Ugly “American”?

Sarah Caulfield (Genevieve O’Reilly) promises Lucas North that he’ll be the first to know if she discovers anything about the group claiming responsibility for Harry Pearce’s kidnapping in Spooks 8.1. My cap.

Did Lucas North and Sarah Caulfield (and by extension Richard Armitage and Genevieve O’Reilly) have chemistry? Given how Sarah’s plotline turned out, were they even intended to? If they were supposed to and didn’t, whose fault was it? Did failures of writing, characterization, or performance right from the start prevent audience members from granting the Spooks 8 storylines a sufficient willing suspension of disbelief us to accept this romance in any guise, even in the deceptive one eventually revealed by the plot? Though I haven’t been surfing around to get the exhaustive panorama of other fans’ answers to these questions, the stuff I have seen leaves no doubt that many viewers felt confused, disappointed or angry about this relationship. (Indeed, the negative comments about O’Reilly pushed me to watch it the series well ahead of my plan to wait for the DVD, for fear I’d eventually lose all possibility of viewing it with a neutral perspective.) Though Spooks 8 offers us some beautiful lines, stunning moments of truth, and great performances (happily, many of them Hermione Norris‘s), I have to admit that re-watching this series didn’t alleviate my confusion on the relationship issue.

As many of the people who wrote comments on blogs and newspaper articles noted, a chief problem lay in the scripts and the way Sarah Caulfield was written. The challenge, though, lies in figuring out what exactly was wrong with the scripting of “Lucas and Sarah.” It’s not enough to say “the script was bad, the character was written poorly, the relationship was not credible”; we have to think about why we have those reactions. And I think we have to be fairly subtle in our analysis. Spooks 8 was, in my opinion, a failed attempt at an interesting project. The Spooks 7 script was a tightly wound spring that proffered each new piece of information selectively and seductively to the viewer, allowing her to turn it around from all sides before fitting it into the puzzle. Rewatching pays off, as you wonder why you interpreted a piece of evidence in one way when the other now seems so obvious. In contrast, Spooks 8 was not nearly so deftly and economically crafted, even if I found myself very much drawn in by the way that every episode seemed to deal with an essential moment in the characters’ history and relationships, and much more moved overall by the complexity with which the show’s ongoing themes of sincerity (and how lack of it affects relationships) and the dilemma of protecting groups vs. individuals were treated. Given the greater ambitions of series 8, I think we have to ask ourselves how the Lucas / Sarah relationship was impacted by a script that showed a great deal more ambition and edginess than it had in the previous season, and perhaps a corresponding portion of incoherence.

Because we know and love Lucas, fans seemed to have placed much of the blame for the problems in the performance of “Lucas and Sarah” on O’Reilly. Given that I don’t think she was the exclusive source of the problem, or that everything would have been just fine if only another actress had been case in the role, what I write on this topic will probably sound like a defense of her work. That’s an effect of this style of analysis, not a personal goal of mine. Indeed, given the prevalence of the view among fans that O’Reilly caused the problems in “Lucas and Sarah,” it makes sense to start our inquiry with the question of why of Sarah / O’Reilly didn’t work out for so many viewers of series 8.

First, I will disregard some options at the outset. An observer of the occasional excesses of  Armitageworld might wonder if his infatuated fans would have found any actress acceptable in this role. Maybe I am wrong, but while I’m sure some Armitage fans would never accept any romantic partner as good enough for “our Richard,” given the widespread fan support of the actresses who played Margaret Hale and Marian, I firmly believe we would have gone for a villainous love interest for Lucas had the character been right. No question that Armitage fans would have changed a long list of elements had they been writing the script; for a light-hearted take on this question, remind yourself of the delightful ideas expressed by Natalie and Phylly3 in SFR 6. (Pop over and give Natalie some love.) The problem was that the automatic and predictable pre- and early-series hostility toward what we knew about the character stereotypically (“no one is good enough for the noble Lucas” / “aargh, not another willowy blonde CIA agent”) was fulfilled when the character turned out to be so wrong. (If you are one of those fans who feel that no one can be good enough for Lucas, though, you might want to consider collaborating with Skully in developing her Lucas North merchandise collection, a picture of which we see above.)

