fans think that the manner in which Harry was arrested was over the top. Choppers and commandos probably was a bit over the top, but as a fellow Spooks fanatic said – “its Harry Fucking Pearce!” – meaning that the ultimate betrayal warrants an ultimate response.
How cool is the soundtrack to Lucas in Moscow? I’m forever getting music stuck in my head. Usually its the last thing I’ve listened to. Sometimes the Lucas/Moscow music automatically starts playing in my head when I’m out for a walk. Because so much is going on in this episode there’s little time to dwell on the fact that returning to Moscow must be a big deal for Lucas. Harry apologises to him in their conversation on the phone.
It was a nice touch with Maria being an old flame of Harry’s – although given that she was recruited as an asset, it could have been that Harry seduced Maria for this purpose. Was she a genuine love interest? I’d like to think so. When Lucas and Maria met, Lucas says that Harry told him she was “formidable” – but Harry did not say that in their phone conversation (sorry, being nit picky again!).
How gnarley is this dude!? Have I seen him somewhere before?
The Home Secretary gets a good outing in this episode. He comes out from behind his desk to reveal that HE HAS LEGS! The Home Sec leaves his den to visit the grid and the interrogation suite where Harry is being held. Robert Glenister is always solid but was brilliant in this episode, particularly in this scene with Harry.
Lucas takes one for the team… this is a fun scene (nice work if you can get it!). I can’t help but wonder about what was effectively eight years of celibacy for Lucas, locked up in a Russian cell. Is this the closest contact he’s had with a woman since being arrested? I always giggle when she calls Lucas her “kitten” – especially considering that this cute kitten kills some KGB ass moments later (I’m not much into fanfic but one with these two running into each other again would be fun… Hey don’t I know you from some where… oh right! your the gal from Moscow who stuck her tongue in my ear).
As I’ve said previously, Connie was seriously under utilised in Spooks, and this episode once again reminds me of this and the lost opportunity to have her play a bigger role on and off grid. She is brilliant and ruthless, surely that could have been put to better use. Her “background” status as a character, though, means that her emergence as a traitor is all the more compelling. We’ve not had cause to think too much about Connie up until now.
It was absolutely stunning how Connie killed Ben. One of the more shocking deaths I can remember on Spooks. By this stage we realise something is up with Connie and she will attempt to stop Ben from finding the evidence that will implicate her…. but I didn’t expect this!
What did you think of Connie’s motives? Without giving a story line from season six away for those who have not seen it… there are echoes of Ros in Connie’s motivation for her actions. As she says to Ros in the next episode – they are alike.
When I watched 7.7 the first time I was on the edge of my seat. The high drama and the revelation about Connie overshadowed its weaker points. Rewatching it with the knowledge of what is going to happen leaves ones mind to wonder and focus on other aspects of the story. I don’t want to dwell on the issues in 7.7 too much because I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I dig this episode, but there were three or four things that irked me. Namely..
– The lead up to Ben’s death. It made no sense that the team were asking if anyone had heard from Ben when it was obvious that Connie had checked on him moments prior.
– The scene with Connie on the wires starting to become paranoid. The way it was shot with Ros speaking to Jo and Malcolm gave the impression that they were talking about Connie. It seems we were meant to be seeing things through Connie’s paranoid eyes. But it gave the viewer the impression that the team were onto Connie.. when at this stage they were actually still ignorant of her treachery. Basically, the sequence sent mixed messages.
– The apparent inevitability / predictability that the list of Sugar Horse assets would end up in Connie’s possession.
– Harry’s lightening fast return to the grid
This cap has no plot relevance… its just funny.. (sorry Miranda!)… It’s ZOMBIE JO!
I love this episode! If you can get past the complete absurdity of classified military hardware being sold on an internet auction site, it’s a great ride.. albeit with a heart breaking end. A few things were interesting to me in this episode – the formidable Michael Sands and the question of history repeating with Ros from season five; did she screw up and contribute to Dean’s death?
Before I get into that I want to spend a few moments on Lucas North, Richard Armitage and season seven. My admiration for Richard Armitage has continued to grow throughout this rewatch. He is simply superb. RA has the ability to completely embody a character like few others. Example – the opening scene when Harry is telling Lucas and Ros about Sugar Horse, it is subtle, but you can see and feel LN’s tension as he hears for the first time why he was tortured for those 17 days. One of the reasons I love Spooks is for its believability (even when it is unbelievable!). RA contributes much to the believability of the show, I’d be hard pressed to find a false note in any of his performances. As I’ve said before, I’ve always loved Spooks but series seven tipped me into fantragic territory. The mix of the three awesome lead characters and actors in S7 simply struck the right cord with me for some reason. The damaged soul in Lucas, the tough and unapologetic Ros, and good ole Harry – each compelling and riveting in their own way.
