I’m starting off this post by conceding how stupid this very topic is.
Richard Armitage stumbles slightly as he and Jacob Anderson rehearse the chase scene through the breaker’s yard in Spooks 7.6. Cap from extra “The Chase” in the DVD collection. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery.
Emotional about a TV show? Servetus, get a grip.
Emotional about a TV character? Ditto.
Those two things line up directly with obsessive about an actor. Crazed enough to write tens of thousands of words about his performances.
Having conceded all of those rational critiques about what I am about to write in advance, this is how I feel. And I think what’s getting me this week is the way that Spooks 9.7 ends up in confluence with things I’ve already wondered about Mr. Armitage as a fellow late thirty, early fortysomething.
For me the whole question of who is a killer (Vaughn, Lucas?) and who isn’t (Ruth?) — the moral status of these characters, how we judge it, and how we feel about it as a consequence — seems to be being sidelined in my emotions by the identity problem. I admit I want Lucas to be a hero, but that’s not the biggest issue for me and if I never saw 9.8 or learned the explanation for any of this, I think I’d justify the story line with the explanation that twentysomethings do a lot of questionable things, and that John had indeed tried to atone for his reprehensible actions by sacrificing his life for Queen and country, and by doing a number of noble things as Lucas. I think this is the reason why I was less bothered by script implausibilities in 9.6 and 9.7 than I was in 9.3 and especially 9.4; I can live with him not being a hero.
But what I still want to know — and if the final script doesn’t address there may be a big problem in Servetusland– is who Lucas North, who’s now turned out to be John Bateman, really is. There are so many lines from 9.7 ringing in my ears, especially Ruth’s about the craziness of simply being able to pick up and continue living after witnessing such horror, along with her inability to speak when she calls Niko, but none more poignant than Vaughn’s statement about how Lucas is a killer who dreamed he was a hero. But that now the killer has awakened. Armitage’s acting throughout the series has, after clearly separating the killer from the hero, moved them together, so that even we can’t really tell at this point who Lucas / John is. If John is to be redeemed, it seems likely to fall out, it will be at most a flawed redemption.
It’s not that I need John / Lucas to be either a hero or a killer, but I need to know which. In the whole maze of issues that have bedeviled the last five years of my life, my own personal problems lately circle around my increasing suspicious that I’m a nice girl from nowhere who dreamed she was a professor. It’s not that I need to be one or the other more particularly — it’s that I need to know which it is I am in order to figure out what to do next, and I can’t tell. But I may have in my own life to face the troubling possibility that Armitage’s acting has suggested with increasing vigor since 9.5 — that John and Lucas are the same person, that the girl from nowhere can neither fully realize, nor effectively ditch, the professor. The only redemption available is partial; the only exits that present themselves really offer no way out.