Second, I am discarding as unserious the argument that the character as written was correct, but that O’Reilly was not an actress of high enough calibre for the show and / or that decisions she made independently for her performance made the character unworkable. Her professional credentials, particularly on the stage and in movies, are certainly on a par with Armitage’s. Though of course it lies in the canon of professionality to do so, Armitage spoke well, unprompted, of her performances when he could easily have remained silent; Ian Wylie quoted him as saying, “You’ll fall in love with Genevieve O’Reilly, who plays Sarah. She’s brilliant.” The sort of roles she gets do not indicate that she’s being cast just because she’s a pretty face. And were I the Spooks cinematographer, I’d insist just for ease of shooting that a relatively tall actress be cast against Armitage.

Certainly, O’Reilly got the accent all wrong –so wrong, indeed, that I wondered whether the mistakes were somehow a part of the characterization of Sarah, i.e., that our first clue to her villainy was supposed to be that we couldn’t really tell where she was from, and our second, that she didn’t know Ben Franklin had never been president of the U.S.–, and this matter deserves further discussion, as does her or the script’s rather reckless deployment of U.S. grammar and usage. But I think –as some viewer comments I saw acknowledged– that U.S. viewers’ anger with such issues is out of proportion, given the ways in which “foreigners” are misscripted and misplayed on U.S. television every day. Moreover, with all due respect to the talents of the actors involved, we hear plenty of lousy foreign accents or mispronunciations of foreign languages on Spooks. The obvious point is the matter of the Russians. Though I’m no expert, I’ve spent enough time in the U.S. and Germany around Russian Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union to hear it when Paloma Baeza‘s (Elizaveta Starkova) and Stuart Wilson’s (Arkady Kachimov) Russian accents in English falter, and to notice that the English actors who deliver Russian lines achieve performances of variable quality (for example, in Spooks 7.8, in the scene where the Russian team is preparing to hunt down our heroes.) Does a large group of fans somewhere complain that Jonathan Phillips as Rustam Urazov doesn’t sound authetically Tazbek, and that as a consequence, his credibility as a villain is destroyed?

No. In the case of O’Reilly, then, I conclude ire regarding the accent, about which so many cruel comments were made, became a focal point for expressing more general problems with the character and the script. But because the accent was so obviously O’Reilly’s contribution, it also made it seem as if she were causing these problems. I share the annoyance about the accent but I don’t think that these sentiments really get at the root of the problems with the character. Rather, in terms of what I understand to be her performance, I hypothesize that O’Reilly was actually playing key parts of the character as scripted and quite probably as directed, and that this compliance created problems upon problems for her performance. The script had too many strands, a series of “too muches” and indeterminacies that overwhelm both actor and interpreter. 

It’s going to take me awhile to unpack all of this, but if I were asked today to propose a general thesis about Lucas and Sarah for what looks like it will end up being another series of posts, I’d say in light of the bewildering array of things happening in the script, both Ms. O’Reilly’s and Mr. Armitage’s performances complicate our understanding of what’s going on between them rather than clarifying it. In particular, the shared scenes between Sarah and Lucas often appeared as discrete units that hung in space as opposed to connecting to a larger arc in their relationship. Instead of the effortlessness we are accustomed to in an Armitage performance, in scenes crucial to our understanding of the relationship, we intermittently see each actor acting, and we find ourself uncertain as to how to view them when they themselves still seem to be trying each other on for size. 

