Spooks, Series 10 Finale, BBC One | TV reviews, news & interviews
Spooks, Series 10 Finale, BBC One
Thrilling climax for long-running spy saga, but a triumph for the quietest performance of all
And now we faced the final curtain. Spooks responded with an inspired burst of hyperactivity and plots-within-plots, and even a micro-cameo from Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Quinn, the original head of Section D. Up to now this hadn't been the finest of seasons, partly because the death of Richard Armitage's Lucas North at the end of Series 9 left a void which was never successfully filled. Lara Pulver never seemed comfortable as Erin Watts, Section D's new head, because she looked as if she'd been seconded from a modelling agency, while promoting Dimitri (Max Brown) up the batting order merely allowed him to become more faceless by the hour.
Apparently the plan was to put the will-they-won't-they relationship of Harry Pearce and Ruth Evershed at the centre of these final episodes, but since it was a clandestine kind of liaison at the best of times ("You and I are made of secrets," Ruth confided in the dying minutes of the final episode) there were never going to be any grandiose Doctor Zhivago moments. However, Simon Russell Beale as Home Secretary William Towers (pictured below) rose masterfully to the occasion, being acerbic, opaque, avuncular, devious or ruthless as required, and his fraught interactions with Peter Firth's Harry have supplied many of the most memorable scenes.
Towers was at his wits' end again for most of these last laps, with good reason. The Americans were demanding Pearce's head on a plate for his role in the death of CIA man Jim Coaver, and when his MI5 team sprung him from American custody it looked like we'd heard the last of the Special Relationship (though it must be said that the Americans guarding Harry made Johnny English look moderately competent). The last straw for Towers was when Harry insisted he get the RAF to shoot down a Russian passenger jet heading for Heathrow because it had a suicide bomber on board, then changed his mind with nine seconds to go. (Lara Pulver as Erin, pictured below.)
This whole series has been about a proposed political partnership between Russia and the UK, a canny bit of plotting which is not quite ridiculous enough to be completely implausible, and also a deft inversion of the Cold War spy-drama convention where Russia means Bad. Always will for Harry, of course.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Flimsy documentary is one for the feline-minded
Fascinating and original concept only partially ruined by condescending direction
Military intervention might have helped spark some life into this panel chat
Final episode of Hugo Blick's absorbing thriller avoids neat conclusions
Capaldi's eyebrows steal the show as a new era begins
A great compendium of Bush's back catalogue, though the talking heads are hit and miss
Giddy self-regard only lets up briefly in a circus of expensively-tanned backs being slapped
Does James Fox have anything interesting to say? Judging from this series, no
Watchable docu-soap provides plenty of cuddly pets to coo over
More first-person war testimonies from front line and home front
Fantastic mid-Seventies dystopian children's drama from the BBC
Adam Rutherford's exploration of Leonardo and the dark art of human dissection