Lockdown TV Review: Spooks Series 8

With major fluctuations in the force, Series 8 maintains a strong level for Spooks – you could argue it should have stopped here

“They think you’ve got Harry Pearce in the palm of you hand and you’re making moves”

 

Finally, after too many years of yoyo-ing between good series bad series, Spooks finally put together two strong instalments back to back. I think the shorter run (8 episodes) really does focus the writing which now goes all-in on the serial plot line running through the whole series, yet still finding time to blend in self-contained storylines here and there.

Big betrayals cut deep, harsh on a team barely recovered from Connie’s recent deception. Personnel changes rock the team equally hard, as Malcolm is (metaphorically) sacrificed to bring back Ruth, Jo is (literally) sacrificed for big business and Ros (understandably) goes in hard for Tobias Menzies. And Richard Armitage’s Lucas North gets his arse out – quality TV all round. Should Spooks have gone out all guns blazing here?

Nicola Walker-ometer
She’s back! There’s a measure of contrivance in Ruth’s return to the show, necessary to undo the finality of her previous departure and to extricate her from the cushy life in Cyprus which she’d established forself. So cheerio to handsome new partner (they weren’t married so it’s OK he got killed), sayonara to her step-child in all but name, and welcome back to sweet emotional lrepression with Harry.

Top 5 guest spots
1 It’s a real shame we don’t get more of Richard McCabe’s too-intrepid journalist but if you don’t listen… 
2 Pascal Lambert‘s principled eco-terrorist is a remarkably well-drawn character, very much in the grey
3 Stephen Boxer‘s Jack Colville has been seen before but his vengeance-soaked return is a powerful look at the enemy within
4 As the latest incumbent in the cursed role of Home Secretary, Tobias Menzies is almost offensively charming as a Tory you might actually sleep with
5 And though she’s more recurring than guest, Genevieve O’Reilly is great fun as the glacially cool Sarah Caulfield, equally at home getting a piece of Richard Armitage (because who wouldn’t) or casually tipping bosses off balconies

Saddest death
One of the toughest deaths to take, even though we all know Hermione Norris’ Ros was never going to be afforded a quiet departure. Having been forced to write Miranda Raison’s Jo off as collateral damage (a close second here), her commendable determination to not let Tobias Menzies’ lovely cheekbones expire was the end of her.  

Most WTF moment
Much as I love her, the ease with which Ruth slides back into her all-knowing role, despite having had a few years off, strains credulity. I know Cyprus isn’t the other end of the earth and needs must in terms of storytelling, but it all plays out a little too easily. 

BIggest betrayal
Genevieve O’Reilly‘s Sarah Caulfield gets a second mention. Hot on the heels of Connie, it’s another incisively plotted volte face.

MVP
A pity mention for Miranda Raison’s Jo, for her services to the nation and to persevering with that haircut. 

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