Indeed, this queasiness was perhaps unconsciously evident in some of the things Mr. Armitage said about the plot line even before the show aired, as, for example, to Ian Wylie: “The first sexual encounter between them is very much about Lucas taking control of her, being manipulated by a very attractive woman who’s using her sexuality as much as anything else to get him to do what she wants.” Which is it, taking control, or being manipulated? Manipulated into taking control? Taking control after having been manipulated? From their performances, it’s not clear that Armitage and O’Reilly could always have answered a central question when defining the hierarchy of desire –who loves more, and who is pulling away?– for any given moment in the script, or defined where that hierarchy fell on the control/manipulation spectrum. But real couples understand this calculus and negotiating it is a constitutive element of any romantic relationship. Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not blaming either Armitage or O’Reilly for this problem; however, some of their scenes together appear to leave both of them at sea and us with them. Their encounters are so potentially overdetermined that it becomes difficult for the viewer to interpret or explain them. The factors that influence that overdetermination are at the base of the ideas I’ll be trying to develop in whatever I write about this.

I admit that I haven’t drafted this sequence to the end, and while I’ve got plenty to say about it (what don’t I have plenty to say about?) it’s not really central to the blog’s purpose. The next piece will go up tomorrow, and I’ve got chunks of a third section together, and I’m not feeling plagued by any personal qualms in publishing this, so I’ll try to keep it appearing in chunks that don’t overwhelm the reader, as long as my interest in continuing the topic lasts.

~ by Servetus on June 24, 2010.

38 Responses to “Ugly “American”?”

  1. This just an initial reaction. If I have any problem with Spooks in general, it is with the depiction of Americans in the series. And this is from a Canadian who delights in a national pastime of American-bashing, as much as any. But I can be frightfully protective of Americans, when they are portrayed in stereotypical guises. So that would argue for the poor scripting as scapegoat. The accent didn’t bother me; I don’t even know where my own “accent” is any more – whether N.A. or slightly English. Or somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. People on both sides of the ocean have always asked where I come from. Annoying.

    Another feature that I found discordant with the actress, had to do with hair and make-up. Both just grated, the stringy blonde hair, and the harsh eye make-up, which reduced her eyes. The wardrobe people do a lovely job with Ros and Jo. What were they thinking with Sarah!!

    Those are just the immediate reactions. Take them, or argue me away. 🙂


  2. The accent bugged me a lot at first, just because I couldn’t place it. You know how it is when you listen to someone, and if you listen to them long enough eventually you ask. After a while I realized the accent was a symptom of something else. You picked up on both of the hints I was giving in the post title, fitzg! How this script treats “Americans” is the topic for tomorrow, so I won’t argue with you but ask you to see if you agree with my take on the issue. I’d also argue that the “ugliness” is a reflection of that issue as well. So no argument. 🙂


  3. You should have seen me afte reading your post, 30 mins staring into the space trying to gather my thoughts on the points you’ve made and re-analyzing why I don’t like Sarah *and* thinking how to put it into words. 😛

    Just one thought. I contemplated the option that for me, it was because she was manipulating him all the time and was ‘the baddie’ but as you said, then I wouldn’t like Marian, which I like as a character, although can’t understand her blindness and unwillingness to break canon.

    IMO, the pre-idea we had of their relationship might played into this. If I’m not mistaken, we were told their relationship was going to be about power, control and using their mutual sexual attraction to achieve that and along the way their feelings will go deeper.
    Remembering their scenes I think it was acted as power and control but not a ounce of attraction, IMO, Lucas seemed attracted in their first scene, then nothings much on either side. Suddenly he kisses her and in ep 4 he’s asking her to stay, following eps: he doesn’t want to believe she’s the baddie and is totally crushed for her death.
    On Sarah’s part I never saw those changes in her, except for the puntual non-killing Lucas (Dear Sarah:So after 6 eps with no indication of any kind of feelings on you part, upset at Lucas ‘falling’ for you’, you now happen to care for him? Huh?)

    I feel there’s no interaction between the characters.

    OML :S


    • Yes, Marian is the real test case here, I think. If you hate the character but at least don’t mind the actress, you should theoretically be in a position to hate Sarah but respect O’Reilly’s performance. I don’t think Mr. Armitage’s fans are so infatuated that they can’t separate at all between between Armitage and his characters.