Maybe I’m projecting here, but I couldn’t help but get the sense that part of Lucas was loving being “off grid” and kickin’ it with minimal back up – just like a soldier who can’t wait to put his training to use in live combat. This is what being in the security services is all about. Lucas had to reply on his wit and skill to keep the Mitchells’ safe. This is the anarchy of the job. The part you’re not supposed to enjoy but quietly relish.
I loved the interactions between Lucas and Dean (fine casting, as usual). In this ep we learn that Lucas grew up in the church and that his father was a Methodist minister. We’re also left with the impression that Lucas respected his father and had a good relationship with him – which made me wonder if his family was still alive and whether Lucas was still in touch with them before he was arrested. In season five the character of Ros is introduced with her father. In season six (I think) we see a brief interaction between Jo and her mother – where as LN’s family has been completely out of the picture so far.
OK, enough of Lucas. Onto the rogue MI-6 agent Michael Sands. I think it’s fair to say that Sands is one of the more formidable opponents the team has faced. It seemed that he was always hot on their heels or one step ahead. Nothing got past him and ultimately he won. He was able to listen in on their communications, find the safe house, slip into MI-5 HQ (the car park), get Ros’ phone number on the grid, etc.. There was just no stopping this guy – he was like the bloody terminator! He even trumped Ros in this little exchange:
Sands: I hear you’re the stuff of legend.
Ros: I’m not Greek and I’m not dead.
Sands: You’ll never be Greek.
To the question of how Ros handled this case – did she screw up here? Sands offered her a deal. She didn’t take it, obviously, but she did not discuss it with the team, either. She lied to Sands, saying that no one had seen any thing on the disk. She under-estimated him. Sands was not fooled by Malcolm’s recryption of the memory stick. Ros was able to figure out Sand’s plan and save the special negotiator from assassination, but she could not keep Sands from getting Dean. He died on her watch. This reminded me of a situation with Ros early in season five. Without going into too much detail, in one of her first operations with section D, Ros made a bad call and a girl died as a result (the actor who played the girl who died, incidentally, also played the mother of Sir Guy of Gisbourne’s baby!). Ros also pressured Jo to keep quiet about it. Unlike in season five, however, Ros was visibly shaken by Dean’s death.
I can remember watching the ending to this ep for the first time and being genuinely shocked by Dean’s murder. The way it was shot was amazing, a truly horrific scene as the glass elevator goes up with Dean’s blood splattered all over it and his mother .. man it breaks your heart!
That’s it from me for now. Obviously things heat up with Sugar Horse and the next ep is going to be a doosy (I loved the story line with the seedy fall guy, btw. Clever stooge, Harry!) I must apologise for not being able to participate in the rewatch discussions more. I got a lot on my plate at the moment. Will try and participate more this week.
Where to start with episode 7.5? In the past I’ve said its my least favourite in season seven but the reasons for this are not absolutely clear. One is that the protagonist did his job so well that I find him too creepy to watch. Another is that the inner workings of the financial markets is beyond my comprehension, so I find it difficult to understand the logic of how the team foiled Maynell’s plans. On the enjoyable side, making Maynell a latent anti-capitalist was a nice twist. And I liked that this episode was situated in a completely new setting for the Spooks team. It’s another reminder that Britain needs protection from more than rogue nations and terrorists.
I recall hearing an interview with Richard Armitage in which he said that when he first read the script for 7.5 his immediate response what that something like this would never happen, but of course was proven wrong by the recent financial crisis. This is one of the episodes that cements Spooks reputation for predicting future events.
To really appreciate the dynamics of this episode for Ros you need to have seen her in seasons five and six. Without giving too much away, when Ros says in this ep that she has “always had doubts” she’s not kidding. Her “appetite for betrayal” that Maynell refers to is a reference to things she has gotten involved in previously. So as the story reaches its climax there is a question mark as to which side she will take. Although I don’t think we (or I) really thought she would betray MI-5. One interpretation could be that this is a watershed moment for Ros. At the beginning of the season in 7.2, Ros makes it clear to Harry that she’s content with her choices in life and she wants to be section D chief. Taking out Maynell in this ep is the literal demonstration of her loyalty and a clear break with her past. She’s 100% committed to her job now, despite any lingering misgivings. Perhaps I’ve overstated this aspect somewhat. It’s difficult to remember how much this issue played on my mind when watching this ep for the first time.
On a completely superficial level, I have to say that one of the most enjoyable aspects of this ep was “Pete”. Good lord can Richard Armitage wear a suit – what a knock out! I’ve refrained from littering this post with “Pete” screen caps. Maybe “Pete” will pop up on the Spooks Fan Blog later in the week. Maybe? No maybes. It has to be done. Look out for a special Pete post shortly ;) I rather liked Pete’s apparent cynical attitude towards the corporate world – was that Pete or Lucas? One could hypothesize that Lucas and Maynell aren’t all that different, given his penchant for William Blake.
