‘London Spy’ Episode 4 review: The mystery kicks up a gear

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“The end of lies.”

So says Scottie in the fourth episode of London Spy. This week, the mystery is kicked up a gear as answers begin to materialise. Tom Rob Smith’s BBC Two drama has spent the past few weeks dangling suggestions and red herrings in front of us like a cat with string, but this week’s penultimate instalment sees an end (mostly) to that. It feels as though hwe are definitely approaching the trut.

There’s a sense of the pace picking up, and it’s welcome; there’s a sharp scene in which Danny realises what the code to unlocking Alex’s USB is, and after all the plot’s twists and turns, seeing the lightbulb moment in his eyes is immensely satisfying to watch. It feels like it has been a long time coming, but Danny solving the code feels worth it – you can appreciate the work which went into the build-up.

From then on the plot can move forward considerably. Alex’s old professor Marcus Shaw (Adrian Lester) is brought in to help decipher the contents of the USB, alongside Scottie’s old university friend Claire (Harriet Walter). It transpires that Alex was working out a way to essentially de-code lies; something which could, by all accounts, bring the world crashing down around them.


The lengths to which they go to in order to avoid being eavesdropped upon as they work out Alex’s findings emphasise the sinister atmosphere, but it is nice to see Danny in a makeshift team for once, with people who are there to help.

This episode harks back to the tenderness of the drama’s opener more-so than the two previous episodes. We see Danny’s journey take him on a different path, initially, when he re-visits the places which belonged to him and Alex over the course of their relationship. He begins the process of saying goodbye, or at least tries to.

Whishaw, yet again, provides a deft kick to audience emotions as he buries his face in Alex’s t-shirts, or sits by an open fire and reminisces similar scenarios with Alex, with nights spent under the stars and talk of soulmates (admittedly slightly ruined in terms of romance by Alex’s stubbornly rational analysis).

It’s touching and poignant to remember the reason that Danny got tangled up in this mess in the first place – that he was truly in love with Alex, even if everyone he meets now seems determined to convince him that he did not know him at all.

London Spy Scottie (JIM BROADBENT)

It’s not just Danny’s relationship with Alex which carries an undercurrent of emotion – his relationship with Scottie is also explored, and there’s an affectionate protectiveness between them which is enough to make your heart ache by the end of the episode.

Professor Shaw states, after examining Alex’s discovery, that he’ll be surprised if the four of them last a week with this knowledge. This prediction turns out to be only too accurate, and the episode ends with Scottie’s loss, a tragic blow to Danny. Will he crumble, or will he be even more determined to solve the case in Scottie’s honour? Danny has grown immensely as a character over these four weeks; something tells me it will be the latter.

With one episode of London Spy left, there are plenty of loose ends to tie up. We are confident that it will deliver.


Aired at 9pm on Monday 30 November 2015 on BBC Two.

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