      I agree that the script sets it up so that it’s hard to see why these people would interact with each other. She’s doing it for her own nefarious reasons, and given the stereotypical villain qualities she’s given one’s inclined not to think about that too much, but the script completely undermines the emotional control that Armitage has established for Lucas in the previous series. I don’t see why he’d have changed so much, given that the events of series 8 must logically follow immediately upon those of series 7.


  4. @OML: I really liked Marian, too. She was a highly independent young woman, using everything she had in a time where women were severely constrained. I don’t think the script in Spooks gave GO’R much maneuvering ability, and the editing might also have had much to do with it. I really didn’t like her, and saw zero chemistry with Lucas (BUT) from what I’ve seen of S8 on BBC Canada, (with commercial breaks!! that’s an ax that continues to grind) it does not appear to have the dramatic impact of S7.


    • Yes. There’s an interesting question as to what the s8 script was trying to accomplish. S7 was very explicit about its dramatic goals. In contrast, S8 seemed to foreground some fairly big philosophical problems around truth and loyalty, and we saw outstanding vignettes on that issue, but the episodes left no coherent impression, maybe because we never got a claer sense of what the “evil” was that Nightingale represented. The Spooks spent all of their time putting out fires.


  5. I haven’t seen Spooks 8.0 yet (waiting for the DVD), but I will say that the Russian accents in Spooks 7 were passable at best. Wilson & Baeza’s were okay (his was better than hers), but most of the “Russians” in ep 8 spoke gobblety gook. I think in the group there were 2 native speakers, one was the most vocal woman. Listening to the main dude in charge was excruciating. Armitage’s pronunciation was pretty good as long as he stuck to words or small phrases, but I could understand little once he branched into sentences.
    As for no woman being good enough, I’m on record on my blog as loathing Marian, but I’m sure that was the way she was written. I quite liked Margaret Hale, although I did not understand why she didn’t accept Thornton at the 2 hour mark.


    • I’m glad to have the confirmation. (I had 1 semester of Russian which I enrolled in for romantic reasons, and then a lot of hanging out around refugees after that.) I felt like Lucas’s Russian — from what I understood of it — reflected exactly what Armitage said about his preparation. He tried to learn some Russian by listening to a speech course, but when he realized he wasn’t going to learn the language that way, he then had to learn the lines phonetically as if they were musical sequences. Well, when that happens in near absence of awareness how the language is actually spoken, i.e., if he doesn’t hang out around Russians to hear how they actually use their language in context, one inevitably gets things wrong. I also figure that anything that I understand based on my experiences is being pronounced in a less than authentic way. For example in Spooks 7.1 I hear him say “Ты Знаешь” at the end of that phone call. That “ы” sound is really hard for non-native speakers to make. Lucas sounds like he has an ear for languages (not surprising, since Armitage had so much singing in his career), but not at all like he could have been perceived as a native speaker.


      • servetus – you are very right; the ы sound is hard for non-native speakers to produce. I think he probably tried very hard to get the sounds just right – and he’s good with accents in narration so he has an advantage – but if you don’t know where the words are breaking in a sentence or where exactly to put the emphasis in a word, beyond short phrases you don’t have a chance at mimicking the natural sounds. It also bugs me that none of the characters pronounce the Russian names right, not even Connie who is fluent in Russian, right? I mean, she is the mole and she listens to Russian “chatter” and reports back. The emphasis is on the second or middle syllable when pronouncing Russian surnames, so it’s KachImov instead of KACHimov and the I is a long ee sound. The average Englishman would make this mistake, but knowing these guys backwards and forwards is MI-5’s job, right? Maybe I’m too picky. In any case, Lucas would never call Elizaveta “Elizaveta.” She’s his wife and therefore subject to the most tender (and, in Russian, most drawn out) of diminutives. Even having been divorced, he’s still call her Liza or Lizechka. To translate, a man who has always called his wife, whose given name is Elizabeth, “Lizzy” wouldn’t suddenly start calling her Elizabeth, even if their relationship broke down. Even with an effort to put distance between them it would still be “Liz.”


