Tonight’s episode of Spooks was the strongest of Series 10 so far. Can the upward trajectory possibly continue for one more week?
After four weeks of episodes that, though undoubtedly compelling, were decidedly lacking in the riveting action scenes we’ve come to expect from Spooks, it’s clear that the producers went all out for the show’s penultimate ep, providing us with a handful of heart-thumping sequences that easily stand amongst the best the show has ever produced.
The car chase towards the beginning of the episode in particular was almost filmic in its quality, and the sequence in which Ruth infiltrated the American embassy was also perfectly done, laden with the peril, suspense and tension synonymous with Spooks’ finer moments. The slow realisation that the truck planted in front of the home secretary’s car was a bomb primed to go off was also masterfully executed, though it seems unlikely that he’d be able to survive a blast at such a close proximity (not that we have a problem with the brilliant Simon Russell Beale sticking around).
But despite the evident increase in the action budget, it was the quieter exchanges between the leads that really sparkled. The conversation between Harry and Ilya Gavrik towards the climax was as mesmerising as it was menacing, with a conversation between Harry and Elena earlier in the episode having a similar impact.
William Hope’s final outing as Jim Coaver was also of particular merit, especially in his character’s tragic closing moments. Again, it seemed slightly dubious that Coaver would die that quickly after being thrown out of a car moving at such a minimal speed, but the resulting exchange between Harry and Coaver was easily worth this momentary lapse in realism.
It’s becoming almost predictable praising Nicola Walker and Peter Firth for their performances in each and every episode; suffice it to say that both actors were on their usual impeccable form. It would have been nice to see more of Lara Pulver though. After the traumatic events of last week’s character-defining episode, Erin somewhat faded into the background this week, which seems a shame.
Beyond the action and powerful acting, the episode also saw plenty of developments in the ongoing Series 10 story arc. It is strongly hinted at that Ilya Gavrik is the one that has been passing messages to Elena in the guise of Harry, and Sasha is now aware of the true nature of his parentage.
So what could this mean for the show’s conclusion next week? Could it possibly match the run of strong episodes that have been building up to it? We can’t wait to find out, but judging by this week’s instalment, it’s looking likely.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 16th October 2011 on BBC One.
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