Jo’s troubles come to the fore in this episode, and there’s a great scene between her and Ros near its end. Spooks rarely makes a big issue out of its female characters kicking it in a man’s world, and I think that’s a good thing. But I also think its really important that it is acknowledged – that the challenges they face are different to their male colleagues. The expression on Harry’s face when he hands the photos of Boscard over to Ros hints that he knew he was out of his depth on this one. The threats of violence they face include sexual violence, and the things they have to do to save an operation may include consensual but unwanted sex (the experience of which can be similar to rape). I’m watching the repeat of season five on Spooks on the ABC at the moment, and Ros has lots of dialogue which reveals a certain cynicism (and amusement) towards men and their dominate position in the world.
Above is a shot from my favourite scene in 7.5 (what was yours?), Ros and Lucas playing the power couple Jenny and Pete.
– the shot of Lucas in the bedroom of his flat where he is apparently remembering being tortured about Sugar Horse, is actually a shot of him in the MI-5 safe house before he moved into his flat. Tut tut!
– Connie is cleared of being the leak
– Lucas and Harry have a barney over Sugar Horse
– Harry that realises Bernard is not what he seems
– Malcolm looses it all, wins it back again, and then some
Hey folks, something came up and I simply wasn’t able to finish writing the 7.4 rewatch post. So I’ve just slapped together these random notes. You’re more than able to flesh this out in the comments though, have fun!
So, what did we all think of 7.4? For me it was another cracking good story, still engaging after countless rewatches. This is why I think series seven is the standout season of Spooks. I’m surprised that I never get bored by yet another viewing. Some points on 7.4:
– Story/plot, negotiating with terrorist
– Jo sees Boscard in the crowd
– Bernard names Connie as a possible Sugar Horse leak
– The FSB tests Lucas North’s loyalty by bringing the bomb detonation forward
– Connie denies knowing Hugo Prince
If you’ve been following the Spooks Fan Blog from the start you’ll know that I love scenes in Spooks that are filmed on the streets of London (see the post Spooks Spotting for more on that). 7.4 kicks off with Lucas North out amongst the people. I can’t help but wonder what it must be like for the actors to perform out there in the wild.. what a buzz! As I mention in the Spooks spotting post, I think scenes like this are pivotal to the believability of the show (especially when the stories border on the unbelievable). Incidentally, can you spot Lucas in the screen cap above? (now there’s a merchandising opportunity.. forget where’s Wally, how about where’s Lucas? See if you can spy the spy..)
I thought this was a great concept for this episode, negotiating with “terrorists”. Its absolutely relevant to the real world situation. As Harry bluntly tells the Home Sec – “we can’t win the war on terror, ever”. Diplomacy and negotiation is the only virtuous way to resolve conflict in my books, so I was heartened to see Harry so eager to take the opportunity to met with Khordad. Notice that Harry didn’t relay to Ros the important intel he received from Lucas on the phone? Nothing was going to jeopardise this meet.
The other really interesting element about this ep was the highlighting of the factional and philosophical differences within al qaeda. Whenever politicians stand up and talk about “the terrorists” it makes it sound like they’re one homogeneous group. But the truth is that they’re no different to any other large organisation or cause that attracts a large number of devotees. There will inevitably be radically different opinions on the best methods to achieve the same aims. If you’ve ever been involved in any sort of political or activist group you can probably relate to Khordad’s predicament.. well, sort of!
Some of my favourite lines in this ep went to the Home Sec. Robert Glenister is so incredibly convincing as a politician. One fav: “Don’t quote history at me Harry”. That one’s been noted and uploaded to my repertoire… people seem to be annoyed when I call them Harry though… Speaking of Harry…. how priceless has his expression when the CIA lady (Lori?) came barging in to his office. Another perfect moment from Peter Firth!
Here’s Malcolm, lord of the rings. Pretty impressive device there… perhaps too impressive? I trust Malcolm though, so I was willing to go along with this.
Did anyone catch all the dialogue between Elisavieta and Lucas in this scene. What’s this about a prosthetic?
In this ep we get to see yet another one of MI-5’s famous gas leaks. One day I will dedicate a whole post to fake gas leaks in Spooks 1-8. It has to be done… My only criticism of this ep was the distraction devices… I appreciate that having the words ‘DISTRACTION DEVICE’ plastered on the props themselves was an efficient means to communicate to the viewer what was happening, but the trade off was that it made it look a bit Looney Toons ;)
[ Preface: This post is late, I know! I was red flashed this morning (had to work unexpectedly) so my 7.3 rewatch commentary ended up being a bit of a rushed job. Fortunately I took some notes and screen caps on Saturday night… will be better prepared next time… maybe. ]
Well, we’re right into the swing of things now. This is the third episode of the season seven rewatch. 7.3 sees Lucas leap back into the business of being a spy as a fully fledged member of the team, Ros vindicates Harry’s decision to appoint her as section D chief by foiling the terror plot (just!), Ben demonstrates his worth undercover and Harry goes walkabout in pursuit of the Sugar Horse leak.