        • This was a super comment, grerp. he does call her “Vieta” occasionally (Bethy?) and at least he gets the softening at the beginning of the “e” vowel correct, which (e.g.) Ros does not. Anyway, I apologize that it took me so long to reply to this, but you are probably the person to ask this question, which has been bugging me for quite some time. In 7.2, after he’s given E. the information on the piece of paper, and she is walking away, he says something, and she turns around and he asks her if she’s happy. She answers walks away, he gets up to walk away, and then gets tasered by Ros. I hope you know what I’m talking about. OK, so I couldn’t figure out what he was saying, and the captioning on the DVD says “[Lucas speaks in Russian]” which is unhelpful, i.e., they didn’t know what he saying, either. At first I thought it sounded like “яTочка,” but that wouldn’t make any sense, not even as “я Tочка”. Eventually it came to me that this must be one of those many nicknames, of which I was aware as a hanger-arounder of Russian emigrants, but the entire cosmology and nuances of which I don’t understand. I.e., it must have been something like BETочка. The way he says it sounds so stern, though: vieTOCHka. I’d have guessed if it were supposed to be pleading, as the scene implies it should be, it would sound more like viEtachka. ??? Explanations, corrections, please??

          I totally agree about the pronounciation of names issue, esp. in the case of Kachimov, just because if you say “catchimof” it sounds like a made-up James Bond film name for a villain. On the other hand I find with my students that if I use the real pronunciations of names of historical figures they get confused and wonder whom I am speaking about.


          • If I remember it right, the word he used was “деточка” – “baby”. It’s kind of a pet name in Russian. Maybe you didn’t get it because the accent was misplaced from the first syllable to the second, so we got “де’точка”.


            • Thanks, and welcome, teufelin!


            • Sorry, teufelin, you don’t think it’s Веточка ? honestly, I can’t hear the opening consonant, and I suppose whether he calls her “baby” or “lizzy” it doesn’t matter so much …


          • I had to go back and watch the scene. He’s saying, “Веточка!” but his pronunciation is wrong.

            The problem with Spooks picking the name Елизавета/Elizaveta is that it’s just not a very common name in Russia. Yes, you will find it in baby name lists, but I don’t think I knew a single Elizaveta when I lived there and I don’t think I’ve had them among my Russian friends here either (I’ve worked with Russian Jewish immigrants too, teaching ESL). It’s one of those names that exists in Russian because it’s a Bible name. I’d compare it to Delilah in English. People know it, but how many Delilah’s have you met? In England and England’s colonies we have had any number of obscure Bible names become common usage for children. I’m sure this is because after the Reformation people individually read and became familiar with scripture. In Russia it didn’t happen the same way, and then of course Atheism became the established religion after Russia morphed into the Soviet Union. In any case, I looked for diminutives of Elizaveta and found only Liza (and that because Ekaterina Gordeeva named her second daughter Elizaveta). Vieta is a possible diminutive, though. Many Russian names have multiple diminutives. In which case Elizaveta would be modified (from least to most affectionate) into:

            Vieta (Liz or Lizzy)
            Vietushka/Vietochka/Vietinka (Maybe Lizbet, or Lizzybet or Lizzykins; only used among family members, very close friends, or lovers)

            Vietka is the ruder form used among acquaintances or even friends. Sort of like a brother might call his younger sister Liz “Lizard.”


            • Interesting — you provoked me to read about this name in the Orthodox tradition and it’s really interesting — older St Elizabeth’s churches in that trad. are named after the mother of John the Baptist, and many are 19th c. foundations, apparently there were several Romanov princesses named Elizabeth, but since the end of the Cold War there are now several parishes named “St. Elisabeth the New Martyr” after the murdered Romanov sister. Oh, I love stuff like this. In the West they would have been named after St. Elisabeth of Hungary, whose piety was widespread in Europe from Hungary westward. I love this kind of stuff.

