We continue our brand new Spooks blog, where we’ll be rewatching the first series at a manageable pace of two episodes each week, with the next two episodes.
If you don’t already have access to Series 1, the boxset is currently a bargain here…
Series 1 Episodes 3 & 4
Originally aired: Monday 27th May 2002 / Tuesday 4th June 2002
The ones where: Zoe finds herself on the wrong side of a hostage situation and is forced to blow her cover to save a life.
In the show’s fourth episode, Tom tries to handle a charismatic spy who doesn’t want to come in from the cold, as well as telling some home truths. Look out for Merlin’s Anthony Head and House star Hugh Laurie!
Series 1 Episode 3
Working undercover, Zoe finds herself in a precarious position when she is caught up in an embassy siege. Nothing is quite as it seems though, as the hostage taking turns out to be a grand diversion. The brains behind the incident is a former Spook with an ulterior and far baser motive, namely cold hard cash.
Katie Jones impresses as the fanatical Kurdish terrorist who seeks to promote her cause to the global media and free hostages from Turkish jail, while Keeley Hawes has to show some steel facing down the terrorists and has great material to work during the Embassy reception scenes.
Meanwhile, Tom is still living on a tightrope of truth in his domestic situation as he dips out on his own birthday celebrations.
An engaging episode with plenty of tension and a nice twist, the principals of Section D all get some action and Harry comes up against a former colleague turned rogue. It won’t be the first time.
The guest cast includes Jeremy Bulloch, better known as the occupant of the Boba Fett costume in the original Star Wars trilogy, as a near-hysterical bank owner Roger Whelks and Ralph Inerson (‘Finchy’ from The Office), who plays to type as a cocky wide boy thug in the employ of the villain.
Best moment: Villainous former Spook Johnny Marks drinks from a water bottle in front of his weeping hostage. You think he is just taunting her, but he peels back the gag and lets her drink before replacing it. From that momentary act of kindness you know his motive is more complex than just sheer avarice.
Best line: “Three thousand agent’s names and addresses. All of them out there, trying to affect the course of world events. Why? Because this country can’t stop trying to punch above its own weight.”
Series 1 Episode 4
Tom has domestic troubles as he’s forced to ‘come out’ to Ellie when she sees his gunshot wound. She takes it well, but insists he also tell the truth to her daughter.
Back on the Grid, he discovers that Harry has been running the legendary spook Peter Salter, incurring the displeasure of MI6 represented by a twittish Hugh Laurie.
Salter is on the edge of infiltrating an anarchist cell that aims to assassinate President Bush, but he has fallen for the girl and lost his perspective. Tom decides to bring him in, but is Salter just another rogue spook?
Meanwhile in the ‘B’ plot, Zoe makes a shocking discovery about Tessa who is running fake agents and pocketing the ‘sweeteners’. Danny on the other hand is pulled up for his credit card stunt and feels the full force of Harry’s displeasure.
Anthony Head’s charismatic performance as Salter utterly steals the show and, despite his shifting loyalties, I was sorry to see him go in such brutal fashion. The tale is much more about his relationship with Tom and the Spooks way of life than it ever is about the apparent threat to the US President. Portents of doom for Tom’s character development perhaps?
One quibble would be the terribly expositional on-screen warnings as Salter adjusts the heights on the automatic landing systems, a trick borrowed from Die Hard 2, I believe. Also, watch out for a young Richard Armitage, later Lucas North, at approx. 39’ 40’’ making a brief appearance as an armed police officer.
Best moment: Salter’s debriefing where he and Tom masterfully play each other through the interrogation is a wonderful sequence of subtle one-upmanship.
Best line: “So, you gonna kill him? The President of the United States, when he visits in five days time. We gonna pop him or what?”
What did you think of the episodes? Let us know below…