              I’m grateful for all the Russian detail, as although I found it a fascinating subject after I fell out of love with the person in question I never devoted much attention to it, except that when I led services I used to have tell people to rise and sit down in Russian and to tell them what page of the prayerbook we were on. I had those things written out phonetically and pronounced to me by a native speaker. So maybe I am sympathizing with Mr. Armitage here.

              Oh, oh, oh, I get such a sense of satisfaction when a nagging problem is clarified. Thanks so much!


            • Oh, and thanks for making the sacrifice of another watch of the scene in question. 🙂


              • Ok, sorry, I also checked, you’re right – he says “Вьеточка”. His pronunciation is harder than it should be, but it’s pretty clear. 🙂 I think this is the main problem with any English speaking person who tries to pretend to be a Russian the series. Palatalization of consonants. (I suppose that my Russian has gotten much much harder now than it was some years ago. I’m not Russian.) He did a good job with what he had been given. And he was lucky enough that he didn’t need to learn how to speak Lithuanian. (Not my mother tongue, but I have learned it at university. And lightheartedly forgotten since then.)


                • I agree re palatalization of consonants. Л is something that always sounds wrong when English speakers say it. The best advice I got was to try not to think of the English alphabet when reading / pronouncing, think of Л as something that has its own sound, the palatalized Л, that has nothing to do with the English “l.” In retrospect, I wish I had kept up with Russian, but German took over. And Latin, which I’ve never been very good and don’t enjoy or appreciate at but have to use for work.

                  Lithuanian! Zounds!


  6. My theory is that she was struggling to maintain that Boston accent and it interfeared with her acting. The other thing is that they, on a basic level, for me at least, just didtn’t have chemistry. I mean in no way, to disparage her or her acting, I really wanted to see Lucas in a hot and heavy romance. For me, the best scene btw them was when they faught in his apartment after the his Russian captor left.

    Another theory, maybe he just doesn’t like blondes. It seems like he really has chemistry with brunettes. I may be projecting here because I am a brunette.


    • I’d love Mr. Armitage to have chemistry with brunettes. And I’d be happy to have him stop coloring his hair such a dark shade, too. I love brunettes. 🙂

      Squee aside, the question is “why no chemistry,” esp. since Mr. Armitage has said “it’s an actor’s job to manufacture that if it’s not there”? That’s part of where I am going.


      • @Ser — I believe he worked it for all it was worth, case in point, the scene in which they are standing on the street and Sarah is stirring her coffee as Lucas looks at her with adoration. It was just still not there for me. Maybe she wasn’t attracted to him? Blasphemy I know!


        • @Rob: “Another theory, maybe he just doesn’t like blondes. It seems like he really has chemistry with brunettes. I may be projecting here because I am a brunette.” —- So happy I’m not the only one with that in my mind, I get that thought ever so often about him and try to tell myself, I think that only because I am a brunette.

          “…as Lucas looks at her with adoration.” —- I agree, *he* manufactured it but she didn’t, that’s why I think of it as “Lucas was ‘giving’, Sarah was not receiveing much less ‘giving’ back”.


        • I think the script would have you believe that she wasn’t supposed to be attracted to him and became so, which is why she didn’t shoot him when she had the opportunity, and then warned him to run in 8.8. I didn’t find this claim entirely credible the way it was played out.


  7. @rob: I was a “brownette”, before it turned salt’n’pepper, so I have a bias for brunettes, as well. Actually, I always wanted red, preferably auburn hair! (Enough levity from me!) 😀


  8. […] I argued previously, Sarah Caulfield’s accent was largely a red herring, something that (perhaps especially U.S.) […]


  9. I’m one of the rare few who did not have a problem with Sarah. I thought she was good for the show in that she helped expose more about Lucas. I absolutely agree that there are some biases going on in some LN/RA fans appraisal of her (you beat me to it on this one, Servetus!). I watched S8 without any preconceptions because I hadn’t been exposed to the Sarah trash talk yet. I’m probably more inclined to be defensive of her though because the actress is Australian. I might be more used to more weird australian-american accents too.


    • Exposing more about Lucas: indeed, one could argue that that was her primary/only purpose as a character.

      I apologize for preempting you. I actually don’t want to talk so much about Spooks on this blog, because I haven’t seen series 1-6, and also because it’s not really part of the personal journey I am on apart from the fact that Armitage was in it and the questions that that raises. I just got sucked in by that grammatical issue, and once I get sucked in it’s hard for me to extract myself until I’ve written my way through something.


  10. Comments on this site are quite marvellous. COart’s and feefa’s observations from different cultural viewpoints, have an impact on my perspective of the Lucas-Sarah relationship.

    This blog fulfills a rather interesting Internet purpose (perhaps one of the more positive aspects of the Net?). With a mutual admiration for a particular actor, yes, verging on the obsessive/addictive, people, (probably most of us women) exchange different perspectives. No idea what Mr. A would think of being a “catalyst” for this small international attention, but a feature of, in general, the RA fan blogs do seem to be a tolerant community, and in the case of this site, source thought-provoking discussion.


    • I’ve been totally impressed by the depth of perspective and detail that the commentators have brought to the Sarah Caulfield posts. I think it points to the sort of viewer his work attracts — someone thoughtful. He’s gotta like that, since he’s so thoughtful himself and puts so much work into his product.


  11. I have been fascinated by this discussion thread. As I watched the various periodic interludes between Lucas and Sarah (I can’t bring myself to call it a relationship) I thought as someone earlier mentioned earlier, that its purpose was to create exposition for Lucas’ character.

    I believe he realized that Sarah wasn’t “good” but I think, after his time in prison, he was desperate to reconnect parts of himself that he, as a necessity, closed off. Why else would he, when he knows the truth about her ask her to stay? Why else would he utter, “take me with you”? Series 8 never allowed us to know, for sure, how damaged, how broken Lucas really was/is.

    My issue with the actress was that her accent was Boston by way of the deep South with a stopover in New York and that was distracting. I don’t think that the same chemistry existed between Sarah and Lucas that existed between Guy and Marian. I thought Marian was a manipulative bi*ch when it came to Guy but they were HOT on screen together.


    I believe that the garishness of Sarah’s makeup and hair (although EVERYBODY is a little too heavy on the mascara) was a way of communicating to the audience that the outer covering hid an evil beast, don’t look too closely or you get a glimpse of the real demon inside. Maybe we were supposed to be shouting at the TV, “No Lucas, no! She’s bad!” Let’s see where series 9 takes Lucas. I can’t wait!


    • Thanks for the comment, Ann Marie, and welcome.

      That scene where she has her gun to his head is really heart-rending for what it says about him, I think. It’s once place where Mr. Armitage got it really, frighteningly right. I was gasping in relief when she didn’t shoot him.

      And didn’t you shout at the screen, “No Lucas!” when he kissed her? 🙂


      • Yes, servetus, I did shout, “No Lucas!” It was wrong from the get go…but who knows what someone needs to heal…


  12. I’m just getting to Spooks 8 now, 1’s in the can and I’m in the middle of 2. O’Reilly’s accent really wanders the American geographical landscape. I just winced at her admitting Franklin was her fave president. Do you think she could have – possibly – mean FDR?


  13. […] while agreeing that I shared the audience's disappointment with Ms. O'Reilly's performance, I concluded that her problems with U.S. accent and idiom were not the ultimate source of the failure… and not limited to problems with O'Reilly's acting. In particular I indicated an interest in the […]


  14. […] […]


  15. […] damaged our suspension of disbelief with accent or dialect mistakes (Toby Stephens; and of course Genevieve O’Reilly) even though their more general mannerisms or attitudes seemed plausibly American. It’s a bit […]


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